For the first time since Jan. 2020, MSBA members returned en masse and in person to Annapolis for MSBA Day, Jan 23, 2023. Members from across Maryland spent the day engaging with elected officials in the legislative and executive branches of state government.
MSBA President David Shapiro kicked off the day with a welcome address at the Governor Calvert House, where in 1783 the victorious General Washington resigned his military commission, ensuring our country’s leaders would be elected.
“Today, we’re back together to celebrate the value of our association, to bring together diverse voices and legal experts, to reconnect in person once again with the many cherished friends of the Maryland State Bar Association and the legal profession who call Annapolis home for three months of every year,” said Shapiro, who is with Paley Rothman in Montgomery County.
Shapiro recounted recent legislative successes the MSBA has won on behalf of its members:
- Defeating proposed taxation on legal services in Maryland
- Winning vaccine priority for Maryland lawyers
- Securing over $40 million in funding for the access to counsel and evictions program
These victories depended on working in tandem with local and specialty bar associations and the MSBA’s partner, the Maryland Access to Justice Commission. He noted that these victories were good for the association, the legal profession, but more importantly, for Marylanders from all corners of the state who need legal services.
Shapiro also shared his thoughts on one of the MSBA’s current legislative priorities — eliminating contested judicial elections, which primarily affects Maryland Circuit Court judges. He praised the work of the MSBA’s Committee on Judicial Appointments, which he said “works tirelessly to vet and recommend only the most qualified candidates for the Governor, while also looking to promote a diverse bench, one that is representative of the citizens in the counties that the judges will serve.”
[Editors Note: A sitting judge must successfully stand for election to continue for a fifteen-year term at the first statewide election occurring at least one year after being appointed to the bench. The election is open to all comers as candidates, which means a person who has not been vetted and appointed by the Governor can compete with the sitting judge. The unvetted candidate is not bound by judicial ethics, which restrict what the sitting judge can say publicly. And the demands of the campaign limit the sitting judge’s time on the bench. The result is an uneven campaign playing field, and more limited access to justice for Marylanders. Hence the opposition to contested judicial elections.]
Shapiro went on to praise the depth and wealth of subject matter expertise of the MSBA members. “Our members partner closely with legislators to offer legal insights, practical advice, technical drafting assistance, and to provide knowledgeable and insightful testimony. This information is invaluable to our representatives who benefit from detailed analysis and problem solving. In the last few years we have seen this relationship come to the forefront in matters relating to business law, taxation, estates and trusts, family law, real property, criminal law and more.”