On Monday, September 24, 2018, the MSBA Board of Governors (BOG) held its first meeting since the June 2018 Legal Summit and Annual Meeting at Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover, Maryland. Originally scheduled for Thursday, September 13, the September meeting had been postponed due to the threat of Hurricane Florence and Governor Hogan’s State of Emergency declaration.

Prior to the meeting, BOG members had the opportunity to mix and mingle with several of this year’s Section and Committee Chairs. The Chairs were present for an earlier Leadership Orientation featuring MSBA President Judge Keith R. Truffer, Executive Director Victor Velazquez, and other MSBA staff.

Following the networking session, the meeting kicked off with an introduction from Judge Truffer, who restated his vision for fiscal year 2018-19. As originally noted in his installation speech at the Legal Summit and Annual Meeting, one of Judge Truffer’s key goals for this year is improving the mental health and well-being of legal professionals. To that end, the Executive Committee, Maryland Lawyer Assistance Program Director Jim Quinn, and others have been working to expand the program’s services and offer free, confidential counseling services to all Maryland lawyers statewide. Judge Truffer announced the imminent rollout of expanded counseling services, the result of substantial work completed this summer.

Two actions were taken during the President’s report. First, minutes were approved from the last BOG meeting in June. These minutes are now available on MSBA’s website, under About > Leadership > Board of Governors > Meeting Schedule & Documents > Minutes. In addition, the Board considered a nomination from the Bar Association of Carroll County to fill the 11th District vacancy. The nominee, James Brewer, II, of the Law Offices of James F. Brewer, LLC in Westminster, was approved by the Board, and will serve a two-year term as the BOG representative for the 11th District (Carroll & Frederick Counties).

Following the President’s report, Executive Director Victor Velazquez presented his report, which included a discussion of the significant progress in all areas of the MSBA in keeping with the “Foundational Recommendations” addressing such areas as new members, publishing, infrastructure, and marketing, among other points, which the BOG approved in May 2017. He also discussed the proposed changes to MSBA’s email discussion list rules, review of the Maryland Bar Journal redesign in progress, and costs associated with the MSBA’s Headquarters lease.

Other officers also delivered reports. In his Treasurer’s report, the Hon. Mark F. Scurti highlighted the work done to improve and modernize the financial systems, with a quick demonstration of the new software. President-Elect Dana O. Williams reported on information obtained by the Executive Committee during the National Conference of Bar Presidents, and the ABA Annual Meeting. Williams noted that many other state Bars are facing similar challenges to those of the MSBA, including the aging of the legal profession and the ability to engage with younger members of the legal profession. He also noted that, like the MSBA, many Bars are focusing on improving their technology and ability to engage legal professionals in both personal and virtual settings.

In addition, three Committee Chairs made presentations to the Board:

  • Judicial Appointments Committee Co-Chair Sidney Butcher presented the new and improved Judicial Application Portal, which allows for faster and more secure information sharing amongst Committee members.
  • Michael Hudak, Chair of the Section Value Task Force, explained that the Task Force will work with MSBA Sections to facilitate and curate substantive resources and tools for MSBA members.
  • Benjamin Rosenberg, Chair of the Strategic Vision Committee, explained that his Committee will work to review survey data received from over 3,000 Maryland attorneys, as well as member feedback obtained during a series of town halls. The Committee will also review best practices of other similar organizations. Ultimately, based on review of this information, the Committee will recommend strategic priorities and objectives for MSBA for the next several years, in order to address three distinct concerns: the Public Interest, the health of the profession, and the health of MSBA as an organization.

The BOG will hold its next meeting on Thursday, October 25, 2018, at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center.