James P. Nolan
Nolan Leads National Bar Presidents Conference
James P. Nolan, a past president of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA), was sworn in as President of the National Conference of Bar Presidents (NCBP) last month during the ABA Meeting in San Francisco. NCBP, a national group of bar leaders affiliated with the American Bar Association (ABA), provides insight and leadership on key issues in the legal profession. The Council provides education opportunities for current and future state bar association leaders, delving into “nuts and bolts” bar issues like continuing education, access to justice, diversity, provision of legal services and community outreach.
Nolan, the managing director of the Annapolis law firm Council, Baradel, Kosmerl & Nolan, P.A., served as MSBA President in 2002-2003 and Anne Arundel County Bar President in 1991-1992. He will lead NCBP’s 200+ members, state bar association presidents and presidents-elect for the next year. In this role, Nolan will work closely with the ABA and other affiliates to “enhance communication and make sure we are all on the same page when discussing issues relevant to our collective constituencies – everyday practicing lawyers.”
NCBP supports state bar leaders, preparing them for their presidencies and guiding them throughout their year. The organization offers everything from information, training, expertise and mentoring to general support services to equip the bar leaders with the multitude of skills needed to serve as bar president. NCBP also convenes national educational conferences where members share their experiences and perspectives.
“Our primary purpose is to provide high-quality programs at NCBP’s bi-annual meetings, which are held in conjunction with the ABA,” explains Nolan. Former bar presidents, ABA leaders and others present insightful sessions to current and future state bar presidents. Substantial time is always reserved for smaller gatherings where bar leaders from similar-sized bars or regions share information, issues and experiences with their counterparts.
Nolan points to one session, held earlier this year, as an example of NCBP’s diverse offerings. “One program featured young lawyers addressing the audience of bar leaders about key issues meaningful to younger members of the bar,” he states. “They candidly talked about how to get younger lawyers involved in bar leadership roles to preserve the future of bar associations.” A lively discussion ensued, and this program was with replicated with veteran bar leaders, giving insight into “if I had to do it all over again” and how they handled challenges that arose.
Substantive issues are also examined by NCBP. Some of the most recent include dissatisfaction in the legal profession, the unauthorized practice of law, contested judicial elections, technology, diversity and disaster planning for state bars, with respect to natural and manmade disasters.
NCBP’s new President plans to reach out to all types of bar associations in this country to solicit their ideas, input and participation in NCBP. “We are the preeminent bar association organization in the country,” asserts Nolan. “We deal with bar association issues and bar leaders every day. After all, these bars deliver the message of their members – the everyday practicing lawyer.”