A special ‘thank you’ to Dorie Schnippert, an ACBA legend

December 25, 2015
President’s Message by Mark Martini

ACBA President Mark Martini delivered the following comments during a reception for longtime ACBA employee Dorie Schnippert at the Rivers Club on Nov. 12. The event marked the end of more than four decades of service to the bar association for Dorie, and members of the association were thrilled to be able to celebrate her and thank her for her service.

We are gathered this evening to celebrate Dorie Schnippert, who is a legend in this association. She is a woman who dedicated 44 1/2 years of her life to this association as an employee, but more importantly, as a friend. A friend to the thousands of lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals who have come through this bar association since the 1970s.

Being the face of the bar for so many wasn’t necessarily the book Dorie wrote for herself when she was a high school student at Fox Chapel in the late 1960s. Dorie wasn’t sold that college was for her, so her mother told her that she could get a good job with a good company for one year, and then could go forward with her schooling. 

Instead of joining a Fortune 500 company as her mother had envisioned, Dorie went to the bar. She had heard that the bar association was hiring and marched her way into the office of Jim Smith and asked for the job. To Dorie’s dismay, the interview included a typing test, and typing was not Dorie’s forte after having taken an academic course load in high school.

I’d lie to say that Dorie overcame and passed the typing test anyway, but that’s not how the story was written.  Dorie failed the typing test and went back home with her head hung low. However, as we all know, taking no for an answer is not in Dorie’s DNA. She wasn’t going to let the prerequisites for the job stop her from getting in. 

Dorie’s mom told her that she needed to go back down to the bar association the next day and show them that she had what it takes to fill the position. Dorie did in fact march back to the bar association the next day, and the receptionist greeted her with a shout to Jim Smith that “the blonde is back.”  Despite failing the typing test, Jim Smith yelled from his office: “Does she really have to type? The girl’s got guts. Give her the job.”  

Those are the same guts that Dorie epitomized during her 44 1Ž2 years with the bar. She began as a clerical assistant and general gopher of an association that at the time had just 1,800 members and seven employees on staff. She worked her first year and decided that she didn’t want to go to college. She loved her job, and her parents were so proud that she was working with lawyers and judges.  

From her beginnings as a clerical assistant, Dorie worked her way into becoming an integral part of this association. Her titles and responsibilities included: office manager for the bar; head of the Lawyer Referral Service; liaison to the Family Law and Criminal Litigation sections and Young Lawyers Division; deputy executive director of the bar association; and director of membership and CLE. I’d also dare to say that she was the first “gender equality coordinator” for the bar association when she was able to get health insurance for the female employees of the bar association during an era when women were expected to be on their husband’s health insurance coverage.

And of course we cannot forget Bench-Bar. In 1985, Jim Smith walked over to Dorie’s desk, threw a folder on it and said, “Here. You’re in charge of this now.” While maybe a bit overwhelmed at how the task was thrown on her lap, Dorie accepted the challenge. She not only took over the Bench-Bar Conference, her name became synonymous with it. And she oversaw the transformation of the Bench-Bar Conference into the extravaganza that it is today.

It’s been said by many that for years, to get anywhere in this bar association you had to get in close with Dorie. And that is truth. Now, Regis Schnippert took that to a whole new level when he was told the exact same thing by one of his first bosses in the early ’80s and ended up marrying Dorie in 1991.

Dorie has touched the lives of many members of this association, and she has certainly touched the lives of everyone in this room today. I had the pleasure and the honor of working with Dorie while I was chair of the Young Lawyers Division and chair of the Bench-Bar Conference. And each of you in this room has shared a similar pleasure and honor in working with Dorie.  

Dorie gave us and this association 44 1Ž2 years of her life. I’m not sure that there is a way to say “thank you” for such a commitment and sacrifice. To those of us in this room, Dorie has been a wonderful professional colleague and resource. But much more so, Dorie has been a friend.  

Dorie, I don’t know that there is a way to thank you for all that you have done for me, the people in this room and this bar association. And I’m sure that there are many, many more who would like to express their gratitude to you. We would like to invite you to this year’s Bench-Bar Conference as our guest so that the hundreds of others whom you have touched beyond those in this room can thank you for being a friend.

As I said earlier, Bench-Bar is synonymous with you. And we want you to forever be a part of this association and the Bench-Bar Conference. So, on behalf of the bar association, we would like to invite you to attend the Bench-Bar Conference for life as our Friday night guest so that you will forever be a part of us. We also would like to present you with a token of our appreciation with this watch, with each hour thereon representing the countless hours, days, weeks, months and years you have given to us. 

Dorie, thank you for everything that you have done for the bar. Thank you for being our friend.