As I write this, we are commemorating the one-year anniversary of the pandemic shutting everything down. We all remember the feelings of uncertainty and anxiety while trying to navigate what to do, wondering how long we would be in lockdown, scavenging store aisles for masks and hand sanitizer and the most powerful household cleaners. Would we ever have believed so much time could be spent talking about toilet paper?
We thought it might be just a short lockdown and then life might return to normal. We had no idea what the future held. While the country may remain divided, we all have been united in the challenges and tragedies that the pandemic has given us.
We were still planning our in-person Law Day on May 1, 2020, with all the pomp and circumstance that usually kicks off another bar year for BAMSL. I was looking forward to hosting my presidency’s Bench & Bar at Camden on the Lake. That did not happen.
The title I chose for this final article as president may have caught your eye. How can we be lucky after suffering through a year unlike any other? My Grandma Norton, who was the most perfect person I will ever know, said it best. “Never forget those who are less fortunate.” No matter how tough this last year has been for you and me, think about how much worse it was for so many. It made me proud of our profession to see, time and time again, how lawyers stepped up for those who needed a hand.
So much has happened since March of 2020, and throughout the 2020-21 BAMSL bar year that began with a virtual passing of the gavel. I have had a front-row seat to all of the amazing things that BAMSL members, our sponsors and our Sustaining Partners have done to keep this association not only going but actually thriving. Even as some bar associations across the country just gave up and shut down, BAMSL leaders and staff continued to effectively serve our members, quickly pivoting to virtual CLEs, virtual events and constant communication with our members. We wanted all of you to know that BAMSL was still here, for all of you and for our community.
When the pandemic hit, we already knew that our esteemed Executive Director, Zoe Linza, had planned to retire before my presidency even began. Fortunately, she agreed to stay on for the transition not only through the worst days of the pandemic, but also through the long search to find an extraordinary new Executive Director in Susan McCourt Baltz. Susan is doing a wonderful job, and we are so lucky to have her.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have served on the BAMSL Board of Governors and especially as your President. I would love to take credit for the successes that we have outlined throughout the year, but the truth is, it is because of all of you that BAMSL is such an amazing organization. We have so many members who are willing to volunteer their time to help others in the community, either assisting with our efforts to minimize the increased hunger crisis in the region or to assist those who need the advocacy of an attorney willing to spend hours providing pro bono legal services.
We also have so many law firms, individuals, sponsors and Sustaining Partners who not only volunteer their time, but also generously provide financial assistance for the many programs that assist those in need in our community. I am amazed at how quickly and how much so many in our legal community are willing to share to make our region better.
I am incredibly grateful for our members who volunteered their time to serve on our Executive Committee, Board of Governors, Sections, Committees and Young Lawyers Division. We could not run this association without their guidance and support, and we appreciate that they answer the call to make BAMSL the best association possible.
As my presidency comes to an end and I pass the gavel to my colleague and friend, Bob Tomaso, I know that our current and incoming leaders are passionate about ensuring BAMSL’s continued success. As much as I have loved watching our membership give back to this community from my front-row seat, I cannot wait to let these new leaders enjoy that view for a while.
Thank you for putting your faith in me during these challenging times. As springtime arrives, we should all take energy from it and count on even better times ahead. We are lucky, indeed.