Karen J. Mathis needed only one word to sum up the heart of the agenda she will develop as ABA president elect: service.
The concept of service goes to the essence of lawyering, Mathis told the ABA House of Delegates. She spoke after the House made her election official during the association’s 2005 annual meeting in early August.
“This is what I love about lawyers,” she said. “We serve because it is our nature to serve. Our nation leads the world in voluntarism, and lawyers lead the nation in selfless service.”
Mathis, a partner at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter in Denver, will serve as president elect until the close of the 2006 annual meeting in Honolulu, when she will begin a one year term as president.
Mathis told the House that she will use the legal profession’s commitment to service as the fuel to advance initiatives involving two very disparate groups: the aging population of baby boom lawyers and the nation’s youth.
Describing her Second Season of Service initiative, Mathis said the aging of baby boom lawyers “will have a profound effect” on the profession. As these lawyers retire or cut back on their practices, important issues will arise in such areas as professional liability insurance, health insurance and practice transition.
Part of this initiative will study those issues, Mathis said. But another element will explore how lawyers can effectively engage in more public service work during their active retirement years.
Mathis’ Youth at Risk initiative will address needs at the other end of the demographic spectrum. “The youth of our nation are at peril,” she said.
The initiative will focus on such issues as the growing national truancy crisis, which Mathis said some bars–such as the Atlanta Bar Association–already are working to address; the “18 and you’re out” approach to foster care; and what Mathis termed bad girl syndrome, reflecting the growth in criminal activity among adolescent girls.
Mathis was 2000-02 chair of the ABA House of Delegates, and she was 2002-03 chair of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section. She also is a past chair of the Commission on Women in the Profession and the Standing Committee on Membership. Among other ABA posts, she has served on the council of the Section of State and Local Government Law and on the ABA Journal Board of Editors.