New Bar Year, New Challenges: A Message from the Chair 

By Ben Baldwin

Hello, fellow members of the Business Law Section, and welcome to the 2020-2021 bar year. Please permit me to begin the way I find myself beginning pretty much all written correspondence these days—with an expression of hope that you all are healthy and are navigating things safely and as cheerfully as possible!

It is again my honor to serve as Chair of the Section and to work with such an outstanding group of council members, committee co-chairs, and NCBA staff.

As always, it is our goal to make sure your Section membership comes with first-rate programming, activities, content, and other benefits—all with the overarching objective of enhancing your law practices and professional development. But as never before, this goal (like the goals and objectives of our firms and the clients we serve) is beset with steep challenges—those, of course, posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first challenge that comes to mind is that of safely providing the same superior level of CLE programming that Section members have come to expect and that is at the very foundation of Section member benefits.  To that end, our CLE Committee is currently working diligently to transition its Fall Basics in Business Law 2020 program, originally scheduled for in-person presentation at the Bar Center in Cary, to a webcast format—details to be determined.

Furthermore in this regard, the Section’s Annual Meeting in Pinehurst is slated for February 11-12, 2021. As of now, the event is scheduled to happen in person—but obviously that could change, depending on how things unfold. So stay tuned!

A year ago in this forum I identified the holding of more and improved social and networking gatherings as an objective for the Section. That’s now much easier said than done (thanks, COVID), but we will be exploring ways to fulfill this need in the current environment (and who knows, perhaps make Zoom® fun again in the process).

Since you are reading this, presumably you have already signed into and explored the redesigned Bar Association Business Law Section Communities web page. If you have any feedback on the new forum, please pass it along, and by all means don’t be shy—use the forum!

Also, with respect to the Communities web page, as you know, the Section has posted business law forms for use by the Section’s members. I hope to take a fresh look at the forms, so please let us know if there are any forms that you would like to see posted, or if you have noted any issues with respect to forms that are already there.

Finally, it’s never too late to get involved (or more involved)! We have a bevy of committees in the Section—there’s something to appeal to most any business law palate. Please take a look at the list and consider whether your interests align, and let us know that you would like to engage (or re-engage, as applicable). We’d be delighted to get you plugged in.

You know, it would be very easy now just to “hit pause” on so many aspects of life—maybe even including Bar Association involvement—until the pandemic blows over. I am tempted by that inclination each and every day—and I suspect I’m in good company. Each of us probably has in ourselves at least a little bit of Larry David, who once quipped, “I’m not a person who embraces challenges. I break world records running from challenges.”

And yet, his Seinfeld co-creator, Jerry Seinfeld himself, once said, “You have to motivate yourself with challenges. That’s how you know you’re still alive.”

There are so many ways to contribute to the Section. Serve on a committee. Speak at a CLE program. Write an article for our Blog. Spearhead a social gathering or networking activity.  Or even just make a suggestion for a change or an improvement you’d like to see in the Section. All are greatly appreciated.

So please join me in honoring the Jerry Seinfeld in us, and let’s work together to make the upcoming year as productive and rewarding as we can.

Please stay safe and best wishes for the rest of the summer.