MSBA Leadership Academy
Reflections on the Leadership Academy
by: Adam Sean Cohen,
(Leadership Academy Graduate - Fellows 2000)
I remember in
1999 when it was suggested that I apply to become a fellow in the Maryland State
Bar Association's Leadership Academy. I remember thinking that I was not
"leadership" material nor would I be
able to be molded. I imagined that this "Academy" would resemble
Starfleet Academy with hyper-enthusiastic attorneys wearing tight Space Suits
and communicating via futuristic devices on their lapels. I imagined secret
handshakes and code words. I WAS WRONG. The 18 month program has matured me as a
person, as an attorney and as a bar leader.
As I completed the application questionnaire I realized how serious the MSBA
took this endeavor and I resolved that once accepted, there was no turning back.
I must admit, I was not very hopeful that I would be accepted in light of the
talent pool available statewide. So many attorneys with so many stories and so
many experiences. The best I could do was promise the MSBA that if selected I
would commit 110% to the process. The funny thing is that I never realized how
much I would get in return. I wish I could "bottle" and sell what I
have obtained. I am, however, rich with the experience and all of the intended
I was blessed to have been selected to participate and was anxious to meet with
the other 14 members of the Fellows 2000. As we were introduced by the
Leadership Academy Chair, the Honorable Judge Charles B. Day, I was in awe. I
literally thought I had wandered into the wrong reception. I was convinced that
with the reading of their resumes, these individuals were professional
"do-gooders". The quality and diversity was as incredible as it was
refreshing. Member diversity is by far the most important aspect to the success
of any organization. All individuals involved agree that with diversity comes
the opportunity for differing perspectives and multiple approaches and solutions
to problems. The program emphasized that learning from differences is just as
powerful as learning from similarities. I would soon realize that each and every
Fellow 2000 was humble and down to earth. I would soon come to respect and
cherish them all deeply for differing reasons. This same respect and admiration
remains constant for both past and future classes of Fellows.
I realized that the Fellows 2000 were chosen partly on our past history, but
mostly on our potential. Chosen because we all agreed that we wanted to enhance
and cultivate the "leader" in ourselves. There was no quantitative
test given during the process to determine exactly when "leader"
status had been achieved. It was clear from the onset that becoming a leader is
the magnification of your strengths and finding the detours from your
weaknesses. It was clear that being a leader is cultivating differing talents to
accomplish a goal. It was clear that being a leader is being yourself plus focus
plus purpose. No two leaders are alike: nor should they be.
Looking back, you can guarantee that Statewide, no matter which Courthouse I
happen to be in, I will run into a Judge, a Fellow 2000, a Mentor, a former
Fellow, or a current fellow involved with the program. It is nice to have
familiarity even in very unfamiliar territory. These are the people I have come
to count on for straight answers and advice, personally and professionally.
I am not the same person now as I was prior to the Leadership Academy
experience. I see the importance of being active with the MSBA. I see the effect
and influence of diversity on the future of the MSBA. I see no reason why anyone
with the desire to enhance themselves, the profession and the MSBA should wait a
single day longer to fill out an application.