Debra G. Schubert
Debra G. Schubert, a Baltimore County solo practitioner, has been named the President-Elect nominee of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA). Schubert will run for election this June at the MSBA Annual Meeting, leading a slate that includes Sara H. Arthur, of the Annapolis-based Arthur Law Group, LLC, for Treasurer, and the Honorable Pamila J. Brown, District Court of Maryland, Howard County, for Secretary.
Michael J. Baxter, a founding partner in the Baltimore law firm of Baxter, Baker, Sidle, Conn & Jones, P.A., will be installed as President at the 2013 MSBA Annual Meeting. Schubert, currently serving her second year as MSBA Treasurer, is slated to succeed Baxter as President for the 2014-2015 bar year.
As a solo practitioner herself, concentrating in elder and juvenile law, Schubert is particularly keen on reaching out to other solos, as well as new attorneys, highlighting the many benefits of MSBA membership. She points to the wide array of tools available to attorneys facing today’s “dire economic circumstances,” such as MSBA’s online Legal Career Center and Mentoring Program. Moreover, with many traditional employment opportunities dwindling, the Association provides numerous resources for those turning to small firms or hanging out their own shingles.
“They need to have tools,” says Schubert. “When you look on our website, there are so many things that are available – tools that young attorneys can use to look for a job, as well as technology, education, free legal research. And our membership dues are still among the lowest in the entire country.”
Schubert also counts the Association’s more seasoned members among its richest resources, particularly for younger attorneys. “They’re a wealth of information,” she says. “Young attorneys need to realize what a valuable asset they have in older attorneys, and what they can offer to them.”
In reaching out to new attorneys, Schubert also plans to focus on the changing face of the legal profession during her presidency. “Technology has changed our profession so much, particularly in the last 30 years,” she notes. “Social media, virtual practice, eLawyering – these are all ways that we can enhance our practices. With the challenges facing young attorneys today, I think that’s going to be their avenue to success.”
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Schubert took a shine to the law while majoring in advertising and marketing at the University of Texas. “I took a business law course,” she says, “and just loved it. So I said, I’m going to take the LSAT, just to see how I do. I did well, and I just thought, that’s the career path for me.”
Schubert was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1987, after obtaining her juris doctorate from the University of Baltimore School of Law, and joined the Towson firm of Klein & Webb that same year. In 1991, she struck out on her own, establishing Debra G. Schubert, PC, in Towson, where she remains to this day.
Although she spent two decades practicing divorce law, Schubert finds greater satisfaction in helping the very young and the elderly, often through pro bono work. “I enjoy helping people, those that really are in need,” she admits. Indeed, she counts among her practice’s most “gratifying” moments “a thank-you note from a client that puts a smile on my face that day, or a young adult who, after we’ve been to juvenile court, finally seems to understand the penalties involved and what he could be facing, and seems to get it.”
“You’re giving back,” she explains. “My father taught me that – you always give something back. I’m fortunate enough now to be able to do that.”
Schubert’s involvement in MSBA began in earnest in 1996, when Carey Deeley, Jr., then-President of the Baltimore County Bar Association, nominated Schubert for inclusion in the first class of MSBA’s fledgling Leadership Academy, a program designed to assist lawyers in becoming better leaders while offering them opportunities for future leadership roles within the Association. Schubert credits the experience with her decision to “stay involved” with MSBA after completing the program. Indeed, Schubert was subsequently appointed to the MSBA Budget & Finance Committee in 1997, where she served for 13 years (the last three as Chair), before becoming MSBA Treasurer. She has also served three terms on the MSBA Board of Governors and is an active member of the MSBA Animal Law Section. Schubert is also a Fellow of the Maryland Bar Foundation.
“Just look back at what Leadership Academy graduates have accomplished since they completed the program,” notes Schubert, the first graduate of the program to attain such high office within MSBA. “We have judges. We have outstanding trial attorneys. We have active members in the State Bar Association, in other bar associations. I really do think it exposes young attorneys to the Maryland State Bar Association and makes them want to be a part of it. I mean, I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Schubert’s other professional affiliations include the Baltimore County Bar Association (of which she served as President in 2006-2007, and as Liaison to the Harford County Bench Bar Committee since 2008) and the Baltimore County Bar Foundation (President, 2007-2008). She is also a member of the American Bar Association and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Schubert also served as an Adjunct Professor at Villa Julie College from 1989-1996. She is admitted to practice before the Maryland Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.
An avid equestrian, Schubert owns a nine-horse farm in Baldwin, Maryland. “It’s important to have a work-life balance,” she muses. “My dad once told me that I figured out in my 30s what it took him in his 50s to figure out – that there is more to life than work.”
“I’m certainly my father’s daughter,” she continues. “His level of integrity and his reputation were beyond reproach, and I’d like to think mine are as well. My word is my word. My reputation and integrity are what I hold most dear, as well as treating people the right way. And I certainly give a nod to my father on that.”