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The Inaugural Address of Scott F. Cooper, 83rd Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association
Sayde, you have been an amazing leader in a very difficult time. You have shown class and insight through even the most trying of tests.
You accomplished so much this year. You brought to life the programs you promised, continued the ones that define who we are and left an indelibly positive mark on this Association.
More than any of this, however, you were an amazing friend. You set a new gold standard for collaborative leadership.
And while I will have so many more wonderful things about you next April, for today, let me express simply that all of us who will follow are eternally in your debt.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thanking again our 82nd Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Sayde Ladov.
Let me also add what an honor it is for me to share this stage with three of the finest people who have ever served this Bar: Judge Annette Rizzo, Andre Denis and Joe Sullivan. It is people like them who inspire the rest of us. It is truly my honor to share time here with all three of you. Congratulations on your justly deserved recognition.
Distinguished jurists, other public officials, my dear friend and our Vice Chancellor, Rudy Garcia, our other bar leaders, honored guests and very special friends, I thank all of you for coming today.
This is always a very special day for our Bar Association. We gather together to celebrate the amazing work just completed and to outline our plans for next year.
Our 2010 agenda is one that I think even the most discerning among you will deem bold. And it is unapologetically so.
It is one born out of these incredibly difficult times. It responds to the savage cruelty that this recession has inflicted on our profession, this community and our clients.
But it is also one predicated on optimism.
Our Agenda next year calls on us to think beyond where we are today. It sets a course that gives us the best possible chance to take control of our futures despite seismic changes in our profession.
It will confirm our commitment to protecting the independence of our judiciary and fighting for those who most need access to attorneys. But it will also emphasize innovation and developing strategic partnerships to ensure that our Association and our profession stand strong at the epicenter of our world-class city.
Before I turn to how we are going to get there, let me first thank just some of my many my family, friends, colleagues, clients and supporters, without whose help I could not possibly have this amazing opportunity to serve all of you.
Of course, I cannot possibly name all of the people to whom I am so indebted.
But I do want to thank my family. My mom, Sandee, my dad, Dan, and their spouses, Sig and Autumn. Thank you for being here. I think in coming from Colorado, you may have set a record for how far any parents have ever come for one of our Annual Meetings.
To my children, Amanda and Colin, thank you. I love you so very much. And my in-laws, John and Elaine, for whom I share similar affections, thanks for being a part of our lives and thank you for coming today.
I cannot tell you what it means to me that we could all be here together to celebrate a very special day.
Case and point, I am not able to share this day with one of my most important teachers and mentors, Judge Herbert J. Hutton of our federal district court. I clerked for Judge Hutton and I owe him so much. A former member of this Association’s Board of Governors, I wish he could still be with us to see this day.
To my guest, Dale Hill, who was Judge Hutton’s secretary and my colleague in Chambers, I think it safe to say that had the Judge been able to be here with us, I think this day would have made him very happy.
To my work family at Blank Rome – the only place I have ever been in private practice. Thank you. To our leadership team, including my friends, co-chair of Blank Rome, Alan Hoffman, and our managing partner and CEO, Carl Buchholz, my practice group leader, Anthony Haller, our General Counsel Bill Roberts, and all my other very dear colleagues within and outside the employment law practice group.
Thank you so much. I could not be here without you.
To my dear friend and mentor, and our 67th Chancellor, Larry Beaser, how can I ever thank you and your charming wife Shelly enough? Larry, you are all that is still good in being a lawyer and a mentor. I, and this entire bar, are eternally in your debt for all you did as Chancellor and all you continue to do for the Board of Governors.
It takes a lot to have an entire process of governance named after you. Yet you have done it.
Almost no resolution of the Board of Governors passes before it has been “Beaserized.” That is that magical “once over review” that insurance the highest level of quality control before we send our work on to the public, the Courts and law makers. I and this Bar are eternally in your debt.
I also want to thank our former Chancellor and Chair Emeritus of our firm, Marvin Comisky, the 38th Chancellor this Bar Association, for all his support over the years.
The same for Tanya Robinson, my legal secretary of 17 years. We now have the longest continuous running work share in our practice group, and probably getting close in the firm. We have come a long way together and watched our kids grow up together. You are a very special person and I cannot thank you enough for all you do and continue to do for me, the firm and this Association. Thank you, Tanya.
To my many clients and friends who came to this meeting, I cannot thank you all enough. For you see, this is your day too.
When clients such as you – coming from every major segment of the economy, and in both the private and public sectors – want to be a part of a day like today, it reaffirms, yet again, why we are so proud to represent you and honored that you call us your lawyers.
No attorneys gets a chance to hold this position without exceptional clients. And you are quintessential examples of that rule. You are the embodiment of the very type of special and collaborative professional relationship every attorney would be jealous to have. Thank you for being here.
I also want to thank my Township Council, including Mayor Dan Rocatto, Deputy Mayor John Button, and Council Members Michael Testa and Greg Gallo, along with Judge Lois Downey, who gave up their valuable time to be with us today. And the same goes for our many other friends from Moorestown, who came today.
I also want to thank my teammates and truly special friends from the Red United Soccer Club. The hardest working team in the men’s over 35 indoor league, yet the one whose efforts are least accurately reflected in the win column of the league standings.
As your captain, your teammate and, most important, your friend, I am humbled and honored that you would take the time to attend.
It is not lost on me that we have now attended more Bar meetings in Philadelphia together than we have wins this season, but I have a strange feeling things might look up tomorrow night.
And my very best friend from law school, a Philadelphia lawyer by training, and now a Lt. Colonel in the United States Army, Jag Corps, Jeff Lippert, who came here from Ft. Benning, Georgia just to join us today: thank you.
Let us also recognize the Bar Association Leaders, the Officers, the Board of Governors, the leaders of Sections, Committees and Divisions, and to the Bar Association Staff – all of whom never get all the credit they deserve-for making this the best bar association in America, if not the world. Thank you.
I also add my personal congratulations to John Savoth on his victory today to be the Vice Chancellor of the Bar in 2010, and the 85th Chancellor of the Bar, in 2012. I have known John a long time. He is fabulous. And along with another amazing leader, strategic thinker and friend, Rudy Garcia, I personally welcome John to the Leadership team. With the final piece now in place, 2010 is going to be an amazing year. Welcome, John.
Last, and the opposite of least, let me thank the most important person in my life, my wife, Karen.
Every year, I fear we never thank the spouse of the Chancellor enough. As everyone who has ever held this job knows, the spouse always makes this possible, without all the public attention that shines on the office holder. Well today, we try.
I am almost without words to express how much it means to me that you came into my life. You are the smartest, most insightful person I have ever met. An incredible attorney in your own right, and truly the center of our family and my world.
All that I have any chance of doing well this coming year, will likely have your grace and touch all over it; those things that may not go as well, are likely because I disregarded your incredible perspectives.
Our friends know that we have been visited by some significant health challenges over the past few years.
Yet through it all, you have taught me the renewed lessons of courage, compassion, faith and determination.
I love you more than words can ever describe. And very soon, this entire association is going to realize just how lucky it is that you are a part of this coming year.
I could not and I would not take this walk without you.
And it is with such unbelievable pride that I have the honor of introducing my very best friend, the mother of our beautiful children and your soon to be first lady of this great Bar Association, Karen Cooper.
I thank you for allowing me the time to thank some, but certainly not all, of the people who are so dear to me. And with that, it is time to focus on the future.
It is time to discuss how collectively we will move forward, and what we are going to do for our profession, our City and help those who count on us.
Before I list anything that is new, let me start with something that is quite old.
Let me reiterate right up front that this Bar Association will be unwavering in its full and vocal support for an independent judiciary. We have some of the finest jurists in the world here. That is in no small part because they know that they are defended when they do what their oath to the law requires them to do, and not what is necessarily popular.
So to the Judiciary, let me say this: our unbroken commitment to you will continue and grow next year.
An attack on your independence is an attack on all of us.
We stand with you and we will stand in front of you, should any dare challenge this most important tenant of our third branch of government. We are so very proud of the role you play in our system of justice and the time you give to this Bar Association.
It is our duty to protect that independence and you can count on us to be there, should any dare to test it.
Now, let me shift gears and spend a moment setting the stage for just how grave the consequences will be if we do not prepare now for a future that is rapidly racing towards us.
When you stand on the verge of leading a Bar Association, you study things that you do not necessarily see in your daily practice. Over the past year or so, I have been tracking with concern some of the forces that are coming to bear on our profession.
We are all too familiar with the headlines describing how hard it is now to run a law firm or public sector law department:
Partner and associate firings, staff layoffs, capital calls, hirings deferred or canceled, salary deflation, law school debt continuing to climb, lack of dedicated funding for court appointed counsel and firms reclassifying how attorneys will advance within the firms. And on and on.
But this, sadly, is not really the scary part. Each of these issues will work themselves out, or not, within a revived economy. Or as each individual legal employer figures out a way to best address them. Solutions that work in one place are not guaranteed to work in others.
And those who claim a bar association is irrelevant because it cannot fix these issues, respectfully, are mistakenly misstating the relationship between a professional association and the employers operating in the free market.
It would be folly to suggest that a bar association can tell employers how many attorneys to hire or how much to pay them. Competitors are not going to come together to discuss those issues – nor should they.
But this is simply too narrow a definition of relevance.
For there are forces that are bearing down on our profession. They are bigger than these issues. And, I fear, they are ones for which the strategic partnerships necessary between legal employers and the bar are not sufficiently developed to be ready for the next challenges.
Let me give two illustrations.
First, look with me at London, and gaze into the not-too-distant future of 2012.
For in that year, the British will permit the full and open practice of something called the Alternative Business System, or the ABS. Under Britain’s Legal Services Act, the British will allow a form of law practice in which there can be investment in the law business by those who are neither attorneys nor who share an interest in the outcome of any particular case. In simple terms, private equity investment in the ownership of law firms.
There will also be permitted combinations with insurance companies, realtors and other specialized non-core legal services.
In this new structure, the ability of their law firms to take on cases and transactions will no longer turn on the personal wealth nor creditworthiness of individual law partners.
The British have spent over a decade working on the applicable regulatory codes, conflict rules, matters related to confidentiality and client complaints.
The British have been training for years to run this marathon, yet we are not even climbing out of the crib to crawl to the registration table to get into the same race.
Beyond that, in Australia, shares of law firms already trade on their stock exchange.
Our prior debates over multidisciplinary practices have not prepared us for this coming evolution.
Before these competitive forces come to America – and they will come – we all need a strategic partner to help respond to them. I do not care how small or big your organization is, these issues are larger than any one firm or employer. And without a partnership with an organization that understands these issues, understands the need for a dialogue with the ABA, the Pennsylvania State Bar and, most important, our judiciary and regulatory counsel, this City’s legal profession is plainly at risk.
At a meeting I attended last year in London, our counterparts shared (sometimes after a few beverages) that they see this new world order of investment in law firms and permitted combinations as an essential prong of their efforts to have England supplant the United States as the center of business-law commerce in the post recession era.
And lest you mistakenly believe that this is just a big firm issue. Remember, the British are a loser pays civil system. The plaintiffs’ bar there is just as invested in making this work as the defense firms.
And whether we should be one of the first American states to embrace these ideas, fight to ensure that they never happen here, or be somewhere in the middle, a partnership with the bar must be at the center of this inevitable debate.
Here is another example. Let’s assume that we finally get serious about trying to position Philadelphia as a true international center for arbitrations or other interstate business disputes. It will take a partnership with the Bar to help design it, advertise it and help draw work to this city, so that lawyers of all stripes can, in turn, compete for it.
If we are going to have discussions about making Philadelphia a destination venue for such matters, then who better to interact with American Arbitration, Federal Mediation, JAMS and other ADR providers to drive business here than the local Bar Association.
And if we are really going to prepare for the future, than we must discuss whether we can host some of these proceedings within the security perimeter of the Philadelphia airport.
Now no business likes litigation, but can you imagine the buzz it would create if it became known that if you had to be in a case, and it was in Philadelphia, at least executives, witnesses and in-house counsel do not have to waste half the day in transit and in security lines?
Well, if you like this type of idea, or better advertising for our commerce court, we will need the Bar to facilitate this type of win-win dialogue to draw more work to Philadelphia.
Add to these structural and macro economic issues the already mounting problems with technology, and we stand exposed to a perfect storm. Each day, another person enters the ranks of a generation more content to send an email or communicate online than meet in person. Billing guidelines that prohibit personal conferences among lawyers only fuel this.
All of this leads to the very real prospect that the virtual law firm may be a valid competitor before many of us retire from the practice of law.
The ABA did a full feature article on this last summer.
Ivy league-educated lawyers offering advice to fortune 100 companies from their kitchen tables – and making a killing doing it. Most using unconventional billing methods.
The Internet has made the purchasers of legal services the most sophisticated in history. Whether it is a relatively small trust and estate issue, selecting criminal defense counsel for a family member or the most complex commercial deal in the world, purchasers of legal services are shredding geographic barriers and choosing their attorneys in ways that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.
We are already a culture obsessed with immediacy. The Internet only accelerates the emphasis on speed, not quality or learned judgment. In the race to see who can answer complex matters first and fastest, we may all be headed towards finishing last.
And this brings us back, full circle, to the core questions underpinning this agenda.
What does Philadelphia do if the business case for bricks and mortar in Center City becomes a competitive disadvantage and not a Madison Avenue marquee of prestige and legal acumen?
What does our Bar do to help?
Well against this backdrop of a rapidly changing practice, the worst economic crisis in our lifetime and government resources stretched so thin that lawyers have to defend those most at risk without guarantees of pay, let me offer how I think we should allocate our resources next year to respond.
First, we must start this discussion. So I am going to do something that no leader of this bar association has done in a very long time.
During the first quarter of next year, I am going to call upon the leaders of the legal employers to meet on this simple question:
What can we do to best enhance your chances of being a vibrant employer in this City 5, 10 and 20 years from now?
I am asking flat out: tell us how we can help. From this discussion, we have a chance at responding to the real strategic challenges for remaining viable in this City.
The plan is simple.
We will have separate meetings for firms with a plaintiff side client base, firms with a defense side and corporate client base, and government and public advocacy interest groups.
We will start the meetings by bringing in experts who will describe some frightening scenarios for the future we face in our practices. Then we will sit and listen carefully to you.
There are no preconditions on these discussions, and no topics are off limits. But these meetings will be closed door to ensure candor and avoid attribution.
Then, with your permission, we will brief the judiciary and city leaders on our conclusions.
But here is the most important part. I need the attendees to be the TOP people at these organizations or their highest-level designees.
We do not need meetings to discuss the ill effects of the recession; all of us have those war stories to tell. What we do need are people in the room who have the authority to effectuate solutions.
I urge all these leaders to give this a chance. I promise that I will give 100% of my best efforts for a year and ask that those out there in our legal community who lead employers to give 100 minutes of their time to this question. For so much hangs in the balance.
I know of no other organization that can host such discussions.
And if not us, who?
If not now, when?
The time to take ownership in our futures is now!
Beyond these meetings, I will conduct a number of Chancellor’s Forums on the complex issues affecting work in our legal industry. These include the changing demographics of attorneys – young and old – and who we can work together to advance the mission of the bar and protect the public.
No lawyer should suffer the indignity of ending an otherwise distinguished legal career by appearing before the disciplinary board, just because no one was there to ask, “do you need help.” As our population ages, and attorneys practice longer, we must be there for our colleagues.
In the process, I hope to impress upon an entire generation of current and up-and-coming leaders of our legal employers that this Bar Association is an indispensable first-step partner in securing all of our futures in Philadelphia – not an afterthought.
We will then fully leverage technology to make sure that the largest number of people have access to and can use the results of all this hard work.
Next, we need to do a better job partnering with the law schools.
Whatever training we need young lawyers to have, it starts with the law schools being relevant to those entering the legal profession.
This is why I will ask the Board of Governors to adopt a bylaw proposal that will allow representation by the Deans of our local law schools to join the Board of Governors. We need to stop this false dichotomy between the academic and practicing worlds.
Employers want better trained attorneys, and law schools want their graduates hired. I can think of no more efficient way than to have the leadership of each segment be plugged in at the highest levels to what the other is doing and having a direct impact.
Staying with the theme of learning, in 2010, we will launch one of the most ambitious undertakings in the Bar’s History, and create the Philadelphia Bar Association Academy. This organization will partner with outside organizations to provide a life of learning for our members – outside of CLE.
The lawyer of the future needs to be someone who is both well rounded and technically proficient.
Through our new academy, lawyers will be able to register for free or modestly priced courses that will help them be part of this City and simply become better-rounded people. Courses will be driven by specific interests in cultural, civic, epicurean, sports, technology and other matters, as you the members desire. The curriculum will change over time and will involve some live and some Internet-based learning.
Through this Academy, I see our Bar Association partnering with Philadelphia’s other great institutions to bring true value-added learning to our members. It may include meeting with the opera company before a production, cooking lessons from a five-star chef or learning about a new sport or keeping up with the latest in technology or social networking. But these are not just social activities.
Can you imagine the impact our association would have on mentoring and professional development if an associate or young lawyer in a law department, who knows nothing about, football or art history, and who was closed out of those discussions with clients and senior lawyers, could go to a bar-sponsored class with the head coach of a football team or a curator. Suddenly, the ostracized become the conversation carriers.
Better client service, better marketing, better lawyers, more civility, better members of the community. And because these courses involve non-lawyer members of the community, your Bar Association will bring an added set of skills and networking to our members. At a time when most legal employers have cut training programs to the bone, I can think of nothing more relevant to the practicing attorney.
Next, I will be contacting the other county bar Presidents to discuss better and more expanded cooperation within this region. The already existing networks and organizations of attorneys, which meet occasionally must be strengthened.
We must, for the first time, move to formalize a process through which Bar leaders in this region can meet and discuss those issues that truly transcend boundaries. I envision using a model similar to the business community’s Select Greater Philadelphia First.
The recent success of the Third Circuit Bar Association and the emerging sophistication of clients make it clear that attorneys from different parts of this region can work together for the common good. This is particularly true of cases that transcend county and state boundaries, such as family law and criminal court matters.
We also will focus our energies inward to make sure that you, the member, are getting the most efficient bar association you can have. All of you have been doing “more with less,” and so, too, will your association.
We have already passed a balanced and dramatically tightened budget for 2010.
In addition, I asked and your Board of Governors has already voted to suspend any further dues increases in 2010. The rates that were set back in April 2009, will not go up again until such time as the Board decides that times have improved and a dues increase is absolutely necessary.
We cannot be and we are not tone deaf to what is happening in this market. Your membership is the lifeblood of this organization. As the leader of this bar, we must respect that dues increases are simply not something so many of you can afford right now.
In addition, I am sun-setting no less than seven committees of this Association. Those Committees who have either exhausted their mission statement or who serve only a few people simply cannot place an ongoing strain on our resources.
Next, I will be make some historic changes to the Cabinet. For the first time in history, I will nominate for confirmation a Pro Bono and Delivery of Legal Services Czar. This individual will be a direct advisor to the Chancellor in an effort to make the best policy we can in these critical areas. In short, we must become more proactive in the incredibly complex areas of helping those most at risk and understanding the complexities of funding such efforts or encouraging pro bono service.
I have asked someone who is so well known and respected in our community that he needs little introduction. I have asked our good friend, director of the clinical program at Penn and former executive director of Community Legal Services, Lou Rulli to be our first policy-level Czar. Lou will work with all of the stakeholders, including our existing committees, sections and the Bar Foundation, to help us all be as efficient as possible in providing these much needed legal services.
I will also appoint a first ever Cabinet-level appointee to help continue and develop our diversity efforts. By having a seat at the center of policy initiatives, this individual can help us make the most informed choices possible.
I have asked Scott Reid to be the first person to assume this historic position. As former President of the Barristers, the Diversity Partner at Cozen and O’Conner, and a good friend, Scott is the perfect person to work with a soon-to-be-hired staff Director of Diversity. This will allow us to take one of the most important legacies of my good friend and our former Chancellor Michael Pratt to the next level.
In this role, Scott will not only help coordinate efforts among all the key stakeholders, but he will bring his own unique perspectives to the Cabinet and on issues of diversity.
With all this talk about the future, it is time we get equally serious about preserving where we have come from. In 2010, we will create our own Philadelphia Bar Association Historical Society. This group will convene under the capable leadership of William Fedullo, chair of the Philadelphia Commission of Judicial Selection and Retention; Robert Heim, former Chancellor and Roberta Liebenberg, our 2008 Sandra Day O’Connor Winner.
The group will devise a plan to preserve our heritage, which includes gathering historic documents, interviewing senior attorneys, creating Web resources and saving our great history through writing and video. We will, of course, seek lots of input from the judiciary once this project is up and running.
This Historical Society will also help us celebrate in 2010 the 275th anniversary of Andrew Hamilton’s famous freedom of the press trial in New York.
Our final major initiative, and the one that my children inspire me to undertake, bears on our own role in saving this planet. Next year, we will focus on one of the most important movements of our generation – the crusade to save our planet and take this Association and our profession green.
Following the creation of a “green ribbon” panel, we will first determine how the Bar Association itself can better reduce resource waste. This will include both internal operations and member support. But that is just the beginning.
We will seek to set voluntary standards for each segment of our bar. If a legal employer complies with those goals applicable to institutions of a particular size, it will be invited to post a designation that it has met the Bar Association’s green standards for legal practices.
If we did just this, it would be an amazing contribution. But I want the Philadelphia legal community to truly lead on a national scale.
With the capable help of co-chairs Michael Hayes and Kim Jessum, today I call upon every Section, Division and Committee of this Bar to scrutinize all that we do as lawyers and find ways to reduce waste. I want transactional lawyers to look at how we document deals and closings. I want litigators to scour the litigation process – especially in discovery, the rules of court and hearing preparations – and come up with recommendations that will truly reduce our carbon footprint.
We will then take those recommendations and ask our jurists to join us by including those pertinent recommendations in their case management and trial preparation orders. If there are rules that are causing waste, we will open appropriate dialogue to see if the Courts will consider changing them.
We have to stop hoping that this is everyone else’s solution to find. We live on this planet, and we must do our part to make it last.
Well, I think we are going to be busy for a while.
We are going to strategically partner and rejoin with the legal employers to tackle these daunting challenges.
We are going break down a key barrier between the academic and practicing communities.
We are going to build an academy to train our lawyers to be the citizens of the future, predicated upon a life of learning.
We will reach out across our own borders for the betterment of our communities.
We will improve our governance to deliver better results for our core missions of serving the public, our diversity and the community.
And we are going to help save the planet we live on.
Now, if you are shaking your head right now or thinking, “He’ll never get all this done,” or maybe, “he just bit off more than he can chew.”
Well, let me tell you a little secret.
That is precisely the plan.
You see, I have no intention of doing this alone.
As Chancellor, and like a good CEO, I can chart a direction. I can allocate where we should expend our resources. What I cannot do is implement. Only we can collectively do that.
If these programs do not energize and excite broad-based support, they should and will die on the vine.
This is obviously not an agenda of two or three easy to accomplish items. For I have learned a few things from the public officials who grace this meeting. When times get tough, the good ones step up for the good of the constituency.
You do more than you might have wanted to.
You stretch further than you thought you could.
You risk trying solutions that may not be completed until long after your time for political credit has passed.
So to those who wish we would try nothing new and ask that we stay in the safe harbor of recycling only what worked decades ago, I fear you are going to be disappointed.
These extraordinary times and the forces converging on this profession do not give us the luxury of complacency or stagnation. If some want this profession to go the way of the buggy whip manufacturer – sorry. It is not going to happen on my watch.
We can protect the core of who we are while innovating.
I have lived my entire professional life by a simple maxim, one most aptly summed up by Henry Ford, who said, “Those who say they can, and those who say they cannot, usually are right.”
Well I say we can.
I say we must, and
I say we will!
This Bar Association is our last best hope to build the profession we all dream and know it can be.
Today we usher in an era of renewed enthusiasm and optimism about our ability to effectuate a positive impact on our own futures.
And like my soccer team here, we need everyone pulling as a team, irrespective of the odds we face when entering the arena. The scoreboard a year from now will not matter unless we leave it all out on that field for one another. And that is precisely what I intended to do for all of you.
To the young lawyers – we need your enthusiasm, idealism and passion.
To those more senior – we need your hard-earned battle scars, otherwise known as life’s experience and wisdom.
To everyone else – we need your sense of urgency and creativity.
Despite what our critics say, this profession is not just about making money. Each day we get up and help manufacture the greatest commodity the human race has ever devised – the rule of law and its inevitable byproducts of social justice, equality and the freedoms that holds this democracy together.
In short, it must work. Not only for all of us, but for all of those whose rights and liberties depend upon us.
So if you have it in you, please join our ranks. Stand up and be counted. This is your future too that we are fighting for.
A stone’s throw from where gather now, at the close of the Constitutional Convention, John Adams posed a fitting query to our own Benjamin Franklin. Adams noted that throughout the debates, he had studied the half-sun carved in the back of the Speaker’s chair. Adams asked Franklin if it was a rising or a setting sun.
Franklin responded, “My Dear Mr. Adams, it is indeed a rising sun. For the best days of this Republic are still yet to come.”
Well like Franklin, I too believe our best days are yet to come.
But if we are going to reach that sunrise, we must first cross a sea that is replete with dangers.
It masks perils off our coast and unleashes swells powerful enough to capsize all but the most skilled of piloted vessels.
Yet if this Bar Association remains strong, if it will give us a chance to implement the programs I have laid out and if it is willing to innovate, to keep abreast of the times, then no one will make this passage alone.
And in so doing, we will chart a course for that future on the yet unseen shore and we will make it easier for all those who follow us because they will not have to the face the challenges that we have already conquered.
And for my part in this, I am humbled by the chance to serve, yet energized by the chance to stand alongside you and embrace these challenges.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I know we are ready.
So mark our heading and
Bring me that horizon,
As I proudly and enthusiastically accept your challenge and your charge – to be the 83rd Chancellor of this great and wonderful Philadelphia Bar Association.