Hon. Glenn A. Norton
BAMSL President, 2020-21
Of Counsel, Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch, L.C.
Mediator, Special Master, Alaris
Originally published in the December 2020 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine. View in the archives.
Many words can describe 2020. One word that comes to mind for BAMSL is “pivot.” Like so many other organizations, BAMSL and our affiliates, members and law firms have become quite adept at pivoting to adapt to the ever-changing world in which we currently live. Working together, we have accomplished amazing things throughout the COVID-19 crisis, even when we were forced to social distance and visit virtually.
Here are some highlights from the year. We also asked some of our law firms and judicial partners to share how they have worked through this year’s challenges (see pages 6 and 7 of December Issua of the St. Louis Lawyer).
BAMSL kicked off the new year in style with a revamped combined happy hour with the Missouri Society of CPAs in late January. The event was held at the Porsche St. Louis dealership, where many of our members got a close look at some luxurious dream vehicles. February Member Appreciation Month followed, capped off with a reception with our area’s own Olympian, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, delivering a motivational speech.
But February also began with longtime BAMSL Executive Director Zoe Linza announcing her impending retirement. Her plan was to finish out the bar year, which ended on April 30, 2020. That did not quite work out as she had planned, as she graciously agreed to stay on and navigate our new “normal” with staff, members, Sustaining Partners and Sponsors (who, by the way, have been incredible in remaining with BAMSL throughout the year).
The week of March 16, government-mandated lockdowns forced everyone to retreat their homes. And thus began months of Zoom meetings and constant phone calls, texts and emails from afar. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Linza, the staff kept tirelessly working from their homes to ensure we were always available for our members. A COVID-19-related information section was immediately placed on BAMSL’s Web site to serve as a clearinghouse of what was happening at BAMSL with government orders, court proceedings and even ways to cope during the pandemic (www.bamsl.org/COVID19).
We successfully held a virtual passing of the gavel in place of our originally scheduled in-person Law Day celebration on May 1, as Sara Neill handed over the presidency to yours truly.
There was still hope that Bench & Bar could be held in person the last week of May, but it was postponed to August. Then in August, the program rapidly pivoted to become a three-day virtual Bench & Bar.
The staff returned to the offices after Memorial Day. But events, CLEs and Town Halls were held virtually, while others were postponed. We held a virtual Rendezvous on the Roof with President-Elect Bob Tomaso and ABA Delegate Lynn Ann Vogel live at the St. Louis Club. And we learned how to place our members into virtual breakout rooms for further engagement.
Law Day was originally postponed to late June, and then postponed again to Oct. 2. BAMSL rejoiced when we were able to host a revamped, downsized and socially distanced Law Day Awards ceremony on Oct. 2 outside on the steps of the Thomas F. Eagleton federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis. It was not quite the same as celebrating with everyone as it was livestreamed over BAMSL’s Facebook page, but at least the winners of awards for their service during Sara Neill’s presidency finally were able to receive their honors.
The annual golf outing was the first true in-person event, held in early August, and everyone who attended was just so happy to be able to be outside on a nice day and have some in-person interaction.
We held virtual Welcome to the Bars for new attorneys. Numerous members have spent countless hours volunteering their time and financial support for several ongoing efforts to provide food for the hungry as well as masks and other essentials for our community. Pro Bono services continue to be offered to anyone who needs legal assistance. And we continue to focus on Lawyer Well-Being, which has become more important than ever.
Throughout the entire year, we continued to keep in touch, providing our weekly e-news, this magazine, the revamped The St. Louis Bar Journal (with a new editor at the helm) and several member phone calls, videos and emails to stay connected with you, our valued members.
The Executive Committee and Board of Governors, as well as many Sections and Committees and the Young Lawyers Division, also have continued to conduct business “almost as usual” with remote meetings.
Unfortunately, we had to cancel the favorite Member Holiday Party as well as revise plans for Motion for Kids to become a drive-through event. But then we had to cancel that option as well. The good news is that the committee once again pivoted so the children will receive their gifts to help brighten their holidays.
Zoe Linza remained throughout the year to guide the association but was finally able to start enjoying her retirement beginning on Dec. 2.
It has been quite a year, despite all the challenges. BAMSL leadership, along with our new executive director, plan to continue to be here, working hard for you throughout 2021. May it be better than 2020.