Former MBA president nominated to take helm of ABA in 2005

Issue March 2004

Michael S. Greco
Michael S. Greco
Former MBA President Michael S. Greco has been nominated to become president-elect of the 400,000-member American Bar Association.

The ABA House of Delegates will vote on the nomination in August, at the Annual Meeting in Atlanta. Greco will become the 129th ABA president in August 2005, at the close of the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago, where he grew up.

Greco, a partner in the Boston office of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, LLP, is a trial lawyer with more than 30 years of litigation experience in business, employment and real estate law. He has also served as mediator and arbitrator in complex business and other disputes on both the state and national levels. He joined Kirkpatrick & Lockhart in 2003, after 30 years as partner with Hill & Barlow of Boston.

A long-time champion of legal needs of children and the poor, and of constitutional rights, Greco served as MBA president from 1985-1986 and has been an active MBA member throughout his years of service to the organization.

"Today, I urge the lawyers of America, and especially our government officials, never to forget that lawyers are the true guardians of the Bill of Rights, and that our democracy depends on both an independent judiciary and an independent legal profession," Greco said as he accepted the nomination on Feb. 9 in San Antonio, Texas, during the ABA's Mid-Year meeting.

"The blood now being shed by young American men and women fighting the war on terrorism can only be justified if it is shed to protect our freedoms, as well as our borders," he said. "To anyone who would seek to diminish the role of lawyers in society, I say this: the greatest democracy the world has ever known flourishes only because of the rule of law. And without lawyers, there would be no rule of law."

Greco has a strong interest in the important balance between effective national security and the preservation of constitutional due process through an independent judiciary and independent legal profession, and will work on those issues during his year as president.

"At a time when the economy is struggling to recover, too many people are unemployed, and threats of terrorism continue to plague our country, legal issues are the forefront of our public debate," said Greco. "I look forward to addressing those legal issues that define us as a nation. While we must put every effort into ensuring that our national security is strong and effective, we must also ensure that our constitutional rights are protected and that the soul of this nation remains unchanged."

When Greco is elected president-elect, he will become the fourth ABA president to hail from Massachusetts. Yet, he will be the first former MBA President to serve as ABA President.

Moorfield Storey served as ABA president from1895-96 and then later as MBA president from 1913-14. Other ABA presidents hailing from the commonwealth include Robert W. Meserve, who served as ABA president from 1972-73, and John J. Curtin Jr., whose term as ABA president lasted from 1990-91.

MBA President Richard C. Van Nostrand called Greco an excellent role model for all those who aspire to be leaders of the legal profession.

"He exemplifies so many of the things that we should all be as lawyers: dedicated, intelligent, compassionate, honest and sincere," Van Nostrand said. "His attainment of this position is a testament to who he is and the hard work that he has put in over many, many years. With all due respect to Leo Durocher, Mike is also living proof that nice guys do not have to finish last.

"The elevation to the ABA presidency of now the third Massachusetts lawyer in the last half-century speaks volumes about the leadership role that our bar plays on the national stage. As a successor to Mike as president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, I am delighted for him and truly honored to walk in his footsteps."

In his acceptance remarks to the ABA House of Delegates, Greco also said that he will call upon the ABA, and all ABA members throughout the country, "to lead a renaissance of idealism" in the legal profession - "a reaffirmation by and for all lawyers of the core values and ethical principles that have guided our profession from the beginning of this nation."

The purpose of such a needed renaissance, said Greco, is "to remind all lawyers of their early calling to idealism and desire for public service that led them to become lawyers, and to help make available ways and means by which lawyers can engage in public service; -- to educate the American people about the lawyer's role in our society as problem solver and protector of the rights that we hold so dear; -- and to reaffirm for everyone in America and throughout the world the greatness of our legal system and the critical importance of protecting it, especially now, and improving it."

Greco has long been active in working to ensure that the legal profession and federal government meet the legal needs of the underserved in America. As MBA president, Greco and the governor jointly appointed a blue-ribbon Commission on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children, whose report and recommendations led to enactment of new statutes protecting the legal rights of children in the state.

"In this great country, more than 80 percent of the legal needs of the poor go unmet each year," said Greco. "This is simply unacceptable in a democracy. As lawyers, we have an obligation to help meet those needs, to help ensure that adequate federal funding for legal services is made available, and to help ensure that justice is accessible to all -- especially to those who cannot protect themselves without the assistance of a lawyer."

Greco also chaired the first-in-the-nation Massachusetts Legal Needs for the Poor Assessment and Plan for Action, and co-founded Bar Leaders for Preservation of Legal Services for the Poor, a national grassroots organization that helped preserve the Legal Services Corporation in the 1980s. By appointment of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Greco also chaired the court's committee on Massachusetts lawyers' obligations to provide pro bono legal services.

Within the ABA, Greco has served in the House of Delegates since 1985 and as state delegate from Massachusetts since 1993. He has chaired a number of the Association's most important committees, including the Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary and the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities. After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, Greco was appointed to the ABA Task Force on Terrorism and the Law, which provided analysis of legislation that resulted in the US Patriot Act, and he helped develop ABA policy regarding the use of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists. He also served on the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security.

Greco earned his J.D. from Boston College Law School in 1972, and his B.A. in English from Princeton University in 1965. He and his family have resided in Wellesley for the past 30 years.