By now you’ve bandaged all those paper cuts incurred from tearing through your portion of the estimated 19 billion pieces of mail that tireless postal employees delivered from Thanksgiving to the end of 2008. Yet one gargantuan package remains.
From its appearance and nearly four pounds in weight, you might think it’s a freeze-dried fruitcake sent from a distant cousin, but soon you realize it’s something far sweeter and home grown – the 2009 Maryland Lawyers Manual.
You crack open the Manual and pour over its color-coded sections within minutes. Listings for state and federal judges (White Pages), Maryland law firms (Yellow Pages) and all MSBA members listed by county (Blue Pages), along with the Client Protection Fund’s roster (Green Pages) mix into this 945-page batter like it was produced at Betty Crocker.
It’s comforting to have that trusty, old companion again at your side, but nothing compares to seeing your own name printed and bounded to the Manual’s hallowed spine.
“It’s like the confirmation that we’re Maryland attorneys,” says U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge James F. Schneider.
Aside from its regard as a “Right of Passage”, the Manual is vital to every attorney’s daily practice and, for at least the past 25 years, has been given the state’s new admits at their swearing-in ceremony in Annapolis.
“I use it constantly,” continues Schneider. “It’s great to have something like that at your fingertips. It’s a real time saver.”
“It’s just very convenient,” adds Pat Williams, a secretary at Fedder & Garten, P.A., who skims through the Manual’s pages every day. “It comes in real handy, otherwise I’d be on the internet all day looking for people’s contact information.”
“One wonders how we ever got along without it,” remarks Schneider.
Herbert S. Garten, 80, remembers quite vividly what life was like before he and his Economics of Law Practice Committee whipped up the inaugural issue in 1968.
After the Directory of Baltimore Lawyers, which listed about 2,000 attorneys and was published by Maryland National Bank, folded in 1967, Garten and his band of attorneys thought they could put together a statewide publication for the 5,000 Maryland attorneys that might even improve on its predecessor. He went to work with the blessing of the Maryland State Bar Association and then-president Rignal W. Baldwin.
For a year, the living room in Garten’s Lutherville-Timonium home was headquarters for the Committee’s massive undertaking. His editing staff, including attorneys James D. Nolan, H. Rutherford Turnbull, III, and Philip A. Murphy, arrived during their free time and knelt on the floor over stacks of contact information like Garten’s four children did with their toys on Christmas morning.
Turnbull, Chairman of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Editorial Material, and Murphy, an English major at Johns Hopkins University and former editor of the Hopkins literary magazine Channels, “were more technically competent” in publications matters, according to Garten, so he relied on their knowledge, but, without a doubt, the Manual was a team effort.
“Herb was a no B.S. kind of guy,” says Murphy, now retired and living in Las Vegas, “but he was open to ideas and he had great ideas too.”
Murphy suggested incorporating advertisements to help pay for the Manual costs, which ended up being around $30,000, and Garten took two days off to stir up different advertisers, which included some of his clients as well as Maryland National Bank.
Other inclusions that have been trimmed since the first printing include a calendar and diary for the owner to scribble in, and a suggested minimum fee schedule for attorneys. The schedule was the Committee’s primary undertaking before the Manual and after the inaugural issue, Garten recalls, the Department of Justice said it was illegal to publish that portion.
Today, he smiles as he reviews over that section in his 440-page tour de force. “Some very amusing things in here,” he says.
Whisking through the pages, Garten’s smile remains stretched. Howard County had less than 50 members because Columbia had not been created at the time. The Chief Judge of the Supreme Court was Earl Warren, who commissioned a report on the Kennedy assassination just four years prior to the Manual’s publication. Light pencil marks of errors or notes made by Garten float in the margins and empty spaces of the white, blue and yellow colored pages.
There are plenty of differences between that issue and today’s edition, yet many links remain, including a Local/Specialty Bar Listing, Real Estate Tax Information and a special denotation for MSBA members. Today the members comprise all of the blue pages, while in 1968 members had an asterisk next to their name (“There’s an asterisk next to my name,” Garten proudly acknowledges).
The Manual has seen many incarnations over the years. From 1981 to 1998, the Manual was printed and placed in a three-ring binder. By 2002, the perfect-bound directory finally adopted a glossy, colorful cover. But the 1968 issue possesses the most character. Spanning a nearly 5 x 8 inch area and designed to fit in your pocket, the first Manual looks more like Hemingway’s travel journal than a jurist’s directory. The rugged, black cover is complimented by the golden chord that hangs from the spine’s poles.
It was presented to MSBA’s Board of Governors with a commemorative clip during a reception in the elegant John Eager Howard room at the Belvedere Hotel on January 11, 1968. Garten joked this publication was “a classic example of backing into a successful venture.” But MSBA President Baldwin did not agree.
He wrote to Garten in the first copy, thanking him for his “vision, ingenuity, enthusiasm, tact, perseverance and great ability,” without which, “this significant publication never would have been possible.”