Share your reflections of 9/11 here.
President's Reception Remarks, Sept. 8, 2011
In three days, we recognize the 10th anniversary
of one of the most horrific days in the history of this
On 9/11, Kirsten Christophe had just returned to her job at AON
from her extended maternity leave. She got to work early, was
located on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center, and sent
e-mail out to her friends about her excitement at getting back to
She was a young lawyer whom I was lucky enough to call a friend
because we worked together in the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice
Section of the American Bar Association. Her dad, Bert Thompson,
has been a 30-year member of the section and brought her along to
meetings from the time she was a little girl.
Kirsten's daughter turned 1-year-old a couple of days after the
terrorist attack. Now 11, she is growing up without ever knowing
On 9/11, I held the position of chair of the ABA Tort Trial and
Insurance Practice Section. My first major meeting as chair was
convened here in Boston in the second week of October 2001.
We spend a fair amount of time eulogizing Kirsten at that
I raise 9/11 with you tonight because I want to bring to your
attendion again the huge role that Massachusetts lawyers played in
the aftermath of that terrible disaster.
The rule of law, like the World Trade Center Towers, was under
Leo Boyle, our past president, was (in my view) singularly
responsible for the creation of the Sept. 11, 2001 Victims
Compensation Fund. He led the Association Trial Lawyers of America,
The Plaintiffs' Personal Injury Bar, in causing the president and
Congress to make funds available to the victims' families without
litigation. Leo Boyle secured the commitment of the nation's trial
lawyers to represent the victims' families without taking any
Some of us served on the ABA Tips Task Force on the Sept. 11
Victims Compensation Fund, proposing and (perhaps) helping develop
(in some small measure) the regulations and protocols that served
as the basis for awards to families.
Ken Feinberg, a lawyer from Brockton, and a neighbor to the Mone
family, served as the special master of the Victims Compensation
Fun. He dedicated his time and energy to listen to 3,000 victims'
families, evaluate their claims and make awards to them. He did so
without taking any compensation.
Mike Greco, our past president, served on the ABA Presidential
Task Force on Terrorism and the Law, led by the renowned Chicago
trial lawyer Bob Clifford. Over several months the task force
hashed out the lines of protection for the county without
destroying the constitutional rights of our citizens. Protecting us
from ourselves became part of the job.
The Massachusetts Bar Association, led by past president Kathy
O'Donnell, worked tirelessly to assure that new federal laws
directed at terrorists did not destroy our citizens' constitutional
Mike Mone Jr., and past president Mike Mone Sr. spent years, and a
personal fortune, in advocating for otherwise unrepresented (and
innocent) individuals trapped for years at Guantanamo prison after
they were captured on war-time battlefields.
And many more Massachusetts lawyers were deeply involved in this
Fast forward to 2011.
Massachusetts lawyers face another important challenge to the rule
It may not be tied as directly to violence and mayhem.
But it is none-the-less under attack.
Courthouses are closing and those that continue to operate have
diminished hours of operation. Court staffs are suffering layoffs,
furloughs and pay freezes. Judges are leaving the bench at alarming
Our way of life depends on the viability of the rule of law. After
we work for two weeks, we expect to be paid by our employers. We
pay our rent, we expect our landlords to provide us with operable
heat and electricity. When we have prescriptions filled at the
pharmacy, we expect the bottles to have pills in them and the pills
actually to be medication. When we pump gasoline into our
automobile fuel tanks, we expect to pay the posted price and
actually to get a gallon of gas -- not seven-tenths of a gallon.
When we are stopped by the police for a traffic violation, we do
not expect to pay a bribe to be released.
Without properly funded and operating courts, the rule of law will
diminish, and with it, so too will the quality of our lives.
This association and its members are committed to doing everything
within their power to protect the courts and the rule of law.
10 years from now, hopefully another MBA president will reflect
back on 2011 and tell the audience at this reception that the
members of the MBA played a pivotal role in keeping our courts open
Thanks again. Let's have a great year together.
Click here to read a Virginia Law
Weekly student perspective on "Remembering 9/11."