Friday, August 15, 2014

President's Message: A Salute To Our Mission Of Respect And Service

By Benjamin H. Hill IV

Why are we here?  Nothing like starting a new Bar year with a challenging question, huh?  Attempting to answer that short yet deep question has produced endless answers, opinions, arguments, and even other questions over the years.  Without getting too heavy, I simply want to pose the question in a less traditional frame.  Specifically, I narrow the scope to our local Bar.  Why are we ― the Hillsborough County Bar Association ― here?

I submit that the answer lies in an oft-overlooked, and perhaps even unknown, sentence within the “HCBA Purpose.”  In planning for this year, I frequently found myself returning to this sentence to gauge whether an HCBA event or action was worthy or appropriately purposeful.  Now that the year is underway, I continue to revisit it.  As with any important sentence, I encourage you to not only read it, even aloud, but also to reflect on it as I believe each of us, as HCBA members, should.  So here it is:

Our mission is to inspire and promote respect for the law and the justice system through service to the legal profession and to the community.

In considering this well-stated mission, my eyes (and ears) repeatedly focused on two words:  respect and service.  Perhaps you had similar takes.  In any event, I want to lift up “respect” and “service” as our focal points for this year and hope that you will also embrace them as we strive to carry out our Bar’s mission.  Further, because one of this year’s means to advance our mission will be to highlight military and veterans affairs, I hereby dub this year’s mission “Operation Respect and Service.”

Speaking of highlighting, I want to identify a few events during the first half of the Bar year in which we welcome your participation.  First, as referenced, we are revamping our outreach efforts to our area military and veterans under the newly named Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.  As reflected in the committee’s inaugural article in this issue, this group is already busy planning its success.  If you would like to volunteer for this committee or simply learn more about it, please contact the co-chairs, Lt. Col. Chris Brown ( or Bob Nader (

On September 11, we will hold our first General Membership Luncheon at the Hilton.  We are thrilled to have Brig. Gen. Dixie A. Morrow, commander of Air Force Legal Operations Agency at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., as our guest speaker.  Noted for her informative and inspirational speeches, she also has a long and distinguished legal career within the service, as well as multiple ties to Florida (a “double Gator” and service at MacDill AFB).  Trust me, you will not want to miss this lunch.

On October 17, our Young Lawyers Division will host its annual YLD Golf Tournament.  To be clear, you need not be a “young lawyer” ― I remain in denial ― to play.  October 19-25 is the National Pro Bono Celebration, which we, along with the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, will be supporting (see the HCBA website for details).  Then, on October 30, we will host our 18th Annual Bench Bar Conference & Judicial Reception.  Judges Caroline Tesche and Samantha Ward and their fabulous committee have worked hard on this event, so you will not want to miss it.

On November 7, in an effort to provide additional benefits to our members, we will be hosting the first HCBA Health & Wellness Expo.  While we will provide further information on this soon, please save this date.

Finally, I pause to acknowledge how fortunate I am to have such a talented and diverse leadership team around me.  Our board members are genuinely committed to representing the well-being of our nearly 4,000 members.  The chairs of our multiple sections and committees are organized and energized to lead meaningful programming, pro bono and community service projects, and social and networking events.  Our dedicated HCBA staff, led by our incomparable Executive Director John Kynes, continues to work hard daily to meet our membership’s needs and further our mission.  In the spirit of Operation Respect and Service, I salute all of you and look forward to a great year together!