Dear American Counsel Association Members and Guests:
From August 2012 to August 2013, I have the honor and privilege to serve as President of the American Counsel Association, the oldest association of independent law firms in the world. For 80 years, our association has supported members and their clients with an emphasis upon professionalism, camaraderie, and scholarship in the field of law.
Each year we are proud to support exceptional law students who have demonstrated financial need and a commitment to public service by providing scholarship assistance. In 2012, we awarded our first "The Gerard McDermott International Scholarship Award," in honor of our distinguished past president from Manchester and London, UK, to an international law student. This scholarship recognizes the growing membership of international lawyers within the ACA and is in addition to our other scholarships--the Lowell Jacobson Scholarship and the George Kerr ACA Scholarship. In addition, at our annual meeting in 2012, we created the Cohn-Dorsett Scholarship to honor Stanley Cohn and Jim Dorsett, two of the finest Secretary/Treasurers and past presidents to serve this organization. Some very fine lawyers serve justice today at least in part because of the generosity of our members in supporting these scholarships, and this tradition will continue in the foreseeable future.
Even in this age of electronic networking, we focus on direct personal connections among our members. Our membership is intentionally small, but a large portion of our group gathers twice a year to spend time and enjoy one another's company in connection with the American Bar Association's Midyear and Annual meetings. Membership in the ACA is generally limited to members of one law firm per metropolitan area.
Although we are "American" by name, in recent years we have become a truly international organization, as lawyers from around the world have sought to join us. At our recent Annual Meeting in Chicago in August 2012, we were honored be the guests of Her Majesty's Consul General, Robert Chatterton Dickson, at his home at a reception hosted jointly by the Bar Council of England and Wales and the ACA. In addition to the usual complement of international members, our Sunday night reception included as guests many presidents and officers of international bar associations, and a number expressed strong interest in joining the ACA. It was a beautiful event with a stunning view of the city of Chicago.
We are particularly fortunate to have developed a close relationship with the European Circuit of the English Bar. It organizes annually an international conference and continuing education program co-sponsored by our two organizations. Our groups will gather this November 15-17 in Vienna, Austria for a truly exceptional program. Please attend! For more information, please contact email@example.com.
Our 2012 Annual Dinner held at the University Club of Chicago was a wonderful occasion presided over by my predecessor, Howard Daniel of Greenville, South Carolina. Some 60 of our members, spouses and guests enjoyed a wonderful cocktail hour and a delightful meal accompanied by a fabulous pianist. We are fortunate to have our dinners sponsored by a number of partners such as Lexis/Nexis, Huron Consulting Group, Kohn Communications, Holland & Knight LLP, ERS Group and others. Of course, as is our tradition at our annual dinner, each member introduced himself or herself in a humorous vein--some taking quite a bit longer than others! (We may have to institute an official timer for the introductions in the future!) I had the honor of presenting outgoing President Daniel with his own Orlando Magic "Howard" jersey and a Bay Hill flag autographed by Arnold Palmer. Thank you for your leadership, Howard!
We have already started making our plans for 2013. I look forward to spending time with as many members of our Association as possible at our upcoming events in Vienna, Dallas and San Francisco. If you are a member, we hope you will find your way to at least one event. If you are interested in membership, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or President-elect Tim Bertschy at TBertschy@heylroyster.com, and we will be happy to explore the possibility of membership with you.
Suzanne E. Gilbert
ACA President, 2012-2013