SIDEBAR Spring 2017 - 13



Wit and Wisdom of the Bench at the Bar
By Kristen Gibbons Feden, Esq., Philip D. Press, Esq., and Hooma Shah, Esq.


hat do you get when
you fill Montgomery
County's exquisite Bar
building with United States District
Court Judge Mark A. Kearney,
seven esteemed members of the
Montgomery County Bench, and
nine members of the Montgomery
County Bar Association's Leadership
Academy? You get an evening full
of Wit and Wisdom of the Bench at
the Bar. Like the 1882 novel Wit
and Wisdom of the Bench and Bar,
written by the Honorable Frederick
Charles Moncreiff, the evening of February 17, 2017 was filled with
insightful yet humorous anecdotes, valuable lessons and advice on
Leadership in the Legal Profession. As a result, Leadership Academy
participants received both a phenomenal mentoring experience and
the opportunity to connect directly with respected members of the
Bar and Bench.
The night began with a "Leadership and Skills Development"
workshop led by the dynamic and sagacious Hon. Mark A. Kearney.
"When forging on your path towards leadership," Judge Kearney
instructed, "abandon the idea of climbing the ladder." Instead,
he emphasized the importance of "building your foundation" by
indiscriminately creating, building, and maintaining each and
every relationship you form. While networking and building
connections can be undoubtedly challenging, Judge Kearney, the
first Montgomery County lawyer to be directly appointed to serve
as a United States District Court Judge, explained that the key to
attaining true leadership begins "when you leave your comfort zone."
The MBA Leadership Academy participants, led by the vivacious
Nancy Walsh, listened attentively as Judge Kearney stressed when
leaving your comfort zone to form these relationships, be sure to
remain unique and credible, and to exercise thoughtful judgment.
Doing this, he noted, is the best way to strengthen your connections
and build genuine relationships that can ultimately grow into
valuable opportunities, opportunities similar to the one that resulted
in his appointment to the Federal Bench.
Judge Kearney's wise words were echoed by the Judges who later
joined the conversation. In an excellent panel discussion moderated
by Hon. Carolyn T. Carluccio, Chair of the Leadership Academy,
President Judge Thomas M. Del Ricci, as well as Hon. Todd
Eisenberg, Hon. Joseph P. Walsh, Hon. Gail A. Weilheimer, Hon.
Steven C. Tolliver, Sr. and Hon. Risa Vetri Ferman described their

fascinating personal journeys to the bench. Each Judge dispensed
valuable advice from a unique perspective. After sharing their
personal insights and philosophies regarding leadership, the Judicial
Panel took questions from Leadership Academy members and other
Bar leaders, including Greg Gifford, Colin O'Boyle and Patrick
Kurtas. Montgomery County Common Pleas Judges Hon. Garrett
D. Page, Hon. Cheryl L. Austin and Hon. Kelly C. Wall as well
as Montgomery Bar Association President Eric B. Smith and Past
Presidents Cheryl L. Young and Bruce Pancio also participated. The
rich discussion ended with Leadership Academy Fellows getting the
opportunity to connect informally with esteemed members of the
Bench and Bar over refreshments. The event's guests graciously made
themselves available to answer questions and contributed additional
nuggets of wisdom, thereby putting into practice the lessons of the
evening and showing their ongoing commitment to mentoring a
new class of future Bar leaders.
Signs that the Leadership Academy program, now in its third
year, is flourishing were evident throughout the evening. Nearly
one-third of the entire Bench participated in this year's Leadership
and Skills Development Seminar and these distinguished judges
freely offered amusing yet instructive words of wisdom to the MBA
Leadership Academy participants.
As the Judicial Panel discussion drew to a close, Judge Weilheimer
offered a well-placed observation to challenge the current Leadership
Academy class. A hallmark of leadership, Judge Weilheimer said,
is the ability to pursue opportunities for personal growth and
professional development while simultaneously creating similar
possibilities for others to fulfill their potential as well. Thanks to the
initiative of our MBA staff and the wisdom and dedication of our
local Bench, this year's Leadership Academy class will soon grow in
service to our community.

SPRING 2017 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SIDEBAR Spring 2017

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