Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : June 2005

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Conroy Installed As MSBA President
By Janet Stidman Eveleth

J. Michael Conroy, Jr.
MSBA President

J. Michael Conroy, Jr., will be installed as President of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) on June 18, 2005, during the Association’s Annual Meeting in Ocean City, Maryland. A partner in the Montgomery County law firm of Pasternak & Fidis, P.C., Conroy is well known as an outstanding and effective leader of Maryland’s legal community who is committed to public service and diversity. MSBA’s new President has always been a champion of MSBA and Maryland lawyers.

As MSBA’s top leader, Conroy will serve a 12-month term and will be joined by newly-elected officers: President-Elect Edward J. Gilliss, a partner in the Baltimore County law firm of Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid, LLP; Secretary Alison L. Asti, Executive Director of the Maryland Stadium Authority; and Treasurer John Patrick Kudel, a solo practitioner in Rockville and Of Counsel to the Rockville-based law firm of Karp, Frosh, Lapidus, Wigodsky & Norwind. Working with this leadership team, Conroy will lead MSBA and its 21,000 members for the next year.

Conroy is honored to be MSBA President and considers it a “great opportunity to give something back.” He is very proud to be a lawyer and takes pride in the practice of law. One of the new President’s priorities is to be a strong advocate for MSBA, Maryland lawyers and the legal profession. He wants to “make things better for MSBA members.”

“MSBA is a great bar association and a national leader, and it will take a backseat to no other organization, just as our legal profession is a wonderful profession, and will likewise take a backseat to no other profession.” asserts Conroy. “MSBA is a rock in the legal community, one that is always present, available and looking for ways to improve the profession and the practice of law.” Under his leadership, MSBA will “continue its role as the central repository and engine that drives and supports Maryland’s legal profession.”

“MSBA has a tremendous structure, put together years ago by its governing body,” Conroy states. “Its combination of Sections, which are excellent substantive resources, and Committees, which implement operations on a more short-term basis, provide a structure in which newer members of the Association flourish and assume leadership roles in MSBA.”

Conroy believes MSBA plays a vital role in Maryland’s legal community. “Through MSBA, members get to see the outstanding lifeblood of the legal profession itself in a microcosm and get to communicate, socialize and interact with many outstanding peers in the legal profession. They see firsthand the great accomplishments and good things people in our profession do everyday. Members also get to see the impact of the big issues that affect the legal profession and gain a sense of accomplishment of doing good for others.”

Initiatives
One of the top initiatives of the new President will be to create an MSBA “Immediate Response Team” so that, when called for, MSBA is prepared to move quickly, take on those who materially misstate facts, frame important issues and craft an immediate and effective response that addresses the misstatements and exposes the true facts. This Response Team will consist of two prominent MSBA members in each county and Baltimore City and will represent diversity in terms of individuals, practice areas and MSBA interests. Conroy will charge this group with the task of monitoring attacks on lawyers, the legal profession and the Judiciary.

As envisioned, “when an inaccurate statement occurs where facts have been misstated, members of the Response Team, through Committee-structured electronic transmission, will send their proposed response or basis for a response to the entire group,” explains Conroy. “Members of the team may originate their own response or it may come from another attorney or member of the public. If the Committee, by a majority vote of a quorum, approves sending a response, it will then be electronically presented to MSBA’s Executive Committee for consideration.”

Upon Executive Committee consideration, “if a majority vote of its quorum approves the response, an MSBA response will be sent within 48 hours,” adds Conroy. “If all checklists are not met, there will be no response. Responses will not be directed to insignificant opinions, but rather to inaccuracies that have exceeded the bounds of legitimate comment using false statements.”

The overall goal of this initiative, according to MSBA’s President, “is to return communications to legitimate debate and foster improved communication to the benefit of the legal profession, other professions or groups and the public in general.”

In addition, Conroy plans to create an MSBA Public Protection Committee to address the growing problem of the unauthorized practice of law and better protect the public from “unwarranted entries into the legal profession by non-lawyers.” Other presidential initiatives include “looking into the possibility of providing access to free legal research to all MSBA members and improving the Association’s methods of communication between members, Sections, Committees and the Board of Governors by furnishing a clear diagram of how all MSBA components operate.”

Background
Conroy brings a diverse legal background and many good works of his own to his role as MSBA President. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame in 1967, Conroy served in the United States Army and the Reserves from 1968 to 1974. He earned his Juris Doctorate and Master of Laws in Taxation from the Georgetown University Law Center and was sworn-in to Maryland’s Bar in 1972.

He engaged in private practice for several years before joining the Office of the Public Defender for the State of Maryland in Montgomery County in 1976. Returning to private practice in 1980, Conroy joined the law firm of Conroy, Ballman & Dameron as a partner in 1987. In 2004, he became a partner with Pasternak & Fidis, P.C.

For 32 years, Conroy has practiced law in Montgomery County, most often as a trial practitioner in the construction, banking and brokerage industries and in the real estate transactional area. He has been involved in over 300 criminal and civil trials, appellate work in federal and state courts, the arbitration and mediation of commercial and residential matters and administrative hearings involving regulatory bodies and agencies. In addition, he handles the defense of lawyers, employment matters and administrative hearings involving regulatory bodies and agencies.

Conroy has also been extensively involved in bar association work at the local and state levels since his admission to Maryland’s Bar. He served as President of the Montgomery County Bar Association (MCBA) in 1994-95, headed the Montgomery County Bar Foundation (MCBF) from 1995-96 and continues to be active on many of the county bar’s committees. In addition, he is a member of the American Bar Association, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and the District of Columbia and Virginia State Bar Associations.

MSBA’s President has also been actively involved in MSBA since the early ’70s. Most recently, he served as MSBA President-Elect. Conroy also served as the Association’s Treasurer and Secretary, and has been a member of the Executive Committee for four years. He has been a member of MSBA’s Board of Governors on four different occasions and he is currently a member of the Litigation and Taxation Sections as well as numerous committees.

Conroy is a Life Fellow of the Maryland Bar Foundation, a MICPEL instructor and a member of the Judicial Compensation Commission for the State of Maryland. He received a National Institute of Trial Advocacy Certification in 1973, has been honored with President Citations from both the MCBA and the MCBF for leadership in the legal community and received the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association’s Award for Commitment to Diversity in 1996. In the greater community, Conroy is actively involved with the Ronald McDonald House for Oncology Services, the Catholic Youth Organization and numerous educational organizations.

Overall, MSBA’s new President “would like to try to make this great association and very fine profession a little bit better.” During his year as Bar leader, Conroy wants to get out the message that “we are proud of our profession, and we will take a back seat to no one. If others wish to make unfair and inaccurate statements about members of the legal profession, we will respond.” He would like to be remembered as an MSBA President who made MSBA “just a little bit better during his tenure,” although, in his opinion, it is already “awfully darned good.”

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: June, 2005

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