Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin

Editor: W. Patrick Tandy

April, 2004


Glimpses of MSBA's Past
~Video of Living Past Presidents to be Unveiled at Annual Meeting~

By Janet Stidman Eveleth

Over the years, the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) has upheld a tradition of excellence, serving members of the legal profession, the business community and the public-at-large. To honor this rich heritage and the volunteer leaders who have preserved it, MSBA is saluting its 24 living past presidents in a special oral history video to be unveiled at MSBA’s Annual Meeting in June. The video offers glimpses of MSBA’s past leaders who collectively strengthened MSBA and built it into the strong and dynamic organization it is today.

This engaging video highlights MSBA’s history and the legacy left by its living past presidents. It captures the memories, issues and times of these esteemed leaders, memorializing their collective wisdom for posterity. The videotape is also one of MSBA President Harry S. Johnson’s contributions – and his legacy – to MSBA.

When Johnson assumed the Presidency of MSBA last June, he announced his theme for the year as “Back to the Future.” In keeping with this premise, Johnson initiated the oral history video “so MSBA may learn from its past to be better prepared for the future. This year, we will be looking at our past…to gain perspective on where our Association has been and where we should aspire to go in the future.”

“This video is a living history of MSBA and its leadership,” declares Johnson. “MSBA’s past presidents hold a wealth of information about our history and have a legacy of service, not only to the profession but to our community as a whole. I want to capture our history and honor those who made it while they are still around to tell us about it.”

“It is my hope that this oral history will be a living monument to those who have so ably led our Association,” adds Johnson. “I have learned much from these fine people, so I hope that this history will allow others the opportunity to see how our Association has grown and changed over the years. The past presidents are a resource that must be valued. We now have the technology to preserve their thoughts so that future lawyers and future leaders will be able to benefit from their experiences.”

To accomplish his goal, Johnson appointed a Special Committee, consisting of Ronald Richardson, Andrea Leahy-Fuchek and Gary Crawford, to develop and oversee this oral history video project. Under this Committee’s direction, BlueRock Productions is producing this living history videotape. The tapings have been completed, and BlueRock is in the latent stages of production; the video is slated to debut at the MSBA Annual Meeting in June.

This exciting videotape traces the year of service for the living presidents who were available for taping. These leaders talk about the highlights of their year, major initiatives undertaken, legal issues facing attorneys at that time and some of the surprising crises that arose. A narrator shares the oral history, which includes glimpses of the living past presidents and significant locations and documents. They all reminisce about what it was like to serve as bar leader.

“This will be a valuable resource to future MSBA leaders,” states Richardson. “It will better enable them and prepare them to be leaders.” According to Crawford, the purpose of this project is “to provide an archive of MSBA’s history through the commentary of our past presidents. It celebrates the professional excellence of MSBA and brings to light the organization’s willingness to re-examine its mission and priorities.”

Richardson, who has observed numerous tapings, is “most impressed by the many contributions that have been made by MSBA’s past presidents to the Association, the state’s legal community and the social community. It has truly been an eye opening experience.”

“When you think about it, presidents go through one-year terms and most often you think of their accomplishments largely in terms of the membership,” continues Richardson. However, after listening to these bar leaders, he now realizes that “they have had an impact on the entire legal community and the general public. Their stories and contributions affect laws that have been made, the outcome of political issues and social issues, all in a very short period of time.”

“The film will share the different agendas carried out by these qualified men and women; it will tell the story of their accomplishments,” concludes Richardson. “It will meet Harry’s goal because it truly is a resource of different agendas and issues that were addressed. The video offers valuable insight into MSBA.”

“I think people will be inspired by the passionate commitment to the law, equal opportunity and social justice illustrated by the presidents profiled in this documentary,” emphasizes Leahy-Fuchek. “Their contributions to MSBA and in turn to the state’s legal, social and political order are remarkable. Harry Johnson must be commended for having the vision to bring this story to life.”

“This oral history is also part of the legacy of leadership that the MSBA stands for,” concludes Johnson. “It is my hope that schools and libraries will use this oral history as a resource for anyone interested in leadership. You could find no better examples of service and leadership than our past presidents.”



Publications : Bar Bulletin: April, 2004

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