Sara G. Neill
BAMSL President, 2019-20
Shareholder, Capes Sokol
Originally published in the April 2020 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine. View in the archives.
The week before the St. Louis region's "Stay at Home" orders, limitations on the number of people who may attend social gatherings, and the closure of restaurant dining rooms, I took a road trip with my immediate family and some friends to western Texas and New Mexico. We first visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We then traveled to Guadalupe Mountains National Park where we climbed 9,000 feet to the highest point in Texas. We visited the bison herd at Caprock Canyon State Park, hiked through the Palo Duro Canyon, and then stopped for some quick photos at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.
Most nights, we had food delivered to the mostly vacant hotels we stayed in, and we spent half a day driving through small Texas towns searching for toilet paper and hand sanitizer. It was the perfect vacation under the circumstances. Mostly remote, lots of family time, and we got away from the 24/7 media coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic. By the time we returned from our trip, most things around here had changed and the reality of the situation began to set in.
I have been doing my best to stay positive while working remotely and helping my kids with their "distance learning." We have more time for things like making breakfast, are trying to get outside and exercise, and Tom has declared we will have a fantastic garden this year (I may even help him).
Meanwhile, at BAMSL, I am supporting Zoe Linza and her outstanding efforts to manage our association during this very difficult and unprecedented time. We have had to cancel and reschedule several major events including Law Day and Corporate Counsel Institute. Fortunately, the hotels have been willing to work with us. We have had to cancel in-person CLEs for the time being and are hoping to be able to offer more webinars in the coming weeks. At this point, Bench and Bar is still scheduled for the end of May and we are hopeful that we will not have to cancel this year's conference.
We are not going to put the health of our members and staff at risk and will not hold in-person events until government restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so.
There will likely be a tremendous need for attorneys to provide pro bono legal services as a result of this pandemic. Sam Page, through his Chief of Staff, Winston Calvert, and County Counselor, Beth Orwick, reached out to BAMSL to inquire as to what we can do to help ensure that lawyers are available when needed. We have taken steps to coordinate with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri as well as The Missouri Bar. Be looking for communications on this and thinking of ways you may be able to help.
This is my 16th and last column as BAMSL President. In each of the earlier columns, I tried to focus on the value and benefits of BAMSL membership, as well as highlighting events, projects, and other activities BAMSL is currently engaged in. This column was originally supposed to be a wrap-up of my year as President. Like everything else these days, the impact of the Coronavirus takes priority.
It has been a huge honor to serve the association and its members. I am looking forward to continuing to be involved in the association, and serving as an ex-officio member of the Executive Director Search Committee, a member of the finance committee, and to work as the Past President with incoming BAMSL President, the Hon. Glenn Norton, and the Executive Committee.
I am very grateful for the support and counsel of BAMSL's phenomenal leadership team, especially the Hon. Glenn Norton, the Hon. Carol Jackson, Apollo Carey, Jamie Boyer, Kevin Gunn, and my Presidential liaisons, the Hon. Rodney Sippel, the Hon. Michael Mullen and John Gunn. Zoe Linza, has been an absolute joy to work with, as has the BAMSL staff—a talented, hard-working, and positive group of individuals. There is no way I could have taken on this Presidency without the support of my partners at Capes Sokol and my wonderful family.
I hope to see you all at Bench and Bar (fingers crossed) and Law Day, if not before. In the meantime, stay healthy and do your best to stay positive.