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.