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2017 Celebration of Leadership and Presidents' Reception Recap

June 16, 2017

Patrick McGlone, Celebration of Leadership

On June 14, at its annual Celebration of Leadership and Presidents' Reception at the Mayflower Hotel, the D.C. Bar honored the past year's accomplishments of people and organizations that have made a significant impact on the legal profession and the community at large. Check out the evening’s highlights:

A New Fundraising Record 

The 2017 Presidents’ Reception was record shattering. With the help of generous donors, including friends and colleagues of new D.C. Bar President Patrick McGlone and his company Ullico, Inc., the event raised $1 million to support the important work of the Pro Bono Center.

“Anyone willing to serve can make a big difference and do it well,” McGlone said, recounting the wide array of opportunities for pro bono service offered by the Pro Bono Center, which recruits, trains and mentors lawyers to provide free legal assistance to low-income D.C. residents.

During the reception, which was held prior to the Celebration of Leadership, Pro Bono Committee chair Amy Bess spoke to the crowd about the Pro Bono Center’s achievements of the last year, including: 

-Serving 1,513 people through the monthly Advice and Referral Clinic held in Shaw and Anacostia;
-Assisting 175 clients in six languages through the Immigration Legal Advice & Referral Clinic, one of the few free, walk-in clinics in the area serving people with immigration concerns; 
-Placing 370 cases for full representation with lawyer volunteers; and
-Assisting more than 130 safety-net nonprofit organizations by matching them with pro bono counsel or through legal clinics.
-Helping more than 17,000 D.C. residents in person, online, and on the phone.

Bess also noted that in 2018 the Pro Bono Center will be celebrating its 40th anniversary. For 35 of those years, former D.C. Bar CEO Katherine Mazzaferri helped set the course for the Pro Bono Center and make access to justice a priority for the Washington legal community. Overall, the Center has helped more than 500,000 people in need.

Each year, past presidents of the D.C. Bar invite members and others to honor the incoming president by contributing to the Pro Bono Center through the Presidents' Reception. Fundraising from the annual event provides approximately one-third of the organization's annual operating budget, enabling the Pro Bono Center to deliver clinics and programs that increase access to justice for individuals in need. 

And the Award Goes to…

The dinner began with outgoing Bar president Annamaria Steward and retired CEO Katherine A. Mazzaferri announcing this year’s award winners: 

35 Years of Service

Steward thanked Mazzaferri, who retired in April, for her outstanding leadership over the last 35 years. She then presented Mazzaferri with a framed resolution by the D.C. Bar Board of Governors naming the latter as CEO Emeritus of the D.C. Bar.

Mazzaferri, in turn, thanked Cynthia Hill, the Bar’s chief programs officer, for her longstanding service, along with the D.C. Bar staff, volunteers, and the judiciary for their support throughout her career.

‘Thank a Civil Servant’ 

John C. Cruden, former assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, received the Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service. “I don’t deserve this award,” said Cruden, acknowledging the sacrifices and important work of his former government colleagues. “Our civil service is the envy of the world . . . and I feel like [it’s] under siege.”

Civil servants “believe in the rule of law. Their work makes a difference,” said Cruden, exhorting the audience to thank government workers for their service.

‘Get Into Good Trouble’

Jonathan Smith of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs was honored with the William J. Brennan Jr. Award in recognition of his civil rights work. Smith spoke with great passion about getting into the sort of “good trouble” that shakes the status quo and fights for justice. “Get in the way!” said Smith, encouraging his fellow lawyers to work for social change. “I hope we can all make good trouble together.”

Farewell, Annamaria!

Steward said goodbye with a retrospective of the many changes that occurred during her tenure. Tearing up, Steward said being Bar president has been “the greatest experience of my professional life.”

Passing the Gavel to McGlone

McGlone was sworn in by D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby. In his inaugural address, McGlone focused on the pressing issues facing the legal practice and the Bar, from respecting the rule of law given the current political climate to defending an independent judiciary.

“The D.C. Bar must continue to rise to the challenge of preserving our profession’s ideals as the practice of law evolves,” said McGlone. “When the rule [of law] is in danger, we lawyers must speak up.”

He reaffirmed his commitment to improving access to justice and issued a friendly warning to his fellow in-house counsel: he will be asking them to increase the amount of time they dedicate to pro bono service.

“Our D.C. Bar members answer the call to service year in and year out with levels of pro bono work and support for legal aid that are envied nationwide,” said McGlone. “As the first corporate general counsel to lead this Bar, I will make a particular contribution to this storied tradition. I am committed to increasing the engagement of my colleagues in the in-house community in pro bono work . . . So, to my colleagues in the in-house community, be fairly warned, I will be in touch.”