Summer 2001, pg. 135. President's page: unique civic abilities... ...unique civic obligations.

Maine Bar Journal


Summer 2001, pg. 135.

President's page: unique civic abilities... ...unique civic obligations

Maine Bar JournalSummer 2001President's page: unique civic abilities... ...unique civic obligationsI just finished reading David McCullough's wonderful biography of John Adams. I was impressed, again, by Adams' commitment to public service at the expense of his legal career and time with his young family. I also was struck by the glaring fact our country would not exist as it does today without lawyers like John Adams--and, yes, lawyers like us. Lawyers not only created our system of laws, but lawyers supervised how our system grew, changed, and developed into an internationally respected model of self-governance. Lawyers continue to watch over and nurture the legal system they conceived two hundred years ago.

During my legal career in Maine, the lawyers of the Maine State Bar Association have continued the standard of public service I associate with John Adams. Lawyers are legislators, sit on community boards, serve on school boards and other civic committees, and are known in the legal community of this country as national leaders in volunteerism. One of the best creations of our bar has been the Maine Bar Foundation.

The Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Bar Association. It was established in 1983, and is devoted solely to law-related charitable work. The Bar Foundation has funneled into the Maine community more than one million volunteer hours from the 77 percent of the Bar Association members who serve as pro bono advocates. The Foundation funds Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Legal Services for the Elderly, the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, the Maine Equal Justice Partners Project, and many other discrete projects responding to otherwise unmet legal needs in our state.

As I am sure you are aware, the primary source of funding for our Foundation is from IOLTA income--the interest on trust accounts held in our members' offices throughout this state. That source of funding is threatened by constitutional challenges being litigated through various federal courts with differing outcomes. Just as John Adams watched his "creation"--our government--struggle financially and politically, and just as commitment and inventiveness have ensured the longevity of the...

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