James P. Nolan to Head National Conference of Bar Presidents

January 2009

Article by Danny Jacobs, Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer

Profiles in Leadership: Former MSBA president to head national group

James P. Nolan went national so he can once again go local.

Nolan is currently president-elect of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, an organization that provides educational programming for bar leaders at state and local levels across the country. He assumes the presidency next year and plans to continue that organization's goal of helping bar leaders enhance their associations, both in the number of members and in the services offered.

Nolan is most looking forward to meeting the leaders themselves.

"My personal feeling is, that's where it starts," he said. "On the streets with local lawyers and judges — that's the bedrock."

The national bar organization is for Nolan a natural continuation of the bar work he does in Maryland. Nolan, managing director of Council. Baradel, Kosmerl & Nolan P.A. in Annapolis, began his involvement with the Young Lawyers' section of the Anne Arundel County Bar Association, eventually rising to county bar president. He then moved onto the Maryland State Bar Association's Board of Governors, culminating in 2002 when he became MSBA president. He was honored by The Daily Record with a Leadership in Law award that same year.

Nolan spent his term as MSBA president traveling around the state, visiting local bar associations and encouraging large firms to stay active in the state group.

"We thought it was very important to communicate with all of our constituents." he said. "I really enjoyed working with local attorneys and giving back to the law community."

One of his main focuses as president was lessening lawyers' emphasis on billable hours. "We as practitioners have become a slave to it, and I don't know if our clients like it," he said.

Nolan continues to encourage firms to find other, fair ways to bill clients, including charging for specific tasks and "value billing." where both sides agree on a reasonable fee for a particular set of services. Council Baradel is moving toward these options and away from billable hours, he said, adding other firms are following suit.

Nolan joined the Maryland Bar Foundation's Board of Directors following his time as MSBA president. The new position has allowed him to support funding for groups such as the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland and the Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers, both of which he formerly served in leadership capacities.

"Once you're president of the MSBA, it's the gift that keeps on giving," Nolan said with a laugh. "You're always involved and always cheerleading."

Nolan remains active in the community at large, too. He is chairman of the board of the Historic Annapolis Foundation and on the board of the Annapolis Community Foundation. He plans to accept an invitation to join the advisory board for the Downtown Annapolis Partnership, a recently formed economic study group.

Nolan might seem overextended, but his activities are all labors of love.

"The things I get involved in, I'm interested in," he said.