Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : July 2006

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MSBA's New President Celebrates Legal Profession

~ Reaches Out to MSBA Members ~

Edward J. Gilliss

Edward J. Gilliss
MSBA President

"Involvement with MSBA reinforces one's commitment to the legal profession. It is a way to give back and share with others," proclaimed Edward J. Gilliss as he assumed the office of President of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) on June 17, 2006, during the Association's Annual Meeting in Ocean City.

"Over the years, we as an Association have focused on reaching out to our members," announced MSBA's new leader, a renowned champion of Maryland lawyers and MSBA. "Our core mission is working with members to better the profession."

Addressing the audience of 200+ attorneys and judges gathered at MSBA's Business Meeting, Gilliss stated, "You are examples of all that is good about our profession. You share a vision about the importance of the lawyer's role in the community. Civility among lawyers and volunteering one's time are two traits that must be cherished and recognized. We have much to be proud of and build on."

A partner in the Baltimore County law firm of Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid, LLP, Gilliss will lead MSBA and its 22,000 members for the next 12 months and be joined by newly-elected officers: President-Elect Alison L. Asti, Executive Director of the Maryland Stadium Authority; Treasurer John Patrick Kudel, a solo practitioner in Rockville and Of Counsel to the Rockville-based law firm of Karp, Frosh, Lapidus, Wigodsky & Norwind, P.A., and Katherine Kelly Howard, Vice President and General Counsel of Regional Management in Baltimore City.

MSBA really is
"the voice" of
Maryland Lawyers.
To be effective,
we need to be in
touch with all
segments of
our membership.

Edward J. Gilliss

This year, MSBA's President plans to promote MSBA and reach out to its members. Gilliss will focus on continuing legal education, enhanced technology to assist members in the everyday practice of law, especially in the web-based delivery of CLE, disaster planning and the increased involvement of large law firms in MSBA. In addition, he plans to advance the aspirations ensconced in MSBA's Mission Statement and promote respect for the rule of law, diversity in the profession, access to justice and service to the public.

One of the new President's top priorities is continuing legal education. "This year, MSBA will strive to assist MICPEL, the Association's CLE arm, to better ‘connect' with lawyers in delivering content," pledged Gilliss. "We will encourage MICPEL to move toward a web-based platform which will give members the added option of downloading seminar materials in podcast fashion." Gilliss has appointed a Special Task Force to facilitate this.

"Juggling practice requirements, family, community and continuing education are modern challenges," he explains. "iPods across Maryland may soon be filled with lectures on issues such as mechanics' liens and securities regulation. Lawyers on treadmills and lawyers at traffic lights may soon be listening to CLE seminars. Podcasts will be one more tool to aid lawyers in managing their time."

However, Gilliss is quick to add that "face-to-face contact between lawyers is also very important. We cannot and will not forget the importance of personal contacts. But if our Bar is going to benefit from the participation of lawyers from all corners of our state, we need to find ways for real time interaction without travel time burdens." Again, the new bar leader looks to web-based technology as the vehicle to deliver real time contact and interaction. "It is on MICPEL's and MSBA's agendas to explore and implement web-based meetings."

MSBA's President also wants to help members in the event of a disaster. Troubled by the effects of last August's devastating hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, yet touched by the compassion of lawyers, he stated, "There is much that can and must be learned from those storms." Gilliss praised the efforts of MSBA and the Maryland Bar Foundation, who raised $25,000 in response to the natural disasters, and reported that the money is being used to aid Gulf-state lawyers in re-starting their practices.

"The Louisiana Bar Association was struck hard," he continues. "It had no office equipment. It has no offices. Its neighbor bar, the State Bar Association of Texas, brought staff and equipment to the aid of its sister association – a great show of compassion."

This year, MSBA's President will encourage Maryland's local and specialty bar associations to enter into an agreement to aid one another should the need ever arise. "Although we all hope and pray that we are not the ones to need the assistance of one another, the investment of thought and planning today may provide comfort later. As the old adage goes: ‘The time to fix the roof is when the sun is out.'" In addition, he promises that "MSBA will work with its sister bar associations in other states to develop a disaster plan that will serve as a roadmap for its members. Planning today may lessen or avoid crisis tomorrow."

In MSBA's continuing effort to reach out to all sectors of its diverse membership, Gilliss plans to form a Special Committee on Large Firms. This grows out of a several year tradition of an annual breakfast meeting of MSBA officers and large firm managing partners. MSBA's President envisions this Committee serving "as a conduit to rejuvenate the involvement of large firm lawyers in MSBA activities. Bar involvement is a great way to reinforce the good things that lawyers do. It is our hope that more and more large firm young lawyers will be encouraged to become more involved in MSBA activities."

"Our Association depends on our ability to identify the commonalities of our profession," Gilliss explains. "MSBA really is ‘the voice' of Maryland lawyers. To be effective, we need to be in touch with all segments of our membership."

Finally, to reinforce the rule of law and our democracy's separation of powers, Gilliss wants MSBA to "remind and educate our citizens about the importance of each branch of government." To this end, he sees lawyers and judges embarking on a joint program in the schools to present meaningful information about the role of the judicial branch. "We will endeavor to make available a hands-on curriculum where school children – perhaps 6th and 7th graders – will be able to see, hear and touch lawyers and judges and appreciate the role we play in ensuring the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of our system of government. Our democracy really does depend on a knowledgeable public."

Conclusion
As Gilliss concluded his installation address, he quoted Roscoe Pound:

"The term ‘profession' refers to a group of individuals pursuing a learned art as a common calling in the spirit of public service – no less a public service because it may inadvertently be a means of livelihood."

"We celebrate the legal profession because we care," Gilliss exclaimed. "We care about the delivery of educational opportunities to our members; we care about diversity in our profession; we care about access to justice and service to the public; we care about the separation of powers; and we care about the rule of law."

"We will be the voice to protect an impartial judiciary and an independent legal profession," promised MSBA's new President. "We will continue to celebrate the importance of our profession in ensuring the freedoms of all."

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: July 2006

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