To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
I am honored, privileged and humbled to serve as the 115th President of the New Jersey State Bar Association.
Instead of talking about my achievements and the path that led me here, I want to tell a story.
It’s a story about us, and who we are – for we are New Jersey lawyers. We are sworn officers of the court, and that means we have a moral imperative to improve the system each day. But, as New Jersey lawyers, we do that and so much more. I have never encountered a group of people, indeed an entire profession, who contribute so much and who dedicate themselves, not just to improving the system of justice and practice of law, but also to improving their communities and the lives of those around them. Many people talk the talk, but no one walks the walk like a New Jersey lawyer. It is New Jersey lawyers who I want to celebrate in the year ahead.
There is hardly a lawyer in this state who doesn’t have a powerful and inspiring story about the path he or she traveled to the law. So many of us are the children of immigrants, and a great many of us are just one or two generations from another land. We worked night jobs, perhaps or two or three, to get through school. We come from every walk of life, every socio-economic stratum, every background, and every faith. New Jersey is the most diverse state in the United States, and New Jersey lawyers reflect the beauty of that diversity.
I am talking about lawyers who worked pro bono and spent their own money to vindicate and ultimately free a man wrongly convicted and imprisoned for murder, and lawyers who worked to improve the lives of impoverished children in Honduras. Lawyers who helped Haitian women and girls who were raped following the devastating earthquake come to the United States to receive assistance. Lawyers who have created free athletic programs for special needs kids. And lawyers who volunteer their time to help the New Jersey service people who have fought for our freedoms in Iraq and Afghanistan or who have worked to aid those who lost everything in super storm Sandy – they are New Jersey lawyers.
My message is that when people are in distress, they can count on New Jersey lawyers. It’s when people need help that they can count on a New Jersey lawyer, and when people are down, they can count on a New Jersey lawyer to help pick them up.
As lawyers, it is imperative to remember one thing: feel good about who you are – a New Jersey lawyer. Go back to your communities, walk a little taller, hold your heads a little higher and make that smile on your face a little wider knowing all the time that you are – a New Jersey lawyer.
I’m a New Jersey lawyer and I’m damn proud of it.
Ralph J. Lamparello