There are many honors and awards recognizing attorneys for their pro bono service, service to their profession and service to MSBA, but there are few that pay tribute to “the good things” lawyers do, the quiet good deeds. Attorneys volunteer for community and public service roles as everyday citizens, helping out at soup kitchens and food banks, serving as counsel on the boards of non-profit organizations, volunteering with church groups, assisting in animal-rescue efforts at shelters, taking part in community charity drives and the list goes on. Attorneys assume these public service roles like other good citizens who support their local communities and expect no fanfare or recognition from their quiet, everyday good deeds.
But MSBA President Katherine Kelly Howard believes attorney volunteers, who already support pro bono service and their bar association work, deserve recognition for “doing it all.” She cites President Barack Obama’s recent call to Americans to perform public service, as a responsibility of their citizenship, as admirable, yet contends “our Maryland lawyers have been quietly doing ‘good deeds’ and making a difference in their communities everyday for a very long time!”
“We need adequate recognition of the efforts of these selfless attorneys,” exclaims Howard. “It is time to honor them by shining the spotlight on their volunteer altruism.” Thus, as part of Howard’s “Spotlight on Lawyers” presidential initiative, MSBA is actively looking for volunteer Maryland attorneys so it can recognize their contributions.
Last fall, Howard put out a request to all local and specialty bar associations in the state, asking that they nominate one seasoned attorney and one young lawyer for consideration for a MSBA “Spotlight” honor in each of its eight judicial circuits. Nominations are still open and welcomed.
“I know that each and every one of you knows lawyers who tirelessly dedicate their time not only to their profession, their clients and pro bono service,” she asserts, “but who are also just all-around good citizens participating in and leading our communities. I believe it is time for us to ‘Shine the Spotlight’ on them!” Howard encourages all members to submit candidates.
The thrust of this recognition program is public service. The award criteria and nomination form may be found on MSBA’s website at www.msba.org/articles/spotlightonlawyers.asp. Nominations are due by April 1, 2009. A panel of three MSBA Past Presidents and three Past Chairs of the Young Lawyers Section – the Selection Committee – will evaluate and select the award winners.
The outstanding attorneys will be honored with an MSBA Spotlight Award for their service to, and participation in, their communities at MSBA’s Annual Meeting. They will also be invited to attend the 2009 “Solo Day @ the Annual Meeting” held during the Annual Meeting for a special gathering of “Spotlighted Lawyers”.
Howard is proud of the good deeds volunteer Maryland lawyers do every day and believes MSBA’s Spotlight Awards are an excellent way to recognize these dedicated lawyers. In so doing, she hopes to establish a new MSBA tradition.
The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2009.