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Legislative Alert

Governor Patrick signs MBA's uniform probate code legislation; weighs liability legislation

The Massachusetts Bar Association commends Governor Deval Patrick for signing into law comprehensive probate reforms that were nearly two decades in the making.

“The legislation has been a decades long collaborative effort between the bench and bar reaching out to all areas of the state. We made a tremendous push in the last days of the legislative session,” MBA General Counsel and Acting Executive Director Martin W. Healy. “The practice of probate law is complicated even to probate experts. This legislation demystifies and cleans up existing ambiguities dating back hundreds of years.”

Senate Bill Number 2622, An Act Relative to the Uniform Probate Code, simplifys and improves Massachusetts probate and trust law. The new probate code reduces needless expense in probate and trust administration, benefiting citizens throughout the commonwealth.

The reforms increase uniformity with other states, add protections for those under guardianship and the beneficiaries of trusts, eases the administration of probate matters for judges and court personnel and reduce delays for citizens. Among the changes are:

  • Mandating courts to monitor guardianships and requiring guardians to issue annual reports;
  • Shorten to seven days after the date of death (from as long as five months) the length of time it takes to appoint an estate administrator;
  • In the case of no will, the spouse gets the entire estate if the children are all of the marriage; and
  • Trustees will be required to notify beneficiaries of accountings and acceptance of appointment.

The UPC is the product of a comprehensive study and review of the state’s laws by the joint committee of the MBA and Boston Bar Association. The legislation was reviewed by lawyers, judges, registers of probate, community groups, legislators and representatives of the banking and surety communities. 

The MBA's House of Delegates approved the UPC 10 years ago.


Patrick is also considering House Bill No. 4883, An Act Relative to Municipal Fines. Please call Governor Patrick to voice your opposition to this legislation

House Bill No. 4883, An Act Relative to Municipal Fines

Click here to view the MBA's letter of opposition.

Specifically, the MBA objects to Section 5 of the legislation which seeks to amend Massachusetts tort law altering the negligence standard for snow and ice removal from sidewalks from negligence to gross negligence. Furthermore, the language embodied in Section 5 of this legislation is identical to language contained in Section 1 of House Bill No. 1987, which was heard before the Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and subsequently placed in study. The language then resurfaced in House Bill No. 4883 and negates the intent of the remainder of the bill which is to address appropriate removal of snow and ice.

Call the Governor's office today at (617) 725-4000. 


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MBA seeks nominations for 2009-10 officer positions

Submit nominations to MBA Secretary by Friday, Jan. 30

The Massachusetts Bar Association is currently accepting nominations for officer and delegate positions for the 2009-10 membership year. Nominees must submit a letter of intent and a current resume to the MBA secretary Douglas K. Sheff by 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 30, to be eligible.

To submit a nomination, mail or hand deliver the information to:

Massachusetts Bar Association
ATTN:  MBA Secretary Douglas K. Sheff
20 West St.
Boston, MA  02111

Or, fax to (617) 542-7947.

If you have any questions about the nomination process, call MBA Acting Executive Director Martin W. Healy, at (617) 988-4777.

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Photograph by Jeff Thiebauth
2008's Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid drew a crowd of nearly 600.

Record number of attorneys expected at 10th Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid

On Thursday, Jan. 22, attorneys will urge legislators to protect legal aid funding

The Equal Justice Coalition, Boston Bar Association and Massachusetts Bar Association, along with 24 county and specialty bars, are sponsoring the 10th annual Walk to the Hill for Legal Aid. Lawyers from some of the most prestigious law firms in Boston and Massachusetts will come together at the State House to urge legislators to maintain funding for programs that provide civil legal aid for low-income Commonwealth residents. Last year 600 attorneys participated in the Walk; this year, due to the funding crisis facing legal aid, record attendance is expected.

Legal aid programs provide advice and assistance to low-income Massachusetts residents in matters such as housing, domestic violence, elder issues, employment rights, and health care. Even in strong economic times, legal aid programs are forced to turn away nearly half of all eligible applicants because of a shortage of resources. Now, demand is greater than ever.

  • Boston Bar Association President Kathy Weinman
  • Massachusetts Bar Association President Edward W. McIntyre 
  • Lisa Damon and Spc. Michael Damon, who served for 15 months in Iraq. The Damons and their two children were able to remain in their home following foreclosure thanks to a legal aid attorney.

Thursday, January 22
11:30 a.m.-noon
Massachusetts State House – Great Hall of Flags
Speakers will be available for interviews immediately before and after the program.

Following the speaking program, attorneys will visit their legislators to ask them to maintain the current level of funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), the largest source of funding for civil legal aid in the commonwealth. MLAC receives both an appropriation in the state budget (line item 0321-1600, funded at $11 million in FY09) and income from the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. MLAC already has been forced to cut general support funding to the 17 programs it funds by 40 percent this fiscal year due to a drastic decrease in IOLTA revenue.

Although private attorneys have no direct stake in MLAC funding, they see firsthand the effects of the civil legal aid shortage. Those turned away from legal aid programs often appear in court unrepresented, leaving them at a severe disadvantage when they are faced with critical civil legal problems that threaten their housing, health and income.

For more information, visit http://equaljusticecoalition.org/.
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Lawyers Eco-Challenge to launch cell phone recycling program Feb. 2

Incorporate the weekly Eco-Tip into your office practices and become more environmentally friendly

Kicking off its second year, the Massachusetts Bar Association's Eco-Challenge is offering cell phone recycling in conjunction with Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine program. Working and broken cell phones, batteries and accessories from all service providers will be accepted at one of three collection boxes beginning Feb. 2:

  • Verizon LogoMBA headquarters, 20 West St., Boston; 
  • MBA western Massachusetts office, 73 State St., Springfield; and
  • CLF’s Massachusetts headquarters, 62 Summer St., Boston.

The cell phone recycling program is the first 2009 initiative of the highly successful MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge, which was launched in September 2008 with the Conservation Law Foundation. Other initiatives will be announced later this year.  

So far, more than 85 firms, attorneys or organizations have signed the MBA Lawyers Environmental Pledge to join the Eco-Challenge. Pledge Partners and Signature Signers represent all regions of Massachusetts and office sizes, from solo practitioners in Stockbridge, mid-sized firms in Lowell and major firms in Boston. There are also Pledge Partners outside of traditional law firms and the state of Massachusetts. If you have not yet already, we urge you to join by clicking here.

This spring, the MBA and CLF will once again honor Pledge Partners and Signature Signers. Click here to nominate an Eco-Challenge participant.


Sign the MBA Lawyers Environmental Pledge to participate in the MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge. By signing the pledge, lawyers agree to do their best to adhere to the MBA Green Guidelines   

 Jan. 15

Click here to view more Eco-Tips. 

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MBA Section News

Participate in the Business Law Section Open Meeting; Law Practice Management Section Open Meeting; Employment Law Open Meeting; Probate Law Section Open Meeting

To R.S.V.P. to any of these programs contact MBA Sections Administrator Jean Stevens at jstevens.

  Business Law Section Open Meeting

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 6-7:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston 

As a member of the Business Law and General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Sections you are invited to attend the Business Law Open Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 20, which will focus on an Overview of How to Employ and Keep Skilled Foreign Talent.

Marisa DeFranco, counsel and chair of the Immigration Law Practice Group at Devine Millimet & Branch in Andover, will lead a discussion on current U.S. policy toward employment-based immigrants and temporary workers, including the impact of security and compliance mandates. DeFranco is a member of the MBA's Immigration Law Section and has over twelve years of immigration and naturalization law experience.

Topics covered will include:

  • Temporary Visas: H-1B specialty occupations;
  • L-1s intracompany transferees;
  • O-1s persons of extraordinary ability;
  • TNs for Canadians and Mexicans; and
  • Permanent residence and security issues.


Law Practice Management Section Open Meeting

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 4:15-6 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston 

As a member of the Law Practice Management and General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Sections, you are invited to attend the Law Practice Management Networking and Open Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 21, from 4:15 to 6 p.m.

Learn how to market your practice using social media from attorney David Harlow who will discuss Web 2.0 and what every lawyer needs to know about online marketing. It's not just about having a Web site anymore. In order to maintain and grow your practice, it is vital to manage your online presence in a dynamic manner. Find out how to leverage your expertise into low-cost broader online exposure through effective use of social media, including blogs, Linked In, Facebook and Twitter. 

Employment Law Open Meeting

Tuesday, Jan. 27, noon - 1 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston 

Bring a lunch and join us for an informal round table discussion about changes to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations due to take effect in January 2009. Topics to be discussed include changes or clarifications regarding: leave to care for military family members, intermittent leave, notice requirements (for both employers and employees) and medical certifications.


Probate Law Section Open Meeting

Wednesday, Jan. 28, 5-6:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston 

As a member of the Probate Law Section, you are invited to attend an open meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 28. Chief Justice Paula M. Carey has been invited to speak on issues regarding practice in the Probate and Family Court.




Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Participate in the upcoming "Resolving Disputes Among Members of Closely-Held and Family Businesses" seminar

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. To download a PDF of the January/February CLE brochure, click here.  

This week's highlighted programs include:
  • January Seminar Schedule

Scroll down for program descriptions, dates and registration details.


The Rx Files — Medicine for Lawyers Part III: Dental Issues, Course #: HLD09
Tuesday, Jan. 20 / MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Resolving Disputes Among Members of Closely-Held and Family Businesses, Course #: BLE09
Wednesday, Jan. 21 / MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Chapters 93A & 176D Update, Course #: CLN09
Tuesday, Jan. 27 / MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Preparing to File a Lawsuit, Course #: CLO09
Tuesday, Jan. 27 /  Western New England College School of Law, 1215 Wilbraham Rd., Springfield

District Court Survival Guide — Civil Practice, Course #: CLP09
Thursday, Jan. 29 / MBA, 20 West St., Boston

MBA co-sponsored programs

Child Support Guidelines: New Solutions to Old Problems
4-7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 12
Suffolk University Law School, 120 Tremont St., Boston

Attend and learn from an interactive discussion with numerous members of the Child Support Guidelines Task Force about the new child support guidelines—how to use the new guidelines, how they are different from existing guidelines, impact of the new guidelines on existing orders, deviations from the guidelines, utilizing the worksheet and making effective arguments under the new guidelines.

Click here for additional program information and to register.

Contemporary Alimony Considerations
4-7:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 12
Suffolk University Law School, 120 Tremont St., Boston

Alimony considerations in a divorce or separate support case present difficulties for practitioners in formulating what would be a fair and reasonable award under current law. The major alimony litigation issue pertains to duration. In response to this issue, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association formed a joint Alimony Task Force that has been working on developing proposals for alimony standards. The overall mission of the Alimony Task Force is to stimulate judicial, academic and legislative discussion in order to foster consistency and predictability in alimony awards.

The Task Force had a preliminary draft report for comment in the fall of 2008 which includes recommendations for reasonableness of the amount and duration of awards, including factors for consideration by the court in alimony awards, standards for consideration in determining attribution of income and characterization of income as opposed to after-acquired assets. The Task Force is also reviewing the special tax consequences and enforcement of alimony awards in the context of same-sex divorce as a factor for the court to consider in alimony awards.

Click here for additional program information and to register.

NOTE: There is a special rate if you register for Alimony Considerations and Child Support Guidelines programs.

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Law Practice Management Tip of the Week

Need an efficient way to dictate documents?


Improve your efficiency at the law office by using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10, developed by Nuance, a Massachusetts based software company, which offers dictation for attorneys. The premium edition Legal, offer the busy attorney an efficient way to dictate documents either at the computer or using digital recorders with a preconfigured legal vocabulary.

You can learn how attorneys are effectively using dictation at the upcoming ABA TECHSHOW Roadshow hosted by the MBA on Wednesday, Feb. 11. Nationally known law practice management consultants, Jim Calloway, Esq., and Dave Bilinsky, will present Look Who’s Talking! What Lawyers Need to Know about Digital Dictation and Speech Recognition? 

To register or learn more about the upcoming ABA TECHSHOW Road Show, which will feature Alan J. Klevan and Rodney Dowell as presenters, click here.
For more helpful tips, join the MBA's Law Practice Management Section. Call MBA Member Services at (617) 338-0530 to join.

To learn more about the Law Practice Management Section, contact co-chairs, Alan J. Klevan or Rodney Dowell.

R.S.V.P. now for the 2009 MBF Annual Meeting

Judge John M. Greaney to be honored at the Jan. 22 meeting


Click here to R.S.V.P. for the 2009 MBF Annual Meeting

MBF Annual Meeting
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Featured member benefit: MBA Mentor Program

Whether you are a seasoned attorney seeking advice on an unfamiliar area of the law or a recent law school graduate with questions about your career path, the MBA Mentor Program is a phone call away.

This unique program, offered to all MBA members, provides a resource to both seek and receive advice about topics that range from choosing the best software for your firm, to substantive legal issues and procedural questions.

Designed with the expectation of a one-time exchange between mentor and mentee, the program helps to advance professionalism and collegiality within the legal profession.

In need of assistance?

Whether you are a new or experienced attorney, contact the MBA at (617) 338-0691 or contact us via e-mail to receive advice from a qualified mentor. 

Interested in becoming a mentor?

If you are an MBA member in good standing who has practiced for more than seven years, consider this rewarding volunteer opportunity.

For more information, visit the MBA Web site, or contact Christine Baronas via e-mail

©2017 Massachusetts Bar Association