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Law Day: New BAMSL president calls for more pro bono work.

Byline: Nicholas Phillips

The new president of The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis issued a call for more of the organization's members to take up pro bono cases for Saint Louisans in need of their services.<br />"This organization is a sleeping giant," said John Simon of The Simon Law Firm near the close of BAMSL's annual Law Day luncheon on May 2 at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis hotel in Clayton. He said he wanted more of the group's 5,700 members to volunteer their services so that more needy residents would benefit from their expertise.<br />"The community is way, way underserved," Simon said. Resolving to expand on the efforts of outgoing president Edward L. Dowd Jr., of Dowd Bennett, Simon added: "I'm asking for everyone in here for your time, your talent and your good ideas."<br />Around 250 lawyers, judges and legal professionals gathered for the event, at which they dined on grilled chicken, pureed potatoes and chocolate mousse and listened to several speeches, including the keynote address by Alan J. Simpson, the former U.S. senator from Wyoming.<br />Simpson was introduced by his friend and former colleague in the U.S. Senate, John Danforth, quipping, "Of all the introductions I've ever had, that was the most recent."<br />Simpson, 86, spoke of his own career and his love for the law, peppering his remarks with aphorisms and one-liners such as "I must love the practice [of law], I named my kids 'Will' and 'Sue.'" On a more serious note, Simpson voiced several critiques of the profession, such as a lack of civility, the charging of high fees, and the prevalence of law schools instead of lawyering schools.<br />He sounded a populist note too, urging his colleagues to communicate more effectively with clients who don't understand the complexity of the law.<br />"Maybe we could eliminate pomposity disguised as dignity and deal with people as if they're human equals, even if they appear to be a bit dull or stupid," he said.<br />Simpson urged his colleagues to be open to a diverse range of clients, take risks and run for office to help local governments make more informed decisions.<br />After Simpson's speech, Rodney Sippel, Chief U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri, accepted the association's Distinguished Lawyer Award. In brief remarks, Sippel spoke in defense of an independent judiciary, saying the rule of law is impossible without it. He also noted the presence of U.S. District Judge nominee Stephen R. Clark, who was sitting in the audience near Sippel's colleagues on the federal bench. "They're already over there plotting which cases will land on your docket," Sippel said.<br />Near the close of the event, St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards swore in the new BAMSL board and Young Lawyers Division board.<br />Susan Sagarra, BAMSL assistant executive director of membership and marketing, said fewer people attended Law Day this year than in 2017, when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas gave the keynote speech, but more attended than in other years, when attendance hovered around 200.<br />The event was attended by local dignitaries such as the city's former mayor Francis Slay, city License Collector Mavis Thompson, city Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson, county executive candidate Mark Mantovani, nine federal judges and Missouri Supreme Court Judge Mary R. Russell, among others.

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Publication:Missouri Lawyers Media
Geographic Code:1U4MO
Date:May 3, 2018
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