President's Message

Blazing a Path

  • Print

During my speech to the ABA House of Delegates upon be­com­ing president-elect in Au­gust 2003, I proud­ly proclaimed, “To­­day is a new day.”

When I turn over the gavel to Robert J. Grey Jr. at this month’s an­nual meeting in At­­lanta, he will continue on the path that was opened for me. Also, Stephen Zack, a Cuban-American, will become chair of the House and Armando Lasa-Ferrer, a Latino-American from Puerto Rico, will be­come secretary-elect. Together we make a major statement about the Ameri­can Bar Association’s commitment to provide op­portunities for all members of our society.

Since becoming the president-elect nominee, I’ve traveled the country and, as president, the world, speak­ing on issues important to ABA members. I’ve spoken to more than 65 state, local and specialty bar groups; delivered com­mencement speeches and lectures to some 35 law schools; visited nine countries; been interviewed by hundreds of media; and addressed as many ABA entities, law firms, corporations, business groups, service clubs, legal aid societies and judicial conferences as humanly possible.

From ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Ex­change to attending the U.S. Supreme Court argument on Grutter v. Boll­inger to meeting with Presi­dent Bush about federal judicial vacancies, it has been an electrifying year.


The three initiatives undertaken during my term were tremendously successful. Both the Conference on Di­ver­sity and the Managing Partner and General Coun­sel Leadership Summit brought together CEOs and general counsel of major corporations, law firm managing partners and chairpersons, law school deans, university and college presidents, and leaders of various bar associations to ensure that we continue to not only increase diversity but also to promote and retain women and racial and ethnic minorities in top positions of the profession.

The ABA Commission on the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, among its many programs, held an event at Wayne State School of Law and partnered with the National Constitu­tion Center in Philadel­phia to host a seminar featuring legal luminaries discussing Brown’s legacy. Moreover, tens of thousands of students nationwide joined in Dia­logues on Brown v. Board. I’m proud of these programs and thank all ABA members, staff and co-sponsoring organizations that turned these events into hits.

I leave knowing that the association is sound and the profession more respected. The ABA has continued to staunchly defend the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession. And we protect citizens’ free­doms and work to improve the justice system. While many would denigrate our profession, without lawyers providing their time and expertise—most often free of charge—much good in this world would never be accomplished.

Lawyers are our society’s ultimate volunteers and public servants. There is not a chamber of commerce, bat­tered wom­en’s shelter, symphony or­ches­tra, Boys & Girls Club, church, synagogue, mosque or nonprofit board that does not have lawyers from the community intimately involved.

I now return to my place as chairman of the outstanding law firm of Dickinson Wright to re­sume full-time work in com­plex litiga­tion and appellate prac­tice.

Equal­ly as important, I look forward to quiet dinners with my family and improving my golf game.

Thank you to all those who hosted me throughout my presidency. I am grateful for your hospi­tality and impressed with the work you do on behalf of our great association and profession.

God bless and God­speed.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.