Message from 2017-2018 President Dowd
I am totally delighted to serve as the President of The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL). This organization, founded in 1874, has been on the cutting edge of what is good for the legal system, for the judiciary, and for the citizens of this country for a long time. BAMSL started the first legal aid society in 1935. Over 80 years ago, lawyers here were determined to provide lawyers to people who desperately needed them.
If a person needs a lawyer but can’t find one, they are not truly free. You cannot be free if you cannot vindicate your rights and if your legal rights can be violated with impunity.
The Young Lawyers Division was started in 1937 and has done incredible work, including programs like Read Across America and Call-a-Lawyer. In 1941, BAMSL leaders were proponents of the Non-Partisan Court Plan for Missouri. They helped take corrupt politics out of the selection of judges.
The St. Louis Internship Program was started in 1992 and 98% of our 3,000 interns are successfully employed.
The total dedication to public service and to helping people who really need our assistance is absolutely stunning. Thousands of lawyers and judges give their time and expertise to an amazing number of people. Motion for Kids gives 2,500 children gifts specifically selected for them, and they are given a tremendous day near Christmas at Chaifetz Arena by us and our fabulous partners, the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues and Saint Louis University. Over 500 students participate in our statewide High School Mock Trial Program. BAMSL puts on over 200 great CLE programs a year.
Lawyers and BAMSL are working with Legal Services on the Richard Teitelman Memorial Pro Bono Challenge to assist in providing help to our disadvantaged citizens. Another new program called Missouri Coalition for the Right to Counsel to assist the public defenders has been started by a group of law firms in St. Louis. Judges and lawyers have set up a program to help veterans with their legal issues.
Truly amazing efforts, but there is much more to do. We are going to start a new program called St. Louis Attorneys Against Hunger. Lawyers and leaders at BAMSL will work with food banks and other organizations to develop plans and raise money to feed the hungry. John Simon, President-Elect, the entire Executive Committee, the membership, and I are all determined to make these efforts work, and to make certain that people have the food they need.
We will take positions on important civic matters such as the Non-Partisan Court Plan. I have been a Trustee of Citizens for Missouri Courts which defends the Plan at all times. We will support and advocate for adequate funding for public defenders and for legal services.
We will meet with and work with the leaders of our General Assembly so they can better understand our issues, such as adequate funding for public defenders and legal services, as well as our position on the Non-Partisan Court Plan.
One of our overriding themes will be to make the good work of attorneys known and to improve our image.
Lawyers deserve a great reputation. From writing the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation, to prosecuting war criminals, to helping the less advantaged in so many ways, lawyers like you do so much good.
We are going to work with the other bar associations, including The Missouri Bar, the Missouri Asian American Bar Association, the Mound City Bar, the Hispanic Bar Association and the Women Lawyers' Association.
I ask each of you attorneys to work with me and to assist BAMSL to achieve these goals. Working together, we can make the St. Louis community aware of these charitable endeavors and help make St. Louis an even better place to work and live.
Edward L. Dowd, Jr.
BAMSL President, 2017-18
Partner and Co-Founder, Dowd Bennett LLP