- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 10, 2005

The new president of the Maryland State Bar Association plans to improve the state’s legal system — one committee at a time.

J. Michael Conroy Jr., a partner in Montgomery County law firm Pasternak & Fidis PC, will lead the association of 21,000 lawyers, comprising 31 committees, for the next 12 months.

“We’re not going to take a back seat to anybody, and we’re going to continue to do our good works and continue to improve the legal system for our members and for the public,” said Mr. Conroy, who was installed last month as president at the association’s annual meeting in Ocean City.

He said his first order of business will be to create a statewide media committee to respond to attacks on the legal profession.

“We’re going to respond to those attacks and point out incorrect facts and highlight the accurate facts so that issues can be fairly framed for the public and for legitimate debate,” Mr. Conroy said.

The bar is concerned about attacks on judges and lawyers that contain material misstatements, he said, not about normal opinions that everybody is entitled to have.

The statewide committee would be similar to a media team he helped set up to respond to “unfair” criticism of lawyers and judges in Montgomery County, said his former colleague, Thomas D. Murphy, a lawyer with Murphy & Mood PC and former president of the Montgomery County Bar Association.

“The essence of this is that the legal profession should respond when there is unfair criticism of a judge or lawyer so the public has a balanced response,” Mr. Murphey said.

Mr. Conroy said he also plans to create a public protection committee to coordinate investigations of lawyers who try to take advantage of the poor, elderly and disadvantaged.

“There are people out there who come out with new schemes every day to make a quick buck at the expense of the elderly or the poor, and we want to be able to move rapidly and put an end to as many of those schemes as we can,” Mr. Conroy said.

Mr. Conroy worked in the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office before he joined a private practice. He has practiced law in the county for 32 years as a trial lawyer in the construction, banking and real estate brokerage industries. He also has served as an expert witness in real estate matters and as counsel to the Montgomery County Board of Realtors.

Mr. Conroy helped secure equal treatment for women and minorities in both the Montgomery and Maryland bars, said Jack Quinn, a colleague and partner for Ethridge, Quinn, McAuliffe, Rowan & Hartinger in Rockville.

“He’s accomplished a great deal. I suspect he’ll have a very successful administration,” Mr. Quinn said.

Mr. Conroy graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1967 and served in the U.S. Army and the Army Reserve from 1968 to 1974. He earned his law degree from Georgetown University in 1972.

He lives in Bethesda with his wife, Claudia, and two children, Jon and Aindrea.

Kate Finneren

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