Dear Fellows and friends,
President Noël Ferris passed away on May 21, 2017, surrounded by her family and extended IATL family. She was a strong, active and powerful leader of our Academy, and she will be missed by many, but her legacy will remain with us all.
“I am inspired by your voices. By your desire to repair the world. By your indifference to recognition.” Dean Noël Ferris, IATL Dean’s Address, Santa Barbara, California, March 20th, 2015.
In her Dean’s address and in her own personal and professional life President Ferris believed in and personified these words. She had many roles in her life: wife, mother, friend, lawyer and President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. She embraced and filled each role with the same strength and warmth.
When President Ferris received her diagnosis of ALS, her doctor told her to concentrate on the things she loved. As she indicated in her Presidential acceptance speech in April, what she loved and wanted to concentrate on were, in this order: Parker and her girls, her dogs and the IATL. She told us not to feel badly that we came in behind the dogs, because they are great dogs. Such was Noël’s humor and grace. We feel blessed to have been included in Noël’s priorities. The love was mutual from and for all three.
While we mourn the tragic and untimely passing of President Ferris, we must simultaneously look to the future for our Academy.
The Academy’s bylaws provide that the President presides as Chair of the Board, the Executive Committee, and at all meetings of the Academy. The President also appoints committee members. The President is an ex officio member of all committees with the right to vote. The President has overall responsibility for the welfare and usefulness of the Academy and performs such other duties as are incident to the office of President.
The bylaws further provide that in the absence of the President, or if that office shall become vacant, the President-Elect shall assume all the responsibilities of the President and shall preside at all meetings of the Academy, the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee. Similarly, in the absence of the President-Elect, the Vice-President shall assume all duties and responsibilities of the President-Elect.
With these bylaw provisions in mind, the Executive Committee has determined that although my term as President of the Academy will not officially commence until the March 2018 Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, beginning immediately the duties of President will be discharged by me, as President-Elect. Linked here is a resolution adopted by the Executive Committee of the Academy on May 29, 2017, effectuating this succession plan.
While this is not what any of us would have envisioned for our Academy or our friends Noël and Parker in 2017, we are committed to take any and all actions and make such decisions that will promote the welfare of the Academy and carry out President Ferris’ goals and vision. I am fortunate to have the support of a great Executive Committee and a caring staff led by Linda Scher as we work through this process together. In recognition of the magnificent leadership we enjoyed under President Ferris and to appropriately honor her memory, the records of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers will reflect that for the year of 2017, we were led by President Noël Ferris.
We look forward to coming together with you at all upcoming Academy meetings and trips – Montreal, Africa, and Austin – all of which remain on calendar and all of which will proceed as scheduled.
J. Mark White