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The occasion of the Maryland State Bar Association’s 125th anniversary presents more than an opportunity to commemorate the past. It also invites us to pause for critical reflection on the state of our profession, how we have wielded our position of influence historically ; how we might exercise that privilege responsibly going forward, and, finally, what we imagine and dare to reimagine about the legal profession’s role in the future of justice in our state, nation, and world.

Of particular importance in this moment is examining the role that the law, lawyers and the legal profession have played in creating and enabling distinctions based on race, which have served to perpetuate racial inequities in society at large. With regard to racism and other inequities, we look to be grounded in and reckon with our history, as we get set to embark on this collective journey to reimagine a just and equitable future for our systems of justice and our roles as legal professionals within those systems.

The MSBA 125th Anniversary Thought Leadership Series will set the table and, through a myriad of formats, will invite innovative thinkers and fierce leaders to spark robust discussion and forward-thinking dialogue about the historical relationship and future direction of justice and the legal profession, with a focus on the following themes:

  • GUARDIANS OF JUSTICE – explore the role of professional responsibility and ethics in shaping and constraining justice
  • REFORMING JUSTICE – explore the responsibility of the legal profession in propagating or dismantling racial injustice and other inequities and spurring meaningful criminal justice reform
  • ACCESS TO JUSTICE – explore the role of the legal profession in perpetuating or disrupting the civil justice crisis; the disparate impact of the civil justice system on communities of color and other minorities or marginalized citizens; and the road to meaningful civil justice reform
  • SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY and JUSTICE – explore the unique questions, challenges and opportunities at the intersection of law, science & technology, across the spectrum, from the regulation of innovation to issues of access and bias.

The 125th Thought Leadership Series aims to be an out-of-the-box experience that will attract new voices and energy and garner broad-based engagement. It will take place over an 18 month period and will be part of the broader 125th Anniversary programming, which commences in June, 2021. Its purpose is to create a space for intellectual stimulation and deep reflection, and to offer insightful content and thought-provoking programming in a host of formats and across multiple platforms, to engage MSBA members and the legal profession as a whole.

While the program will launch in MSBA’s 125th anniversary year, the hope is that the Series will have an enduring impact on guiding and shaping the future of the MSBA and the legal profession’s role in justice, in a way that is meaningful and measurable.

We seek your speaker suggestions, content ideas and program proposals to deliver an exceptional experience. While the form and type of content and programming will range from policy papers to podcasts to TED-type talks, all content and programs should have the following attributes to make them related, connected and part of the Series.

  • Grapple with the legal profession’s history, with a focus on not repeating failures or shortcomings, and fashioning a different future
  • Ground conversations with a sharp eye towards disrupting and correcting existing race inequities
  • Aim to dig deep, explore topics that are still evolving or emerging and be bold in including unusual participants and perspectives
  • Think of how to make your presentations compelling – and have the courage to move away from the panel

Here are some examples of the types of programs we may want to explore:

  • Space. The Final Frontier: Will Earthly Laws and Regulations Matter When Private Companies Are the Space Explorers and Colonizers?
  • Relinquishing Control: Can a Trained, Independent Paraprofessional Corps Help Fill the Legal Services Gap?
  • From Slave Codes to Drug Laws to the Politics of Protest – America’s History of Immunizing Whiteness and Criminalizing Blackness.

We seek your help in delivering the following programming. Please send us your best ideas as soon as possible. We will keep accepting ideas throughout the duration of the event, but will give first preference to ideas and suggestions received by September 15, 2021.


SPARK SERIES – high-level foundational presentations that serve to set the stage

  • For each of these programs, we are looking to curate the following components:
    • Suggested topic(s)
    • A dynamic speaker, video or multimedia presentation that can give a historical primer on how we are where we are
    • High-caliber speakers who can speak to history, but also provide a vision and direction for the future

1 90-minute program related to Guardians of Justice – proposed September/ October, 2021
1 90-minute program related to Access to Justice – November, 2021
1 90-minute program related to Reforming Justice – proposed January, 2022
1 90-minute program related to Science & Technology & Justice – proposed late April/ early May, 2022

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP ON THE GO: A 2022 SUMMER PODCAST SERIES – continuing conversations that add depth and insight

  • For each of these podcasts, we are looking to curate the following components:
    • Suggested topic(s)
    • Suggested format for the podcast – speakers, story with interviews, etc.
    • Suggested speaker(s)

6 podcasts, approximately 20 to 30 minutes in length, related to one or more of the themes – by April 2022

POLICY PAPERS – policy research, analysis and recommendations on emerging issues faced by the legal profession, along our four expressed themes – submitted by December, 2021; final product delivered by September/ October, 2022

  • For each of these policy papers, we are looking to curate the following components:
    • Suggested topic(s)
    • Suggested writer(s)

1 policy paper in Guardians of Justice
1 policy paper for Reforming Justice
1 policy paper for Access to Justice
1 policy paper for Science & Technology and Justice

FUTURE-READY – a day-long culminating event that will explore the aspects of each of the themes related to the future and how we can become future-ready, with keynotes, discussions and more.

  • For this day long event, we are looking to curate the following components:
    • Keynote speaker suggestions
    • Suggested topic(s)
    • Suggested speaker(s)
    • Suggested programs within each of the themes that will explore the future of justice and the legal profession

A full day event with keynotes and programs that will focus on the future of justice and the legal profession – September/ October 2022

SUGGESTED FOR MSBA PRESIDENT: CHANGEMAKERS SERIES – MSBA President to hold monthly coffee chats with changemakers in Maryland who altered the direction of the legal profession in Maryland. The Thought Leadership Committee could provide suggestions for guests.

Add information about how to submit ideas, content and programs through our content portal here.