The following is article was in DRI's June 3 edition of The Voice. The article was written by KDC Director at Large, Jeff Lowe, who also reviews defense verdicts for publication in Common Defense.
Connections Continue Despite Interruptions
By R. Jeffrey Lowe, DRI National Director
As I sit on my back porch writing this article and reflecting on my DRI experience as a third-year board member, I keep getting interrupted by my three-year-old golden retriever, Zeb, who incessantly wants me to throw his ball into the backyard so he can retrieve it (think Adam Sandler’s dog
in the movie Spanglish). I type, he pants at my side waiting for me to throw the ball. I throw it, type some more, and he is right back at my side ready for more.
Interruption after interruption, but boy
does he love to get that ball and I love seeing the joy in his activity.
Interruption is something we deal
with daily in the practice of law. We plan our day out to the minute, or tenth of
an hour in some cases, to maximize our productivity. However, seldom does the plan hold. A client calls with an emergency, an associate needs help on a project, a colleague calls and wants to talk. And we have to bring that interruption into our schedule. We do and move on, adapting our schedule to get back on track.
The pandemic interrupted our
practices as offices closed, courts limited operations
and we established remote workspaces. What has not
been interrupted, however, is the benefit of being a DRI member. Membership in DRI has always been about more than access to world-class CLE and educational materials. Membership in DRI is also about the personal connection we make with lawyers from across the country and world. Since my first involvement with DRI attending the DRI Civil Rights and Governmental Tort Liability Seminar in New Orleans almost twenty years ago, the people I have met are the best and brightest legal minds. Even more important, however, is those same people are some of the best people I have ever met. They have become friends and people I know I can count on. To me, that is the best benefit of DRI membership—connection with people.
Connection is part of the reason why DRI’s seminars are so well-attended. Yes, the content and presenters are out- standing. But the ability to get together and connect with colleagues and friends is just as valuable. I have chaired
a seminar planning committee and worked on numerous
seminar planning committees. The bonds created through that process strengthened the connection I initially made attending the seminars. That is why a person you might see one, two, or three times a year can become a lifelong friend. Although the ability to be physically in the same room as that person may be interrupted because of geographical distance, the connection you create through
DRI membership allows that connection to grow.
Friendship, however, is not the only positive benefit of connection. Connection with these outstanding people and lawyers has made me a better lawyer and leader.
I do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call one of my fellow Governmental Liabil- ity Committee colleagues when a practice question arises. I also do not hesitate to reach out to my fellow DRI leaders when a question arises about a challenging lead- ership issue. The connections have also allowed me to create a book of business in an area that did not previously exist in my firm. The benefits of DRI connections are
different for everyone, but they are undoubtedly beneficial.
Despite the inability during the pandemic to conduct seminars as DRI has in the past, DRI continues to offer many opportunities for connection. DRI has various subcommittees holding regular Zoom calls. Planning for upcoming seminars carries on. Publications continue to
be published and online programming continues to be recorded. All of these things require planning and lots of hard work. It is the work of DRI’s Substantive Law Commit- tees and their connected committee members that create this content. So even during a pandemic, DRI continues to create opportunities for connection.
I currently serve as the board liaison to the Construction Law Committee and it was supposed to hold its seminar the first week in April. Unfortunately, it had to be post- poned. The committee led by its chair, David Jones, and its vice chair, Danielle Waltz, immediately formed a task force to address how the committee could provide continued content to its members. From that task force, it created a weekly Zoom conference called “Toolbox Talks” where the
The Voice | June 3, 2020
6 Volume 19, Issue 22
committee presents a substantive topic for approximately 15 minutes and then gives the opportunity for the people on the call to discuss the topic. They have been outstand- ing presentations and give the committee the opportunity to connect once a week.
DRICares has provided multiple opportunities for connection as well. DRICares provided everyone the opportunity to connect while physically distancing through the “Keep Your Distance 5k.” My whole family participated (including Zeb) in the rain and we all loved seeing the photos on social media of those who ran, walked, biked or hiked. Again, despite the interruption of normal activities, DRI provided its members the opportunity to connect.
President-Elect Emily Coughlin’s weekly coffee talks continue at noon daily and provide an opportunity for any member to join and say “Hi.”
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has interrupted all facets of our lives and practices, as well as normal DRI operations. But, DRI will continue to provide multiple benefits for its members and opportunities to connect, albeit virtually.
My DRI connections have certainly been part of what has helped me to strive and succeed during this pandemic. There have been days where a DRI call or Zoom has been exactly what I needed, despite not knowing that I needed it. Interaction does not have to be interrupted and DRI provides the avenue to continue that connection. I look forward to the day in the future when I can see my DRI friends from across the country in person. But I don’t miss them as much when I stay connected to them through DRI.
And by the way, I have now thrown the ball into my backyard 52 times for a golden retriever who is a pleas- ant interruption.
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Volume 19, Issue 22