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Interview: Incoming MSBA president wants to appeal to young lawyers, increase membership

Madeleine O'Neill//June 7, 2023

Interview: Incoming MSBA president wants to appeal to young lawyers, increase membership

By Madeleine O'Neill

//June 7, 2023

Jason DeLoach, a vice president at Alexander & Cleaver P.A., will take over as the president of the Maryland State Bar Association at the end of its annual conference this week. (Contributed photo)
Jason DeLoach, a vice president at Alexander & Cleaver P.A., will take over as the president of the Maryland State Bar Association at the end of its annual conference this week. (Contributed photo)

OCEAN CITY — By week’s end, the Maryland State Bar Association will have a new president.

The transfer of power from outgoing president to the president-elect, who spent the past year preparing for the top job, takes place each year at the close of the bar association’s annual legal summit in Ocean City.

This year, as the MSBA holds its second in-person conference since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the role will go to Jason A. DeLoach, a vice president at the law firm Alexander & Cleaver P.A.

DeLoach, 52, has been heavily involved in the bar association and in local organizations for years. He served as the MSBA’s treasurer before he became president-elect under the MSBA’s current president, David Shapiro, and led the budget and finance committee for several years.

He is also the president of the Prince George’s County Bar Association, a position he is soon leaving as he prepares to take over the state bar. DeLoach’s legal practice is mainly focused on representing local governments, he said.

As voluntary bar association, the MSBA must constantly strive to bring in new members and retain those who are already part of the organization. In an interview with The Daily Record, DeLoach outlined his goals for the MSBA and his plans to appeal to lawyers across the state.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The Daily Record: What did you take away from your year as president-elect?

DeLoach: The first thing is, I worked under a great president in David Shapiro. He handled every issue of equal importance and worked seamlessly with the staff. What I learned as president-elect is you can’t be a good president without staff. (MSBA Executive Director) Anna Sholl and the MSBA staff, they keep you straight. They focus on the issues that the president really needs to focus in on. There are so many layers to being president that you don’t really get an up-close look at until you’re president-elect. David was very generous in keeping me in the loop on all of the issues … so I think I’m as ready as I possibly can be to take over the leadership.

TDR: What are some of the layers to leading the MSBA that people don’t see?

DeLoach: You’re more than the president of the Maryland State Bar Association. There are so many different committees that you’re involved in that help further the goals of the MSBA. Access to justice; diversity, equity and inclusion. These are themes that run through every organization. The Maryland Bar Foundation, Pro Bono Resource Center — as president-elect and president you work very closely with these organizations.

You wear a lot of hats. You sit on these boards and you have to do what’s in the best interests of these boards, but at the same time, you have to look out for the MSBA. I’m thankful that we have never run into any issues that run counter to one another.

But the biggest thing is there’s a large portion of your day that’s going to be dedicated to the MSBA and all of the other organizations that you’re helping to support.

TDR: (DeLoach previously served as chair of the MSBA’s Budget and Finance Committee and took over as the organization’s treasurer in 2020.) What did you learn from holding that role during COVID-19?

DeLoach: It was a big hit for us. Going into March of 2020, we were on the upswing. I remember giving reports and we were doing very well. (At) our annual legal summit, we were about to break all kinds of records for attendance. Of course, it was in-person. Membership was growing. Then all of a sudden it came to a stop.

What it showed me is the talent that we have in MSBA. We had to pivot, we had to refocus a lot of things that we were doing, and we had to find a way to satisfy our members when we had absolutely no money coming in. It taught me a lot. I’ve been treasurer of other organizations and never encountered anything like that.

That made us all grow up a little bit. A lot of the things that we implemented at that time, it took a lot of ingenuity. We’re still implementing a lot of those things now and it’s helping us give a lot to our members. A lot of content, a lot of benefits. So out of something bad, something really good came out of it.

TDR: What are your goals for your year as president? What would you like to see change?

DeLoach: The only thing I would like to see change is I want to increase our membership. Since we’re a voluntary bar association, we can never rest on our laurels that we’re going to have the same amount of members that we had in the prior year.

We can’t forget that we have members right now. We want to make sure that we retain that membership, but we also want to increase our membership. The best way to do that, I think, is to make sure that our young lawyers feel engaged, that they think the Maryland State Bar Association is for them.

That’s the same thing that I try to convey in Prince George’s County, that we need to make sure we engage our young lawyers, our young leaders, to make sure that they believe they can rise in leadership and have a place at the table with the Maryland State Bar Association.

(We need to) continue to make sure that we’re reaching out to young lawyers and making sure that everyone, no matter where you come from, what color, race, sex, sexual orientation, that the Maryland State Bar Association is for you.


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