We sat down with Monica Mackie, executive director of the Nashville Bar Association, to discuss the organization and her plans for the future of the association.
AALM: What is the goal of the association’s leadership in the coming year?
Mackie: The NBA is grateful to have an ambitious president, Joycelyn Stevenson, and board of directors this year. Our main goal is to grow our membership base and execute our strategic plan to obtain, retain and reclaim members. We will focus heavily on robust community service and leadership; broader, more effective communications; and meaningful networking opportunities for members, law students and nonmembers.
AALM: As a member of the leadership, how do you hope to advance the mission of the association? What steps have you taken toward that end?
Mackie: Our mission is to improve the practice of law through education, service and fellowship. In an effort to better communicate our mission, we have been working on a new communications plan, which includes a new website (just launched), this June, enhanced social media outreach, a new and improved Nashville Bar Journal and weekly membership email updates. We invite you to check out our new digs, NashvilleBar.org!
AALM: What benefits are there to attorneys who become actively involved in the NBA?
Mackie: We offer a sense of community and camaraderie among our members by providing quarterly social functions, monthly practice and service committee meetings, and over 100 relevant legal education programs at a discount for members. A member can expand his/her business and client base and gain referrals by building relationships and networking at events such as the annual golf tournament in the spring, the free member picnic in the fall, and the annual meeting and banquet in December. Members can also participate in Dial-a-Lawyer, a public service opportunity where the public is invited to call in with basic legal questions the first Tuesday of every month.
AALM: How has your involvement in the association benefited you and your career?
Mackie: My career in the legal profession has spanned 29 years, of which 18 has been in association work. While I do not have a law degree and the ability to directly help those with legal problems, I am very grateful to work and serve in an association that benefits attorneys and the legal profession. Our association is here to help attorneys work smarter, stay informed and build lasting personal and professional relationships.
AALM: What advice do you have for a new member or an individual considering joining?
Mackie: Call, email or come by and see me or any of our welcoming staff members. We love to give tours of the office and promote all of the services and events that we have to offer. Call a boa rd member and ask that board member why he/ she is a member and why he/she serves in a leadership role. Our job is to serve the member. Please let us know how we can help you in your practice.
AALM: What advice do you have for a member looking to increase their involvement in the association?
Mackie: Attending and volunteering at annual events is a great way to get involved in our association. The diversity committee is very active and produces a 1L Job Fair every January and a high school intern program every summer. The young lawyers division manages the local high school mock trial competition in February, sponsors a 5K/10K Race Judicata every spring, partners with The Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville for Arts Immersion in May, and coordinates Brews for Backpacks and the Carbolic Smoke Ball in the summer. Every fall we offer our members a free three-hour CLE produced by the historical committee. This year the program will document the history of the Blanton administration and highlight Nashville lawyers who were involved.
AALM: What changes is association leadership hoping to promote within the local legal community?
Mackie: This year, we are expanding our community service opportunities. Our young lawyers division is incredibly active and successful in raising awareness and funds for other nonprofit organizations, such as CASA, Achilles, Able Youth, First Steps, Inc., Hands on Nashville, Fifty Forward, Nashville Children Alliance and the Legal Aid Society. Among other projects, we will be working with the Metro Nashville Public Schools and Advocates for Women’s and Kids’ Equality to develop a community based truancy intervention program. Additionally, we will work with Judge Rachel Bell and her project of renovating the Martin Luther King, Jr. bridge in north Nashville.
AALM: As more students enter the field, how is the association helping to integrate them into the legal community?
Mackie: We are introducing a program in January called Friday Fundamentals. Every Friday in January through March, we will be training new lawyers with practical skills that will prepare them to represent clients. We also will provide business, marketing and law practice management advice from seasoned attorneys. This program will be offered free for members and focus on attorneys who were admitted to practice the prior year. We are excited to be offering this member benefit to new lawyers free of charge.
AALM: As you look back on your chapter’s history what role do you believe the association has played in the community? How do you hope to see that role develop in the future?
Mackie: Our association has had roots in the Nashville legal community since 1831. The founders stated the “desire to promote the respectability of their profession, to increase their legal and literary attainments, and, as far as is in their power, to secure the adoption of a system of laws commensurate with the wants of the people of this State.” Since that time, the NBA has upheld those desires. From sole practitioners to the largest firms, from legal aid attorneys to those in private practice, the NBA supports all of its members so that they can better serve clients and the justice system.