In the January 2011 Newsletter, Joe Fitzpatrick - as President of the Bar Foundation – wrote an article called “A Decision About the Future of Our Building.” Quite appropriately, Joe began that article by drawing a parallel between the storied fate of the London Bridge and that of our Bar Foundation/Association building. The message is clear: The time is now. As Joe aptly concluded: The can cannot be kicked down the road any longer. So, over the past year, Pat McKeever has spent countless hours chairing the Building Committee. Given the time and effort expended by the folks on this Committee, I would like to recognize the others here. In addition to Pat McKeever and Joe Fitzpatrick, the Building Committee had the tireless energy of David Pordy, John Monahan, Camilla McRory, Deanna Peters, and Joe Lynott. Their Committee explored various options with respect to the current building, as well as possible options beyond the current space. As Joe reported, the Committee recommended retaining the current building and making various needed repairs, as well as some upgrades and renovations. The Committee also estimated that the cost of necessary repairs was upward of $700,000 and that a capital reserve fund was crucial for the continued maintenance and upkeep of the property. The funding need was determined to be $1.2 million dollars.
After spirited debate and exploration of all the options, the Bar Foundation (which owns the building) adopted the Building Committee’s recommendation. In the earlier article, Joe identified the somewhat daunting task that lie ahead and sounded the clarion call for our members to step up and offer their time and commitment to tackling the many aspects of this project, and not least among them, the funding of the project.
And, step up we did. The Capital Campaign Committee was established in order to raise the money needed to fund the project, the trumpet was sounded, and an organizational meeting was held on the first Saturday in February. Our dedicated members, including long-time leaders as well an emerging leaders, came out in droves. As a product of that meeting, a variety of subcommittees were formed:
* Grants/Corporate Sponsorships Subcommittee: Chair - Paul Kemp
* Special Assessment Subcommittee: Chair - John Monahan
* Public Relations/Communications Subcommittee: Chair - Mary Ellen Flynn
* Events Subcommittee: Co-Chairs - Casey Weinberg and Andrew Schwartz
* Firm & Donor Outreach Subcommittee: Chair - David Pordy
Each of those subcommittees have been busy at work and will continue their efforts until the required funding is secured. Our association is indeed fortunate to have so many devoted to its welfare. And, most significantly, three members stepped up to co-chair the Capital Campaign Committee: Jim Mood, Rich Melnick, and Sebastian Forgues. Endless thanks should go from all of us to each of these three for their willingness to take charge of the capital campaign.
So, in addition to having a building with suitable heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, and fire prevention systems, the improvements will create a more open and welcoming space. The plans include creating a Business Center, with available work space, equipped with computers, as well as a conference room that can be reserved for depositions (and will be equipped with video deposition capabilities) or meetings with clients, experts or co-counsel. While the conference room is a neutral space available to all members, many solos and newer practitioners may be able to reduce overhead by availing themselves of the improved facilities. And, our Bar building need not be all
business, as the plans contemplate a Member’s Lounge for relaxing, networking,
The Special Assessment subcommittee made a recommendation for an annual assessment over a period of five years. For those members practicing for 5 years or more in private practice and for members of the judiciary, it is $75/year. For those members in practice under 5 years and government attorneys, it is $30/year. Such assessment will yield over $700,000 and should facilitate financing options. The assessment request was presented to, and conditionally approved by, the Executive Committee. A special meeting was held on May 23rd and a quorum of the membership unanimously voted to approve the assessment.
I have learned many things over the course of the past year. Above all, I have been gratified to see that we have an association of members, who time after time, step up when help is needed. In order to save our building and ensure that our Association has a home for years to come, as Joe (and Uncle Sam before him) said: WE NEED YOU ! Please support these efforts and the good work of so many of our members who are dedicated to keeping our Association vibrant and able to provide and improve on the various services, benefits, and resources we all enjoy.