Michael S. Greco

Michael S. Greco

Michael Spencer Greco (b. November 22, 1942, Rende, Italy) is a former President of the American Bar Association (2006–2007).[1] He is currently a partner in the Boston office of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP, and a former partner at the now-defunct Hill and Barlow.[2]


ABA Presidency

As President of the American Bar Association, Michael S. Greco traveled on more than 300 of his 365 days in office to every part of the United States, including forty-five states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, and to approximately thirty nations, delivered more than 275 speeches, testified before Congressional committees and met with hundreds of government leaders abroad and in the US, lawyers and judges, bar associations and civic groups, and thousands of persons throughout the world.

The over-arching theme of President Greco's term of office was renaissance – a rebirth and reaffirmation of the legal profession's core values and America 's constitutional principles. His priorities as President included protecting the rights and freedoms of American citizens, safeguarding the independence of the judiciary and other institutions of America 's democracy, addressing the legal needs of lower-income citizens, advancement of women, people of color and persons with disabilities in the legal profession, and improvements to the Association and the legal profession.[3] During his term of office he created two ABA Commissions, five ABA Task Forces, and several Special Committees to implement his presidential initiatives and address issues of concern to the public and the legal profession.

President Greco's ABA Commission on a Renaissance of Idealism in the Legal Profession, co-chaired by US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Theodore C. Sorensen, helped re-invigorate lawyers' historical commitment to providing pro bono legal services to those in need and volunteering public service in communities throughout America.[4] Through the Commission's substantial efforts and, with the collaboration of state and other bar associations across America, a renaissance of idealism in the legal profession took hold.

His ABA Commission on Civic Education and the Separation of Powers , co-chaired by US Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former US Senator Bill Bradley, addressed the troubling but reliably documented fact that approximately half of Americans do not know the basics about their constitutional democracy due to lack of adequate civics education and therefore are not knowledgeable enough to protect vigorously the institutions of their democracy, particularly an independent judiciary. The Commission continued its efforts during the 2006-07 Association year, with the enthusiastic leadership and participation of Justice O'Connor and Senator Bradley and their Commission colleagues, to effect change in civics education policy in the fifty states.

In concert with the important civics education efforts of the ABA Commission on Civic Education and the Separation of Powers, he selected as the theme of Law Day 2006 “Liberty under Law – Separate Branches, Balanced Powers ,” and appointed as Chair of Law Day Peter J. Kalis, Chairman and Managing Partner of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham [now K&L Gates]. Law Day, a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law and the freedoms it ensures to all in America, was established by President Eisenhower in 1958 at the suggestion of then ABA President Charles S. Rhyne. Under Mr. Kalis' leadership, hundreds of Law Day programs for young and adult Americans were conducted in communities and schools across the country to underscore the importance of the separation of powers in our democratic government and to remind all that democracy will not long survive without a knowledgeable public that zealously protects it.

He appointed the ABA Task Force on Access to Civil Justice, chaired by Maine Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Howard Dana, Jr., to consider providing desperately needed legal services to millions of poor Americans, 70-80% of whose legal needs annually go unmet, through creation and recognition of a civil right to counsel – or “Civil Gideon” -- paid by the state, in certain serious legal problems that threaten one's basic human needs, including family, shelter, and health. Such a right currently exists in numerous civilized nations and has existed in the US for indigents facing criminal charges since the 1963 US Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright.

At the August 2006 Annual Meeting in Honolulu the ABA 's 550-member House of Delegates adopted new policies implementing all the recommendations of the Renaissance and Civic Education Commissions and the Task Force on Access to Civil Justice. In an historic vote for the Association, legal profession and society, the House voted unanimously to support creation of a defined civil right to counsel for America 's poor.

He also appointed the ABA Task Force on Hurricane Katrina as that hurricane was still raging in order that the legal profession could provide free legal services to victims of Katrina and other hurricanes that devastated the Gulf States in the fall of 2005. The Task Force coordinated an unprecedented effort by thousands of America 's lawyers to provide desperately needed free legal services to tens of thousands of hurricane victims.

The ABA Task Force on the Attorney-Client Privilege, appointed originally in 2004 and that he reappointed with an expanded membership continued to lead the Association's efforts vigorously to oppose the US Department of Justice's assault on American citizens' attorney-client privilege and to protect the bedrock right of Americans to representation by counsel, without federal government interference or coercion, as guaranteed by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the US Constitution. At the August 2006 Hawaii Annual Meeting the ABA House of Delegates adopted new strong policies protecting the privilege and work product doctrine and opposing the Justice Department's efforts to erode them.

During his presidency, Greco also appointed two bi-partisan, blue-ribbon task forces – the ABA Task Force on Domestic Surveillance in the Fight against Terrorism, and the ABA Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine – both made up of distinguished constitutional scholars and former government leaders and judges, to protect Americans' constitutional rights, the doctrines of separation of powers and checks and balances, and America's democratic form of government.

The Task Force on Domestic Surveillance considered the US government's program of spying on American citizens and issued a unanimous report and unanimous recommendations urging the President to respect the roles of Congress and the Judiciary, and to comply with the Constitution and existing federal laws, and urged immediate corrective action by Congress and the Courts. The ABA House of Delegates at its February 2006 Midyear Meeting in Chicago adopted the bi-partisan Task Force's recommendations by a near-unanimous vote.

In response to the controversial allegations that President George W. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on residents within the United States via telephone without court approval, Greco formed the American Bar Association Task Force on Domestic Surveillance in the Fight Against Terrorism. This task force was appointed to examine the constitutional and legal issues of the federal government's electronic surveillance, and to report its recommendations to the American Bar Association House of Delegates.[5] In the end, the task force "urged the president to comply with existing federal laws and called for immediate action by Congress and the courts". In total, Greco created two commissions, five task forces, and several other special committees.[3] The Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements thoroughly considered the use, and misuse, by a President of “signing statements” that indicate a President’s intention, despite signing them, not to enforce new laws enacted by Congress. The bi-partisan Task Force issued a unanimous report with unanimous recommendations concluding that such misuse by a President of signing statements violates the Constitution, encroaches unlawfully on the powers of Congress, and poses a direct and grave threat to the separation of powers doctrine and the system of checks and balances that have sustained our democracy for more than two centuries. The Task Force urged immediate legislative action by Congress and judicial review by the Supreme Court of the United States to resolve the serious constitutional issues presented. At the August 2006 Annual Meeting in Honolulu the ABA House of Delegates adopted the Task Force's recommendations by a large majority vote.

During his presidency, Greco also encouraged and supported two unprecedented and major diversity conferences, one sponsored by the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity and other partners that addressed the imperative of ensuring the flow of young people of color in the pipeline to the legal profession, and the other sponsored by the ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law and other partners that addressed the employment needs of lawyers with physical and mental disabilities.

He also supported efforts of the Commission on Women in the Profession to ensure the continued advancement of women in the legal profession, particularly women of color whose discrimination and professional plight was documented in a several years-long unprecedented survey and final report released at the Association's August Annual Meeting in Honolulu.

He also encouraged and directed the ABA Commission on Immigration Law to develop new Association policies to help address the situation of America 's twelve million undocumented immigrants. As stated by Congressional leaders, the Commission's report and recommendations, which were overwhelmingly approved by the House of Delegates at the February Midyear Meeting, helped members of Congress craft appropriate legislation.

He also created, and appointed the boards of directors of, three new ABA legal centers. The ABA Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity was created to consolidate and coordinate the Association's many diversity programs. The ABA Center for Rule of Law Initiatives was created to consolidate and enhance the Association's growing and increasingly important international rule of law programs in Africa, Asia, Central Europe/Eurasia, and Latin America, which provide legal technical assistance and training to emerging democracies in more than forty countries on five continents, including former republics of the Soviet Union. The ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives was created to assist efforts throughout the United States to improve ways by which legal services are delivered to our nation's poor, and to help implement a defined civil right to counsel, or “Civil Gideon.”

He encouraged, supported and helped implement an historic conference that the ABA in partnership with other organizations held in Washington, DC in November 2005 that had been planned for two years – the first ever and highly successful ABA International Rule of Law Symposium. It was attended by more than 400 lawyers, judges, academicians and world leaders from more than 40 nations on five continents to develop strategies for advancing the rule of law and justice throughout the world.

In his effort to unify the legal profession throughout the world to advance and protect the rule of the law in all nations, at a Paris conference of world bar leaders in November 2005 he authored and thereafter advocated the adoption and ratification of a Statement of Core Principles of the legal profession. The Statement was adopted unanimously by the one hundred world bar leaders in Paris, at his request by the American Bar Association House of Delegates at its Midyear Meeting in February 2006, and since then by dozens of bar groups throughout the world.

During his term as ABA president he negotiated on behalf of the Association “collaboration” agreements between the ABA and the national bars of China, Russia and Japan, in order to provide for mutually beneficial exchanges of lawyers, legal knowledge and expertise, to conduct joint legal education programs, and to advance justice and the rule of law in our respective nations.

As a result of the year-long efforts and final report and recommendations of the special ABA Long Range Planning Committee that he appointed, the ABA Board of Governors in June 2006 unanimously adopted the first Strategic Plan in the Association's history and approved creation of the Association's first permanent Long Range Planning Committee.

He appointed the ABA Executive Director Search Committee which conducted a year-long national search for the Association's new Executive Director, Henry F. White, Jr., who took office on September 1, 2006.

As ABA President he traveled on more than 300 of his 365 days in office to every part of the United States, including forty-five states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, and to approximately thirty nations, delivered more than 275 speeches, testified before Congressional committees and met with hundreds of government leaders abroad and in the US, lawyers and judges, bar associations and civic groups, and thousands of persons throughout the world.

In addition to serving as its President, Mr. Greco has long been active in the American Bar Association, including serving on the Board of Governors, in the House of Delegates for more than twenty years, and as the elected ABA State Delegate from Massachusetts during 1993-2004. He chaired the Association's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, the Section of Individual Rights & Responsibilities, the Executive Committee of the Conference of State Delegates, the Steering Committee of the Nominating Committee, the ABA Day in Washington Planning Committee, and other committees. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, he served on the ABA Task Force on Terrorism and the Law, and helped develop policies relating to the imperative of balancing national security and constitutional freedoms so that both are protected.

Mr. Greco is a member of the American Law Institute.

Massachusetts/New England professional activities

Mr. Greco served as president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the New England Bar Association, the New England Bar Foundation and the Board of Trustees of Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education.

As MBA president, among other initiatives, he and Governor Michael S. Dukakis appointed a blue-ribbon Commission on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children, whose report and recommendations led to enactment of new statutes protecting the legal rights of children.

He chaired the first-in-the-nation Massachusetts Legal Needs for the Poor Assessment and Plan for Action, and was co-founder and for seven years co-chair of Bar Leaders for the Preservation of Legal Services for the Poor, a national grassroots organization that helped preserve the Legal Services Corporation in the 1980s and early 1990s.

By appointment of the Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court he chaired the Court's Special Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services in the late 1990s.

He served for eight years on Gov. William Weld's Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Council, and in 1993-94 served on Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Senator John F. Kerry's Special Commission on Federal Judicial Appointments that recommended candidates for vacancies on the federal bench, US Attorney and US Marshal.

He also served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Bar Overseers of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and on the Board of Overseers of Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

He served as Special Counsel by appointment of, and to, the Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Board of Bar Overseers in United States v. Klubock, and as Special Assistant Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the Dorchester Court case.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the New England (Business) Council, and during 1998-2004 served as Chair of the ground breaking Creative Economy Initiative, a regional economic/cultural development effort designed to attract investment in New England’s Creative Economy.

Criticism of President George W. Bush for signing statements

In the spring of 2006, President Greco created a blue ribbon task force in order to address the issue that President Bush, instead of vetoing bills passed by Congress that he finds objectionable, signs the bill, but attaches statements that indicates intentions not to follow certain provisions. Greco and the ABA responded to this by saying that the president's signing statements revokes Congress of its constitutional authority to check and balance the executive power.[6] This is highly significant because all American presidents in office before President Bush have issued a combined total of 600 signing statements. Bush, however, has issued 800 signing statements over a 5½ period during his term.[7] Previous presidents, such as George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have issued signing statements as well; however, these presidents only expressed disapproval of certain provisions in a bill, but did not assert the right to ignore them.[8] The report released by the task force declared, "The Constitution is not what the President says it is."

The task force that Greco created was bipartisan. The participants included William Sessions, Mickey Edwards, and Bruce Fein.[9]

Personal life and education

Michael Greco spent his youth in Hinsdale, Illinois, and has resided in Wellesley, Massachusetts, for the past thirty-five years.

He obtained his Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 1972. Here he served as editor in chief of the Boston College Law Review and as class president. He also clerked for Judge Leonard P. Moore on the United States court of appeals for the Second Circuit. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in English at Princeton University in 1965. Before he went to law school, he taught English at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Michael S. Greco, Immediate Past President, American Bar Association, 2006-2007". American Bar Association. 2007. http://www.abanet.org/media/grecobio.html. Retrieved 2007-03-29. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Greco Takes Over As ABA President". Equal Justice Magazine 4 (2). 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. http://web.archive.org/web/20070813072740/http://ejm.lsc.gov/EJMIssue10/brief_T38_R0.php. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  3. ^ a b "Office of the President, Immediate Past President Michael S. Greco". American Bar Association. 2007. http://www.abanet.org/op/greco/bio.html. Retrieved 2007-03-29. 
  4. ^ LaCrosse, Nikki (2007). "Michael Greco, President, American Bar Association". LawCrossing. http://www.lawcrossing.com/article/index.php?id=1328. Retrieved 2007-03-29. 
  5. ^ Greco, Michael (2006-06-19) (PDF). Statement of Michael S. Greco, President, on behalf of the American Bar Association before the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, United States House of Representatives, on the subject of Modernization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Speech). Washington, D.C.. http://intelligence.house.gov/Media/PDFS/Greco071906.pdf. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  6. ^ Beaumont, Kathryn (2006-11-22). "Profile, Michael Greco '65, Defending the Constitution". PAW:Alumni Spotlight. Princeton Alumni Weekly. http://www.princeton.edu/~paw/web_exclusives/alumni_spotlight/as_112206greco.html. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  7. ^ Greco, Michael (2006-07-26). American Bar Association: President Bush is "Undermining Rule of Law" By Ignoring Laws Passed by Congress. Interview with Amy Goodman. Democracy Now!. Pacifica Radio. New York City, New York. http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/26/147209. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  8. ^ Hobbs, Meredith (2006-07-23). "ABA Chief: President's Use of Caveats Sidesteps the Law". Law.com (ALM Properties). http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1150967122583. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  9. ^ "Investigating Reports, President Bush is "Undermining Rule of Law" By Ignoring Laws Passed by Congress". MWC News - A Site Without Borders. 2006-07-26. http://mwcnews.net/content/view/8300/254/. Retrieved 2007-03-30. [dead link]

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