Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
--Saint Teresa of Calcutta (f.k.a. Mother Teresa)
It’s hard to believe the bar year is two thirds over. As you read this, our members have interviewed, vetted, provided input to the Trial Courts Nominating Commission and celebrated the investitures of two new members of our circuit court bench: Judges Jeannie Cho and Deb Dwyer. We also concluded the judicial selection process for three District Court openings, which should be filled by the time you see this.
We congratulated Judges Rupp and Quirk’s 20th and 21st classes of Drug Court graduates (of whom there now are 176), and the first dockets were heard in our new Mental Health Court. Our Bar Foundation is proud to be a major supporter of both. These courts reflect a commitment to justice that keeps our County at the forefront of judicial innovation.
In early October, the Community Outreach Committee hosted another successful Special Olympics Inspiration Walk, then got right to work on its winter project—the Special Olympics basketball tournament. Our New Practitioners hosted a toy drive for Family Justice Center Foundation clients, bringing real holiday cheer to children enduring family crises.
To help fund its financial commitment to these worthy causes, the Bar Foundation hosted its Annual Golf and Tennis Fall Outing on a sunny, if cool, Columbus Day. Once again this event was a collegial and financial highlight of the bar year, and the Foundation continues to raise its fundraising profile and increase accessibility with help from the 2016-17 class of Leadership Academy fellows.
In November our Diversity Committee worked with specialty bars to match minority law school students with all of the local law firms participating in the 2017 Summer Scholars Pipeline Program. And since the beginning of the bar year, Pro Bono Program volunteers donated their time and expertise to over 2800 clients, including 250 referred by family division magistrates.
Meanwhile, our Foundation C-IT program’s “Speak Up, Save a Life” panel of attorneys, physicians, family members, overdose survivors and recovered addicts was lending time and energy to reaching many thousands more students, parents and educators with their stories of loss, addiction, redemption and prevention. In doing so the panel garnered the Montgomery Co. Collaboration Council for Children, Youth & Families’ 2016 Time Well Spent Award.
Throughout the past eight months, bar luncheons and committee and section events have educated and informed us. They’ve also brought our members closer together. Each such event was supported, if not run, by our dedicated BAMC staff led by the indefatigable Julie Petersen. Each year presents new challenges for this staff, not the least of which is working with new leaders. They meet every challenge with energy, efficiency and aplomb.
What our bar events also have in common is the leadership of lawyers whose busy practices and personal lives would make it easy for them to leave service to someone else or delay it a year. I did this for years as I raised a son, built a practice and participated in my law firm, church and community. But years ago I realized I was unlikely to find a suitable time or strike a perfect work/life balance enabling me to undertake significant bar service while still wanting to serve. I stopped procrastinating and—like the Nike slogan—decided I’d “just do it.”
This month I invite each of you to help lead our bar: Just do it. Ask to lead a committee or section from which you’ve benefited; or put your name in the race for a seat on the Executive Committee or other office. Do the thing you’ve been considering, but putting off. Ballots go out March 15th and voting concludes in early April, so email Nominating Committee Chair Kathy Knight, or Executive Director Julie Petersen NOW (by January 11th) if you are interested in running, and be sure to send in your committee/section selections on the form you’ll receive in a few months. In the words of St. Teresa (who wore sandals, not Nikes): “Let us begin.”