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Photograph by Merrill Shea
MBA Vice President Denise Squillante introduces keynote speaker Deborah Epstein Henry at last week's Lawyers in Transition Conference.

MBA presents first-ever Lawyers in Transition Conference

Keynote speaker urges attorneys to "be creative" when re-entering the profession

In all, more than 50 people seeking a stronger connection to the legal profession attended the Massachusetts Bar Association’s first Lawyers in Transition Conference, held May 3 at Bentley College in Waltham.

The Lawyers in Transition Committee is going to be a “permanent fixture” under the new General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Section, MBA Vice President Denise Squillante said. She also wants the conference to become an annual tradition, alternating between Eastern Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts locations from year to year, alternating east-west locations with the annual General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Conference.

“I think the conference was a raging success,” Squillante said. “I was surprised at our ability to reach lawyers in transition in the hidden corners of the commonwealth. I think it shows we need to continue to reach out to lawyers in this category, because lawyer in transition issues are not going to go away.”

“Massachusetts is the leading bar association on lawyer in transition issues,” Squillante said, referring to keynote speaker Deborah Epstein Henry’s assertion that the MBA is “the first bar association nationally to address these issues.” Many, however, including the New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association, are starting to take action, she said, but it’s a situation that is only beginning to be recognized.

In addition to future job-connection plans, Squillante said one successful effort already offered is the reduced membership fee of $150 as a way of keeping lawyers informed about industry news, offering Continuing Legal Education courses to sharpen their skills and encouraging networking.


Image for Labor and Employment
Photograph by Jeff Thiebauth
The Hon. Nancy Gertner delivered the keynote speech at this week's Labor & Employment Law Conference.

Labor & Employment Law Conference draws 180 attendees

Judge Gertner decries the increase in summary judgments and waning use of trials in employment cases

Held in a majestic ballroom at the Park Plaza Hotel in downtown Boston, the 28th Annual Labor & Employment Law Spring Conference attracted labor and employment law attorneys from across the state.

Keynote speaker Judge Nancy Gertner, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, concentrated her speech on what she views as a troubling rise in summary judgments in employment law cases, and also spoke about discrimination in general. She noted that a summary judgment used to be considered a "last resort" but is now "the procedure of choice in areas of law where it should be just the opposite." She described employment discrimination law as being "reduced to a series of tests" and recalled Judge Patricia Wald's 1998 assessment of summary judgments as a "potential juggernaut which, if not carefully monitored, could threaten the relatively small residue of civil trials that remain."

Conference panelists covered a range of current issues in the field. In the first session of the day, attorneys discussed the status of the functus officio doctrine in the arbitration process, as well as what to expect from the courts when appealing an arbitration award.

On the second panel of the day, attorneys discussed the rights of undocumented workers and the obligations of employers in regards to the immigration status of their employees. The attorneys especially focused on the ways in which the Supreme Court attempted to reconcile conflicts between two federal policies - the National Labor Relations Act and the Immigration Reform and Control Act - in the 2002 case Hoffman Plastic Compounds Inc. v. NLRB.

The afternoon concluded with a session on tips, tricks and pitfalls of electronic discovery. Two of the attorney panelists, who had previously gone head-to-head in a complex e-discovery case, emphasized the vast differences between e-discovery and paper discovery, and instructed attendees how to best utilize e-discovery in their employment cases.

CLE offers three Boston events next week

Topics range from employment law to personal injury to work-life balance

For more information, or to sign up for the following programs, call Member Services at (617) 338-0530, download the latest CLE brochure as a PDF file or visit the CLE Web page.

Business and Pleasure: Achieving Your Work-Life Balance
Course #: YLC07
Tuesday, May 15, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

70-hour weeks. Committed more to clients than to yourself. Working to pay off student loans. Too much to do and too little time. Does this scenario sound familiar? Join us for a lively discussion on how to find a work-life balance that works for you. Our panel of experts from across the legal spectrum will tell you how to be a happy, committed lawyer and have a life outside the office. A networking reception will follow this program.


Wages, Tips, Traps and Pools
Course #: LEM07
Wednesday, May 16, noon-2 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Attorney Trager will provide an overview of his office and the investigation process and will discuss recent developments in state wage and hour laws. Attorneys Rebecca G. Pontikes and David B. Wilson will comment on changes in the wage and hour laws and trends as they see them, from the perspectives of both the employee and the employer.

Specific topics to include:

  • How do you increase your odds of facing a government wage and hour audit?
  • Can there be individual liability of officers of the company if, for example, a payroll clerk simply makes an inadvertent error?
  • When is tip pooling allowed and not allowed?
  • What are the state wage and hour regulations regarding tipping and tip pooling?

The RX Files: Medicine for Lawyers - Part III: Anatomy of a Whiplash and Other Injuries
Course #: HLB07
Wednesday, May 16, 4-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

This program will focus on basic anatomy of the head, jaw, neck and spine (bones, teeth, muscles and ligaments), as well as the mechanism of injury to these structures in a typical motor vehicle collision. The presentation will include full color animation as well as a newly released video on low-impact collisions. It will cover both common and less common medical conditions and terminology, as well as the reading of radiological films (x-rays, MRIs, etc.)


* The Community Planning Act - What's It All About?, scheduled for Thursday, May 17, has been postponed. The seminar will be rescheduled for a later date, to be announced.

Sobering stats reveal real struggle for women attorneys aiming to make partner

New study indicates that women and men enter law firms in essentially equal numbers but women leave firm practice at every pre-partner level at a far higher rate than men

The Equality Commission, a collaborative effort of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association, last week released the results from a study entitled, “Women Lawyers and Obstacles to Leadership.” The study examined both genders’ ascension to make partner in law firms and was conducted by the MIT Workplace Center.

The commission is the brainchild of the Hon. Nancy Gertner of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Commission representatives from the WBA, MBA and BBA turned to Mona Harrington, program director at the MIT Workplace Center, an expert on work-family research, to lead this important study.

Among other questions, the “Obstacles to Leadership” study aimed to answer why women make up only 17 percent of equity partnerships in Massachusetts law firms. Its purpose was to pinpoint where biases remain in the profession and why this prevents women from staying in the profession.

The findings derived from the study indicate that women and men enter law firms in essentially equal numbers but women leave firm practice at every pre-partner level at a far higher rate than men—more than 30 percent for women and less than 20 percent for men.

At the May 2 briefing to announce the results, Gertner offered introductory remarks to the sizable audience that gathered at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston. “This is not an abstract discussion, this is about our lives,” she said when addressing the predominantly female crowd. Gertner explained that the “pipeline” of women professionals has been “gushing” for nearly two decades, yet men are making partner over women at a highly disproportionate rate.

Harrington and colleague Helen Hsi, PhD, followed Gertner to provide a straight forward explanation of study findings. “There is a mismatch of those women entering the profession and those at the top of the profession. The report measures this mismatch,” said Harrington.

The report results from two separate surveys—one to research the rates of attrition in Massachusetts law firms from 2002 to 2004 and one to research the individual career decisions of men and women from 2001 to 2005.

Harrington and Hsi explained that both men and women cited long work hours, workload pressures and difficulty integrating family time into their schedules as rationale for leaving firm practice; however, women have more difficulty in combining work and family than men. The reasoning for this dynamic boils down to time, according to the survey results. “Sources of time are different for men and women,” said Hsi. Hsi and Harrington explained that most men are with life partners that are less committed to work; women’s life partners are more equally committed to work; and women rely on work structure as a source of time.

According to the survey results, flexible work arrangements help women stay in the firm, but those who utilize flex-time are less likely to make partner. Hsi explained that a popular solution for women to deal with this, as reported, was to leave the firm, but not necessarily the law or workforce in general.

Commission representative Lauren Stiller Rikleen, executive director of the Bowditch Institute for Women’s Success, followed the presentation of the findings to close the briefing. She covered many of the issues associated with women not succeeding to partner as easily as men and pointed to mentoring as one of the keys to improvement.

“We have too few role models,” said Rikleen, who explained that “data shows that women lack mentoring.” She pointed to workplace culture and leadership as being instrumental in bringing about necessary change.

Rikleen also mentioned that recruitment strategies need to more appropriately match the priorities of the candidates and that it is critical to change the bias toward women that once they have children, they lack focus and commitment.

The formal part of the program was followed by a Q&A session providing the opportunity for the audience to address the presenters.

Click here to view the “Women Lawyers and Obstacles to Leadership” report in full.



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Photograph by Tricia Oliver
From left to right, MBA President-elect David W. White Jr. (formerly David White-Lief) shares a moment with Attorney General Martha Coakley and Deputy First Assistant Attorney General Edward R. Bedrosian Jr. following the May 7 Criminal Law Section Council meeting.

Attorney General Coakley’s focus lies with “big picture” solutions

AG Coakley speaks at recent Criminal Law Section meeting

Several months into her newly elected post as Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley served as one of the guest speakers at Monday's MBA Criminal Law Section Council meeting. Following an introduction by Section Chair Lee Gartenberg, Coakley offered some brief introductory remarks before quickly engaging the council members in a fast-paced exchange.

The discussion centered on relevant issues of high importance and under consideration by the council and the Attorney General's Office alike, including CORI reform, the Governor's newly established Anti-crime Council (on which both Coakley and Gartenberg serve), sentencing reform and the creation of drug courts.

Coakley offered her preference to look at the larger picture associated with these topics and reiterated her interest in creating more "sound, public policy" as part of the solutions addressing each.

"Part of my goal as attorney general is to be more responsive," she said. "We [the Attorney General's Office] should play an important role on building policy."

Throughout the discussion, Council member and Middlesex County Juvenile Court Associate Justice Jay Blitzman offered his viewpoint from the bench on how the courts process young offenders. Coakley explained that the state often spends a lot of money processing criminals of all ages in a way "isn't helpful." Coakley further explained that she is interested in working toward "concrete solutions for urban and suburban communities" that will positively affect youth, in particular.

Coakley was joined by Edward R. Bedrosian Jr., the deputy first assistant attorney general. Both were open to the wealth of input provided by the council.

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Former Senate President Robert Travaglini (left) and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi.

Mass. Citizens Against the Death Penalty to honor Mass. legislators and Boston professor

Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty invites you to its annual Herbert and Sara Ehrmann Awards Ceremony, this year honoring former Senate President Robert Travaglini and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi for their leadership in the fight to keep the death penalty out of Massachusetts. MCADP will also present the Hugo Adam Bedau Award to Professor James Alan Fox of Northeastern University for his significant contributions to death penalty scholarship.

The awards ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, at the law firm of Goulston and Storrs at 400 Atlantic Ave., Boston. Tickets can be reserved by contacting MCADP at (617) 523-3951 or by visiting www.mcadp.org.

CLE hosts conferences for Public Law and Small Firm/Solo Practitioners in June

Reserve your space for summer conferences today

For more information, or to sign up for the following programs, call Member Services at (617) 338-0530, download the latest CLE brochure as a PDF file or visit the CLE Web page.

Public Law Conference
Course #: PUC07
Tuesday, June 5, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston

Learn about being a more effective government attorney and how to avoid landmines while working in the public sector at our first ever Public Law Conference. Our faculty of distinguished government leaders will specifically address the following topics:

  • Differences between the public and private legal regimes;
  • Who the client is in the government context;
  • What the scope of the attorney client privilege is when the Massachusetts public records law applies; and
  • What the most common mistakes public entities make under the open meeting law.

Finally, don’t miss remarks from Attorney General Martha Coakley as she addresses attendees during the luncheon.

General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Conference
Course #: LPD07
Thursday, June 7, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sheraton Monarch Place Hotel, Springfield

The MBA is pleased to announce the establishment of the General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Section Council, which became effective on Jan. 25, 2007. Led by co-chairs Patrick Francomano and Susan A. Huettner, the new section promises to keep MBA members current on developments and trends affecting solo and small firm practitioners. Look for new section-sponsored programs to come in the fall of 2007.

8 – 8:30 a.m.   Introduction/Welcome

8:35 – 9:30 a.m.   Quick Tips on Hot Topics in Managing Your Office

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.   How To Stay Out Of Trouble In Solo Practice

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.   Networking Break

10:45 – 11:35 a.m.   Civil Litigation Breakout Sessions: Personal Injury Basics or It’s Confidential: Privilege Law In Massachusetts

11:40 a.m.– 12:30 p.m.   Judicial Panel – District Court

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.   Networking Lunch (lunch provided); remarks by MBA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Section Council Co-chairs

1:30 – 2:20 p.m.   Family Law Breakout Sessions: Divorce Basics or Tax Issues For Marital Agreements

2:25 – 3:20 p.m.   Business Law Breakout Sessions: Entity and Practical Formation Issues or Developing A Strategy For Protecting Your Client’s Intellectual Property

3:20 – 3:35 p.m.   Networking Break

3:35 – 4:25 p.m.   Real Estate Breakout Sessions: Real Estate Closings or Zoning Issues

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.   Judicial Panel – Probate and Family Court


MBA presents two free educational offerings next week

InternetBar.org Forum
Wednesday, May 16, 5-6:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

In collaboration with InternetBar.org, the MBA will be launching a training initiative to guide lawyers on transforming their practices given the impact of growing global e-commerce. Business models based on Internet computing used by emerging giants such as eBay, Amazon, and Google have a broad impact on society. At this forum, panelists will discuss the uses of online dispute resolution technology, the use of secure Internet technologies and their uses in litigation and projects in which lawyers can collaborate globally to build their practices.

To sign up for this free offering, call Member Services at (617) 338-0530. Refreshments will be served.

Bankruptcy Practice Group open meeting
TOPIC: Bankruptcy and issues under the National Labor Relations Act
Thursday, May 17, 4 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

This program provides an overview of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act, with special emphasis on how such issues might arise in the context of bankruptcy or other reorganizations.

Specific topics will include:

  • A brief overview of the act;
  • Identification of scenarios in which employee rights under the NLRA may become significant to the administration of an entity in bankruptcy;
  • A discussion of substantive and procedural issues related to the NLRB’s efforts to protect statutory rights of employees in the context of bankruptcy;
  • The tension between the NLRB’s exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate unfair labor practice claims and liquidate the liability arising in such actions; and
  • The bankruptcy court’s ordinarily comprehensive powers over administration of an entity subject to bankruptcy proceedings.


Scott Burson, Esq., NLRB, Boston
Christopher W. Parker, Esq., Rubin and Rudman LLP, Boston
Kenneth Shapiro, Esq., deputy assistant general council, NLRB, Washington, D.C.

Space is limited. To reserve your seat, reply to [e-mail jstevens].

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U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer

Justice Stephen Breyer and others take on Shakespeare’s “Measure For Measure”

On Tuesday, June 12 at 5 p.m, Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer will host a discussion and debate at Boston's [Citi] Shubert Theatre on the art and practice of judging framed by a staged reading of Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure." The event, free to the public, is the seventh in a series, entitled Shakespeare and the Law, produced by the Boston Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, in conjunction with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. The event is directed by CSC Artistic Director Steven Maler and produced by McCarter & English partner Daniel J. Kelly. The Massachusetts Bar Association serves as a co-sponsor of the event.

As in the past, the first hour will feature prominent judges, public officials and members of the bar performing an abridged version of one of Shakespeare's works.

Federal judges Mark Wolf and Nancy Gertner and former U.S. Attorney Wayne Budd will take on the lead roles of Angelo, Isabella and Vincentio. Rounding out the cast will be former Governor Paul Cellucci, federal judges Douglas Woodlock, Rya Zobel, Patti Saris, Dennis Saylor and Nathaniel Gorton, Supreme Judicial Court Justices Robert Cordy and Judith Cowin, U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Jennifer Braceras, Wilmer Hale Managing Partner Bill Lee, Ropes & Gray Managing Partner John Montgomery and Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Breyer will host and preside over the discussion following the play. Jan Crawford Greenburg, ABC News legal correspondent and author (most recently, "Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court"), and Daniel J. Kornstein, attorney and author of "Kill All the Lawyers; Shakespeare's Legal Appeal," will moderate.

Extending this theme, a discussion following the play will address, among other topics, the judicial selection process, whether political or social predispositions can affect a judge's decision, whether it is fair to label a judge as "conservative" or "liberal," and how far a judge can go when he or she believes that strict enforcement of the law will produce an unfair result. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and join the debate.


Full public notice for reappointment of Bankruptcy Judge Henry J. Boroff

Members of the bar and the public are invited to submit comments

The current term of office of Henry J. Boroff, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Massachusetts, is due to expire on December 9, 2007. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is considering reappointment of Judge Boroff to a new term of office and has determined that he appears to merit reappointment subject to public notice and opportunity for public comment. Upon reappointment, the incumbent would continue to exercise the jurisdiction of a bankruptcy judge as specified in title 28, U.S.Code and the bankruptcy amendments and Federal Judgeship Act of 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-353, § 101-102, 98 Stat. 333-346. In bankruptcy cases and proceedings referred by the district court, the incumbent would continue to perform the duties of a bankruptcy judge that might include holding status conferences, conducting hearings and trials, making final determinations, entering orders and judgments and submitting proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law to the district court.

Members of the bar and the public are invited to submit comments for consideration by the Court of Appeals regarding the reappointment of Boroff to a new term of office. All comments will be kept confidential and should be directed to:

Susan J. Goldberg, deputy circuit executive
John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse
1 Courthouse Way, Suite 3700
Boston, MA 02210

The deputy circuit executive will submit the comments to the Court of Appeals for its decision. Comments must be received no later than Thursday, June 21.


©2017 Massachusetts Bar Association