e-Journal

12-20 and 12-27

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MBA to distribute Lawyers Environmental Pledge and publish Green Guidelines in the new year

In the New Year, the Massachusetts Bar Association will encourage law firms throughout the state to sign the MBA Lawyers Environmental Pledge to use the MBA Green Guidelines in developing environmentally sustainable practices.

 

The MBA’s Energy and Environment Task Force, a group of more than a dozen attorneys, has written the pledge and compiled the guidelines, which focus on eight core areas of sustainability: energy conservation, paper reduction, recycling, greenhouse gas reduction, environmentally conscious purchases, sustainable practices, education and support for environmental conservation.

 

The MBA is partnering with the Conservation Law Foundation, New England’s leading legal advocacy organization working to protect the region’s environment, to offer the MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge.

 

The task force is co-chaired by Nancy B. Reiner, a partner at Brown Rudnick in Boston, and Susan M. Reid, a CLF staff attorney and director of the CLF Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Change Initiative.

 

MBA president David W. White Jr. unveiled the MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge in September, when he took office for the MBA’s 2007-08 association year, and later formed the task force. The initiative urges lawyers to change the way they think and act while conducting business in order to conserve energy and resources.

 

For more information, visit the Eco-Challenge Web site.

 

The pledge and guidelines will be available in early January at www.massbar.org/ecopledge.

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Featured member benefit: Fee Arbitration Board (FAB)

Involved in a fee dispute with your client? Avoid Small Claims Court and arbitrate with the Fee Arbitration Board

The MBA can help. The MBA’s Fee Arbitration Board (FAB) program provides voluntary binding arbitration to resolve fee disputes between attorneys and their clients and between attorneys.

Fee arbitration is an ideal alternative to the Small Claims, District, or Superior Courts. The arbitrators are volunteer attorneys who are members of the MBA or trained arbitration professionals. The agreement to arbitrate addresses only the issue of the fair and reasonable value of the lawyer’s services.

The FAB provides an invaluable resource by answering questions about legal fee disputes, publishing model fee agreements, and promoting healthy communications between attorneys and their clients. Additionally, the FAB published the third edition of Fees & Clients Funds, a great resource for both experienced and newly sworn attorneys.

For more information on this program, visit the MBA Web site or e-mail MBA Senior Programs Manager Marc A. D’Antonio.

Image for Insurance
Photograph by Kelsey Sadoff
Top: MBA Insurance Agency President Terence J. Welsh, CPCU, AIS. Bottom: Robert A. Levitt, CLU, CHFC of MB Insurance LLC.

MBA Insurance Agency workshop outlines Mass. Health Care Reform Law

MBA member benefits include insurance resources

On Dec. 18, the MBA Insurance Agency held a free workshop for MBA members, providing many attorneys with necessary information to make informed decisions about health insurance. With the recent enactment of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law, requiring all uninsured residents of the commonwealth to obtain health insurance, many firms and attorneys are in the process of re-evaluating their insurance options.

MBA Insurance Agency President Terence J. Welsh, CPCU, AIS, and Robert A. Levitt, CLU, CHFC of MB Insurance LLC, provided participating members a brief overview of the mandates outlined by the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law. Tailoring the workshop to the participants, most discussion revolved around the impact of the new law on employers with fewer than 11 full-time equivalent employees. Levitt outlined different small group health insurance plans offered by various Massachusetts carriers, to give members an opportunity to review potential policies.

“The MBA can access all plan designs,” said Levitt. “If you call with a request to find a plan with a $25 co-pay, we can transfer you on the spot to a specialist to get you a package. We will work with you directly to set-up a plan.”

The new legislation has established a Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, to connect individuals and small businesses with affordable insurance through private insurers. This Connector Authority also provides Commonwealth Care, a new health insurance product available to low-wage earners.

As a result of the new Reform Law, there are penalties for individuals who do not have health insurance by Jan.1, 2008. Those individuals will have a $219 bump on their 2007 tax return. If you are a Mass. resident and do not have insurance in 2008, you will be fined 50 percent of the lowest priced plan that Connector Authority provides, based on your age, family and location, with the fine accumulating each month against your tax refund.

“Starting on Jan. 1, 2008, insurance companies will be mailing a 1099HC form to all insurers,” said Levitt. “There will be a new spot on the tax return form for 1099HC, with specific information that needs to be answered. This will be the self-reporting way [to the state] to see if you are covered.”

Many workshop participants voiced concerns about pre-existing conditions and the penalties related to changing from one insurance carrier to another.

“The MBA works with Levitt because companies change their rates all the time,” said Welsh. “Plans keep getting more complicated instead of less complicated. The MBA makes sure members have a resource to learn about insurance and get questions answered.”

Attorney Scott Pitman commended the state for the new health care reform. In the past he has had clients move to this state for its insurance coverage options. Fellow workshop participant Kimberly A. Kramer of Bertuli & McLaughlin, Boston, attended to review options for her firm while they re-evaluate their insurance plans.

For more information about coverage options, visit the MBA Insurance Web site, or call (617) 338-0581 or (413) 788-7878.

 

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MBA, Amnesty International hold forum, vigil to mark Guantanamo anniversary

Jan. 11, 2008, marks a somber anniversary – six years of detainees being taken into custody at Guantanamo Bay. The MBA, in collaboration with Amnesty International USA, will mark this significant date on Wednesday, Jan. 9, with a panel discussion entitled “Guantanamo and the Rule of Law: Six Years Later.”

The program will provide up-to-date information on the status of cases at Guantanamo and feature dedicated attorneys representing detainees, including Ellen Lubell, Esq., of Tennant Lubell LLC in Newton, and Steven Oleskey, Esq., of WilmerHale in Boston. The panel will be moderated by Kevin G. Powers, Esq., a partner at Rogers, Powers and Schwartz in Boston, and chair of the MBA’s Individual Rights & Responsibilities Section Council.

The panel will begin at 4 p.m. at the MBA’s headquarters, at 20 West St. in Boston. Following the panel, a vigil will be held near the Park Street T station in Boston to keep the public’s attention focused on this important issue.

For more information, contact AIUSA at (617) 623-0202, ext. 10.

Image for Holiday giving wrap-up
Photograph by Wendy Dyckman
Ben Pearlman volunteers at the Salvation Army's Christmas Castle toy sorting on Thursday, Dec. 13.

MBA members volunteer during the holiday season

Many gave blood and helped sort toys for those in need

  

Salvation Army Christmas Castle toy sorting

On Thursday, Dec. 13, MBA members came together in the spirit of the holiday season and participated in the Salvation Army’s Christmas Castle toy sorting. This year, due to inclement weather, the Salvation Army was forced to cancel its last two volunteer shifts. However, members of the Young Lawyers Division were among the numerous individuals who offered to volunteer their time to sort through donated clothes and gifts for Boston-area families in need.

The Salvation Army’s Christmas Castle provides the caretakers of local children in need, an opportunity to take two gifts and one article of clothing for each child during the holiday season. The toys and clothing items were donated to the Salvation Army by numerous families and individuals throughout Boston.

“The Salvation Army’s Christmas Castle/Toy Drive is a good volunteer program for a great cause,” said Wendy Dyckman, MBA membership and events coordinator. “Members of the Young Lawyers Division really came out to help, it was nice to see everyone offer to volunteer.”

  Bill Russel Blood

MBA Blood Drives

During this holiday season, the MBA sponsored two blood drives for interested members and staff. The Western Mass. office coordinated a blood drive on Dec. 11 and the Boston office participated on Dec. 19. More than 20 individuals donated blood at the Boston office's drive.

Right: MBA Membership Services Call Center Supervisor, William E. Russell gives blood at the Dec. 19 blood drive. Photo by Kelsey Sadoff

CLE announces co-sponsorship with Suffolk for January career management program

CLE Heading

To register for the following programs, call MBA Member Services at (617) 338-0530, [e-mail membership] or visit the CLE Web site.

MBA Co-sponsored program

To register for the following program, click here. 

Building a Successful Legal Practice: 10 Essential Career Management Skills and Networking Strategies
Thursday, Jan. 10, 4:307:30 p.m. 
Suffolk University Law School, 120 Tremont St., Boston, MA

If you want to capitalize on your personal and professional strengths in the workplace, be sure you are fully equipped with the effective career management and networking resources you will practice in this hands-on workshop.

This workshop will help you take stock of where you are now in relation to your career and what is going on in the legal profession. You will identify concrete career management techniques that will help you make the most of your professional and personal strengths. You will learn how to become more proficient in establishing the professional connections that produce a valuable network for business development regardless of your comfort level with new people and new situations. Discussion topics include:

  • Where you are in your current career evolution and why it matters;
  • How to select a career model that fits your current goals;
  • How to incorporate your strengths, limitations, and values into a realistic action plan;
  • What techniques can help you manage your career more effectively;
  • How to find hidden networking opportunities;
  • How to map your network and create an appropriate follow-up approach;
  • Where to best spend your precious time and with whom; and
  • What you can do to maximize visibility without “selling”.

NOTE: Valuable Course Materials include career management resources, a Diane Darling's Networking for Career Success, and kit of practical networking aids. 

For more information, or for a complete list of faculty, visit the Suffolk University Law School's Center for Advanced Legal Studies Web site.

Seminar

Evidence for the Civil Litigator

Course #: CLE08
Introductory level
Thursday, Jan. 10, 4–7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

This seminar is designed to provide practitioners with a survey of how to deal effectively with the myriad of commonly recurring evidentiary problems. The course will focus on how to introduce and block the admission of proffered evidentiary material. Topics will include:

  • Business record exception to the hearsay rule;
  • Medical record/bills pursuant to M.G.L. c.231, §79G;
  • Common law and statutory privileges, including husband/wife disqualification;
  • Chalks, diagrams, photographs and related issues with real and demonstrative evidence;
  • Offers of proof;
  • Opinion and expert evidence; and
  • Criminal evidentiary issues relating to the new Crawford decision.

Adequate time will be allowed for interaction between faculty and attendees.

For more information, or for a complete list of faculty, visit the MBA Calendar.

Symposia

Symposia on Domestic Relations Practice

presented by Paul M. Kane, Esq., January − June 2008

Paul M. Kane, a partner in the Boston law firm of McGrath & Kane, is presenting this symposia. Specializing in family law, Kane is a former assistant dean of Boston College Law School and has been a family law lecturer at Boston College since 1970.

Judge Edward M. Ginsburg (ret.) will be the commentator for the symposia.

Overview of Family Law
Course #: FLC08
Introductory level
Tuesday, Jan. 15, 4–6 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The first component of this six-month symposia focusing on domestic relations practice, discussion topics include complaints, answers and counterclaims, mandatory discovery, financial statements, temporary orders and time standards.

There is a discounted registration rate is you sign-up for three or more components of the series.

New Series

Business Basics for Divorce Lawyers: A Series of Three Basic Programs for the Beginning Divorce Lawyer

Practically every divorce is a financial transaction. The parties’ assets must be valued in order to be fairly divided. If the assets include a small business or real estate, experts must provide opinion of value. If a party is self-employed, the tax returns may be a window into the person’s actual income. Tax returns also reveal identity of assets and history of lifestyle.

Beginning divorce lawyers often assume that valuation and taxes only matter in complex cases. This series of programs will simplify the mysteries of tax and valuation at the most basic level. It will help you communicate with your expert and work confidently with your business owner client.

NOTE: Attendance at the three sessions is encouraged, but not required. Discounted rates for attending two or more sessions.

Part I: Understanding Real Estate Appraisals
Course #: FLJ08
Introductory level
Thursday, Jan. 31, 4–7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Attendees will learn basics of real estate appraisal, including:

  • The comparable sales approach to value;
  • The cost of construction approach to value;
  • Value deviations, net versus gross;
  • Special and historic properties;
  • Discounts for divorce valuation purposes (capital gains and commissions);
  • How to read an appraisal;
  • Direct and cross-examination of the real estate expert (using appraisal reports and expert credentials); and
  • Ethical duties of the expert appraiser and special concerns about the jointly engaged expert.

Part II: Understanding Business Valuation
Course #: FLK08
Introductory level
Thursday, Feb. 7, 4–7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Attendees will learn basics of valuation, including:

  • The capitalization of income approach to valuation;
  • The present value of future income approach to valuation;
  • Standards of value – fair market value, strategic value, value to holder or “divorce value;”
  • Marketability, minority, key man and other discounts;
  • Income and capital gains tax discounts;
  • Discovery; working with your expert; and
  • Ethical concerns – ethical duties of the expert appraiser, concerns about the jointly engaged expert and malpractice concerns when one party owns an interest in a small business.


Part III: Reading and Using Tax Returns in Divorce Cases
Course #: FLL08
Introductory level
Monday, Feb. 11, 4–7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Attendees will learn:

  • What discovery do I need?
  • What can I find in a tax return and where do I find it?
  • What is the basic structure of the returns?
  • What do all those forms mean?
  • How can I use the return to locate assets?
  • How can I use the form to calculate income?
  • What can I learn from comparing returns over a period of years?
  • When should I hire a forensic accountant? 

The course will also include basic review of divorce tax principles including:

  • A comparison of alimony and child support tax treatment;
  • Consequences of mischaracterization of support;
  • Tax treatment for personal loans;
  • Capital gains and losses;
  • Transfers of a residence;
  • Earned income credit;
  • Head of household filing status; and
  • Dependency exemption.
Image for Celts ad

MBA members: Celtics Club Seat holiday packs

Give the gift of green this holiday season

A limited number of Celtics holiday ticket packs are now available. See four great games, featuring top draft pick Kevin Durant, as well as veteran stars like LeBron James, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups and Steve Nash. Celtics Club Seat holiday packs are great holiday gifts for the Celtics fan in your life.  Seats are extremely limited and these packs are expected to sell out this week. Get yours today.

 

Package A

  • Jan. 9 – Charlotte
  • Feb. 6 – Los Angeles
  • March 5 – Detroit
  • April 16 – New Jersey 

Package B

  • Jan. 16 – Portland
  • Feb. 13 – New York
  • Feb. 27 – Cleveland
  • March 12 – Seattle 

Package C

  • Jan. 18 – Philadelphia
  • March 7 – Chicago
  • March 26 – Phoenix
  • April 2 – Indiana 

Each package is $760 per seat. For more information, contact Brian Burnard via e-mail or by phone at (617) 854-8061 to make your reservation.


Get a suite for the holidays

Looking for the perfect holiday gift or planning a winter corporate event? Treat your group to a luxury suite at a Celtics game. Luxury Suites are also perfect locations for birthday parties or any special night you are planning with family and friends.  Suites are now available to rent for all Celtics games and include 18 tickets, with the option to add more tickets as needed. Various catering options are also available.  

Click here to view suite rental pricing.  

For more information or to make your suite reservation, contact the Premium Sales Department at (617) 854-8061 or via e-mail. Suite inventory is limited, so contact us soon to make your reservation.

 

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