Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : February 2005

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MSBA Honors Carlin for Two Decades of Outstanding Service
~MSBA's executive director celebrates 20th anniversary~
by Janet Stidman Eveleth

 MSBA Executive Director

When Paul V. Carlin arrived as the new Executive Director of MSBA in March 1985, the association was comprised of 10,000 members with a support staff of 18. Today, MSBA has grown to 21,700 members and 27 staff members and offers a plethora of member services, benefits and programs. Under Paul’s outstanding executive leadership, MSBA has made great strides and attained many distinguished hallmarks in the last 20 years.

The epitome of a professional bar executive, Paul has been recognized for his outstanding leadership, keen intellect, excellent judgment, exceptional organizational skills and his vision, which has helped establish MSBA as a strong and vibrant professional association that functions as the powerful voice of lawyers in Maryland. Today, MSBA is one of the top state bars in the country and has enjoyed national acclaim for many of its programs.

On March 1, 2005, Paul Carlin will celebrate his 20th anniversary as MSBA’s quintessential Executive Director. MSBA’s volunteer leadership, his staff and Maryland’s legal community are congratulating Paul on his devotion to MSBA, his outstanding leadership and his many achievements.

“Paul is a Level 5 leader,” proclaims MSBA President Neil Helfrich. “He understands our core mission and makes sure that we stay true to that mission. Paul has many talents, but one that has always impressed me is his remarkable ability to hire and retain extraordinarily well-qualified persons. That talent holds true from the Directors to the support staff. And, he does this without taking himself too seriously…a trait that all 20 presidents that he has served under appreciate.”

As Paul
enters his
third decade
of service
to MSBA,
he is certain
to lead our
to even greater


(Click image to enlarge)


MSBA’s Past Presidents and Board of Governors offered a special tribute to Paul on December 21, 2004, honoring his 20 years of exemplary service to our association. As a special “surprise,” 19 of the 20 living Past Presidents Paul has worked with came to the Senate Chamber in Annapolis during the BOG meeting to personally pay tribute to MSBA’s outstanding Executive Director. In a truly remarkable ceremony, each paraded into the Chamber, followed by Paul’s lovely wife Hildegard and daughter Kristana. Paul was quite surprised and overwhelmed by this show of appreciation and gratitude.

“Paul is one of the real treasures of the MSBA and its members,” declares Charles “Mike” Preston, MSBA past president. “Unfortunately, few of us, the beneficiaries of his hard work, can fully realize the constant devotion he displays, the endless hours spent ‘on the job’ or the enormous credit his nation-wide reputation brings to the lawyers of Maryland. He is most deserving of our thanks.”

“One of my greatest accomplishments in my work with the MSBA was chairing the selection committee that brought Paul Carlin to Baltimore to become our executive director, then serving as his first president,” exclaims Herbert J. Belgrad. “From the beginning, Paul brought a high level of professionalism and a dedication and commitment to raise the standards and improve MSBA’s services to the members.”

Paul graduated from the Dickinson School of Law of Pennsylvania State University in 1970 and began his bar association career as the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Director of Legal Services in 1975. He has also served as the District of Columbia Bar’s Director of Public Service Activities and the Executive Director of both the Bar Association of Baltimore City and the Connecticut Bar Association. On March 1, 1985, he became MSBA’s Executive Director.

A past president of the National Association of Bar Executives, Paul was honored with NABE’s esteemed Bolton Award for Professional Excellence, the top national award given to a bar executive, in 1996. This award is given to an executive “who demonstrates outstanding professional leadership and effective management skills and displays humanitarianism, character, congeniality and service to the community.” All of these virtues are embodied in Paul Carlin.

Paul’s focus is and has always been member service. It is his personal creed and that of his staff. “MSBA exists for two main purposes,” he states. “We are a voluntary membership organization, so our dominant goal is to attend to the needs of our members. Second, we have a responsibility to the public to deliver quality legal services, provide access to justice and ensure our schools offer programs on law-related education.”


Over the years, Paul has dealt with one action-packed agenda after another, and many have become MSBA milestones. “We have reacted to many situations that have arisen,” he explains. In his first year as Executive Director, he was hit with the legal malpractice insurance crisis, which led to the creation of Legal Mutual, and the move to create the Southern Division of the U.S. District Court, while also renovating the Maryland Bar Center, hosting the ABA Mid-Year Meeting and bidding out proposals for our first computer system.

His milestones include the 1988 lawyer satisfaction survey, the precursor of MSBA’s professionalism initiative, the people’s pro bono campaign in 1989 which led to the creation of what is now the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, numerous planning retreats that have focused on everything from minorities in the profession and technology to long-range planning, and MSBA’s Leadership Academy, which promotes diversity within the association.

MSBA has also achieved many hallmarks under Paul’s direction, and a top one is its constant growth and activity. He characterizes MSBA’s high membership growth, from 10,000 in 1985 to today’s 21,786, as a milestone for MSBA. “I am proud that we have increased our membership by more than 100 percent,” he notes.

However, “our incredible staff, another hallmark, has not grown significantly. When I arrived the staff totaled 18; today we have 27 staff members. We have been able to accommodate all of our activity without a commensurate growth in staff, and this is one of the keys to our high degree of financial stability.” Paul is proud of his “team,” many of whom have been with MSBA for over 15 years. MSBA’s staff enjoys such longevity and stability because of our leader, Paul Carlin.

As Director of Communications, I have had the pleasure of working with Paul for almost 18 years and can attest to his being a first-class Executive Director and an exceptional CEO. Paul emanates a sense of trust and cooperation in the office and maintains open lines of communication. He creates a professional and respectful work environment and sets a positive tone for us to follow. He appreciates us, and we appreciate him.

Another hallmark is MSBA’s immense level of activity. “Maryland is a small state,” he explains, “and approximately 85 percent of our members are within an hour of one another. This accounts for between 500 and 600 meetings a year. We cater to roughly 140 entities, including our Sections and their many committees and subcommittees, and our Committees. To appreciate the scope of Paul’s job, he attends roughly 150 MSBA meetings a year.

Finally, he considers our voluntary attorney leaders to be a hallmark and the true strength of MSBA. “From the President to our Board of Governors and Sections and Committees, MSBA has an incredibly high caliber of volunteer leaders.” Plus, he has always been impressed by the wonderful feeling of collegiality and cooperation our members show toward one another. “When MSBA lawyers get together, we work on the principle of consensus. We look for solutions that work best for everyone.”

As Paul enters his third decade of service to MSBA, he is certain to lead our association to even greater heights. Always the sports aficionado, Paul equates his MSBA role to that of an athlete. “You suit up every day, go to the line and perform,” he explains. “You have to keep your energy and passion alive because the more energy you put in, the more results happen, which leads to higher satisfaction.”

Paul has attained this high level of satisfaction and has excelled as MSBA’s Executive Director for the last 20 years; he will continue do so for many more to come. Herb Belgrad sums it up best: “The members of our association over the past 20 years owe Paul a debt of gratitude and sincere thanks for his devoted and dedicated service to the MSBA and its members.”

See the full tribute to Paul Carlin in the March/April issue of the Maryland Bar Journal.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: February, 2005

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