July 19, 2019
President’s Message By Lori McMaster
I feel a mixture of great humility and pride in preparing my first President’s Message. Following in the footsteps of Bryan Neft and Hal Coffey is no small feat, however I look forward to sharing my thoughts and information of interest with you in the coming months. One of the greatest benefits of serving as President-Elect has been time spent with, and learning from, Bryan and Hal. Their combined institutional knowledge of the bar association and thoughtful leadership has been so appreciated.
I’m writing this message having just come back from the 57th Annual Bench-Bar Conference, which was a great success under the leadership of our President-Elect and 2019 Bench-Bar Chair, Elizabeth Hughes! Thank you to the Bench-Bar Committee and ACBA staff, especially Christina Daub and her entire team, who did a superb job of planning for, and conducting the conference! I’m not sure if the best analogy is to a huge wedding or a ceremonial military campaign (perhaps a bit of both), but everyone connected to Bench-Bar deserves our praise and thanks.
This is such an exciting time to be serving as President of the bar association. In 2020, we’ll be celebrating the ACBA’s 150th Anniversary! In divisive times such as these, it’s helpful to reflect upon how lawyers and the legal profession positively impact our region. ACBA members drive so much that is good and aspirational in the Pittsburgh area. The bar association’s dedication to the community is reflected in our recently updated Mission Statement, which is “to empower our members; promote a just, accessible, and inclusive judicial system; and serve the community at large.”
In honor of our 150th Anniversary, and in recognition of the bar association’s focus on community, the ACBA is declaring 2020 as a “Year of Impact.” In collaboration with the bar foundation, the Pro Bono Center, the Public Service Committee, and Pittsburgh Cares, we’ll be providing members with a variety of options throughout the year to participate in pro bono events and to engage with the community. During late spring/early summer of 2020, the ACBA will be offering a menu of one-half day, family-friendly, community service projects to choose from (likely on a Friday). They could include tidying up a local community park or baseball field, pitching in at a local food bank in collaboration with Attorneys Against Hunger, or other fun ideas. ACBA T-shirts will be provided to volunteers, as we hope to be a visible and tangible impact. Elizabeth Hughes and I, along with ACBA staff, will be reaching out to our divisions, sections and committees to seek ideas that will resonate with their members. Finally, the bar association will also be providing three, one-hour FREE CLE seminars for each compliance period in celebration of our Year of Impact.
For something on the purely fun side, please mark your calendars for Saturday, March 7, 2020, when the ACBA will be hosting its 150th Anniversary Gala at Heinz Field. It will be a “black-tie preferred” celebration with music, fine dining and dancing. And no speeches! No speeches – just fun! Well, I’ll talk for a couple of minutes and probably tell a joke, but other than that, no speeches!
This year, the ACBA will also be pursuing opportunities for collaboration between Duquesne Law and Pitt Law. We are blessed to have two great law schools here in Pittsburgh that have a history of collaborating with one another. As President, I hope to highlight information and initiatives related to legal education which will be of interest to our members. The ACBA has been in discussions with the Hon. Dean Maureen Lally-Green of Duquesne Law, who stepped down as Dean on July 1st, and Dean Amy Wildermuth of Pitt Law to create a structure that will allow more pro bono opportunities as part of a partnership with the ACBA, Duquesne, and Pitt. Please stay tuned for more news around this.
I wrote earlier of history and all that we have to celebrate as a bar association. This year we’re also making history, because for the first time in 150 years, we will have two consecutive ACBA Presidents who are women. You know, history just doesn’t happen. I can tell you that I was able to become President, and Elizabeth Hughes was able to become President-Elect, because many years ago, people in the bar association invited us to become more active in the ACBA. Later, people encouraged us to seek leadership roles. Good things happen in life (and in the bar association) when people are invited to participate and are actively included. For women, attorneys of color, and LGBTQ attorneys, encouragement to participate and take on a leadership role can be crucial. I “grew up” in the bar association in the Women in the Law Division, and wouldn’t be President without the encouragement of friends such as the Hon. Lisa Lenihan, Nicola Henry-Taylor, Danielle Dietrich, Carrie Collins, Susan Seitz, Jeanine DeBor, Krysia Kubiak, Mark Vuono and Hal Coffey. Their steadfast encouragement continues to inspire me!
As we all know, work within the bar association takes a huge commitment of time, and I’m grateful that Pitt Law, especially former Dean William Carter and Dean Amy Wildermuth, have supported me in serving the bar association. My wonderful husband Dave is the best example of the support I’ve received. Dave is a solo real estate practitioner in the North Hills and we’re the proud parents of 25 year-old triplets – Caitlin, Morgan and Ethan! I’m so grateful for my family’s support. And in case you’re wondering what happens when a couple is told they’re expecting triplets, the answer is: the mother is struck dumb with joy and terror, and the father says “we’re going to need a van.”
In my future President’s Messages, I will continue to focus on the ACBA’s Year of Impact, and issues surrounding legal education. As many of you know, I’m the Executive Director of Pitt Law’s Professional Development Office, which oversees all career services related functions for students and alumni. Since the majority of ACBA members are alumni of Pitt, Duquesne, Penn State, Dickinson and WVU, I’ve reached out to my friend Maria Comas (my counterpart at Duquesne Law), and my other peers at those schools to seek their perspectives. I hope to address structural and curricular changes in legal education, as well as important initiatives around student wellness, student loan debt, and the unique challenges and opportunities associated with teaching and practicing with members of the “i Gen” (also known as Gen Z), people born from 1995 to 2013.
I encourage you to call me at 412-648-2359 or email me at email@example.com with any questions or ideas you may have to build on the ACBA’s many strengths! I look forward to a great year with you.