Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : June 2006

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Gilliss Installed as President

Edward J. Gilliss

Edward J. Gilliss
MSBA President

Edward J. Gilliss will be installed as President of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) on June 17, 2006, during the Association's Annual Meeting in Ocean City, Maryland. A partner in the Baltimore County law firm of Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid, LLP, Gilliss is recognized as an outstanding and effective leader in Maryland's legal community who is committed to bettering the legal profession and improving the practice of law.

As MSBA's top leader, Gilliss will serve a 12-month term and will 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, and Katherine Kelly Howard, Vice President and General Counsel of Regional Management in Baltimore City. Working with this leadership team, Gilliss will lead MSBA and its 22,000 members for the next year.

Gilliss, known for his honesty, high ethical standards and sharp legal acumen, considers it an honor and privilege to serve as MSBA's President. This prominent attorney is "proud to give back to a profession that has been good to him" by serving as the Association's leader. "MSBA reinforces everything that is good about our profession," Gilliss proclaims.

MSBA Voice of Maryland Lawyers
"MSBA is the voice of lawyers in Maryland; it is the largest organization of lawyers in the state with the most diverse membership," states MSBA's new leader. He considers MSBA a great statewide clearinghouse for the discussion of lawyer issues. "MSBA is an active and positive platform which presses forward positive things about the practice of law." This year, Gilliss pledges to "find things Maryland lawyers in different practice areas have in common so that we can all embrace MSBA's mission and have it continue to move forward positively."

The new President believes MSBA plays a number of valuable roles in Maryland's legal community. First, it is substantively important to the practice of law because MSBA is the primary provider of continuing legal education (CLE) to Maryland lawyers through its partnership with the Maryland Institute of Continuing Professional Education for Lawyers (MICPEL). Its 22 Sections also offer CLE programs, in conjunction with MICPEL, and share ideas and expertise to further their substantive law practice areas.

MSBA's substantive expertise is also important to the Legislature. "The Maryland General Assembly has issues that arise every year touching on substantive legal fields, and it pleases me that the Legislature both invites and accepts MSBA's substantial participation," reports MSBA's President. "The Legislature counts on MSBA and its Sections to give expert advice on legal issues."

"The Association offers a number of quasi-social benefits, too," Gilliss adds. "As young lawyers, it helps you grow professionally and get to know other people in your profession. Through MSBA, you meet and get to know other people who cherish the profession. Membership and involvement in MSBA help you feel good about the commitment you have made to practice law."

Under Gilliss' leadership, MSBA will cater to today's busy practitioner, whose biggest challenge seems to be time. "Today's member is constantly juggling all of the things that fill up a lawyer's time and schedule. An experienced lawyer needs to find time to build young lawyers and mentor them into their independent practices while dealing with clients, time commitments, hourly billing and moving their own practice. At the same time, they must pay attention to image and the importance of lawyers playing an active community and civic role."

To ease the "time commitment" burden on these busy, multi-tasking practitioners and allow them to more efficiently use their time while bettering their skills, Gilliss plans to work with MICPEL and the two law schools to deliver information to members in new formats this year. MSBA's president will explore ways MICPEL can deliver CLE seminar materials through podcasts so lawyers can download the information onto their iPods or MP3 players and listen to it at their convenience, in their car, when they are working out in the gym, etc.

To this end, Gilliss will partner with University of Baltimore School of Law Dean Gilbert Holmes, this year's Chair of MICPEL, and work with the University of Maryland School of Law to "spend energy trying to explore some kind of web-based methodology so that lawyers from distant parts of the state can meet, almost in a live format," to broaden CLE opportunities for all Maryland lawyers.

To enhance the involvement of large law firm members, Gilliss is appointing a special committee of large law firm managing partners to renew the participation of large law firm members in MSBA. "We have a great rich history of large law firm participation, but for a number of reasons I believe there is now a perception that our Association doesn't reach out to this group. I think they are important to our legal community, just as solo and small firm practitioners are important to us, so perhaps this Committee can meet periodically to discuss issues that are important to large law firms and the role MSBA plays with them."

Other presidential initiatives under consideration include broadening volunteer lawyer participation in the schools and tackling the festering debate in the U.S. about separation-of-power issues and the role of an independent Judiciary in our society. Gilliss will continue MSBA's numerous services and benefits, including the Immediate Response Team implemented by his predecessor, J. Michael Conroy, last year. "I think this creation has been favorably received and appropriately implemented, allowing MSBA to make a swift public response to matters that deserve a timely response," Gilliss adds.

A graduate of the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and the University of Maryland School of Law, Gilliss was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1980. He served as the staff attorney for the United States Department of Health and Human Services' Office of General Counsel for two years, then became a litigation associate with the law firm Lord, Whip, Coughlan and Green. In 1986, he joined Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid, LLP, his current law firm, as a partner.

Gilliss has practiced law with his Towson firm for close to 20 years, handling civil litigation, administrative law and wills and estates. His active civil practice includes litigation of commercial disputes, title insurance, real property and construction matters and personal injury cases. In addition to County administrative law matters, Gilliss also represents restaurants across the State in licensing matters.

In 2001, Gilliss took a hiatus from Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid to serve as the County Attorney for Baltimore County, at the invitation of County Executives James Smith and Dutch Ruppersberger. In this role, he represented the Executive and the County Council, as well as all other local government agencies, and directed a staff of approximately 30 attorneys. Gilliss was also responsible for litigation in state and federal courts, contracts and advising county agencies.

Gilliss, who has been active in MSBA for the last 26 years, was honored with the Young Lawyers Section's Distinguished Service Award in 1989. He served as MSBA Treasurer from 2003-2005 and has been a member of the Executive Committee since 2002. He has served four terms on the Board of Governors and been a member of the Budget and Finance Committee for 15 years, chairing this major MSBA Committee from 1998-2001. Most recently, Gilliss served as MSBA's President-Elect.

MSBA's President chaired the Investment Committee, headed the Special Committee to study MICPEL and led the Continuing Legal Education and Program Committees as well. He is also a faculty member for MSBA's Professionalism Course and is Chair of the Fellows of the Maryland Bar Foundation.

In addition to his MSBA activities, Gilliss serves on the Executive Council of the Baltimore County Bar Association and is a member of the Attorney Grievance Commission's Inquiry Panel. He has served as a member of MICPEL's Board of Trustees and Executive Committee. He also boasts a long list of civic activities, currently serving as a member of St. Joseph's Hospital's Board of Trustees. He has also been President of the Towson Partnership, a member of the Towson Business Association and a member of the Executive Board of several local school PTAs.

Looking Ahead
Gilliss is looking forward to leading MSBA members over the next year. "I hope lawyers of all ages young lawyers, middle-of-their-career lawyers and senior lawyers view MSBA as a positive contributor to their law practices and their perceptions of the legal profession and the practice of law," he notes. "I would like to think that all lawyers feel our profession has good things to offer." As President, Gilliss would like to be remembered as "someone who voiced his respect and concern for lawyers, who worked hard to further that platform and who embraced the participation of a diverse group in achieving it."
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Publications : Bar Bulletin: June 2006

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