Hon. Glenn A. Norton
BAMSL President, 2020-21
Of Counsel, Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch, L.C.
Mediator, Special Master, Alaris
Originally published in the August 2020 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine. View in the archives.
I hope you saw the "Zoomin' on a BAMSL Afternoon" video (check your emails from July 9, 2020, if you missed it). You will see that our Executive Director Zoe Linza tried to sneak out of town early, but fortunately Bill Bay was there to remind her that she cannot be replaced – at least not yet.
She said she was leaving for retirement at the beach. Bill was quick to point out, "This is going to be your beach for a while." We are lucky she is sticking around a little longer. And while Zoe and her staff scare me at times with some of the ideas they concoct, they always turn out as clever and fun entertainment for our members, bringing some much-needed levity to everyone's lives during what can be some rough days.
My wife, Colleen, recently used a modified Bill Bay line with me. "You aren't going anywhere." Most people know that we continue to stay home and avoid crowds. We are not, in fact, "going anywhere."
However, as the president of BAMSL, I still have responsibilities to fulfill as the head of this fine organization. Instead of leading from the boardroom, however, I am leading from my living room. It is not always simple but for the past three months, it has worked.
A primary reason this is working so well, is, well, the obvious: we have nowhere to go because we cannot gather in person. Zoom, email, texts and phone calls have been my—and I suspect most of yours—lifeline as we pivot to a new reality.
Another important reason that this has been an effective way to lead is that I have incredible officers working with me this year. I am fortunate because of immediate Past-President Sara Neill, and her predecessors, who laid a strong foundation of programs and initiatives that continue to provide meaningful opportunities for our members and much-needed assistance to our community.
I truly appreciate President-Elect Bob Tomaso, who has been at the forefront of helping implement some of our plans and ideas. He led the way when Rick Walsh, firm vice-chairman and litigation department chair at Lewis Rice LLC, at the recommendation of Sonette Magnus, a partner at Lewis Rice and a member of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis's Board of Directors, needed assistance to raise funds for the Urban League's weekly drive-through food distribution efforts. Bob connected Rick and Sonette with Zoe to coordinate raising $100,000 in just two weeks.
I appreciate the other BAMSL officers as well. Vice President Apollo Carey is a steady voice of reason on some of the tougher issues. He is always ready to help. Treasurer Kevin Gunn, who also approaches everything with a thoughtful and logical perspective, has kept a watchful eye on our financial situation. This is especially significant during a time when many other bar associations have essentially stopped most operations and laid off staff. Secretary Anne-Marie Brockland, who I asked to help me get my Bench & Bar up and running, has been patiently waiting to actually see that happen. As a side note, a virtual option now has been added, so if we need to cancel in-person, we still will hold a virtual Bench & Bar Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
I also appreciate the input from our presidential liaisons, Kristine Bridges, John Simon and my mentor, Hon. Richard Webber, as well as our ABA Delegates, Hon. Jason Sengheiser and Lynn Ann Vogel. I also appreciate the time our Members-at-Large and the Board of Governors devote to making BAMSL better each year.
I also would like to acknowledge the work of our Young Lawyers Division (YLD) and its chair, Rene Morency. Under the leadership of the YLD committee chairs and staff, these young lawyers have really stepped up to help their neighbors, providing countless volunteer hours to help feed the community as well as encourage mail-in or absentee voting via their Promote the Vote initiative. It is encouraging to me to see how active, passionate and caring they are about their sense of obligation to help others. And, in these weeks and months following the killing of George Floyd, the YLD, working with BAMSL leadership, is leading our efforts to promote equality and justice for all.
We also could not have done all of this without Zoe and her staff. They keep things moving forward. I considered thanking each one by name, but the list is long and I would leave someone out. Please accept the thanks of leadership and membership alike. And, speaking of Zoe, the Search Committee for the next Executive Director, led by Bill Bay, started the arduous task of finding a replacement in June. Applications were received in July and the Search Committee is currently working its way through the potential candidates. Zoe hopes the committee has chosen a viable candidate by no later than late October, so she can move on with her retirement that she tried to start on April 30, 2020. Sorry, Zoe, we just needed you and could not let you go.
Until the day when we can safely get together in person, let's all continue to make the best of things as we find them. Sacrifices have been made, but far more are looming. If we all do our part by social distancing, avoiding crowds and wearing our masks, we can beat this thing. It might not be easy, but smile—even if others cannot see it.