From Our Members
With many people working remotely these days, it’s more important than ever to stay connected. Members share accounts on how DRI is supporting them – and keeping them connected – during these uncertain times.
“During COVID-19, my DRI relationships helped me in two ways. Firstly, I was fortunate enough to be invited to several informal Zoom happy hours with many of my DRI friends. While at first this may seem trivial, they ended up being very important to me. Instead of stressing over the unknown, I was able to laugh over suddenly pervasive issues no one had any way of anticipating just weeks before (Zoom etiquette, anyone?). We also shared our favorite ‘coping’ mechanisms, some work-related…others not. Secondly, after my self-quarantine became a time -- albeit unrequested -- to reflect on my law practice, I was able to lean on DRI colleagues to explore opportunities I had not previously considered. In the everyday products litigation practice, it is easy to fall into ‘reactive mode,’ only focusing on cases and matters on which I am working. My good friend Lindsay Lorimer, DRI Products 2021 Program Chair, while planning the upcoming conference, took the time to suggest looking into pre-litigation, risk analyses for product manufacturers -- and then guided me towards research, contacts, and organizations to get me started. In doing so, she was completely selfless; the same quality I see in so many of my DRI friends. In short, DRI help me stay relatively sane in the present, yet hopeful by planning for the future.”
– Fred E. (Trey) Bourn III, Butler Snow LLP, Ridgeland, MS
“Through DRI I have made real friends. Real friends are those who care. And they care. We all do the same thing in different countries. Our common professional interest forges a common bond, but through that bond we learn about each other, our ups and downs, the good and the bad. We laugh together and we commiserate together. Despite the distance that separates us, that friendship is important, vital, and sustaining.”
– Heather Sanderson, Sanderson Law, Calgary, Canada
“Despite the pandemic, I continue to hold State Membership Chair liaison conference calls, and the Membership Committee continues to have meetings, these days on Zoom. The State and Local Defense Association Relationship Committee has also remained active. We are also still working on the Asbestos Medicine Seminar for November (fingers crossed). What is different, for me at least, is that these calls and meetings have become more than just about DRI stuff. People are sharing much more than that, and I am grateful that this is so. It is both helpful and reassuring to hear about how others in similar situations are dealing with working from home, re-opening, making billable hours and the like. It is even more meaningful to hear about how someone’s family is making out, how a child’s educational needs are being met or how someone is continuing to communicate with his or her elder parents. I am getting all of this now, and I am not sure I would be had the crisis never hit.”
– Tony Sbarra, Hermes Netburn O'Connor & Spearing PC, Boston, MA
“DRI Construction Law’s weekly Toolbox Talks Series has covered a variety of COVID-19-related topics that have been pertinent to my business. A client called me yesterday and asked a question that was spot on as to what was discussed during one of the ‘Talks.’ This is the third inquiry from a client that I've been able to answer by drawing on the COVID-19 Toolbox Talks. They are very helpful.”
- John Cahill, Lanza Law Firm PC, Bellaire, TX
As a managing partner, I have seen first hand the value of my DRI membership during the COVID-19 crisis. DRI’s “Return to Work” webinar series gave me crucial insight and best practices for ensuring the safety of my law firm as we plan for our future. I continue to rely on DRI for guidance and resources to reimagine our practice in these uncertain times. I’m so grateful to be a DRI lawyer.
- Melody H. Eagan, Managing Partner of Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC, Birmingham, AL
COVID-19 has forced many of us to seek new opportunities and pivot to new marketing strategies. Engagement with DRI and its Construction Committee remains a fulfilling way to build sustainable professional and personal relationships and to highlight your practice.
– David Jones, Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Little Rock, AR
Now, more than ever, attorneys are developing new ways to stay in touch with colleagues, clients and fellow attorneys. DRI offers members many outlets to stay connected, receive feedback and collaborate during our new working environment. There are many ways for members to take advantage of DRI membership benefits, but an important starting point is the DRI Community pages. Daily posts are distributed to the Community pages, where members can post discussion topics, seek feedback on legal issues, or request information on experts, venues, etc. Now is a great time to collaborate with other attorneys who may have valuable insight on your legal issues. The Litigation Skills Committee is one of the largest substantive law groups through DRI and consists of a national membership base with ample litigation experience. We hope the Community pages will assist you in connecting and collaborating in the months ahead.
- Nick Rauch, Larson King LLP, Saint Paul, MN
During this time of social isolation and working from home, I wanted to take a moment and remind everyone about one of the benefits of DRI membership - LegalPoint. LegalPoint is a searchable database of all of DRI's publications and includes content from For the Defense; In-House Defense Quarterly; Substantive Law Committee Newsletters; Defense Library Series publications; Seminar Materials; DRI Defense Wins Reporter; and The Voice.
No matter the issue, chances are that there is an article about it contained in LegalPoint.
- Baxter Drennon, Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Little Rock, AR
As many of us have shifted to a work from home (and perhaps, teach from home) lifestyle, we are isolated from family, friends and colleagues. Stress and anxiety about our health, our jobs, our finances and our future are ever present. Yet through it all, the connection among our DRI members is a saving grace. From sharing resources and research on COVID-19-related topics for our firms and clients to simply checking in with each other, the DRI community is truly that – a community. Our Young Lawyer Committee has remained well connected through emails and texts, on the communities page and with planned virtual meetings to allow us to vent frustrations and worries, grumble about suddenly becoming teachers, share remote marketing tips and simply swap recipes, podcasts and workout videos. As we all continue to focus on our client’s concerns and our own health and wellness, I am thankful that we are able to continue to serve our clients and the DRI community remotely from the comfort and safety of our homes. I wish everyone good health and look forward to happy reunions once it is safe to do so.
- Megan S. Peterson, Simon Peragine Smith & Redfearn LLP, New Orleans, LA
I have been a DRI member for about 20 years. I am in house with a property and casualty company, writing in 13 states through the Midwest and East. Many DRI members belong to this great organization, in part, to strengthen their business – to get work. However, not being in private practice, I can work for only one company (and its insureds). So one might ask “why belong and become so engaged if you can’t get business from it?” In short, I treasure this organization because I have become intellectually and personally enriched by the people with whom I have had the pleasure of associating. I also feel fortunate to give back to the civil defense practice by working with DRI to provide civil defense attorneys and their clients more of what they need to navigate the litigation world. It gratifies me to have linked more than a dozen DRI members with leaders in my company who select counsel to do our work. Because I have been given and have taken the opportunity to get to know so many excellent DRI lawyers, I am confident that I am providing my company with the “cream of the crop.” Providing that benefit to DRI members brings me great pleasure.
With the current pandemic, we have all now been thrust into uncharted territory. That naturally creates anxiety – anxiety about our lives, our families, our economy, our jobs and our businesses. In just days, I saw DRI direct its focus to what it can do for its members. I’m sure all attorneys and law firms have received and perhaps issued offers to help attorneys navigate this emergency. DRI has taken the lead in doing so, and I am able witness that DRI leadership is acting out of a genuine motive to help its members and all of us in the defense bar. DRI’s website, community pages and social media outlets are flooded with resources to provide professional and emotional support. Personally, when we now find it hard to associate with our extended families as we “hunker down” in our homes, thanks to email, conference calls, Skype and ZOOM, I have increased interaction with my DRI family. Through times like this, I can see that DRI is not only a necessary professional tool and resource, it is a professional and personal support system. Forced to cancel or postpone many of its incredible seminars and conferences where networking and social interaction opportunities were unmatched, DRI has taken steps to provide the best networking and social interaction one can have while keeping our mandated social distancing. Even after the social distancing orders are lessened, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis will live on for some time in our businesses and our lives. I know DRI will be there for its members not just now, but as we all work to find a new normal in the future.
- Gary L. Grubler, Grange Insurance, Columbus, OH
As a senior attorney, I am in the target age group for COVID-19. I am lucky to be in generally good health, and I do not have any underlying conditions that increase the risk of serious complications for the virus, but I am wise enough to take good advice when I hear it. So I am self-quarantining and working from my home for the duration of the crisis.
I should start by giving credit to my three years on the DRI Board of Directors (2010-2013) for educating me on the concept of lawyering by laptop. My many travels during that period of time compelled me to learn and employ the necessary talents to practice law while not sitting at my desk. That has come in handy a lot since then.
More recently and more directly, DRI has greatly facilitated my practice over the past few weeks in several respects. It has helped me keep up with the ongoing events related to the crisis. It has reminded me of several things that are important to know in practicing remotely, and it has alerted me to several things that are new to me and that have improved my practice from home. I have not had occasion yet to utilize any of the electronic options that DRI has developed, and I hope that the crisis will end without me having to do so, but knowing that the resources are there comforts me as I and my litigation partners struggle to find our footing on this new and rocky playing field. Most importantly, of course, is the fact that my contact list contains at least 150 names of great lawyers I have come to know over my DRI career, all of whom are available and willing to consult with me about anything that comes up. While I had this before and will have it after the crisis, it is somehow more comforting now.
Stay safe; stay healthy, my friends.
- George Walker, Hand Arendall Harrison Sale LLC, Mobile, AL
While we may be distant, we are not apart. A DRI friend from Canada took a break yesterday from her workday to say, “Hello, my friend.” That text, travelling across the border from someone I met years ago when we were both DRI State Representatives, helped warmly remind me that DRI is far more than a professional organization. We are a community of friends and families that are connected through thick and thin to care for each other both personally and professionally. Let’s use this organization to help us all get through the challenges that lie ahead. For example, DRI has developed a Coronavirus Information Center available on the DRI website that contains a range of resources to assist you with navigating the COVID-19 crisis. Please keep checking back, as it will be updated regularly.
In addition, on March 23, I began hosting a Zoom Meeting to connect as many of us as possible on a daily basis for a hot cup of coffee and a warm “hello, my friend.” Going forward, I will be present for fifteen minutes of Community Coffee each day with all of you, my friends across the nation and the world at DRI. I hope to see your smiling faces on my screen.
To connect with DRI Community Coffee each day at 12:00 PM Eastern Time (no password or ID required), join Zoom Meeting here.
- Emily G. Coughlin, Coughlin Betke LLP, Boston, MA
With the COVID-19 crisis affecting our clients across practice areas and across the country, having a nationwide resource of contacts and communication is essential. DRI’s eCommunities have been a strong part of handling the crisis and getting strong, accurate information in areas in which we may not always practice.
Just two examples: The Employment Law eCommunity members freely and generously provided write-ups, insights, bounced questions off each other, and asked what advice other lawyers were giving in light of the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). Members shared their firms’ analyses of a fluid situation and just helped with “gut checks” in light of a massive (not always well-written) new statute. With the shelter in place and other restrictions, the members continue to be a resource to each other. But as importantly, the eCommunity has provided a way to feel as if we are not all working alone, at home. It has provided a very real connection.
Meanwhile, the Commercial Litigation and Intellectual Property seminars have been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Planning members exchanged ideas regarding how to reschedule or still provide attendees with the information and the collegiality of the seminar, all while facing questions from clients and concerns about themselves and their families.
Finally, the DRI for Life committee is making available resources to lawyers known through eCommunity postings.
COVID-19 is creating challenges for all of us. The DRI Community is stepping up together to help each other find creative and effective solutions to help all of our clients and to help each other.
-Stacy L. Moon, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP, Birmingham, AL