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The President's Message

Dennis R. Bailey

What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time we were without an executive director. Today we not only have a director (we just finished a terrific annual meeting at Orange Beach thanks to the hard work of our new executive director, Jennifer Hayes, and executive assistant, Leigh Stinebaugh), but we are in this issue of the Journal announcing the birth of a new Alabama Property and Casualty Adjuster Association under the auspices of ADLA.

ADLA has been instrumental in helping to form a new statewide property and casualty adjusters association. The brainchild of Andy Rutens and David Sikes of AMIC, the APCAA will promote our working together with Alabama adjusters to further our joint interests in service to citizens of Alabama involved in potential litigation claims. To promote networking and continuing education, the APCAA will hold its meetings concurrently with ADLA perhaps as soon as the 2019 Annual Meeting in Sandestin. We are planning for them to have meeting space with us in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Please do all you can to encourage potential members of the APCAA to join this new effort to rekindle a statewide organization of professional adjusters. Hopefully, by January 1, 2019, the organization will be collecting dues and starting operations.

The Young Lawyers Section under the leadership of Megan McCarthy has been rejuvenated. The YLS has already recorded presentations for obtaining CLE online, most recently the legal update presented by Alex Holtsford at the Annual Meeting.  Providing free YLS led CLE opportunities to ADLA members is a value-added benefit of membership. The YLS in 2018-2019, led by Baines Fleming, will also provide the new Alabama claims organization some continuing education before our next annual meeting. 

I think we all owe a debt of special gratitude to Immediate Past President Sharon Stuart. As you all know, she took office without an executive director in place at an annual meeting that could have become a disorganized mess. But thanks to her steady hand, and a herculean effort by Leigh Stinebaugh and Leigh’s daughters, the meeting went off without any visible glitches. Sharon then proceeded to fulfill her promise to the membership to have a new executive director in place in a relatively short time. Thanks also to the Executive Director Search Committee, made up of Bruce Barze, Harold Stephens, Christie Estes, Pat Sefton and Michael Upchurch. These volunteers performed the due diligence necessary to screen several worthy candidates which eventually led to the hiring of Jennifer Hayes as our Executive Director in January of this year.

Our new executive director Jennifer Hayes has been a dynamo of energy who has pushed our organization to the next level. If you missed the Annual Meeting this year, you missed the most exciting meeting we have had in years. At the 2018 Annual Meeting, attendees enjoyed a beach bonfire with inflatable bouncy slides for the kids, a fishing trip, a petting zoo, a fun photo booth, a circle of beach chairs dedicated for attendees and a great band Saturday night, all in addition to the great CLE, golf, face painting, and swag members are used to experiencing at our family-friendly annual meetings. The feedback from the meeting was extremely positive, even including rave reviews for the facilities at the Perdido Beach Resort. Judges and lawyers particularly liked the short walks to the less-crowded beach when compared to Sandestin. Jennifer and Leigh did a fantastic job to make sure it all went smoothly.  

President-Elect Christina Bolin is already working on a great lineup of speakers for our 2019 Annual Meeting. Potential speakers are clamoring for the opportunity to make presentations before you. Note that due to the lead times for contracts for such events, we will return to Sandestin in 2019 but given the feedback we have received, Orange Beach will be high on our radar when decisions are made concerning future meetings after current commitments to Sandestin expire in 2021.

Jennifer is also aggressively recruiting new members and encouraging former members to rejoin resulting in higher member numbers and an upward trend that is the envy of other state defense lawyer associations. She has scheduled a Topgolf event for August 9 in Birmingham, in conjunction with the ADLA Bibb Allen Memorial Trial Academy – which, along with ADLA’s Deposition Bootcamp, is another one of the major lawyer education programs which led to the formation of ADLA by founding President Thomas F. Parker in the first place.

Our Legislative Committee has provided value to our members by screening bills for potential impact on our organization. Last year, after a member of the committee noted last-minute changes to SB 39, we mobilized our membership to exercise their First Amendment rights to contact legislators about the bill’s effect on the burden of proof in opioid cases and attempt to adopt enterprise liability. Our efforts were appreciated by legislators unfamiliar with the ramifications of those features. This year Stephen Still will chair the committee which will include Allen Estes, Ed Howard, Andy Rutens, Mary Margaret Carroll and Keith Miller. Based upon the rate that members open the legislative update emails, the value of this committee to the membership is great.

Our Amicus Curiae Committee keeps us on the front lines of legal issues affecting our profession and often of concern to many of our clients.  Alabama Appellate Courts have in the past sought ADLA amicus participation on such issues. This year Craig Alexander will chair the committee which consists of over a dozen experienced appellate lawyers, some of whom have served on the committee for many years.

Of course, since you are reading this column you already know about the ADLA Journal and how valuable it is to ADLA members. Because Christina is now President-Elect, she has turned over the Editor reigns to Gaby Reeves who will be working with our terrific Editorial Board. Efforts to make the articles searchable will make the Journal even more useful to ADLA members.

With all of these successful programs and important committees, I hope you agree that membership in ADLA is worth your time and membership fees. If there are other areas you believe ADLA should consider, please let me or any member of the Board of Directors know. We plan to meet in October in Montgomery to discuss strategic planning, so get your suggestions in before October 15 if you can.

Finally, it is an honor to be elected to serve as the President of this organization. When I reviewed the list of past presidents of ADLA, I was humbled by the number of outstanding lawyers and judges who have served the ADLA membership in the past. I hope I can stand on their shoulders and maintain the strong reputation of this organization and, hopefully, even leave it better than I found it. Given the work of my predecessors, that may be a tall order.

Past Presidents of ADLA


Thomas F. Parker*


James E. Clark*


Paul W. Brock*


Alto V. Lee III*


H. R. Burnham*


Clarence Simmons Jr.*


Bibb Allen*


Ralph Gaines*


W. Boyd Reeves*


Edgar M. Elliott III*


Roy W. Scholl Jr.*


Donald F. Pierce*


Harold Albritton


Broox G. Holmes


Thomas W. Christian


Harold F. Herring*


Stancil R. Starnes*


Robert S. Lamar Jr.*


Huey D. McInish*


Curtis Wright*


William C. Knight Jr.


Joe C. Cassady


Bert S. Nettles


Stanley A. Cash


J. L. Klinefelter


H. E. “Chip” Nix Jr.


A. Danner Frazer Jr.


Eugene P. Stutts


Davis Carr*


Richard S. Manley


Jack W. Torbert*


Ollie L. Blan Jr.*


Wade H. Baxley*


Carol Ann Smith


Charles A. Stewart III


Alex L. Holtsford Jr.


John F. “Jack” Janecky


Henry T. Morrissette


Samuel H. Franklin


Jack W. Torbert Jr.


William J. Gamble


R. Alan Alexander


R. Bruce Barze Jr.


Helen J. Alford


H. Harold Stephens


Patrick L. W. Sefton


David K. Howard


Melody H. Eagan


Joseph J. Minus Jr.


W. Dudley Motlow Jr.


Michael E. Upchurch


Allen M. Estes


Sharon D. Stuart



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