2019 - 2020 President
Alison R. Christian, Esq.
Christian, Dichter & Sluga, P.C.
By the time this newsletter reaches you, 2019 will be almost over. What a year it has been! AADC’s mainstay, Executive Director Debbie Hanson-Tripp, retired on July 1st after nineteen years serving our organization. She was called to join her husband in retirement and sail the Pacific as they both set their sights on life’s next adventure. This change brought a new opportunity to us as well…
Doreen Myles joined us as the AADC’s Executive Director this fall! Over the last several years, Doreen has assisted with planning and execution of legal conferences and networking events for a national organization of leading defense counsel and served as executive director for a local chapter of trial attorneys. With her extensive experience supporting legal professionals, Doreen brings a unique perspective in helping legal organizations fulfill their missions and serve their membership. Please introduce yourself to Doreen at our upcoming events and welcome her to the team.
A special thank you to everyone who attended or supported our Barry Fish Memorial Fundraiser at Top Golf this fall—we were able to raise nearly $12,000 for the Phoenix ALS Chapter! This new format has allowed us to more than double the amounts we raise for the charity each year. We look forward to our next charity event in the spring – the YLD Softball Tournament – and we hope you will “Play Ball for Kids” with your firm! We also plan to move our Annual Meeting to a venue in Northern Arizona next June to give our members a chance to escape the heat (and to get your ethics credit!).
While the AADC was on summer recess, I sat down for coffee with each of our Board members with two goals in mind. First, I wanted to get to know our team on a more personal level and understand their goals, strengths, and recommendations for our organization. You should be very proud of your Board, because we have an incredible group! We have cancer survivors, community leaders, and a whole bunch of parents working hard to provide for their families. Our Board alone proves that the AADC is more than “insurance defense” attorneys: we have a product liability lawyer who tries cases across the country, one of the top-rated sports law attorneys in Arizona, and a Rising Star employment litigator. In fact, last year we created an Employment Substantive Law Committee to meet the needs of Arizona’s growing employment practitioners. We also have our first in-house member on the Executive Committee and look forward to expanding our connection with Arizona’s corporate counsel this year.
My second goal was to share with the Board my personal mission during my presidency. I have been lucky enough to serve the AADC through the Board and the YLD for the last ten years. Within the last several years, we have lost two of our Board members to substance-related suicide. Their memories sit with me often. I am sure their stories would echo with others, and their deaths are indicative of a much broader problem. It is not a problem I can ignore. It is much more important to me that we take action to avoid the loss of another life than it is to worry about losing the next case.
It is also clear that the resources available to struggling attorneys in Arizona are inadequate. The Member Assistance Program is currently relegated to a single individual, who is not a clinician and not available 24/7, and member volunteers, who are also not capable of providing treatment. Although it is confidential, it is not anonymous, and callers are required to provide their bar number.
After raising my concerns to State Bar CEO Joel England, a Member Assistance Program Task Force was created in October. I currently serve on the Task Force with nine other volunteers. The Charter states “The Member Assistance Program (MAP) Task Force is charged with formulating a recommendation for the revitalization of the Bar’s Member Assistance Program with the intent to expand the services offered to lawyers and judges struggling with substance use disorder, addiction, mental health challenges, and stress. The recommendation must be for a model that is scalable, statewide and financially sustainable, and utilize outsourced, or affiliations with, treatment providers.” I connected with the Tucson Defense Bar President, Danielle Constant, and the Arizona Association for Justice President, Scott Palumbo, and they are committed to joining our efforts to make a difference for lawyers in Arizona.
These are some of the changes we have underway at the AADC, and I would value any input you want to share! As the year draws to a close, I encourage you to connect with our members and our community at upcoming events. Share successes, share joys, share struggles, share frustrations. And perhaps consider sharing a non-alcoholic beverage with someone who may need a friend.
Alison R. Christian, AADC President