Michael Greco, President, American Bar Association

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                           Michael Greco, President, American Bar
                           Association
                           [by Nikki LaCrosse]
                           As the current president of the American Bar Association (ABA), Michael Greco has set an ambitious and
                           far-reaching agenda for himself and the Association. A longtime advocate for pro bono work, Greco’s first
                           task as ABA president was to appoint a commission called the Renaissance of Idealism, which focuses on
                           finding ways for more attorneys to be able to perform pro bono work. It’s a project that he is passionate
                           about.

“I’ve learned from my travels in the last            work that lawyers do and the funding from the         seven years of his life in war-ravaged Europe.
couple of years that the one lament that             government.” He goes on to add, “The state            After his family moved to the U.S., it became
lawyers younger and older have is that               of affairs is that we are not doing right by          clear to Greco that lawyers held an important
it is becoming harder—there are more                 the poor of our country. We even have above           place in molding society and providing stability
obstacles—to their doing the public service          the Supreme Court entrance in Washington,             to governments and countries.
and pro bono work that they expected to do           ‘Equal Justice for All.’ That’s what we stand
when they became lawyers,” Greco says. “So           for. But when you look at the reality of it…the       In private practice, Greco has been a
the Renaissance initiative is addressing that        needs of the poor aren’t being met.”                  successful trial lawyer for more than 30
lament; and more than that, we are finding                                                                 years, specializing in the areas of business,
ways to persuade the decision makers in law          Despite the issues he sees in the current             employment, and real estate law. He has been
offices across the country about the need to         U.S. legal system, Greco indicates that it is         a partner in the Boston firm of Kirkpatrick &
free up more time so lawyers can develop             applauded overseas. “I’ve been doing a lot of         Lockhart Nicholson Graham, LLP, since 2003
more public service and pro bono work.”              traveling as president of the ABA. In country         and was a partner at Hill & Barlow, where he
                                                     after country where I go, the respect for             practiced for 30 years before the firm closed
The commission is chaired by Washington,             what the American lawyers and judges do is            in 2002.
DC, attorney Mark Agrast and has Supreme             immense,” Greco says. “There is a great deal
Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and                of admiration for American lawyers and judges         Another topic that Greco is dedicated to is
former special counsel to President Kennedy,         and our legal system. And the ABA is the voice        the separation of powers in the government.
Theodore Sorenson, as active honorary co-            that speaks to lawyers all over the world.”           An ABA poll and the Terri Schiavo case
chairs. Greco feels that pro bono work offers                                                              in 2005 reaffirmed his decision to form
immense benefits to all the parties involved.        Greco has been active in the ABA for                  the Commission on Civic Education and
“It’s a wonderful development thing for young        most of his legal career. He earned a B.A.            the Separation of Powers. The poll, which
lawyers to represent people in need. They            from Princeton and a J.D. from Boston                 concluded about two weeks after he became
develop their skills, develop a very strong          College. After a federal clerkship in D.C.            president, stunned him when it revealed that
sense of community involvement and helping           and a fellowship in Italy, he returned to             40 percent of people polled did not know
other human beings.” Greco continues,                Massachusetts to begin private practice and           there were three branches of government;
“So, it’s good for the individual lawyer. It’s       joined both the Massachusetts Bar Association         22 percent thought that the three branches
good for the law office to make the morale           (MBA) and the ABA. In 0 years, he was the            were Republican, Democrat, and Independent;
higher. The lawyers in the firm are serving          president of the MBA and began to get very            and 40 percent misunderstood judicial
their community. It’s good for the profession        involved in the ABA. He has been on several           responsibilities, thinking, for example, that
because we all feel better when we know we           important ABA committees, including the               judges can declare war.
are doing things to enhance society’s needs.         ABA Task Force on Terrorism and the Law
Certainly, it’s in the interest of the public that   and the ABA Standing Committee on Law and             “That was after the Terry Schiavo debacle, in
will be receiving that pro bono help.”               National Security, and he even chaired the            which members of Congress were criticizing
                                                     Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary               state court judges and enacting law to take
Greco has also appointed a taskforce called          and the Section of Individual Rights and              the case from the state courts to the federal
Access to Civil Justice. “Seventy to eighty          Responsibilities.                                     courts. And when the federal courts decided
percent of the legal needs of the poor on the                                                              it the same way as the state court, then the
civil side go unaddressed year after year,”          Greco knew early on that he wanted to be a            federal judges were attacked by Congress and
Greco notes. “And that’s after all the pro bono      lawyer. Born in Italy in 950, he spent the first     others across the country.” Greco remembers.


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“And I thought, ‘Holy smokes!’ There is such    collapse if we say, ‘That judge decided that        or resources. It’s irresponsible because it
a lack of knowledge and understanding about     case on that hot-button issue wrongly, so let’s     cuts right to the heart of our government and
how our system of government works that the     get rid of him or her.’ That creates disrespect     our democracy. And I’m hoping that those
ABA has a role here to educate people, and      for the judiciary, creates instability in our       members of the legislature will think twice
that’s the purpose of our commission on Civic   most important branch of government of the          about continuing those efforts and instead
Education and the Separation of Powers.”        three.”                                             look at how judges can be protected to do
                                                                                                    justice and to be fair and impartial and not
How to keep judges and courts safe from         Greco hopes that his Commission’s findings          have to toe any ideological lines that people
attacks by special interest groups or           will sound a note of warning to those               want them to toe.”
individuals is one answer that Greco hopes      who want to influence the courts. “It is
the Commission will come up with. “In a         irresponsible for members of one elected
democracy, we all have the right to speak       branch to attack the judiciary and threaten
out,” Greco says, “But the whole system will    impeachment or the withholding of salaries




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