Approved by the MSBA Board of Governors on February 25, Veterans’ Affairs and Military Law is poised to become MSBA’s 29th Practice Section. Pending general membership approval on June 14, at the MSBA Annual Meeting, Veterans’ Affairs and Military Law would become the Association’s first new Section since the creation of the Construction Law Section in June 2011.
“With the winding down of our overseas engagements, we have a generation of veterans at home and in need,” says MSBA President Michael J. Baxter. “Our skills as lawyers couldn’t be put to a better use than helping these patriots receive their much-deserved benefits.”
John H. Price, Jr., Chair of the Special Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Military Law, sees a Military Law Section as a vital tool for addressing veterans’ needs ranging from employment to domestic issues and more. “As a Section,” says Price, “I think we will get more lawyers and veterans involved. We will certainly grow and become more visible.”
Established in September 2008 under then-President Katherine Kelly Howard, the MSBA Special Committee on Military Law soon changed its name to reflect its equal dedication to veterans affairs issues. Since then, the Committee, through meetings, trainings, and other projects, has endeavored to fulfill its stated mission of providing a forum for “the open exchange of military law and matters affecting veterans and the military community by building and establishing a network of uniformed and civilian professionals, providing educational and legal assistance opportunities, and recognizing those attorneys who have contributed significantly to this goal.”
To recognize such attorneys, the Committee established its Brigadier General Philip Sherman Award, given annually to a bar member who has demonstrated outstanding service to Maryland veterans and active-duty personnel. In 2013, the Committee presented the Sherman Award – which honors its late namesake, Phillip Sherman, a Baltimore attorney and longtime veteran of the Maryland Defense Force and Maryland National Guard – to Charles M. Blomquist.
While MSBA Committees are populated by Presidential appointment, approximately 97 percent of the Association’s more than 23,000 members belong to at least one of the MSBA’s existing 28 practice Sections, rendering the semi-autonomous bodies among the most valuable benefits of MSBA membership. These Sections offer MSBA members abundant professional opportunities, from networking with colleagues to news of the latest developments within their substantive fields.
They also provide their members with a platform from which they may monitor, and in some cases help influence, relevant legislation. Numerous Sections regularly publish newsletters for their members, while many enjoy active email discussion lists, enabling a virtual platform for near-immediate interaction.