HARRISBURG (March 18, 2014) - The Conference of County Bar Leaders (CCBL) of the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) recently honored Donald F. Smith Jr. of Reading, executive director of the Berks County Bar Association (BCBA), with its 17th annual Arthur J. Birdsall Award. PBA Zone Two Governor and Past BCBA President Terry D. Weiler presented the award to Smith during the 48th Annual Seminar of the Conference of County Bar Leaders in State College.
The award is presented to a county bar executive who demonstrates professional excellence, who is committed to the success of his or her bar association and who significantly enhances the stature of his or her bar association. The award is named in honor of Arthur J. Birdsall, the PBA's county bar services director who retired after nearly 40 years of support to local bar associations.
Smith has served as the BCBA's executive director since 2009. Formerly in private law practice for more than 30 years, Smith was the BCBA president in 2000 and president of the Berks County Bar Foundation from 2001 until 2003.
"Don brings his rich background of 30 successful years as a trial lawyer to his job as BCBA executive director," said Weiler. "He is encouraging to our younger members and has created programs to help them build practices and bridge the gap between the younger and older generations." According to Weiler, the BCBA's "Safe Ask" program, developed by Smith, provides newer members a vehicle through which to ask more experienced members questions about law firm management, technology, procedure and substantive law.
Smith also rejuvenated the BCBA's pro bono programs by expanding them to cover bankruptcy, immigration assistance, legal services at a local women's shelter and foreclosure conciliation. He developed a "Modest Means" program to help individuals who do not qualify financially for pro-bono assistance. He also developed a lecture series on legal topics for the public in conjunction with Alvernia University in Reading.
Smith served in the PBA House of Delegates and as chair of the executive council of the PBA Workers' Compensation Law Section. He is a frequent presenter at the annual seminar of the CCBL.
The CCBL, whose membership includes leaders from county bar associations throughout the state and from the PBA, organizes a yearly educational conference focusing on the exchange of innovative bar association projects and ideas and on the development of mutually beneficial relationships among bar leaders that improve the legal profession.
Founded in 1895, the PBA strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 27,000 lawyers who are members of the association.