Happy New Year!
This is my first letter to you as President of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation. I am excited to begin my presidency at such an auspicious moment in the history of our organization, the history of the City of Philadelphia, and the history of our country. Let me introduce myself to you: I have spent my working life in Philadelphia, where I have worked in the public interest sector, for the Government, as in-house counsel, and most of my career as a partner in a law firm. These experiences have given me a unique perspective which I hope will allow me to connect with all members of the legal community.
In 2024, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The Foundation began with a mission to provide charitable giving to non-profit organizations which advanced access to legal services for those who could not afford them and to educate the Philadelphia legal community about the need for pro bono legal service. 60 years later there is still much work to do. Philadelphia is the poorest of America’s big cities, and the need for civil representation has never been greater. To address the need of the city the Philadelphia Bar Foundation needs the help of all of you.
This is a time of significant change. We have seen the inauguration of the city’s first African-American woman mayor, as well as the first openly LGBTQ+ council member, and the first South Asian council member. The Bar Foundation’s relationship with the City is crucial to our success. Last year we partnered to create a Justice Matters Forum where we addressed issues including the issue of gun violence. This year we hope to expand that relationship so that the legal community can work with our political leaders to create the change that is central to the Foundation’s work. As the Philadelphia Bar Foundation moves ahead with its virtual Equal Justice Center and our vision for equal access to justice, partnership with our city leaders is essential.
We are embarking on a critical national election this year. It is our duty as lawyers to ensure that the rule of law is upheld, and this duty extends beyond party or partisanship. We, at the Bar Foundation, will do all that we can, and we ask for your help in achieving this goal.
I know many of you already, and I hope to get to know as many more of your as possible. Community is very important to me, and one of my goals is to expand the community that exists within the Bar Foundation to as many of you as possible. Those who know me know that I love to read and that reading has shaped my life. One of the ways that I can advance the concept of community is by letting you know the books that I am reading which help to advance the mission of the foundation. I invite you to share with me what you are reading as well. I am currently reading King. A Life by Jonathan Eig, a fascinating biography of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. This book is a full detail of Dr King’s life and shows him to be a complex man with many strengths and weaknesses. Although the book is lengthy, it reads like a novel and paints a full picture of the civil rights leader.
I look forward to working with you all so that we can meet the civil legal needs of the community.