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Photograph by Jennifer Rosinski
Left to right:
Al Wallis, executive director, Brown Rudnick LLP's Center for the Public Interest; MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus, Joseph F. Ryan, chief executive officer, Brown Rudnick LLP; and Elizabeth A. O'Neil, director of Public and Community Services at the MBA with the $25,000 check.

MBA celebrates Mock Trial support from Brown Rudnick

Firm donates $25,000 to fund program in its 25th year

Brown Rudnick LLP, through its Center for the Public Interest, has donated $25,000 to the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2010 Mock Trial Program. Brown Rudnick has been the lead financial underwriter since 1998 and has contributed more than a quarter million dollars to the program, now celebrating its 25th anniversary.

"The MBA is honored that Brown Rudnick has decided to once again continue its generous legacy with our popular Mock Trial Program," MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus said. "The program provides high school students with the unique opportunity of learning about the law while experiencing it as an advocate."

First organized in 1985, the tournament places high school students in a simulated courtroom to assume the roles of lawyers and witnesses in a hypothetical case. This year's civil case involves an individual who suffers a substantial financial loss after investing a daughter's college funds with a financial advisor at a brokerage firm. The case focuses on whether the firm, and/or the advisor are responsible for those losses. This case gives students an opportunity to learn about the importance of decision-making in the investment of personal funds.

"Brown Rudnick's support has provided continuity and stability for this important educational civic program," said Al Wallis, executive director of the Brown Rudnick Center for the Public Interest. "We particularly proud to be continuing our support as the MBA approaches its 100th anniversary anniversary, and as the Mock Trial Program celebrates 25 years."

At least 1,500 students at more than 100 schools across the commonwealth are expected to participate in the 2010 Mock Trial Program. More than 100 lawyers across the state will serve as volunteer coaches and judges.

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Legislative News

Senate passes legislation granting parole eligibility for non-violent drug offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences; Legislature tackles several court-related veto overrides

Sentencing reform in Massachusetts cleared a major hurdle Wednesday night when the Senate, prior to the end of this year's legislative session, passed legislation that would grant parole eligibility for non-violent drug offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences.

The MBA is a long-standing opponent of mandatory minimum sentences and has been outspoken in support of reforms to mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws. The astronomical increase in the Massachusetts correctional population is due, in large part, to the increase in drug arrests. It costs $48,000 per year to house an offender. Non violent drug offenders face a one-size-fits-all justice system in which previous offenses or their role in the offense are not taken into account. Offenders have no incentive to plead guilty since judges have no discretion over the sentence, thus most cases go to trial.

The MBA's Drug Policy Task Force issued a report earlier this year recommending meaningful drug reform for non violent drug offenders including reform of mandatory minimum drug sentences. For a copy of the report, click here. In addition to the cost savings, enactment of this legislation would reduce recidivism. Instead of being released directly into the community, this legislation would grant offenders eligibility for parole and work-release programs. Numerous studies have shown that offenders who gradually re-enter their communities have a much lower recidivism rate than someone who walks right out of a correctional facility and into society.

The MBA has also been supportive of efforts to revise CORI laws to provide our citizens with greater accuracy, earlier sealing of records and greater clarity in the reports.

The bill now awaits action by the House of Representatives. Formal legislative sessions have ended for the year and will resume in January.

Veto Overrides

In the waning hours of the Legislature's formal session, they tackled several court related veto overrides. In the FY10 budget, Gov. Deval Patrick vetoed a $950,000 trial court account. The Legislature last night overrode that veto.

The Legislature also restored $4.1 million of the $9 million cut from the Probation Department and $300,000 of the $788,786 cut from Community Corrections.

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Upcoming MBA Conferences

Don't miss out on Seventh Annual In-House Counsel and How to Start & Run a Successful Solo or Small-Firm Practice programs


Seventh Annual In-House Counsel Conference

Course #: BLC10
Wednesday, Dec. 9, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Featuring all judges from the Superior Court
Business Litigation Session

The theme of the MBA's Seventh Annual In-House Counsel Conference is "Tools for Effective Legal Management." The conference this year will consist of a variety of panels that will present basic information concerning the management of legal risks by in-house counsel, as well as current developments affecting in-house counsel. These panels will include a discussion of recent developments in the Business Law Session of the Massachusetts Superior Court; and developments in the Massachusetts data privacy regulations. In addition, there will be a discussion regarding contract drafting which will review the important terms of standard business agreements, as well as the fundamentals of license agreements.

In keeping with the theme of presenting legal management tools, the program will also include a discussion regarding bankruptcy basics and options available when customers, suppliers and other key business partners are involved in bankruptcy. There will be presentations regarding internal company controls over conflicts of interest and fraud, special investigations and special committees. There will also be a discussion concerning issues involved in the selection and management of outside counsel. This will include consideration of the matters for which outside counsel often provide services, staffing strategies to achieve efficiency, and ways in which companies might cut or control legal expenses.

Sponsoring section:
Business Law

New England Corporate Counsel Association (NECCA)

Click here for a complete list of faculty or to register.


How to Start & Run a Successful Solo or Small-Firm Practice

Thursday, Jan. 28, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Lombardo's, 16 Billings St., Randolph

Do you dream of starting your own practice or "hanging your shingle"? Have the recent law firm mergers and shifts affected you? Are you reevaluating your career and thinking about striking out on your own? Are you a law student with a plan to go straight into your own practice? "How to Start and Run a Successful Solo or Small-Firm Practice" is a comprehensive, one-day seminar that features practical advice on what you need to become a successful lawyer-entrepreneur.

Our faculty of experienced lawyers will provide guidance and insight on every aspect of starting a law firm while sharing practice pointers on growing their own firms.

This lively program, which has been one of the most popular and valuable MBA seminars to date, includes a working, networking lunch for a chance to meet with colleagues who can help get you started. Program highlights include:

The Mechanics of Setting Up Your Firm

  • Analyzing the costs and benefits;
  • Going solo vs. associating with others;
  • Selecting a practice area;
  • Scouting sources of business before making the move;
  • Location considerations;
  • Choice of entity;
  • Technology;
  • Office space;
  • Staffing;
  • Budgeting;
  • Financing; and
  • The proper way to leave your current firm.

The Mechanics of Running Your Firm

  • Case selection;
  • Client relations;
  • Docket control;
  • Fees and billing;
  • Accounting and bookkeeping systems;
  • Bank accounts, including IOLTA;
  • Discrimination and harassment policies;
  • Avoiding malpractice, malpractice and other insurance; and
  • Highlights of the rules of professional conduct.

The Mechanics of Marketing

  • Networking;
  • Speaking, lecturing, teaching;
  • Writing;
  • Getting written about;
  • Advertising; and
  • Web sites.

Putting It All Together

  • Working efficiently and profitably;
  • Setting priorities;
  • Taking care of yourself; and
  • Where to turn if you need help.

**Register on or before Friday, Dec. 18 to receive these discounted rates. After Friday, Dec. 18, prices will increase by $25.**

MBA member paralegals, law students: $75; 2008-09 admittees: $100; MBA members: $125; and nonmembers: $150.

Click here for a complete list of faculty or to register.


Save the date:

MBA Annual Conference 2010: Achieving a Competitive Advantage in Changing Times

Thursday, March 11 - Friday, March 12
Westin Copley Place, 10 Huntington Ave., Boston

Look for details in upcoming e-mails, CLE Brochures, e-Journals and Lawyers Journals.



Never work for cheap

"Work for free
or for full price.
Never work for cheap."

A large part of administrative costs in law firms is devoted to tracking billables, securing and account for retainers, chasing after late account receivables and calculating how much to charge which client. I've avoided all this overhead of time and money by charging simply a fixed price for each client and having them pay up front―all of it.

I never negotiate my fee down because when you show your clients that you can work for cheap, then what you're telling them is that your original price was unreasonable―that you can't be trusted the first time. You're also telling them that they shouldn't value your work as much because you don't value your work as much.

Do lots of pro bono work and do even more full price work. But never work for anything in between.

This tip is courtesy of Gabriel Cheong, attorney at law, owner of Infinity Law Group.

Published November 19, 2009


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 Andrea Goldman or Rodney Dowell.

Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Register for the "Chapters 93A and 176D Update" 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 November/December CLE brochure, click here.

This week's highlighted programs include:
  • MBA On Demand
  • Looking for Career Control and Satisfaction? Small Law Firms Offer Big Options Luncheon roundtable
  • Chapters 93A and 176D Update
  • Elder Law Basics
  • Trust Basics for the General Practitioner
  • Seventh Annual In-House Counsel Conference
  • Save the date: How to Start and Run a Successful Solo or Small-Firm Practice
  • Save the date: MBA Annual Conference 2010: Achieving a Competitive Advantage in Changing Times
  • Casemaker Webinars

Scroll down for program descriptions, dates and registration details.


Looking for Career Control and Satisfaction? Small Law Firms Offer Big Options Luncheon roundtable (lunch provided)
Wednesday, Dec. 2, noon-1:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Chapters 93A and 176D Update
Thursday, Dec. 3, 4-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Elder Law Basics
Monday, Dec. 7, 4-7 p.m.
Holiday Inn, 700 Myles Standish Blvd., Taunton

Trust Basics for the General Practitioner
Tuesday, Dec. 8, 4-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St. Boston

Seventh Annual In-House Counsel Conference
Wednesday, Dec. 9, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston


How to Start and Run a Successful Solo or Small-Firm Practice
**Register on or before Friday, Dec. 18 to receive discounted rates. After Friday, Dec. 18, prices will increase by $25.**
Thursday, Jan. 28
Lombardo's, 6 Billings St., Randolph

MBA Annual Conference 2010: Achieving a Competitive Advantage in Changing Times
Thursday, March 11 - Friday, March 12
Westin Copley Place, 10 Huntington Ave., Boston


Want to learn more about the capabilities of Casemaker 2.1 straight from the source? Attend a complimentary Web training session to review the enhancements and new functionality of Casemaker 2.1 from the comfort of your home or office.

NOTE: You must log into Casemaker to register for these Webinars.
Space is limited. Click here to reserve your place at a Webinar.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 24, 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 1, 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 15, 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 22, 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 29, 11 a.m.
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