ACBA President Lori McMaster shares steps we can all take to become more resilient

April 10, 2020
President’s Message By Lori McMaster

I hardly know where to begin. I prepared this message soon after learning that commencement was cancelled at the University of Pittsburgh, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania had closed all courts to the public for all nonessential functions, and the U.S. government is preparing for the possibility of a coronavirus pandemic that could last up to 18 months.

Interestingly, in my last President’s Message, I described a program I recently attended on the topic “Enhancing Resilience.” I wrote about steps we can all take in challenging times to become more resilient. I would like to revisit some of those steps given the unprecedented global events in which we now find ourselves.

1. Look at adversity as an opportunity to learn. I imagine that we will all learn new skills in the coming months. Let’s embrace this opportunity for self-learning and be patient with folks, like me, who are technologically challenged.

2. Don’t be so hard on yourself. If a global pandemic doesn’t give each of us a pass to occasionally stumble and fall, I don’t know what will.

3. Leverage positive personal and professional relationships as a source of support. I strongly suggest we all begin scheduling online CLEs as well as virtual happy hours, virtual afternoon teas, and virtual book groups, etc. The ACBA is the most successful, collegial, engaged, and active bar association in the entire country. Probably because we really like one another and enjoy spending time together working, learning, talking, and sharing. Let’s continue to work, learn, talk and share with one another, even if we must do it while practicing social distancing. Human beings are inherently social, so we will have to be creative in developing new ways to live in community with one another, albeit remotely.

4. Stay in the present and learn to set boundaries around your personal time. Try to create a defined workspace in your home and a schedule to demarcate between personal and work time. If you are transparent with your work colleagues about the times when you are taking a mental health break, people will manage around them.

5. Practice self-care through a healthy diet, exercise, and pursuing activities that are soothing and rejuvenating. I am really enjoying my walks with my Golden Doodle, Toby. His full name is “Toby McMaster, J.D. – just dog.”

Toby weighs 80 pounds, is 12 years old, and still has the heart of a puppy. His favorite thing in the world is to come to the law school and give kisses to students, and to lay on his back and have his belly scratched by Cori Parise, our Director of Marketing and Communications. Today is Thursday and I walked Toby at 11:30 a.m. I am never home on Thursdays at 11:30 a.m., so I choose to view this dog walking opportunity as a gift and mental health boost. Who (or what) is your Toby? Treasure this time with them.

I have been reflecting on the following quote from the writer Gregory Williams: “On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin.”

I have every confidence in our ability to navigate this storm. Our recent 150th Anniversary Gala, attended by more than 650 members, was a powerful demonstration of the ACBA’s utterly unique collegiality. David Blaner told me that, after photos from the Gala appeared on social media, he was contacted by several executive directors from across the country who commented that their bar association would never have been able to coordinate such an event, or achieve such strong attendance. Then they asked Dave how we did it. We could do it because we are the ACBA.

So, fellow members, let us all raise our sails and begin navigating through these extraordinary times – together. I know we can and will. Please do share your thoughts about this message with me at or 412-648-2359.

All my best, Lori.