Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

Last week we heard some great news about an Arizona lawyer from the national organization Justice at Stake.

Mark Harrison is a member at Osborn Maledon, as well as the board chairman of Justice at Stake. On February at the midyear meeting of the American Bar Association in Dallas, he was given the 2013 Burnham “Hod” Greeley Award.

As a press release indicates, he was honored “for making a significant, positive impact on public understanding of the role of the judiciary in a democratic society.”

Justice at Stake is committed to aiding the judiciary. It “promotes increased public awareness of the need for a fair and impartial judiciary.” As the organization describes itself:

“Justice at Stake is a nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign working to keep America’s courts fair and impartial. Justice at Stake and its 50-plus state and national partners educate the public, and work for reforms to keep politics and special interests out of the courtroom—so judges can protect our Constitution, our rights and the rule of law.”

Gavel Grab adds a mention that Harrison “has worked as president of Justice for All, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving a strong and impartial judiciary in Arizona.”

But … am I missing something? Unmentioned in the accolades is the fact that Mark was once the President of the State Bar of Arizona. Sure, Justice at Stake writes that he “led the local Bar with distinction,” but who the heck is that “local bar,” anyway? It was the SBA.

Maybe the omission signals a reduced “wow” factor associated with being a state bar president. But that would surprise me. I know that folks at Mark Harrison’s level have a drawerful of accolades and high-level experience. But even given that, bar president on the state level usually merits a mention.

And why not mention it? Isn’t the mentioning the only real payoff for the work of leading a bar? Remember, the days of a bar president are littered with meetings regarding section revenues, and lunches with tiny civic organizations, and information-sharing trips to exciting venues like Dallas or Duluth or a legislative grilling chair. After all that work, why not drop the title occasionally?

In any case, congratulations to Mark Harrison. We at the local bar look forward to continuing to collaborate with him on important issues.

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