Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : July 2005

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ABA President-Elect Inspires Legal Service
Community At Equal Justice Council Event

By Janet Stidman Eveleth

“The tremendous efforts of legal services workers make justice a reality for people of limited means in Maryland,” proclaimed ABA President-Elect Michael S. Greco as he addressed the 200+ members of the state’s legal community attending the Maryland Equal Justice Council’s Annual Awards Breakfast on May 25 at Camden Yards in Baltimore. “The commitment of Maryland’s legal services community represents the best the legal profession has to offer in this country.”

The ABA President-Elect’s inspirational speech on a renaissance of legal ideology and a reaffirmation of the legal profession’s commitment to public service was one of the highlights of this annual Legal Aid Bureau gathering. As Legal Aid Bureau Executive Director Wilhelm Joseph greeted the audience, he thanked “all of the attorneys who continually help Legal Aid move closer to its goal of equal justice under the law.” Harry S. Johnson, MSBA’s Immediate Past President, added, “MSBA, the Equal Justice Council and Legal Aid all offer outstanding leadership and are committed to achieving access to justice for all.”

Greco, serving as keynote speaker for Legal Aid’s Equal Justice Council awards event, praised Maryland’s legal service community for its tireless work in expanding access to justice. “Legal services and public interest law represent a lifeline to those most in need,” he noted. “Legal services providers deserve the thanks of the organized Bar and the entire nation.”

Public service and legal services for the needy will be Greco’s priority as ABA President. “I was drawn to the law to serve people and help those with limited resources.” When he officially assumes the ABA’s top post this August, Greco will focus on “public service, pro bono services and the provision of legal services to those with limited means.”

“The core principle of the practice of law is the pursuit of equal justice for all under the law,” asserted Greco. “The noblest purpose of our profession is to protect the powerless from the powerful. True joy for a lawyer is using his or her legal skills to help people in need. In doing good, we strive for social justice.”

As President, Greco will launch two major initiatives. First, he will appoint a new ABA Commission on the Renaissance of Idealism in the Legal Profession to “reaffirm the core principles of the legal profession and reinvigorate its commitment to public service and pro bono service.” Greco believes lawyers need to “strike a balance in their lives; they need to find time to help people in need and to participate more fully in their communities. This is in the best interest of individual lawyers and the legal profession.”

Second, Greco will create an ABA Task Force to explore ways to expand access to justice in America. “We will examine the right to counsel for the poor in serious civil matters. The time has come for serious national discussion on poor people’s access to justice in this country. We must meet the goal of justice for all under the law.”

The ABA President-Elect stresses that the need for this has never been greater because the demand for legal services greatly surpasses the resources. He cautions, however, that the problem is too large for the legal profession to solve alone; our society as a whole must do something to address this critical issue. “It is society’s obligation to generate a national dialogue on this,” he said. Greco concluded by recognizing Maryland as “a shining example” in the area of legal services.

Wilhelm Joseph then thanked all of the lawyers and law firms for their financial support of Legal Aid and its Equal Justice Council and offered special thanks to one local firm. “The Equal Justice Council has done very well since it started seven years ago, but we’ve been a little bit queasy about being as ambitious as New York and Boston where major firms contribute up to $600 per lawyer,” Joseph proclaimed. “Therefore, we are elated the 25-lawyer firm of Kramon & Graham set the bar here very high this year with a gift of $30,000 – $1,200 per lawyer.”

Finally, the Legal Aid’s Equal Justice Council presented its 2005 awards:

CHAMPIONS OF JUSTICE
Susan Erlichman
Gwendolyn Johnson
Anilkumar Haffberg

YOUNG LAWYERS DIVISION AWARD
Joshua A. Glikin

PACESETTERS AWARD
Venable LLP

TRAILBLAZER AWARD
Edwin G. Fee, Jr.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S AWARD
Rhonda B. Lipkin

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: July, 2005

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