Service - An Honor An Obligation

Posted on May 2, 2011 02:44 by R. Matthew Cairns


May 2, 2011 in Washington DC is an exciting day.  Not because the Lawyers for Civil Justice is holding a Board and membership meeting where important work is being done on Federal Civil Rules reform, state E-Discovery analysis and other matters affecting civil litigation.  No, it is obviously because of the end of Bin Laden.  The celebrations last night, witnessed by millions around the world, happened a block from my hotel.  Unfortunately, I slept through the whole event, including 2 texts from my daughter asking me if I was awake.  Many of the lawyers here at the LCJ meeting got out of bed and went down to join the throngs and experience the moment.  It clearly was a moment people will remember forever, hopefully not so much because someone was killed, but rather that it has closed an agonizing chapter in American history.  What I will remember most, however, is walking through the Vietnam Memorial this morning and how I felt about the team that finally resolved the Bin Laden issue – I am thankful that we have dedicated men and women in our armed forces that will put themselves in harm’s way for people they don’t know and may never meet.  I am also thankful for our teachers, first responders, judges, and clergy – another class of people that give of themselves for all of us.  The US Constitution gives us all protections and allows all of us to serve.  I urge all of us to honor the Constitution and take up the banner of service, be it in DRI, your firm, your community, your synagogue, or your school.   God Bless America.


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Need to Get Along

Posted on November 4, 2010 08:31 by Matthew Cairns

Can't we all just get along?  That question posed by Rodney King is something I have been thinking about this election week.  Matt Miller, Robert Reich and Mara Liasson brought this issue to us during their fabulous presentations at the DRI Annual Meeting in the context of American Politics.  Unless our political parties can find common ground, I fear two years of posturing and gridlock at a time when consensus is absolutely necessary for the United States to prosper at home and abroad.  The Civil Bar Roundtable hosted by ABOTA brings the leading national civil litigation organizations together to find ways that defense and plaintiff oriented organizations can come together on important civil justice issues such as adequate funding of the court system and the right to a jury trial.  Each of our law firms need to come together as teams to better address the needs of our clients as well as our employees-- internal competition among "partners" is not healthy and is not "getting along" for the benefit of your organization.

It is my goal that all of the different constituencies of DRI "get along" with the common goal of advancing civil justice, promoting the defense bar and providing our members and their clients with the best opportunities and value for their membership dollar and involvement.  Integration, cooperation, and collaboration will be key focuses for us this year.  DRI, FDCC, IADC and the ADTA are all working together on the important preemption issue and will be looking at the FASB 5 disclosure issue as well.  Our committees will be looking for ways to work together on publications and education.  Finally, we are continuing to provide opportunities to our members to get involved.  The more we are involved together, the better it will be for all of us.  Join us, get involved, get along and let's move forward for DRI and civil justice.

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President's Installation Remarks

Posted on October 25, 2010 04:10 by Matthew Cairns

When I met with the Nominating Committee in Washington DC in 2007, I emotionally told them that it was very humbling to be sitting before them.  Now 4 years later, I can say the same thing to you – it is very humbling to be standing here as DRI’s 49th President.  I have come a long way from Guilford Connecticut, and I thank everyone that has been there along the way for me.  Particularly:

  • • My Parents  – Bob and Nancy Cairns
  • • My Brother Andy and his fantastic wife Carol
  • • Tim Britain – my law partner of 22 years and my friend for longer than that
  • • My current law partners Mike Callahan and Charlie Bauer
  • • These folks aren’t here but I want to mention the attorneys and staff at Gallagher Callahan & Gartrell and Ransmeier & Spellman, particularly Mike Lenehan at R&S who asked me to finish his term as NH State Rep and set me on my leadership path; and Don Pfundstein at GCG who brought me on board in the midst of my officer track and with Charlie and Mike has supported me every day.
  • • The Presidents of DRI who have gone before me
  • • The Officers of our sister organizations:
    • • Tom and Ann Cordell  and Jan and Mike Neil of the FDCC
    • • Frankie and Martha Colon, and George and Carolyn Walker of the ADTA
    • • Joe and Mary Pat Ryan, and Bill and Jane Perry of the IADC
  • • Chuck Stewart and the Annual Meeting Steering Committee
  • • The Tri- State Defense Lawyers and Northeast Region
  • • The tireless DRI Board, Committee leaders and our DRI staff
  • • And most importantly my oh so patient wife Tracey, and our superstar daughters Beth and Maddie who put up with my daily foibles, my absences and my constant gushing about DRI and my DRI friends…without them, I would be nothing.

We are wrapping up DRI’s 50th Anniversary year. Since I became a DRI member

  • • laptops and blackberries are indispensible tools
  • • our country was attacked on 9/11
  • • We have undertaken the best judicial education program  in the country (NFJE)
  • • DRI has grown to 22,000 members at home and abroad; and
  • • The Red Sox finally won not 1 but 2 World Series titles.

So what do we have to look forward to in the next 50 years? That horizon is too far. Instead, what I want to do is look forward 10 years to DRI 2020

Beginning last year, under Cary Hiltgen’s leadership, DRI’s Executive Committee began taking a fresh look at our core principals. We brought back an annual officer’s retreat where we examined how DRI was meeting the pillars of Education, Balance, Justice, Economics, Professionalism and Service. We identified dead and dying ideas and sent them to their final resting place, and began focusing on the value proposition that is DRI and DRI membership.

This is going to be a year of strategic planning top to bottom at DRI, with the constant measuring point: how will doing x or not doing y create value for DRI as an institution and DRI members. The value may come in different forms:

  • • Drawing more members to the organization
  • • More timely and cutting edge legal education
  • • Exciting and new ways to deliver education to our members
  • • An increased international effort building on our experience in Europe and providing more opportunities for integration with our Sister Organizations and their international members, and our European, Canadian and other international members
  • • Strategic partnerships with companies such as West Publishing
  • • A bigger public voice as Thought Leaders on the civil justice issues that matter most to our clients and members through:
    • • Media commentary
    • • Publications
    • • Amicus briefing at our highest courts
  • • Technological advancements in our website and DRI Today

The challenges that face our legal system today can be a source of cynical dismay or a new and vital resolve. Given the skill, talent and wisdom of our members, it is particularly important that we contribute our best to just solutions. The world will be changing at break neck speed, and DRI will be working hard to be at or even ahead of the leading edge of that change in the legal and civil justice space. Your Officers and Board of Directors will be exploring what DRI 2020 can look like and how to get there. Your committees will be asked for input and so will our individual members. It will be an organic process but one founded on our core principles that we will not lose sight of as Henry, Mary and Mike follow me in the position of President, and new Leaders rise up in DRI. I can’t do this alone, the Board can’t do it alone, the officers can’t do it alone – we all have to work together to make DRI be all that it can be.

Turning back to DRI’s core principles:

  • • Education makes us better lawyers
  • • Balance and Justice are what we all strive for in our legal system and society in general
  • • Economics lets us support our families and employees
  • • Professionalism has us serving a cause greater than ourselves

But without Service, none of these can happen. I thank Chuck, Marc and Cary, and everyone here and across the DRI World for their service to DRI, to our justice system, to our colleagues, to our families and to society. It truly is DR-We, not DR-I. And most of all, I thank everyone here for my opportunity to serve as your president for the next year.


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