Today I departed for the Arkansas Bar Association Annual Meeting. It is one of my favorite activities in the whole year. I always look forward to the bar meeting because I see new and old members of the bar and mingle with our alums and their families. Even those from Northwest Arkansas who I don’t get to see during the year are often at the bar meeting and that’s a great pleasure to connect with them again. I left for the bar meeting early that morning because I wanted to stop in Little Rock to have lunch with Angie Foster. But as it turns out, she forgot our lunch and she went to Mount Petit Jean with her dad that day. So, we’ll just reconnect another day.

I got back on the road and headed from Little Rock to Hot Springs, arriving mid-afternoon. I did a little bit of walking up and down Central Avenue before checking into the Embassy Suites Hotel. The Embassy Suites is an overflow hotel, but the good thing about it is you have internet access in the hotel rooms and also it’s a little bit quieter because it’s away from the hubbub of the bar meeting, which is held at the Arlington Hotel.

That evening was the President’s Reception and the Bar Foundation Dinner. Very quickly after checking in, I had to rush and get ready for that. The reception and dinner is a black tie event and for many years now, I’ve attended the event with my very close friend, Kitty Gay, and she has invited me as her guest. It is always a wonderful event because it is an event at which the Bar Association awards are given out. The Arkansas Bar Association and Arkansas Bar Foundation presented the following awards at the meeting:
– Ron D. Harrison of Ledbetter, Cogbill, Arnold & Harrison, LLP in Fort Smith – Outstanding Lawyer
– Judge David M. “Mac” Glover, Arkansas Court of Appeals – Outstanding Lawyer-Citizen
– Robert M. Cearley, Jr. of the Cearley Law Firm in Little Rock – C.E. Ransick Award
– David Solomon of Helena – James H. McKenzie Professionalism Award
– J. Mark Davis of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP in Little Rock – Outstanding Lawyer-Humanitarian
– Danyelle J. Walker of the Walker Law Firm in Little Rock – Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award
– Jim L. Julian of Chisenhall, Nestrud & Julian in Little Rock – Charles L. Carpenter Memorial Award
– Mary Beth Matthews, Professor of Law, University of Arkansas School of Law – Maurice Cathey Award
– Michelle H. Cauley of Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, PLLC in Little Rock – Frank C. Elcan Award and Legal Writing award
– Richard F. Hatfield of Hatfield & Lassiter in Little Rock – Continuing Legal Education Award
– Judge Wiley Branton, ç, Sixth Judicial District – General Writing award
– Gwendolyn Rucker, Staff Attorney, Arkansas Supreme Court Office of Professional Conduct – Golden Gavel Award
– William C. Mann, Chief Deputy City Attorney, Little Rock – Golden Gavel Award
– John Vines of Wood, Smith, Schnipper, Clay & Vines in Hot Springs – Golden Gavel Award
– Jeffrey Ellis McKinley of DeWitt – Golden Gavel Award

A special treat that evening was the fact that Ron Harrison was being recognized as the Arkansas Bar Association Outstanding Lawyer for 2008. Among those who nominated him were Price Marshall and myself and it was an honor to do so. I was able to catch a shuttle from the hotel over to the reception, which lasted for a couple of hours. It was great to see so many alums and friends of the school of law and personal friends as well.

After the reception, we all headed into the ballroom for the dinner at which the awards were given. I was very honored to sit at the table with Ron Harrison, his son Brandon Harrison (also our alum), his wife Rebecca, his mom, and Kitty. All of us sat at that table together. The dinner was a petite filet with a twice-baked potato and asparagus and chocolate cake.

After the dinner, there was a little bit of dancing. I got to sit with Judge Hendren and his wife Janet. We danced a little bit to a little trio and then that day was Judge Hendren’s birthday, so he invited us up for a little birthday cake and to celebrate with him. I wanted to mention here for the bloggies out there (I’ve said this over and over again) how really important the friendships are that you build around professional associations. One of the neatest things that happened that evening was the opportunity to sit with Judge Hendren and talk about really complex legal and moral issues open and candidly. Even though we sometimes disagreed, it’s important to be able to have those conversations. I really appreciate the fact that we have that kind of friendship and the fact that we’re able to have those deep and honest conversations. Though I enjoyed the birthday cake, I also appreciate the friendship and the conversation. It was a really good way to close the evening, sharing it with Kitty and Judge Hendren and Janet. Afterwards, it was time to call for the Embassy Suites shuttle and head back to the hotel.