Brian Melton’s first memorable moment with the Dallas Bar Association came on December 22, 1979. He and his girlfriend, Darcy, were the first to have a wedding-related function at the Belo. And since then, he’s hardly left the building.
Flappers and the blue notes of roaring twenties jazz won’t be seen and heard at the Belo, but they will be part of the cacophony of Brian Melton’s inauguration as 2003 Dallas Bar President. Celebrate with him at the Westin Galleria on January 11, 2003, as he officially starts "Opening New Doors for Dallas."
Known by friends and colleagues as a straight-forward, down-to-earth guy with pin-point eye contact, Brian has, through consistent service, carefully set the stage for his year as President. He has founded and/or chaired nearly twenty committees, from chairing the first Pro Bono Golf Classic and co-chairing a Bench/Bar Conference to leading the strategic planning committee. Invariably, if Brian joins a committee, he eventually ends up leading it, so his rise through the Dallas Bar Board of Directors to this new pinnacle of leadership is no surprise to anyone.
A sixth generation Texan and son of well-known trial lawyer, Wayne Melton (who just celebrated his 50th year practicing law), Brian originally resisted becoming a lawyer. Aptitude and drive, however, prevailed over any fear that his dad’s shoes were too big to fill. As a 1L at SMU Law School, he won the Moot Court competition and was voted best speaker.
Women play a pivotal and prominent role in Brian’s life. Besides his wife, Darcy, who has an MBA from SMU, Brian lives with three daughters—Julie and Laura, who are students at Trinity University, and Leslie, who is 14. Brian jokes and says, "women are taking over the world," but adds more soberly that the only male companionship he has at home are the two dogs, a Sheltie and Miniature Dachshund.
Leadership is a topic about which Brian passionately speaks. When talking about leadership, Brian points to Jack Lowe, Sr., the founder of TDIndustries, a company that was recognized as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For in America" by Fortune magazine in its inaugural list of the country`s best employers." Jack Lowe, Sr. was a natural servant leader," states Brian. "Jack, Sr. established this as a TDIndustries core principle that has directed the leadership development of all its supervisors from the front line to its senior managers." Jack Lowe, Jr. has furthered this legacy at TDIndustries and in the broader business community as a whole.
The Lowe and Melton families have been friends for years, so Brian had the opportunity to witness servant leadership firsthand. To recognize Jack Lowe, Sr.’s principle-centered leadership in a way that resonates with those who knew him, Brian has scheduled a symposium called, "Promoting Equal Justice Under Law: A Dialogue for Dallas," which will be held November 14, 2003. The purpose of the symposium is two-fold—to honor Jack Lowe, Sr. and to fill a leadership void that Brian and others see in the city of Dallas. Program organizers will identify community leaders from the Dallas Citizen’s Council, Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce and elsewhere, as well as the Dallas Morning News, and facilitate a discussion about four critical hot spots in our city: education, economic development, law enforcement and housing. The panelists will be racially and professionally diverse. The day-long discussion will result in specific action items for each of the four areas, and will avoid becoming politically charged by keeping the focus off politics and on "justice."
Other targets for the 2003 DBA President include creating a professionalism committee—with a primary purpose of broadly improving the profession by identifying ways to reduce the 2,000 grievances that were filed against Dallas lawyers in 2001, as well as reduce fee disputes.
In addition, on March 1, 2003 Brian is commencing the first medical and legal pro bono clinic joint venture, so low-income Dallas residents can get free medical and legal "check-ups." Another goal is to get more lawyers to vote in the judicial evaluations in 2003, and still another is to hold the first annual "Senior Lawyers Night" to celebrate the careers of the Dallas Bar young-at-hearts who are skilled at mentoring younger lawyers and enjoy spinning tall tales.
Brian has more on his ambitious list for 2003: to improve communication and the Dallas Bar’s relationship with the State Bar of Texas, celebrate the 130th year of the DBA and complete the construction of the new building project and have the Grand Opening.
When not working on Dallas Bar and related projects, Brian has a thriving law practice in a relatively new law firm, Shackleford, Melton & McKinley in north Dallas. Board Certified in both Civil Trial Law and Consumer and Commercial Law, Brian represents companies in commercial disputes, as both plaintiffs and defendants. He also defends employers in discrimination, harassment and other employment claims.
As a communicator, Brian doesn’t have many extra words. He appears to have just the right number—no more and no less than a particular thought needs. It takes courage to be comfortable with the silence that inevitably weaves through conversation. Dallas Bar members can be assured that this new President will not only hear the words you speak, but he’ll truly hear what you’re saying. Listening and hearing distinguishes this Dallas Bar leader.
Deborah McMurray is a strategic marketing consultant to the legal industry. She can be reached at 214.351.9690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.