Everyone needs a break from employment law every now and then. For some lawyers like me, getting involved in various organizations is one way to do something other than appear in a courtroom.
(If you don’t need a break, check out this article in Monday’s Hartford Business Journal about employers and vaccine mandates where I’m quoted.)
One of the organizations I’ve been heavily involved with for some time is the American Bar Association. I’m mean how can you not love an organization that has “Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice” as its trademark.
I’ve covered this from time to time here (and here and here) and for the last six years or so, I’ve served as the Connecticut State Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. That ends this August but for a good reason. This past weekend, I was elected (effective in August) to the ABA Board of Governors, holding a seat for Connecticut that the state gets only about once a decade.
It’s a great honor and responsibility too. There’s a lot of work that is needed in both our profession and in this organization.
Back in 2011, the late Representative John Lewis gave the invocation to the ABA House of Delegates at its midyear meeting. He was so inspiring — so much so that I wrote about it thereafter.
11 years later to the day, I was given the solemn responsibility to lead the House of Delegates again with an invocation and once again, I drew inspiration from John Lewis as well as guidance from my synagogue’s rabbi, Bekah Goldman (I’m grateful for her help). Over the course of two weeks, I pieced together words that I thought would be meaningful to delegates and yet true to the moment at hand.
The work of the ABA House of Delegates is important; it sets policy for the ABA to follow and helps set priorities for the organization in the years that follow.
I reprint my invocation below and hope that it inspires you in the work that you do.
Architect of this awe-inspiring world we inhabit and source from which everything flows.
Though we are far apart physically from each other today, we seek your guidance to fulfill our goals:
Serving our Members. Improving Our Profession. Eliminating Bias and Enhancing Diversity, and advancing the Rule of Law.
Since we last met in person in 2020, we have been through so much.
We have lost almost a million of our fellow citizens to a plague that has left no community untouched.
We have had our institutions and our democracy itself attacked by our own citizens who traffic in misinformation and mistrust.
And we have had our healthcare workers, our judges, and many of us in this room expend great energy to hold together the very fabric of who we are.
We are tired. We feel alone. It seems a never-ending task. Each time we empty a bucket, another one fills. There are still so many who need our help.
And so we pray first for our civic and bar association leaders. We are grateful for their willingness to serve in what can be a thankless job. As they walk this untrodden path, remind them that they have been chosen to lead because we, the people, respect, admire, and believe in their intellect, experience, abilities and their integrity.
And as we gather here to speak in a collective voice, give US the strength and sustenance to defend liberty and deliver justice, while stamping out bigotry and injustice.
Remind us to honor the dignity of difference, recognizing that those who do not appear to be an exact replica of one ideal image, are nonetheless, made exactly in YOUR image.
Teach us to live by the ideals of healing the world – tikkun olam as the Hebrew phrase goes – through our actions today. Let us do so one resolution at a time, with our head and heart open to what is being asked of us.
Give us the ability to set our policymaking in values that make each of us feel heard, honored and seen. Let none of us feel neglected or left behind.
Let us be inspired by the words of the late Representative John Lewis: “Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet.”
Despite our challenges, the next year is full of promise as the decisions we make today can make a difference in the future.
Dear God, bestow all of your gifts on those who lead us and help us all appreciate what this moment represents.
Together we say: Amen