President's Corner

President’s Corner

By: Hilary A. Ballentine, Plunkett Cooney, P.C.

Teamwork Works

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people."

--Steve Jobs

This past weekend, I watched a (very) patient sports coach attempt to teach teamwork to a

group of three and four-year-olds. Not surprisingly, each child initially thought that he or she

should be “in charge” of the team. And when they first gathered around the edges of a large play

tent with two soft footballs in the middle, they all shook the tent to their own rhythms. Much to

their chagrin, the footballs just bounced erratically on the tent. But after a bit of coaching, the

children learned that if they slowly lifted the tent up in unison and then snapped it down together,

the footballs would fly high in the air (cue the squealing delight of toddlers). A successful

demonstration of teamwork, I would say.

This basic concept of teamwork, which we learn as children, permeates every aspect of our

adult lives. At home, we rely on our familial team to accomplish even the most mundane tasks

(laundry, anyone?). Professionally, we frequently utilize a team-centered approach to achieve the

best results for our clients. Whether it be round-tabling a case to determine the best litigation

strategy, utilizing co-chairs at trial, or mooting an appellate oral argument, the old adage that “two

heads are better than one” certainly rings true in the practice of law. Even operating within the

same set of legal rules, different attorneys approach cases differently. Each attorney brings a

unique perspective to the team; and, as the late Steve Jobs aptly observed, the collective knowledge

of a team of people is greater than that of any single person.

The MDTC does not just subscribe to these principles; teamwork is the very heart of the

organization. In fact, the MDTC has many “teams”; just take a look at our list of committees

( and section chairs

( to see some of our many team members

who are hard at work to further our organizational goal. Just recently, a very diligent team worked

together to plan the MDTC’s Legal Excellence Awards event at the Detroit Historical Museum –

a completely new event for the organization. It was one of our most heavily-attended, successful

events. Teamwork: case-in-point.

It is amazing what can be accomplished when a true team spirt is invoked, wherein the

focus is on the end result rather than on receiving individual credit or applause. This is exactly

how I view the MDTC team – a collection of attorneys working together, not to receive individual

praise, but to achieve together a larger goal: promoting excellence in civil litigation. I am proud to

be a member of this team.

Since this is my last opportunity to address you as President, I must take a moment to

recognize some special members of the MDTC team: Vice President Rick Paul (Dickinson Wright

PLLC), Treasurer Josh Richardson (Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC), Secretary Irene

Hathaway (Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone PLC) and Past President D. Lee Khachaturian

(Law Offices of Diana Lee Khachaturian). Through monthly conference calls, attendance and

participation at Board meetings, and strategic planning of various events, these team members

have been instrumental in the MDTC’s success over the past year. Moreover, they also took on

additional responsibilities without complaint when I welcomed my daughter in August. I am

extremely grateful to this team, which I have no doubt will lead the MDTC to even greater heights

in the coming year.

Finally, many thanks is to be given to our Executive Director, Madelyne Lawry, and her

team, including Valerie Sowulewski and Kyle Platt. Much of the behind-the-scenes work of the

organization is attributable to the outstanding efforts of these individuals.

During the past year, I have gained a unique perspective into how our organization works

together to plan seminars, publish our Quarterly, filter amicus requests and author amicus briefs

on the organization’s behalf, and host our various meetings and events. Great things, indeed,

accomplished by an enthusiastic team of people I am proud to have worked with and privileged to

know. Thank you for a wonderful year.

Categories: Volume 7 #4

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