The Atlanta Lawyer June/July 2019 - Page 4

Feels Like Home: The Atlanta Bar Association O n May 21, 2019, I was honored to become the 112th President of the Atlanta Bar Association. It was a humbling experience, given the lawyers that have held this position before me. My predecessors have been wonderful stewards of the organization since it was established 131 years ago, and I intend to do everything I can to maintain that proud tradition. Being sworn in as President of the Atlanta Bar is particularly meaningful to me because the Atlanta Bar family has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was born here in Atlanta, and I have lived in this city virtually my entire life. My father, Terry Walsh, practiced law in Atlanta for his entire career. In addition to his practice at Alston & Bird, my father was also very active in the larger Atlanta legal community, including service as Atlanta Bar President. Upon my swearing in last May, my father and I learned we were only the second (albeit slightly less famous) father/ son duo to have served as President of the Atlanta Bar Association, with the first being Eugene and Stephens Mitchell (the father and brother of author, Margaret Mitchell). 4 June/July 2019 Joining a legacy as the 112th President of the Atlanta Bar Association, looking towards an innovative future while giving honor to the past. RYAN K. WALSH Jones Day rkwalsh@jonesday.com The example my father set for me as I was growing up in Atlanta was a major reason that I chose to go to law school many years ago. I witnessed firsthand the many rewards, as well as the myriad challenges, associated with the practice of law in this city. I learned from my father’s work (and the work of his colleagues) how lawyers can have an outsized impact on both their clients and the community as a whole. y father’s past service with the Atlanta Bar was also a factor in my decision to get involved with the Bar when I was a baby lawyer. Once again, I had seen the tangible benefits my father derived from being involved with the Atlanta Bar – the relationships he developed, the work he was able to accomplish, and the impact he was able to have on the local legal community. It is undeniable that the legal profession in Atlanta has changed a great deal in the 28 years since my father was President. The world has gotten smaller. Law practices are not just local or regional, but national if not global. Despite this globalization, Atlanta remains our home, and the Atlanta Bar remains our family. And nothing is more important than family. And, just like it always has, the Atlanta Bar remains a powerful force for good in our community. When I was young, I remember my father telling me and my siblings about the Mariel Cubans being held at the Atlanta Penitentiary in the 1980s. I remember hearing how then Atlanta Bar President Frank Strickland worked with Atlanta Legal Aid’s Executive Director, Steve Gottlieb, to mobilize hundreds of Atlanta lawyers to give voices to Cuban refugees who had none. I was fortunate to have several family members in attendance for the ceremony on May 21st. This included my parents (Pat and Terry Walsh), along with my wife Susan, and our children -- Conor, Claire, Sally, and Seán. I was also fortunate to be sworn in as the Atlanta Bar President by Judge Philip Etheridge. Judge Etheridge’s presence was also significant as he has not only been a close family friend for many years, but he also swore in my father as Atlanta Bar President 28 years ago (a fact I only learned after asking him if he would do me the honor of swearing me into the position). It was an emotional moment for me, surrounded by relatives and friends, as I became the second Walsh to serve as President of the Atlanta Bar family. That was obviously only one of many instances where the Atlanta Bar has exemplified the better angels of our often criticized profession. You can go all the way back to the establishment of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society in 1924 (whose founding Board reads like the “Who’s Who” of the Atlanta Bar); the co-founding of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation in 1979; the establishment of the Atlanta Bar Foundation and the Minority and Diversity Clerkship Program in 1985; the co-founding of the Truancy Intervention Project in 1992; and the co-founding of the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network in 2005 (which was initially called the Atlanta Bar Asylum Project). M