During the year I spent as president-elect of the MCBA, I became aware of how many ceremonial duties were performed by the president. They included appearances at the federal court dinner, section and committee luncheons, a reception for Court of Appeals judges and the admissions ceremony for new attorneys, just to mention a few. At times I wondered if they were all necessary, given how many other demands are made upon the president’s time, including, theoretically, the continuing practice of law.
But it was soon clear to me that even the ceremonial duties serve an important function, from allowing us to thank others for their efforts as our partners and collaborators, to showing public support by the legal community for certain initiatives, to conveying to our own members that they and their efforts on behalf of the MCBA are important and appreciated.
In the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to thank participants and sponsors of the Lawyers for Learning golf tournament (now in its 24th year), to distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to the students at School 29, another project of Lawyers for Learning (with support from LeClairRyan, Thomson Reuters and the Irondequoit Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution), and to attend multiple events hosted by our sections and committees. In the weeks ahead I will speak at the 2017 Monroe County Elder Law Fair, co-presented by several organizations including MCBA, and at the Memorial Ceremony to honor deceased attorneys, and will attend Jazz for Justice and many other MCBA-sponsored events.
In each case, my presence has said or will say:
“We support you.”
“You and your efforts are important.”
Our gratitude also extends to the local media for its coverage of many of these events and the good work our lawyers and affiliated members are doing on behalf of law-related initiatives, as well as programs like Lawyers for Learning that are not specific to law, but that benefit the community at large. We hope this coverage will remind all lawyers, not just MCBA members, of the opportunities for involvement.
Our members are mentoring students, funding teacher grants for special projects, packing and distributing backpacks with school supplies and supporting the creation of a school garden, all at School 29. They are serving as judges or as legal advisors to teams participating in the local high school-based Sydney R. Rubin Mock Trial Program, a program which runs throughout the school year and culminates in a final competition and celebratory pizza party. Our Young Lawyers Section helps the Center for Youth operate Teen Court, which keeps young, minor offenders out of the criminal justice system and teaches them valuable lessons about law and justice.
Our members also give of their time and talent in serving as representatives on committees and task forces whose purpose is to improve the administration of justice in this community, such as the President’s Commission on Access to Justice, the screening committee to select a new conflict defender, and the screening committee to select a judicial hearing officer for the new Rochester Traffic Violations Agency. They also work to improve diversity in the Rochester legal community, which serves the broader purpose of increasing confidence in our courts and justice system. These are just a few of the projects we support.
Some of our members are unable to commit time or energy to the efforts I’ve described above. But their membership in the MCBA helps to provide the funds for staff to support the administration of these programs, and pay for supplies and overhead. They, and you who are still non-members, can be a part of improving our community even if your practice or your current personal circumstances do not permit you to commit your time to these programs.
I believe that as lawyers we have an obligation to help improve our profession and the administration of justice. There are many ways to accomplish those goals, and supporting the MCBA, and by extension its programs, is one of them. Please join us to say, “Thank you,” “I support you” and “You and your efforts are important.”
Jill M. Cicero is president to the Monroe County Bar Association and is the managing partner of The Cicero Law Firm LLP. She can be reached at email@example.com.