Dear Members and Friends:
It is hard to believe that November is here already. While I remain thankful throughout the year for all my many blessings, November is a month that reminds us all to give thanks and show gratitude for the people, places, and things that mean so much to us, including the Washington Bar Association (WBA).
Recognizing the importance of our beloved organization, we must all do our part to support the WBA financially, which, at a minimum, means paying your membership dues. First, thank you to everyone who has honored their commitment to the WBA. Second, I would like to clarify what seems to be the source of confusion of late regarding bar dues. Article XII, Section 2 of the Bylaws of the Washington Bar Association states as follows: “The Bar year of the Association shall begin on the first day of September and ends on the day following the June Annual Meeting.” As the bylaws make clear, the WBA’s bar year runs from September to June. It follows, therefore, that the WBA’s dues schedule runs from September to June.
Historically, many members have waited until the beginning of the calendar year—which is actually the mid-point of the bar year—to pay their dues in the January or February timeframe. There has also been a trend in years past of many members paying their dues as late as March or early April to ensure they are eligible to participate in the WBA’s nominations and elections process, which requires that dues be paid on or before April 15th pursuant to Article V, Section 2 of the Bylaws. These dues payments, made late in the bar year, do not, however, change the bylaws-mandated bar year calendar and by extension, the dues payment calendar.
I would encourage everyone who has not paid membership dues for the 2021-2022 bar year, which began on September 1, 2021, to do so right away. The privileges of WBA membership belong only to those who are dues-paying members. Communications will soon be going out to anyone on the WBA’s membership roster whose 2021-2022 dues have not been paid with a reminder to do so. Eventually, our membership rolls will be purged of those who are not dues paid, which will preclude access to members-only events, communications, opportunities, and discounts. This is just one of the ways I hope to enhance member value and provide a return on the investment that members make through their dues payments.
Of course, one way to ensure your WBA membership never lapses is to become a Life Member. I am proud to be a new Life Member of the WBA, and hope that others will consider investing in this elite level of membership that not only eliminates annual dues payments, but also confers special member benefits and recognition for life. I look forward to announcing an upcoming opportunity that is currently in the works for the WBA to recognize the contributions of our prestigious Life Members.
One more clarification I’d like to make is that irrespective of your membership status, everyone who wishes to remain a part of the WBA’s official membership roster must create a profile in the new Member365 platform. Member 365 is now the official source of all WBA membership data. If you have not yet registered in Member365, then you are not being counted among the WBA’s official membership. Don’t put it off any longer. Determine your membership category here, then click the appropriate link in the document to begin the registration process in Member365. I recently received a report showing that dozens of individuals have started Member365 registrations, but for reasons unknown, did not complete the process. Those membership profiles are currently considered “abandoned” in the system and thus are not reflected in our official data. We will also be reaching out to the individuals on this list to provide awareness of the incomplete enrollment, with hopes that the necessary steps will be taken to complete the process.
Turning to this month’s theme, we will focus on Excellence in the Pursuit of Equity in November. Earlier this week, the WBA partnered with the Washington Council of Lawyers to co-sponsor an event titled “Serving Clients in Crisis” as part of an ongoing Racial Justice Series. As we know, the effects of structural and institutional racism are pervasive in the lives of many low-income people of color and often manifest in the legal challenges they face. Working to understand how systemic racism shapes our clients’ lives is critical to providing responsive and comprehensive legal services. The “Serving Clients in Crisis” panel provided perspectives on how a person’s race and lived experiences can often affect their legal cases. The panel also explored ways that we, as attorneys and advocates, can better assist clients of color by not only understanding the full context in which their legal matter arises, but also approaching cases with cultural humility, and recognizing and working to overcome the power differential that is inherent in legal representation. I would like to extend a very special thank you to WBA Past President Henry Floyd for bringing this co-sponsorship opportunity to the WBA. I would also like to recognize and commend WBA Life Member Dawn Williams, Assistant Attorney General with the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, who served as the moderator for this critical conversation.
I am also excited to announce that the WBA will co-sponsor a virtual lunchtime discussion with esteemed Harvard Law School Professor Randall Kennedy on Thursday, November 18 at 12 p.m. Professor Kennedy is widely known as an unapologetically Black intellectual who is unafraid to tackle issues of racial equity. During our November 18 event, Professor Kennedy will discuss his new book titled, Say It Loud! On Race, Law, History, and Culture, a collection of essays on antiracist activism, including profiles on Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, and Thurgood Marshall. Save the date and grab your lunch as this is an event you will not want to miss!
During the Thanksgiving week, the WBA plans to support local community service efforts, so please be on the lookout for more information about how to serve those who are less fortunate during this season of giving.
At the end of the month, on November 30, the WBA’s Legislative and Public Policy Committee will host a virtual Juvenile Justice Fireside Chat featuring Georgetown Law Professor Kristen Henning, who will discuss her new book, The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth. Professor Henning will draw upon her 25 years of experience representing Black youth in Washington D.C.’s juvenile courts to discuss the inequity of the day-to-day brutalities endured by many Black youth—rarely experienced by their white counterparts—growing up under constant police surveillance and the persistent threat of physical and psychological abuse. Other distinguished panelists with juvenile justice experience will contribute to this important dialogue.
Finally, as Veterans Day approaches next week, I would like to take a moment to honor all the members and friends of the WBA who have served, or are now serving, in various branches of the military. We salute you and thank you for your service to our country. I would be remiss without honoring the memory of a very special WBA veteran, our beloved late Joseph H. Hairston, Esquire, who not only made substantial contributions to the WBA, but also to the nation. Before his distinguished career as an attorney, “Mr. Joe”, as he was affectionately called by many of us, was an Army veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, who performed with distinction as a member of the 92nd Division, also known as the “Buffalo Soldiers”. He ultimately obtained the rank of Captain and became the Army’s first African American helicopter pilot, later earning an Army Air Medal with the Oak Leaf Cluster for heroism in battle. Indeed, Joseph H. Hairston, Esq. exemplified the Legacy of Black Legal Excellence that the WBA continues to embrace and celebrate.
All the best for a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday, which I hope you will all be able to enjoy with family and friends, whether in-person or virtually. And be sure to save the date of Saturday, December 11 for the long-awaited return of the WBA’s signature Holiday Gala, which promises to be one like no other.
Onward and Upward!
Kendra Perkins Norwood
Washington Bar Association
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