If you would have told me fourteen years ago when I entered the practice of law that I would one day be president of the Cincinnati Bar Association, I would have told you to rejoin the realm of reality. As a new, young, government, Black, female attorney, I did not see the CBA as a place where I belonged. I found a more defined place for myself within the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati, which was my first and still is one of my valued professional places of belonging. Affinity bars are critically important to a sense of belonging and the advancement in the profession for those attorneys each affinity bar represents, but we can’t stop there. The Cincinnati Bar Association helps advance affinity bars with programming like the BLAC-CBA Round Table and our profession as a whole. I know the perspective I bring as the first Black woman to serve as president of the CBA in 151 years is consequential to advancing our legal community. The CBA’s focus this year is our bar. I want to ensure the CBA is a place where all attorneys find a sense of belonging and ownership in our association.
This year we will further the diversity and inclusion work that past presidents Doug Dennis and John J. Williams started, and work to bring all affinity bar members into the CBA fold. Diversity and inclusion in our professional association must also include diversity of background, thought, practice area, and practice experience. Through conversations with many members and non-members, practicing in all areas of law from government to large law firms, there are many who feel disconnected to the CBA. While I felt the same early in my career, I now know there are so many opportunities to find connection within the CBA. I am so happy a friend invited me to participate with her in a YLS activity, that a judge recommended me to participate in the Cincinnati Academy of Leadership for Lawyers, and that another friend encouraged me to join the Board of Trustees. My accepting these invitations allowed me to fully realize all the CBA had to offer. This year I want to build the bridge that connects us all to the CBA.
This is your association. The CBA exists to serve members (YOU) and the profession by educating attorneys via CLEs, affording opportunities for business growth through our lawyer referral service, providing mentorship between attorneys, connecting the bench and the bar, working in the community to improve public understanding of the law and justice system, and investigating and prosecuting unethical behavior of attorneys to preserve the integrity of our profession. Greater Cincinnati has about 6,500 attorneys. Just over 3,200 are CBA members. Maintaining an organization that meets the ever-changing needs of 3,200 attorneys (and growing) is no small task, but your CBA staff has masterfully met the challenge. We know the options are plentiful when it comes to bar association membership, where to get your CLEs, and where to commune with your fellow attorneys. This year we will showcase why we know the Cincinnati Bar Association is your best option. Yes, I am partial to the CBA, but as I hope you will find this year, for very good reason.
I cannot close without first thanking Steve Richey for his leadership over this past year. Steve’s commitment to the CBA is admirable and I have had a great time working with him. The CBA will continue Steve’s focus on increased community service efforts, which were exemplified through several partnerships with area social service organizations during our 150th anniversary year last year. I loved working alongside and getting to know other attorneys who I usually would not come across.
I end with this request: Please come and invite someone to join you for a CBA event. Whether it be a practice group meeting, a CLE, a CBA happy hour, or an event you give us the idea for, there are tons of options for connecting new members with the amazing opportunities the CBA holds. And who knows. Maybe one day, that invitation to connect to the CBA could lead to another presidency.
All hands on deck — let’s make it a great year!
Trotter Bratton is a judge with the Municipal Court of Hamilton County and the 2023-2024 CBA president.