PBA’s Longest-serving Executive Director Announces Retirement Plan

HARRISBURG (May 13, 2022) – Barry M. Simpson, the longest-serving executive director of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, has announced his plans to retire by mid-May 2023.

“It’s been my immense privilege to support so many of the best and brightest lawyers in Pennsylvania for many years,” said Simpson. “By this time next year, I will have served in the executive director’s role for 25 years. It’s been a tremendously rewarding career, but the time has arrived to pass the baton.”
Simpson announced his retirement plans in Hershey to hundreds of lawyers attending the May 13 House of Delegates Meeting, which was part of the 2022 PBA Annual Meeting. 

Simpson said he contemplated an earlier retirement but was encouraged by PBA leaders several years ago to see the association through the process of folding PBI (Pennsylvania Bar Institute), which had been a separate nonprofit, into the PBA as its education department. He then felt obligations to remain in place to see the association through the early challenges of the pandemic.

“Like the other previous presidents who have served with Barry, I have very much valued Barry’s insights and his steady guidance during the pandemic, while also directing the day-to-day operations and an excellent staff of association professionals,” said 2021-22 President Kathleen D. Wilkinson. “I’m grateful that Barry remained in place during my year as president, that we were able to accomplish so much, hold so many in-person events, and I certainly wish him the very best as he begins to plan for his well-deserved retirement.” 

Jay N. Silberblatt, who became 2022-23 PBA president at the conclusion of the May 13 PBA House of Delegates meeting, said he has formed an Executive Search and Transition Committee to lead an intensive search for Simpson’s successor.

“We anticipate a months-long search to identify and hire a professional possessing the multiple skills needed to continue pushing our association into the future as the voice for Pennsylvania lawyers,” Silberblatt said. “We have a big challenge ahead of us.”

During his tenure, Simpson has instituted a variety of programs and services to benefit lawyers and local bar associations and their staffs. Simpson led the creation of the association’s first free online legal research program for its members. He assisted in negotiating legal malpractice insurance plans for the benefit of PBA members. He spearheaded the PBA’s social media efforts.

Simpson has promoted diversity in the legal profession and throughout the organized bar community. He supported the hiring of the PBA’s first diversity officer and supported the efforts of the PBA Diversity Task Force and Diversity Team, as well as the PBA Women in the Profession, LGBTQ+ Rights, Minority Bar and Civil and Equal Rights committees. 

Simpson urged the creation of a task force that greatly expanded the number of appointed members on the PBA Nominating Committee, which is responsible for selecting members for future positions in PBA leadership.

The PBA Federal Practice Committee, now one of the largest and most active of the association’s committees, was formed with Simpson’s guidance at the request of two PBA members with extensive federal practices.
Simpson created the statewide series of annual Presidents’ Dinners to bring together the PBA leadership with the presidents and leaders of local bar associations to build the professional relationships between the state and local bars. He also supported the creation of a special program for local bar executives at the PBA Midyear Meeting, and he has continued to encourage funding and staffing for the Conference of County Bar Leaders and the PBA’s County Bar Services Department. 

In addition to his PBA responsibilities, Simpson is the current chair of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Board. IOLTA is a not-for-profit organization funding civil legal services to the state’s poor and disadvantaged. He was also a past member of the Supreme Court Attorneys’ Fund for Client Security and served one year as its treasurer.

Simpson is an ardent supporter of the Penn State Alumni Association. He served two years as the association’s 2010 and 2011 president. 

Simpson is an active member of the Pennsylvania Association of Bar Executives, and he has served on working committees of the National Association of Bar Executives. His membership in the PBA began in 1973 and he served in the PBA House of Delegates from 1996 to 1999.

Among his honors, Simpson received the Allegheny County Bar Association’s 2018 Amram Award, which is given to those who personify professional excellence and who have demonstrated substantial commitment to the ideals of the Allegheny County Bar Association, as well as the betterment of the legal community. In 2015, he received the Conference of County Bar Leaders’ Arthur J. Birdsall Award, which recognizes a 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. 

Prior to leading the PBA staff, Simpson was a partner in the Pittsburgh law firm of Ecker, Rome, Simpson and DeAngelis PC, where he joined in overseeing the daily business operations of the firm and the legal and administrative staffs. 

While in Allegheny County, he was a member of the PBA House of Delegates and served as a delegate to the American Bar Association, He served as president of the 1998 Allegheny County Bar Association and is a member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County, the Pennsylvania Association for Justice and American Trial Lawyers associations

Simpson received his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and his Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing Management from The Pennsylvania State University. 

Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access of legal services; and serve the lawyer members of the state's largest organized bar association.