Deposition Boot Camp

ADLA Trial Academy

About ADLA

The President's Message

Sharon D. Stuart

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."  Although Aristotle's statement is mathematically incorrect, it is full of truth.  When people work together, they leverage their strengths to accomplish greater things than they might accomplish alone.

We defense lawyers know this philosophy to be true, and even pay it lip service.  Yet, when it comes to our law practice, we do not always embrace it.  We often practice in silos, depending for guidance only on our personal experiences and what our firms share from within.  Perhaps we are afraid to ask others for help.  Perhaps we are just too busy to ask.  Perhaps we don't want to share either our failures or our "secrets of success" for fear that if other defense lawyers learn them, they might steal our clients.  Whatever the reason, defense lawyers historically have been protective of our own work product, and we seem reticent to work together even on issues that admittedly affect our clients broadly. All the while, our colleagues in the plaintiff's bar have been sharing ideas, theories, concepts, case law, discovery and trial tactics, and legislative agendas, which they then collectively practice against our clients.  Why on earth would we choose not to join forces with other defense lawyers to combat this strategy and benefit the individuals and businesses we represent?

The founders of the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association recognized that we must collaborate in order to best serve our clients.  The "Purpose" of ADLA as set forth in our Bylaws makes our mission abundantly clear:

The purpose of this association shall be to bring together by association, communication and organization, lawyers of Alabama who devote a substantial amount of their professional time to the handling of civil cases and whose representation in such cases is primarily for the defense; to provide for the exchange among members of this association of such information, ideas, techniques of procedure and court rulings relating to the handling of litigation as are calculated to enhance the knowledge of and improve the skills of defense lawyers; to elevate the standards of trial practice in this area and, in conjunction with similar associations in other areas, to develop, establish, and secure court adoption or approval of a high standard code of trial conduct and courtroom manners; to support and work for the improvement of the adversary system of jurisprudence in our courts; to work for the elimination of court congestion and delays in civil litigation; and in general to promote improvements in the administration of justice and to increase the quantity and quality of the service and contribution to which the legal profession renders to the community, state and nation. (Emphasis added).

Your Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Young Lawyers Board, and Committee Chairs are laser focused on fulfilling this mission. This year, in particular, we are focused on the highlighted portion of the purpose statement.  In this age where clients are focused on choosing counsel who can bring additional value to their services, ADLA is working to give its members the tools to provide that added value. Understanding that when it comes to technology, the future is now, we are implementing technological advances in the member benefits we deliver.  The practice of law is changing rapidly – it has changed more in the last 10 years than in the 40 years before.  ADLA wants to help its members adapt to the changing legal environment and thrive in it.  ADLA is the go-to source for the information Alabama defense practitioners really need to deal with the issues we face every day.  Look for big and exciting changes that will make it easier for our members to navigate our website, access our publications, and more easily exchange information, ideas and techniques across the state.  This unified front will improve our members' ability to provide clients with the value they demand and deserve.

Of course, ADLA will continue to provide the great benefits we always have, to name but a few:

Top caliber, well respected Amicus Curiae support.  ADLA's Amicus Curiae Committee, chaired by Mark Hess, has submitted 6 briefs and has participated twice in oral argument before the Alabama Supreme Court in the last year. The Alabama Supreme Court often asks ADLA to write on issues of importance. Our Amicus Committee gives our members a credible and respected voice in the appellate courts.

Legislative engagement and member education on legislative issues.  Under the leadership of our Legislative Committee, chaired by Dennis Bailey, ADLA reviews all bills pending before our legislature, so that we can quickly take action when necessary.  We notify our members of legislation impacting our clients and the defense bar.  ADLA acts as a resource to legislators as they consider legislation affecting the judicial system. We work with the Defense Research Institute and other defense and business oriented groups in our region to stay on top of and proactively address legislative issues of concern to our members and their clients.

Involvement in the Alabama State Bar Leadership Symposium.   ADLA participates with leaders from the state bar and other local and specialty bar associations across the state in this Symposium, which is designed to provide an avenue for collaboration and communication among bar leaders to facilitate cross-fertilization of ideas and support for one another in this ever-changing profession.

The Alabama Defense Lawyers Association Journal.  Our publication, expertly edited by Christina Bolin, is always full of timely, helpful articles about issues that affect our practice and our clients' business.

Expert witness inquiry service.  Over 100 times a year, ADLA connects lawyers with others who can share their experiences in dealing with expert witnesses.  Our Executive Assistant, Leigh Stinebaugh, does an excellent job of quickly processing your requests for expert help.

Young lawyer training.  ADLA's two flagship programs, Trial Academy and Deposition Boot Camp, continue to be favorite training grounds for our young lawyers. Our Young Lawyers Section, headed by Megan McCarthy, is working on fresh, new ideas to engage and teach our young lawyers.  Look for additional programs on Mediation/Negotiation and Rainmaking, as well as a young lawyers webinar, to be offered in the next year. We also offer lunch and learn programs and Law Student Chapters at the University of Alabama, Cumberland and Jones Law Schools, as well as a diversity scholarship at each school.

Annual Meeting.  What's not to love about our annual meeting? It provides top-flight CLE in a beautiful beach setting, family friendly events, and an opportunity to mingle with defense lawyers from Tennessee and our Alabama appellate judges, many of whom regularly attend the meeting.  Our 2018 Annual Meeting will be at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama, June 21 to 24. I hope you will attend!

In this time of extreme competition for membership dollars, ADLA pledges to be a good steward of the resources entrusted to us. Our goal is that your dues are the most valuable membership dollars you pay this year. That is why, some 50 years after adopting its statement of purpose, ADLA continues to be one of the largest, most vibrant state defense organizations in the country.

In order to accomplish our goal, we need you.  Our association will reach its fullest potential and provide the most benefits only if our members are involved.  Do you take advantage of the resources ADLA makes available to you? Are you involved in some of the activities and services ADLA provides?  Are all of the defense lawyers in your firm ADLA members?  If the answer to any of these questions is no, let's change that! Where would you like to be plugged in?  What are ways that ADLA can serve you, and that you can serve your fellow members?  Let us know, and I promise that we will listen and act. 

Why the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association?  Because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Together, we will become better lawyers and provide superior representation to our clients.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as President of this great organization. I am excited about our future and the things we will accomplish together!


Twitter: @SDStuart_law

Past Presidents of ADLA


Thomas F. Parker

James E. Clark

Paul W. Brock

Alto V. Lee, III

H. R. Burnham

Clarence Simmons, Jr.

Bibb Allen

Ralph Gaines

W. Boyd Reeves

Edgar M. Elliott, III

Roy W. Scholl, Jr.

Donald F. Pierce

Harold Albritton

Broox G. Holmes

Thomas W. Christian

Harold F. Herring

Stancil R. Starnes

Robert S. Lamar, Jr.

Huey D. McInish

Curtis Wright

William C. Knight, Jr.

Joe C. Cassady

Bert S. Nettles

Stanley A. Cash

J. L. Klinefelter

H. E. “Chip” Nix, Jr.

A. Danner Frazer, Jr.

Eugene P. Stutts

Davis Carr

Richard S. Manley

Jack W. Torbert

Ollie L. Blan, Jr.

Wade H. Baxley

Carol Ann Smith

Charles A. Stewart, III

Alex L. Holtsford, Jr.

John F. “Jack” Janecky

Henry T. Morrissette

Samuel H. Franklin

Jack W. Torbert, Jr.

William J. Gamble

R. Alan Alexander

R. Bruce Barze, Jr.

Helen J. Alford

H. Harold Stephens

Patrick L. W. Sefton

David K. Howard

Melody H. Eagan

Joseph J. Minus, Jr.

W. Dudley Motlow, Jr.

Michael E. Upchurch

Allen M. Estes

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