The Baltimore County Bar Association (BCBA) celebrated its Centennial this year and marked the anniversary with different events throughout the year. The MSBA recently talked with Stanford Gann, this year’s BCBA President, about the Bar’s momentous year and their plans going forward.
The celebrations kicked off with a Party in the Plaza, an outdoor event on September 23rd. About 325 people attended. Attendees received the BCBA’s 100-year Centennial album, which is a 250-page hardbound photo album, and enjoyed a live band and food trucks.
The next big event, the Centennial banquet or “prom,” was supposed to be held in January but was rescheduled to May 17, 2022, due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The BCBA welcomed about 500 people to Martin’s for the black-tie event that included a harpist in the lobby, and a bagpiper who played in past presidents to start the evening.
During the banquet, the BCBA recognized past presidents who retired from the bench, Judge Philip N. Tirabassi and Judge C. Carey Deeley Jr., and gave a presentation on the hundred-year events. Attendees received prints of the historic Baltimore County courtroom, 5A, as keepsakes.
In addition to the Centennial events, the BCBA updated its Strategic Plan, which is a year-long process, starting with a membership survey. One of the primary goals of the strategic plan is to coordinate with local and specialty bars, which Gann believes is a great way to combine resources, combine membership, and potentially increase membership. Another objective was to create a membership app, which was rolled out just before the Centennial banquet, making them one of the three bar associations in the country to have an app. The app provides member discounts for sponsors, and allows members of committees to communicate with one another, and for committees to communicate with each other about jointly sponsored events. It also has a calendar of events and quick links, like social media pages and other frequently used sites.
The BCBA also overhauled its newsletter, The Advocate, this past year. Now every issue has a theme and a cover picture that reflects the events of the prior month. Gann credits Rachel Ruocco, the Executive Director of the BCBA, and the designer she hired with turning The Advocate, a decades-old publication, into a magazine-style newsletter that is incredibly substantive. Ruocco, who has been with the BCBA for about 14 years, took on the role of Executive Director about five years ago. Gann noted that Ruocco brought not only her extensive skills and knowledge to the position but also a great deal of enthusiasm, which is infectious and inspires people to get things done.
Gann, a commercial litigator, comes from a family of attorneys. He chose to become a lawyer because he likes the study and education of law. Currently, his practice is comprised of handling real estate property disputes, construction litigation, and creditors’ rights in bankruptcy matters.
Gann’s underlying goal as president was to increase membership engagement and increase membership, which he accomplished in part by having events in person and increasing deliverables.
Throughout Gann’s year as President, the BCBA has enjoyed a good partnership with the MSBA. For Gann, who has served on a number of MSBA committees, the partnership was natural. Gann thinks that anything that gives value to memberships, like partnerships between bar associations, is an advantage. If people see that there are resources or connections through the MSBA that are being provided because they are BCBA members or vice versa, everyone benefits.