New ACBA President outlines goals at 2015 Bench-Bar Conference

President’s Message by Mark Martini

Editor’s note: New ACBA President Mark Martini delivered the following remarks at the 2015 Bench-Bar Conference.

I would like to take the time to thank Jim Creenan for all that he’s done to help me along the way to get me ready for this year. But before I do that, some very wise people have pointed out to me that it is very important that I start my remarks by thanking my wife so I don’t make a critical error and forget to do so. So first and foremost, before I forget to do the most important thing that I can do in my remarks, I thank my wife Rhonda for all that she has done for me and will be doing for me over the next year. The support you have given to me and sacrifices you have made to allow me to serve in the position are immense. I thank you retroactively and proactively for standing beside me through all of the late nights, through what’s anticipated to be a lot of time away from home attending meetings and events and other functions that I have to be at. Thank you for being there for me on the Sundays when I’m glued to the computer working on Bar Association matters. Thank you so much for being willing to pick up the slack whenever I’m tied up, and for doing all those things that you’ve always done to make our family and home so special.

And since I’m talking about the most important people in my life, I need to thank my world. My beautiful children Winston and Marina. You two are the reason that it’s all worth it and why I work so hard. Thank you for understanding when daddy has to go away for a few days. And for being understanding when daddy has a meeting and can’t make it home for dinner. Thank you for making my life so complete and joyous. I love you both so much and would do anything for you. I’ll be at a lot of bar association functions over the next year, but I thank the members for understanding when I may be absent from an event while I am serving my primary function in life: being a father to those two wonderful children.

Now to the matters at hand. As I mentioned at the outset, I can’t say enough to thank Jim Creenan for his tutelage and support. Jim was instrumental in the past year getting me ready to take over this Bar Association in July. In hindsight, it may have been somewhat self-serving because I’m starting to think that Jim enjoys nothing more than passing the gavel to me so that he can run the other way and say “hey this is yours now. Lose my email address and my number. You deal with it.” Actually, while I suspect Jim is somewhat relieved to pass off the responsibilities, I’m sure that we have not seen the last of him. His dedication to the ACBA is second to none and he has worked tirelessly to make it a better organization since he joined nearly two decades ago. Jim has been an incredible mentor for me longer than just this year. Jim was the one that got me involved in the Bar Association many years ago whenever he was the Chair of the Young Lawyers Division. Since then I’ve seen Jim in many other leadership roles over the years that culminated with him becoming President of this Association which he so very ably led over the past 12 months. While from an outsider, things seemed to be uneventful and smooth, Jim had to deal with a lot of difficult issues during his term that could have gotten him sidetracked and led him to throw up his hands and give in. But Jim never missed a beat. He always responded promptly, effectively, professionally and in a manner that was in the best interests of the Association.

During all of that, Jim still found time to manage his own law practice and thrive as a lawyer. While we are volunteers to the Association, our primary responsibility is to serve as lawyers committed to our clients. And most everyone in this Association understands what it is like to be a practicing attorney and the time commitment that is involved with that. Luckily for me I’m a partner with the 27 lawyer firm Robb Leonard Mulvihill that fully supports my presidency. And as with the thanks for my wife, I’d like to thank my firm both retroactively and proactively for the support it has provided to me over the last decade and will provide to me over the next year. Thank you for your support, your mentorship and for standing behind me, my Bar Association endeavors and the ACBA. While everyone in the firm has been supportive of me, I’d like to specifically thank our Managing Partner and my friend Dan Rivetti, Denny Mulvihill, Art Leonard, Jack Robb, Bruce Rende, and all of my partners. As an aside, Jack Robb’s father, John Robb, was installed as President of this Association in 1959 with JFK looking on, and I’d like to hope that we have a future United States President looking on today as well. I also need to thank my “rock star” associate and pseudo Chief of Staff, Jennifer Miller, for being such a resource and friend. It would be impossible to do it all without you. I’d be remiss if at this point I didn’t also thank my legal assistant, Heather Wolf. Heather, I certainly couldn’t have accomplished what I have without you churning out my work and keeping me organized. So I thank you, and ask you to buckle your seat belt because we have 12 busy months in front of us.

Jim didn’t have the luxury of having 26 other attorneys to turn to when he had conflicts between his ACBA responsibilities and his business. It takes a very special person to be able to accomplish what Jim did as Bar Association President while also thriving in his practice and managing his own firm. I’m not going to rehash all the wonderful things that Jim did for the Association and the community during his term as President; and, if I named all of the great things Jim has done for the Association during the course of his career, it would fill three issues of the Lawyers Journal. So Jim, I’ll just say that your work speaks for itself and it speaks loudly. As my first official act as President, on behalf of the entire Association I thank you, Jim. I am sincerely honored and humbled to be taking the gavel from you. I can say with certainty that if I am only half the President you were, because you set the bar so high, history would view me as one of the greatest Presidents to have led this Association. So my sincerest thanks and gratitude go out to you, and I congratulate you on a great year.

During the next year, I hope to live up to the expectations that leaders such as Jim have set for the President of this Association. I will tell you that as President, I do not have plans to reinvent the wheel with grandiose new endeavors when the countless programs and projects we already have in place are deemed the cream of the crop. I will do all that is in my power to make sure these programs and projects that those before me have created continue to succeed and grow. While the Bar is in a strong place from a financial standpoint, the Association, as with many businesses and individuals, doesn’t have the income that we did a decade ago. I assure you, however, that even in a changing economy, this Association has thrived and has been able to provide services to all of our members and services to our community more so than the vast majority of the bar associations across the country while still maintaining some of the lowest dues for a metro bar association in the entire United States. I don’t intend to change that and will continue to embrace that. As President, I will push this Association to continue to serve our membership and our community; but in the context of our new economic reality, I don’t intend to take us down a path which would increase the costs to you, the members, or spread thin our hard-working staff – David Blaner, Dorie Schnippert, Jann Dalton, Jenn Pulice, Diane McMillen and all of our staff members – who I cannot say enough good things about. Without the likes of these individuals, this Association wouldn’t function and we wouldn’t be the premier bar association in the country as we are. I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to say: David, and Dorie, I thank you for all you have done for me and for the Association. This Association certainly wouldn’t be the success that it is without the two of you.

My focus during my year as President is not and will not in any way be about me. My focus as President, as I told the Nominating Committee over 12 months ago when I came before it, is you, the members. This is a member organization and we can never lose sight of that fact. We cannot lose sight of the fact that but for the members – but for people like all of you – our Association would not be recognized as one of the greatest in the country as it is. I had the pleasure and the honor of serving under many highly respected and impressive leaders during my involvement with the Bar Association. The pleasure and the honor of serving under the likes of Jay Blechman, Howie Schulberg, Kim Berkeley Clark, Kim Brown, Ken Gormley, Bob Racunas, Nancy Heilman and Gary Hunt. And I absolutely cannot forget to mention Mark Vuono who led this organization like no other during my time. What I learned from these charismatic individuals – from these natural born leaders – is that you need to have a selfless mentality when you take on the position of Bar Association President. This position is not about me. This position is not about how I can get ahead personally or professionally. This position is about doing all that I can to benefit you, the members.

We are at an interesting crossroads as an Association. We live in a changing world and a changing society. In many cases, the stereotypical bar members are reaching their 40th and 50th years in the Association. And the world certainly doesn’t operate now the way that it did 40 or 50 years ago, or even 20 years ago, when your news was delivered by paper instead of on a smartphone or when you had to get on an airplane to attend all of your meetings face-to-face in a boardroom instead of dialing up a client from across the country on Skype. During my term as President, my focus will be on continuing to make the Bar Association relevant for the 30, 40 and 50-year practitioner, and also on what makes the Bar Association relevant to the twenty and thirty somethings who are just starting their careers. I will strive to make this Association work for every one of you, and for it to be relevant to every one of our members.

I can assure you that we are looking at and will continue to look at the ways to better serve you. We are looking at ways to better serve the millennials, to better serve “generation Y” and better ways to serve “generation A.” Our Association is moving out of the dark ages and becoming more technologically sound and efficient for all attorneys while at the same time, continuing to remember our “bread and butter” of having face-to-face meetings, social functions, networking events, and CLEs that our “middle class” and more senior members find to be staples of our Association.

Over the next 12 months, recognize that this is YOUR Bar Association, and we will be working to make sure that it fits your needs and wants. I’d like to take a liberty to flip, and somewhat butcher, and before you say it, yes, in a very cheesy fashion, the quote of John F. Kennedy, (I’m sure my associate Jennifer Miller who is a JFK fanatic is cringing right now that I would dare alter the words of JFK). But during the next year, ask not what you can do for your bar association, but ask what your bar association can do for you.

I want to thank all of you for giving me this opportunity to serve you. And I will do all that is within my power not just to work with you, but to work FOR you.