Alison L. Asti
“Today I have the privilege of becoming the 114th President of the Maryland State Bar Association,” proclaimed Alison L. Asti as she assumed the office of MSBA President on June 16, 2007, during the Association’s Joint Bench/Bar Annual Meeting in Ocean City. “I am truly honored, I fully respect the confidence and trust you have placed in me and I hope to serve you with energy and distinction.”
Addressing the audience of 200+ attorneys and judges gathered at MSBA’s Business Meeting, Asti asserted “MSBA is respected throughout the country for its innovative programs, capable administration, diverse leadership and strong partnerships with the judiciary and our law schools.” She plans to “continue the successes of the past and establish new initiatives,” reinforcing MSBA’s role as a strong resource to Maryland lawyers, the Legislature and the public.
The Executive Director of the Maryland Stadium Authority, Asti will lead MSBA’s 23,000 members for the next 12 months and will be joined by newly-elected officers: President-Elect Katherine Kelly Howard, Vice President and General Counsel of Regional Management in Baltimore City; 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 Secretary Thomas C. Cardaro, a partner in Cardaro & Peek, LLC, in Baltimore City.
As President, Asti plans to strengthen MSBA as a resource in the community. Under her guidance, MSBA’s Public Awareness Committee will continue its efforts to enhance the public’s trust and confidence in the legal system by promoting a better public understanding of the law through community outreach projects such as MSBA’s Speakers’ Bureau and its Law Day program. She considers the Association to be a valuable resource with high credibility in the Legislature, too, and feels “this relationship will serve MSBA well” when working on important issues and facing potential challenges.
In addition, she is committed to MSBA’s role as an educational resource in the state schools. “Our future as a society and a profession depends upon the ability of today’s young people to understand and respect the principles upon which our legal system was established,” she asserts. To this end, Asti pledges ongoing support of MSBA’s Citizenship and Law-Related Education Program (CLREP) and its thousands of attorneys and judges who volunteer their time in Maryland schools to help children learn about the law.
The new President plans to advance MSBA’s myriad of programs and member services and launch new initiatives, several dovetailing with current American Bar Association projects. Asti is appointing an MSBA committee to work with CLREP in developing a “Youth at Risk” effort focused on helping Maryland’s at-risk youth “before their lives slip hopelessly off course. If we find a way to listen to the voices of our youth and provide mentors who will steer them in the right direction, perhaps the children whose lives we touch will choose a better path.”
Under her leadership, MSBA will also explore a “Second Season of Service” idea. Through a Committee of its past presidents, MSBA will seek ways to transform the looming retirement of almost 10,000 Maryland baby boom lawyers into a powerful force of volunteers. “This generation of lawyers is redefining retirement from a time of leisure to a time of renewed vigor and purpose,” Asti announces. “Our profession values the talents and experience of these lawyers and will help them to transition to the next stage of their lives while keeping them engaged with the profession and serving the community.”
In addition, MSBA and the Administrative Office of the Courts will undertake a joint program, similar to “Judicare,” which will increase access to justice for the public. Through this pilot project, “private attorneys will provide services at reduced fees for people in need who meet Maryland Legal Services Corporation standards but do not qualify for traditional legal aid,” reports Asti. “It will focus on contested custody cases which are not currently adequately served, a practice area where many of our members have the experience.”
Under Asti’s leadership, MSBA will continue to work with Judge Lynne Battaglia and the Maryland Judicial Commission on Professionalism to address questions that have surfaced in the professionalism report. Asti hopes “MSBA can play an important role in improving professional satisfaction with the practice of law in today’s fast-paced world. Attention by all of us to the importance of professionalism in our practices should gradually improve the perception of lawyers by the public.”
The President will also appoint a Disaster Preparedness Committee to carry forward the disaster plan outlined by last year’s task force. “In order to be in a position to help ourselves, our members, local and specialty bars, bars in neighboring states and the public in the event of a disaster,” she declares, “we need to be fully educated and trained to implement a disaster plan. This Committee will be a resource to members so we will be able to continue to operate our offices, serve our clients and maintain our system of justice in the event of an emergency.”
Finally, MSBA will look inward to determine how it can continue to remain relevant to all segments of the Bar. “Over the years, the practice of law has become more specialized, technical and faster-paced, and we have become more confined to our offices and Blackberries. The relevance of our bar to our increasingly self-sufficient membership, especially our large firms, requires re-examination.”
“I am confident that challenges this year will be manageable, particularly with the team we have in place to tackle them. I will strive to maintain the high standard set by my predecessors and earn your continuing confidence and trust in the coming year,” declared Asti as she concluded her presidential remarks. “Thank you again for the true privilege of serving as MSBA’s President.”