This week, we welcome bar executives and attorneys from around the country to Boston for the Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association. It is a valuable opportunity to exchange ideas about the challenges facing the legal community today and to discuss how to guide bar associations of all sizes through the current state of the profession.
We would like to extend a personal welcome to the visiting bar association presidents who have traveled to Boston – a historic seat of many great legal minds and the origins of our nation’s democracy – to convene and share their experiences and learning from the past year. In particular, we are honored to welcome James Silkenat, the ABA President, and we congratulate Paulette Brown as she officially embarks on her role as President-Elect of the ABA.
Each bar president who attends the Annual Meeting comes from a very different place: some may represent smaller, local bar associations, while others may serve for state bar associations with memberships numbering in the thousands. Yet no matter the size or the scope of the organization, the privilege of serving as the president of any bar association is a distinguished one.
Being the president of a bar association is a monumental achievement with responsibilities that must be assumed and carried out with the utmost gravitas. As a bar president, one speaks to the United States and state Constitutions in working with all three coequal branches of government. Also, the president must be prepared to speak knowledgeably and accurately on the myriad issues facing the legal community, the courts, and access to justice. Furthermore, all bar association presidents must constantly be aware and cognizant that his or her actions represent the bar association that they are leading and in turn reflect on its members.
The symbolism inherent in being elected as a bar president is as important as the responsibilities one assumes upon taking office. It is impossible to forget that the membership of a bar association places its trust in one person and elects him or her to speak on its collective behalf. The president is not simply the chief legal spokesman for an organization; rather, he or she speaks for all of its members. It is a daunting challenge with many expectations and little room for error.
Finally, there is a great deal of history inherent in the position. The president represents the rule of law as a member of the legal community and the bar association’s mission. For example, at the Boston Bar Association, we take seriously our mission to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession, facilitate access to justice, and serve the community at large.
We write to highlight not how grand or exalted it is to be a bar association president, but instead to emphasize how humbling it is to hold this position of responsibility and of trust. There is a higher calling from the association’s membership that is unparalleled, and the sense of gratitude that comes from this level of responsibility is enormous.
Thus we welcome the incoming bar association presidents from around the nation, and we also recognize them for their service to their communities. It is an undertaking unlike any other, and the honor of the designation will last forever.