GSB Vol. 17, NO. 1, Pg. 48. Stewardship, Calling and Love.

Authorby Kenneth L. Shigley

Georgia Bar Journal

Volume 17.

GSB Vol. 17, NO. 1, Pg. 48.

Stewardship, Calling and Love

GSB JournalVol. 17, NO. 1August 2011Stewardship, Calling and Loveby Kenneth L. ShigleyThe following is excerpted from Kenneth L. Shigley's presidential speech during the 2011 Annual Meeting at Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Madame Chief Justice, Chief Judge Ellington, members of the judiciary and the Legislature and Board of Governors, fellow Georgia lawyers and friends, you have given me an honor far beyond anything I possibly could have deserved.

When I hung a shingle at a former blacksmith's shop in Douglasville 32 years ago, with no windows, no insulation, a borrowed desk, a borrowed typewriter and just enough buckets to put under all the leaks in the roof, nobody would have foreseen this. Neither did I. I didn't foresee it until just a very short time ago. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I really want to thank the presidents who have come before me: Lester Tate, Bryan Cavan, Jeff Bramlett, Gerald Edenfield and the last 15 or so before them, with whom I worked less directly. They have been terrific mentors and friends, and I will keep them all on speed dial in the coming year. Anything that we do right-any success that we have in the coming year- is largely due to the groundwork they have laid. We begin this year with a terrific situation in terms of the financial stability of the Bar and in terms of relationships with the Capitol and with the judiciary. So I'm starting out ahead of the game due to their work.

As we look to the coming year, there are three things that I want to focus on: stewardship, calling and love.

About 235 years ago, a bunch of guys - and they were all guys at that time-in knee britches and little funny ponytails, gathered in a cramped, hot, probably smelly room in Philadelphia. They issued a declaration that referred to the inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. Those rights have since been secured by the blood of patriots and ground out and refined by the conflict and labor of generations of Americans striving for a better life for their children and for themselves. Now we are the stewards of that.

I spent years working with my son's Scout troop. Every time we broke camp we lined up the boys, fingertip to fingertip, and swept the campsite area looking for trash. Inevitably, they would find little bits of debris that had been there probably for years and years, and removed it. We tried to impress upon them the importance of leaving the campsite a little cleaner than they found it. As lawyers and judges, as stewards of this system of law and justice, we need to leave our campsite-the legal system, the legal profession-a little cleaner than we found it, and pass it on to our children and our grandchildren a little better.

There are a number of ways we can approach that. In our brief period of time over the next year, some of the things I want us to focus on in the area of stewardship of the system start with the court system. What do we want the court system to look like in 20 years when most of us-at least I-will hopefully no longer be practicing law, and how do we get from here to there?

We are appointing a Next Generation Courts Commission chaired by Lawton Stephens, a member of this Board who is a Superior Court judge in Athens and a former legislator, to look at those broad questions about the court system. We're not quite ready to release the list of members of that commission yet because we want to take our time, get it right, and touch all the appropriate bases in the judiciary and elsewhere as we do it. Among other things it will consider: how do we get a statewide e-filing system in the state trial courts comparable in function to what we see in the federal courts? We've had a committee chaired by Judge Diane Bessen that's been working the last couple of years, coming up with a proposed uniform rule that you will hear about today. But next we have to figure out how we are going to build it. How do we fund it? How do we run it...

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