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President's Message
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The year that is drawing towards its close,
has been filled with the blessings of
fruitful fields and healthful skies
--Abraham Lincoln

The words from Mr. Lincoln that are quoted above are not nearly as famous as those he offered at Gettysburg or at his second inauguration.  They are found in a proclamation issued in the City of Washington on October 3, 1863.  By his statement, our 16th President established that our nation would “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”  The timing is somewhat remarkable given that our nation was fully engaged in a horrific civil war that would rage on for another year and a half.

If President Lincoln could see fit to offer thanks under such circumstances, we should all be mindful of the many things for which we should be thankful during this season.  Given the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to serve as the president of our bar association.  It is a privilege and honor to do so.  As with any association, however, most of the credit belongs to those who toil behind the scenes.  There are so many great programs and initiatives in which the Association is involved and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude by mentioning a few of them here.

Last month, the BAMC was again the primary sponsor of the Special Olympics Inspiration Walk.  This annual event is a centerpiece of our community outreach efforts.  Many of our members turned out to volunteer and participate in the Inspiration Walk and 5K run which was hosted at Georgetown Prep’s campus.  Through the efforts and generosity of our members, Special Olympics raised thousands of dollars.  Special thanks go out to this year’s Community Outreach chairs Jessica Blumberg and Mee Soon Langohr for all of their hard work on this event, which is aptly named.  It is truly inspirational to witness the dedication and effort of the athletes who live by the oath of the Special Olympics: “Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Another focus of our community outreach effort is the Drug Court which the Bar Foundation has supported for many years.  The program is now in its 14th year and boasts 181 graduates.  I am grateful for the opportunity that we have had to assist such a worthy program.  The next Drug Court graduation will be held on November 15th in the Circuit Court courthouse.  If you have never attended this event, please do so.  It is an unforgettable experience.
I am especially thankful for the incredible enthusiasm and active participation of our younger attorneys.  Over recent years, our New Practitioners Section (currently chaired by Josh Bienstock and Josh Schmand) has expanded the scope of its activities far beyond the social events upon which it had traditionally focused.  Those events continue but our younger members have been involved in many other facets of the Association.  New Practitioners showed up early and stayed late at the Inspiration Walk and staffed the volunteer tables throughout the day.  Simply put, the event could not have happened without their efforts.  The section sponsors substantive programs throughout the year, pairs mentors with mentees and hosts the Chambers Chats with our judges.  Many thanks to Daniel Tavares and Callie Carnemark for their efforts on these programs.

Our Leadership Development Academy has been a tremendous success.  Born of the original strategic plan, the program is now in its 5th year.  Its efforts have resulted in dozens of fellows who have gone on to assume leadership positions in the Association.  The Academy is currently chaired by Chris Roberts and John Weaver.  The current class of fellows is in the process of finalizing plans for their project which I look forward to reporting on in a future column.

Another overwhelming success is the Summer Scholars Pipeline Program.  For those who are unfamiliar with this initiative, it was designed to promote diversity in the profession (an area of focus in our Strategic Plan) by pairing with specialty bar associations to place second year law students into summer internships with local law firms.  Many thanks to Diversity Committee chairs Judge Charles Day and Suzanne Magazine for heading up this effort and to all of the law students who have participated.  We hope that our summer scholars will continue their legal careers here in Montgomery County.  I am also grateful for our close relationship with the J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association, the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association and the Asian Pacific American Bar Association, each of which supports the Summer Scholars program.  I look forward to future opportunities to work with those organizations.

Last month, I was honored to attend a presentation by the Speak Up/Save A Life Program at Northwest High School in Germantown.  This effort, created during the presidency of Lynn Boynton, continues to speak at schools and community organizations throughout the county.  It is currently spearheaded by Steve Chaikin who has been tireless in his efforts.  The presentation that I observed in October was repeated four times during that day to a total of 2,500 students.  On October 21st, the program, in concert with other County agencies, presented a one-day program called “Save a Life Montgomery.”  Speak Up/Save a Life is truly a life saving program whose message could not be more timely or relevant.
The cross-section of programs that I have mentioned above is representative of the continued success of the association of which we are members.  Unfortunately, it would be impossible to mention every program, committee and section in this brief message.  I am certain that, if I tried, I would undoubtedly leave someone out.  I want to offer my thanks, however, to all of our members (and our Executive Director, Julie Petersen and her staff) who do the heavy lifting for the Association.  In my remarks on Law Day, I described the BAMC as “strong, vibrant and relevant.”  It is all of those things because of the remarkable efforts and generosity of our members.

I wish each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your continued membership and support of the Bar Association of Montgomery County.

Jim Mood