President's Column: The Art of Collaboration
by Paul K. Stafford
The practice of law is as much statute as it is style, precision as it is persuasion, contention as it is collaboration, and science as it is art. But, what is “art”? When asked, a fifth grader described art as “a way to express what cannot be explained”. An artist described it as “the convergence of all aspects of universal experience”. A prominent lawyer described it as “a unique, distinct creation reflecting the thoughts and imagination of its creator“, and another described it as “a means by which we search for what we are connected to and express what is often only in the depths of our souls“.
Consider the art of that which surrounds us daily. Each April, we witness flora announce the annual arrival of Spring. Flora flourishes as well - not just the flowers, but the street which traverses the nineteen contiguous blocks of our city known as the Dallas Arts District. The Arts District is the largest urban arts district in the United States and is the subject of national and international interest and acclaim for its urban integration, innovative architectural designs, renowned art collections, and unmatched artistic performances.
On the edge of the Arts District sits a stately neo-classic mansion known as the Belo Mansion, that our prominent Bar has the privilege to call its home. Every day, the Bar’s dedicated staff and members utilize this beautiful facility to conduct the business of the Bar, provide legal education to DBA members, and to serve the community. In addition, the Bar continuously collaborates internally and with other groups to provide excellent programming and to enhance the quality of services to its members and to the community.
Thus far in 2012 alone, the DBA has opened its home and its Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award Luncheon to the Dallas Black Dance Theater Junior Performance Ensemble, the Carter High School Choir, and the Dallas ISD student winner of the Gardere MLK Oratorical Contest. At the DBA Inaugural in January, the DBA announced a record sum ($800,000) raised through its Equal Access to Justice Campaign, and continues to collaborate with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas to raise funds and provide legal counsel to those less fortunate members of our community in need of pro bono legal services. In February, the DBA collaborated with ALPFA (the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting) and Deloitte to conduct an informative seminar on “Regulatory Considerations in Cross-Border Business”, and will host another program with ALPFA in conjunction with PriceWaterhouse Coopers on April 19 covering “Transitioning Closely-Held Corporations”. In March, the DBA (in collaboration with high schools, the local judiciary, and countless volunteer judges) hosted the annual Texas High School Mock Trial Competition State Championship. Also in March, the DBA’s Public Forum Committee hosted two U.S. Senatorial Candidate presentations intended to inform our members and the public. The DBA launched its Trial Academy in March as well, and the Academy is off to a great start due to the collaborative efforts of the DBA, the sister bars, the judiciary, and the academic community.
The collaborative efforts of the Dallas Bar continue in April with “Arts Month” and with the Marshall Forum. Arts Month is a collaborative effort between The Dallas Arts District and the DBA to promote awareness of the arts as well as awareness of venues, programming, and performances within The Dallas Arts District. DBA members will be encouraged to learn about the Arts District and to participate in the activities within the Arts District. In addition, members of the arts community and patrons of the arts will be invited to the Belo Mansion for the Law Day Luncheon on May 4, 2012, which will feature, the Honorable Sam A. Lindsay, as well as the annual art contest by Dallas ISD students. For additional information on the activities in the arts district, please visit www.thedallasartsdistrict.com.
The German Marshall Fund is a non profit transatlantic entity dedicated to promoting transatlantic relations and collaboration in the spirit of the post-World War II Marshall Plan. Each year, GMF hosts a Marshall Forum, which is an annual gathering of Marshall fellows and thought –leaders from the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. Marshall Forum participants discuss a variety of issues salient to promoting transatlantic communication and cooperation. This year, Dallas has the honor of hosting the Marshall Forum, April 26-29th, 2012. The theme is “The New Economy, A New Reality”, and GMF is working with a variety of local organizations including the World Affairs Council of Dallas Fort Worth, the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Dallas Bar Association. Specifically, the DBA’s Business Litigation Section and International Law Section, as well as the Public Forum Committee will lend their expertise to various panels and presentations throughout the Forum. In addition, several DBA members are Marshall Memorial Fellows and will be participating in the Forum. For additional information, please visit www.gmfus.org.
The collaborative spirit of the Dallas Bar Association is made evident through its programming and initiatives, and the art of that collaborative effort will be on continuous display in 2012 and beyond.