John G. Simon
BAMSL President, 2018-19
Managing Partner, The Simon Law Firm, P.C.
I am extremely honored to serve as president of BAMSL for the coming year. I thank my predecessor, Ed Dowd, for pouring so much energy into his year as president. We now need to build upon his hard work.
There is nothing ordinary about BAMSL and I am keenly aware of this fact. BAMSL has an incredibly long and rich history of serving the attorneys and the citizens of the St. Louis area. In fact, one year is not much time when working with such a complex organization. However, if we keep our focus, the things that we can accomplish together are limited only by our imagination.
Once I learned that I would be serving as BAMSL president, I asked myself what it really means to be part of BAMSL. Like most of you, I have attended numerous BAMSL events, including CLE seminars. Over the years, I have read a steady stream of informative BAMSL publications. As important as these things are, however, there is much more to being a member of BAMSL.
What is BAMSL’s mission? Occasionally, one must take the time to explore the roots of an organization by reading its foundational documents. The Mission Statement dovetails closely with my own conception of what it means to be the best kind of lawyer. It boils down to two things: professional excellence and community service. Consider the text of BAMSL’s Mission Statement:
Our mission is to maintain the highest professional standards among attorneys, to enhance the professional competence of attorneys, to improve the administration of justice, to serve the needs of members, and to provide law-related service and education to the public.
Consider Article II of BAMSL’s Articles of Incorporation: "This Association is established. . . to apply its knowledge and experience in the field of law to the promotion of the public good."
Practicing attorneys know that it is difficult to do high quality work day in and day out. We all know that it is an immense challenge to provide legal services to those at risk in our community. Nonetheless, these are the principles to which we aspire as members of BAMSL and there are thousands of BAMSL members working hard on the ground to see that these needs are met. Over the years, BAMSL attorneys have offered community service in countless ways, including the many types of service described on the "Get Involved" link on the BAMSL website. I would like to take this moment to celebrate this ongoing community service thousands of BAMSL members provide every day. It is truly inspiring.
Because I have long been aware of the ongoing efforts of so many members of BAMSL, I bristle whenever I hear people taking pot-shots at lawyers. I realize that such statements are often uttered out of misunderstanding and ignorance, but it saddens and frustrates me that these kinds of things are uttered at all. As president, I want to do my part to challenge these misconceptions.
What if the St. Louis community were better informed of the many ways BAMSL members already engage in community service? What if the general public knew that numerous BAMSL lawyers offer their legal services to people who are desperate for legal help? What if the general public was aware of the substantial amounts of time and money BAMSL members contribute to countless worthy causes throughout the St. Louis area? To the extent that the general public is aware of these efforts, this will open up new and creative opportunities for community service.
When I accepted the nomination as president, I asked myself: "What can we accomplish with the experience and expertise of the 5,600 members who belong to BAMSL?" The answer is that we can do incredible things whenever we work together. The math is simple: whenever the members of BAMSL offer an average of only one hour of community service each year, that is the equivalent of an attorney working full-time for almost three years. That simple formula underpins the reason for the very existence of BAMSL.
Indeed, we will build upon the many accomplishments of BAMSL. But to do this hard work does not mean that we cannot simultaneously make deep and life-long personal connections with other BAMSL members. And working hard does not mean we cannot have some fun along the way. So let us now begin to celebrate another new year of what it means to be committed to our founding principles. I truly look forward to working with each of you. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
This article also appeared in the May 2018 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine.