Last Friday I found myself in a room full of very distinguished lawyers and jurists at the sleek new Hotel at Arundel Preserve. All it took was asking where the honorees for the Leadership in Law awards were hiding.
The room was abuzz and filled with current and past winners. While many in the room already knew each other, those who were strangers greeted one another with an unspoken understanding and respect for the long road it took to be recognized in this fashion as a leader within the profession.
I probably didn’t belong in the room, but no one missed a beat by my presence. In fact, the few individuals I knew embraced me as a friend and took it upon themselves to introduce me to the eminent attorneys in the room.
And those who didn’t know me went out of their way to introduce themselves. That was — and is — the character of the people in that room; they were selected not simply for their legal accomplishments but also for their service to others. They are the kind of people used to taking a younger attorney under their wing. They are natural mentors.
Any attorney wishing to be a success and make a difference in her community should take the time to look at the biographies of each of the award winners this year and in years past. Some of the elements of success are immediately clear: hard work, commitment to community, and creativity.
Obviously, each winner has worked hard to get to where he is but the difference may be the impact that work has had. For example, these men and women have created groundbreaking diversity in the profession, founded successful law firms, secured passage of important legislation and worked on many high-profile cases. These things only happen by going above and beyond the regular work week over the course of many years.
Another key ingredient of each Leadership in Law recipient is community involvement. Many important community organizations in Maryland owe their success, if not their very existence, to these leaders, including: Lawyers’ Campaign Against Hunger; Annapolis Optimist Club; Bridge Beyond Bars; Baltimore Scholars Program; The Center for Hispanic Development; Homeless Persons Representation Project Inc.; Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court Aftercare Program, and Equal Justice Council.
There’s also a certain spark of creativity displayed by many, if not all, of the award winners. As they have navigated through their careers and civic activities they’ve evolved personally and professionally and become agents of change for the organizations and communities around them. They have inspired meaningful change through continuing legal education, the delivery of legal services to the homeless, development and growth policy, race and the law and literacy, to name a few impacted areas.
The awards program included a reception followed by a luncheon and brief video presentations of each of the winners as they received their awards. It was certainly an honor to break bread with all of these great leaders and their guests. Congratulations to all of this year’s Leadership in Law winners.