Edward J. Gilliss
"Involvement with MSBA
reinforces one's commitment to the legal profession. It is a way to give back
and share with others," proclaimed Edward J. Gilliss as he assumed the office of
President of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) on June 17, 2006, during
the Association's Annual Meeting in Ocean City.
"Over the years, we as
an Association have focused on reaching out to our members," announced MSBA's
new leader, a renowned champion of Maryland lawyers and MSBA. "Our core mission
is working with members to better the profession."
Addressing the audience
of 200+ attorneys and judges gathered at MSBA's Business Meeting, Gilliss
stated, "You are examples of all that is good about our profession. You share a
vision about the importance of the lawyer's role in the community. Civility
among lawyers and volunteering one's time are two traits that must be cherished
and recognized. We have much to be proud of and build on."
A partner in the
Baltimore County law firm of Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid, LLP, Gilliss will
lead MSBA and its 22,000 members for the next 12 months and be joined by
newly-elected officers: President-Elect Alison L. Asti, Executive Director of
the Maryland Stadium Authority; Treasurer John Patrick Kudel, a solo
practitioner in Rockville and Of Counsel to the Rockville-based law firm of
Karp, Frosh, Lapidus, Wigodsky & Norwind, P.A., and Katherine Kelly Howard, Vice
President and General Counsel of Regional Management in Baltimore City.
MSBA really is
"the voice" of
To be effective,
we need to be in
touch with all
Edward J. Gilliss
This year, MSBA's
President plans to promote MSBA and reach out to its members. Gilliss will focus
on continuing legal education, enhanced technology to assist members in the
everyday practice of law, especially in the web-based delivery of CLE, disaster
planning and the increased involvement of large law firms in MSBA. In addition,
he plans to advance the aspirations ensconced in MSBA's Mission Statement and
promote respect for the rule of law, diversity in the profession, access to
justice and service to the public.
One of the new
President's top priorities is continuing legal education. "This year, MSBA will
strive to assist MICPEL, the Association's CLE arm, to better ‘connect' with
lawyers in delivering content," pledged Gilliss. "We will encourage MICPEL to
move toward a web-based platform which will give members the added option of
downloading seminar materials in podcast fashion." Gilliss has appointed a
Special Task Force to facilitate this.
requirements, family, community and continuing education are modern challenges,"
he explains. "iPods across Maryland may soon be filled with lectures on issues
such as mechanics' liens and securities regulation. Lawyers on treadmills and
lawyers at traffic lights may soon be listening to CLE seminars. Podcasts will
be one more tool to aid lawyers in managing their time."
However, Gilliss is
quick to add that "face-to-face contact between lawyers is also very important.
We cannot and will not forget the importance of personal contacts. But if our
Bar is going to benefit from the participation of lawyers from all corners of
our state, we need to find ways for real time interaction without travel time
burdens." Again, the new bar leader looks to web-based technology as the vehicle
to deliver real time contact and interaction. "It is on MICPEL's and MSBA's
agendas to explore and implement web-based meetings."
MSBA's President also
wants to help members in the event of a disaster. Troubled by the effects of
last August's devastating hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, yet touched by the
compassion of lawyers, he stated, "There is much that can and must be learned
from those storms." Gilliss praised the efforts of MSBA and the Maryland Bar
Foundation, who raised $25,000 in response to the natural disasters, and
reported that the money is being used to aid Gulf-state lawyers in re-starting
"The Louisiana Bar
Association was struck hard," he continues. "It had no office equipment. It has
no offices. Its neighbor bar, the State Bar Association of Texas, brought staff
and equipment to the aid of its sister association – a great show of
This year, MSBA's
President will encourage Maryland's local and specialty bar associations to
enter into an agreement to aid one another should the need ever arise. "Although
we all hope and pray that we are not the ones to need the assistance of one
another, the investment of thought and planning today may provide comfort later.
As the old adage goes: ‘The time to fix the roof is when the sun is out.'" In
addition, he promises that "MSBA will work with its sister bar associations in
other states to develop a disaster plan that will serve as a roadmap for its
members. Planning today may lessen or avoid crisis tomorrow."
In MSBA's continuing
effort to reach out to all sectors of its diverse membership, Gilliss plans to
form a Special Committee on Large Firms. This grows out of a several year
tradition of an annual breakfast meeting of MSBA officers and large firm
managing partners. MSBA's President envisions this Committee serving "as a
conduit to rejuvenate the involvement of large firm lawyers in MSBA activities.
Bar involvement is a great way to reinforce the good things that lawyers do. It
is our hope that more and more large firm young lawyers will be encouraged to
become more involved in MSBA activities."
"Our Association depends
on our ability to identify the commonalities of our profession," Gilliss
explains. "MSBA really is ‘the voice' of Maryland lawyers. To be effective, we
need to be in touch with all segments of our membership."
Finally, to reinforce
the rule of law and our democracy's separation of powers, Gilliss wants MSBA to
"remind and educate our citizens about the importance of each branch of
government." To this end, he sees lawyers and judges embarking on a joint
program in the schools to present meaningful information about the role of the
judicial branch. "We will endeavor to make available a hands-on curriculum where
school children – perhaps 6th and
– will be able to see, hear and touch lawyers and judges and appreciate the role
we play in ensuring the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of our system of
government. Our democracy really does depend on a knowledgeable public."
As Gilliss concluded his
installation address, he quoted Roscoe Pound:
"The term ‘profession'
refers to a group of individuals pursuing a learned art as a common calling in
the spirit of public service – no less a public service because it may
inadvertently be a means of livelihood."
"We celebrate the legal
profession because we care," Gilliss exclaimed. "We care about the delivery of
educational opportunities to our members; we care about diversity in our
profession; we care about access to justice and service to the public; we care
about the separation of powers; and we care about the rule of law."
"We will be the voice to
protect an impartial judiciary and an independent legal profession," promised
MSBA's new President. "We will continue to celebrate the importance of our
profession in ensuring the freedoms of all."