e-Journal

10-22

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From top to bottom:
Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall accepts the MBA's Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award, presented to her for her accomplishments over the past decade as leader of the state's judicial branch.

From left to right: MBA Vice President Richard P. Campbell, MBA President-Elect Denise Squillante, Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, Hon. A. Paul Cellucci, MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus, Chief Justice of Utah's Supreme Court Christine M. Durham, MBA Treasurer Robert L. Holloway Jr.

MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus (right) presents Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall with the Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award.

From left to right: Hon. A. Paul Cellucci, Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, MBA Acting Executive Director and General Counsel Martin W. Healy.

Photos by Christine Peterson.

Chief Justice Marshall warns more budget cuts will put justice “in jeopardy”

Deepening financial crisis leaves Trial Court Department in “a moment of peril”

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall delivered a dire warning in her 10th Annual Address to the Legal Community: "Justice is in jeopardy in Massachusetts," she told nearly 200 people at the John Adams Courthouse on Oct. 21.

Marshall, who was recognized with the Massachusetts Bar Association's Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award on her tenth anniversary as chief justice, used the annual speech to convey how serious the situation is, rather than chart how much progress the courts have made, as she has done in past years.

"By year's end, Trial Court staffing levels will be slightly more than two-thirds of the appropriate - the necessary - levels identified for us by an independent, objective model developed by the National Center for State Courts, the nation's expert on that subject," she said.

Several district courts have been relocated, she noted, and leases for rented spaces have been terminated. "The closure of court sessions, the closure of more courthouses, is inevitable - inevitable - if the already decimated Trial Court budget is further reduced," she said.

Marshall expressed frustration that the courts have been hit harder than other departments of state government.
"The judicial branch is being asked to absorb a disproportionate amount of the necessary reductions in government spending," she said, noting that the judicial branch accounts for just 2.1 percent of state spending. The court department has reduced its workforce 7.5 percent, she said, greater than other departments.

"Are we now prepared to tell a woman who seeks a protective order for herself and her children to come back next week because budget cuts have forced the court to close for a day or more?

State leaders are saying the situation is even worse than they'd anticipated a year ago, and more cuts will be needed.

"Here is the truly dismal news: the bleeding has just begun," Marshall told the audience. "The budgetary forecasts for fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2012 presage more fiscal pain. Who will bear the brunt of this pain? Everyone who seeks access to our courts."

"I do not point fingers," she said. "As chief justice, however, as one who has labored long and hard to bring lasting reform to the administration of justice in the commonwealth, and to broaden access to justice, as one who is passionate about the importance of courts to a free people, I cannot, I shall not, ignore that our courts are at a moment of peril."

She concluded by urging lawyers and court staff to speak up and contact the Legislature and governor.

For more information on the MBA's Fourth Annual Bench-Bar Symposium and additional information about Marshall's award, look in the November Lawyers Journal.

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Featured member benefit: MBA Classifieds

Looking to share your office space? Need to hire a law clerk? Interested in selling your home? Post a FREE online ad today.

The MBA has launched online MBA Classifieds as a NEW member benefit, providing members the opportunity to post and view employment/internship opportunities, office share/rental options, as well as lawyer-to-lawyer services and other specialized categories on the MBA Web site.

For a limited time, the MBA is offering free online classified postings to members for a 30-day listing.

Take advantage of this special offer today and see how your MBA membership more than pays for itself in these difficult times.

Click here to post or view an MBA classified ad.
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Legislative News

MBA supports legislation to reform mandatory minimum sentences

The Massachusetts Bar Association applauds the Judiciary Committee's action earlier this week to move forward legislation that reforms mandatory minimum sentences for certain non-violent drug offenders. The bill, Senate Bill Number 1651, would allow certain non-violent drug offenders to apply for parole after serving two thirds of the maximum sentence imposed. Previously, the offenders could only be released upon completion of their entire sentence. This measure allows authorities to consider parole based on an individual's previous record and one's efforts to rehabilitate.

"This action is in line with the recognition of the drug problem as a health issue and not solely a criminal justice matter," said MBA General Counsel Martin W. Healy.

This reform is in keeping with the MBA's long-standing recommendations to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, and is highlighted in a report released by the MBA in June, "The Failure of the War on Drugs: Charting a New Course for the Commonwealth."

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Photographs of the 2009 Access to Justice Award recipients by Merrill Shea.

Nominate a colleague for an Access to Justice Award

Submit nominations by Tuesday, Nov. 10

The MBA is seeking nominations for its five Access to Justice Awards, which will be presented at the MBA's Access to Justice Awards Luncheon on Friday, March 12. The luncheon will be held at the Westin Copley Place, 10 Huntington Ave., Boston.

These awards offer a unique opportunity to recognize the efforts and achievements of our MBA members. Often, the people who shoulder the responsibility of assuring access to the courts and the legal system for both practitioners and members of the public are unsung heroes. To ensure that award recipients truly reflect the best of the legal profession, the MBA encourages nominations from its members, from Massachusetts regional and minority bar associations and from local public service organizations.

The Access to Justice Awards are:

Legal Services Award
An attorney employed by a public or nonprofit agency to provide civil legal services to low-income clients, and who has made a particularly significant or meaningful contribution to the provision of low-income legal services, above and beyond the requirements or his or her position.

Pro Bono Award for Law Firms
A law firm of two or more attorneys, with one or more offices in the commonwealth, whose pro bono activities are particularly noteworthy in relation to the firm's size and which has performed significant or meaningful pro bono activity or which has been particularly instrumental in developing, implementing and/or supporting a pro bono program or pro bono services within Massachusetts.

Pro Bono Publico Award
An individual who has been instrumental in developing, implementing and supporting pro bono programs for the Massachusetts Bar Association or for a local county bar association, or a pro bono program of a law firm, or has developed a pro bono program sponsored or organized through an agency in the commonwealth, or has performed significant or meaningful pro bono activity.

Defender Award
An attorney who is employed or retained by a public or nonprofit agency to provide criminal legal services to low-income clients, and who has made a particularly significant or meaningful contribution to the provision of low-income legal services above and beyond the requirements of his or her position.

Prosecutor Award
A state or federal prosecutor who has distinguished himself or herself in public service and whose commitment to justice and serving the communities where he or she lives or works is particularly praiseworthy.

Nominations for all of the MBA Access to Justice Awards must be submitted in writing no later than Tuesday, Nov. 10, to: Jean Stevens, Sections/Ethics Administrator, Massachusetts Bar Association, 20 West St., Boston, MA 02111-1204; [e-mail jstevens].Please submit a letter describing why you believe that the nominee deserves this recognition and to include the names and contact information of a few additional people who can speak with knowledge about the nominee.

For more information, contact Jean Stevens at [e-mail jstevens].

LPM Tip

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A little bit of southern hospitality

I recently met with an opposing party for a divorce case who was raised in Texas, and what surprised me was that he was extremely polite. After giving the client bad news, he says to me, "Yes sir, I understand. Thank you for telling me." I was floored.

After the meeting, I was reminded of one of my law school internships. The owner would say, "Good night" and "Thank you" to every employee, whether it was the secretary or an associate, when they left for the day. It was just two simple words―thank you―and it made all the difference. I still remember it because it made me feel good. It made me feel as if my day and my efforts were appreciated and it contributed to making the boss's day better.

This also translates to better client relations as well. Treating your clients with respect and understanding them, even when what they're saying doesn't make sense or you don't agree with them, will foster a better and more respectful relationship between you and your clients. And when your representation is over, why not give them a call (in addition to the closing letter) to tell them you appreciate their business and to thank them. It'll make them feel good and it'll also make you feel good.

Thank you for reading.

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

Published October 22, 2009

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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.
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Featured pro bono opportunity: Health Law Advocates Inc.

October is Pro Bono Month. The MBA urges members to expand their pro bono efforts to help those who need legal services. Click here to view a list of companies and MBA programs in need of volunteers. To view MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus' letter to membership about Pro Bono Month, click here.

 

Health Law AdvocatesMission: Health Law Advocates provides free legal services to low-income people in Massachusetts facing barriers with access to health care.

Volunteer activities: HLA's pro bono program is called the Legal Network. Attorneys and law students receive two e-mails a month that detail cases available for referral. HLA manages the intake and referral process and is available for consultation during cases. Many cases are resolved through advocacy and negotiation; some matters involve litigation. Research projects are also available for law students.

Populations: HLA represents people who live or work in Massachusetts and are at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. We have a particular emphasis on lower income consumers, the chronically ill and other vulnerable populations.

Legal areas: Health insurance coverage, billing and collections by health care providers and public health community benefits

Categories: Mental health issues, health care, employment, education, disability law, civil rights and liberties, benefits and prisoners

Requirements: Attorneys must complete a registration form. HLA can provide liability insurance coverage for attorneys who do not have their own insurance.

Short-term opportunities: Short-term research projects on health access law

Contact: Matt Selig, executive director, 30 Winter St., Suite 1004, Boston, 02108; (617) 338-5241/(617) 338-5242 (fax); [e-mail selig]

Web: www.healthlawadvocates.org

Click here to view the March 2008 Lawyers Journal profile on Health Law Advocates Inc.

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CPCS to establish Wrongful Conviction Unit

The special unit is made possible by a U.S. Department of Justice grant

The Committee for Public Counsel Services has been awarded a U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance grant for a two-year period to establish a special unit to support the post conviction litigation of claims of innocence on behalf of clients.

This funding, from the federal FY09 Wrongful Prosecution Review Program: Representation of Wrongfully Convicted Defendants in Post-Conviction Claims of Innocence, will enable CPCS to create a Wrongful Conviction Specialist position to assist assigned counsel in these cases. The grant will also support an Expert Funding System to enable post-conviction counsel to access experts and testing to develop the factual information needed to present these claims initially, and to obtain court approval for additional needed funds.

The Wrongful Conviction Unit is anticipated to being services in January 2010.

 

Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Register for the Lawyers in Transition Committee's "Author's Panel"

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 October/November CLE brochure, click here.

This week's highlighted programs include:
  • Forming a Business Entity
  • Fundamentals of a Civil Jury Trial: Courtroom Conduct and Procedures
  • Streetwise: A Beginner's Guide to Handling Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Author's Panel (New roundtable added to November programming)
  • Save the date: 19th Annual Family Law Conference
  • Save the date: 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
  • Casemaker Webinars

Scroll down for program descriptions, dates and registration details.

CLE PROGRAMS

Forming a Business Entity
Monday, Oct. 26, 4-7 p.m.
Massachusetts School of Law, 500 Federal St., Andover

Fundamentals of a Civil Jury Trial: Courtroom Conduct and Procedures
Wednesday, Oct. 28, 4-7 p.m.
Massachusetts School of Law, 500 Federal St., Andover

Streetwise: A Beginner's Guide to Handling Motor Vehicle Accidents
Thursday, Nov. 5, 4-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Author's Panel
*New roundtable added to November programming*
Thursday, Nov. 12, 5-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

CONFERENCE SAVE THE DATES

19th Annual Family Law Conference
Friday, Nov. 6 - Saturday, Nov. 7
Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham

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


How to Start and Run a Successful Solo or Small-Firm Practice
Thursday, Jan. 28
Lombardo's, 6 Billings St., Randolph


MBA Annual Conference 2010
Thursday, March 11 - Friday, March 12
Westin Copley Place, 10 Huntington Ave., Boston

CASEMAKER WEBINARS

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, Oct. 27, 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 3, 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 10, 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 17, 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 24, 11 a.m.

The Long Road to Justice: The African-American Experience in the Massachusetts Courts

Join members of the legal community at this special event next Thursday

Long Road to Justice 1

The Justice George Lewis Ruffin Society
College of Criminal Justice - Northeastern University
and
The Massachusetts Bar Association
in cooperation with
The Administrative Office of the Trial Court

cordially invite you to the
re-dedication and reception for


The Long Road to Justice
The African-American Experience
in the Massachusetts Courts


Thursday, Oct. 29, 6 p.m.
Edward W. Brooke Courthouse
New Chardon St., Boston

Long Road to Justice 2

R.S.V.P. to Erin Sayles at [e-mail e.sayles] or (617) 373-3327
by Monday, Oct. 26.

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MBA section news

Employment Law open forum, Immigration Law brown bag luncheon, Public Law brown bag luncheon, Labor & Employment open meeting

 

Punitive Damages in the wake of
Haddad v. Wal-Mart

Tuesday, Oct. 27, noon-1:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Join the Employment Law Forum of the Labor & Employment Section at its first brown bag luncheon for the 2009-10 association year. These meetings will be scheduled for the fourth Tuesday of each month and will feature speakers and issues relevant to practitioners in the employment law area. Drinks and snacks will be served

In its recent unanimous decision in Haddad v. Wal-Mart, the Supreme Judicial Court reinstated a $1 million punitive damages award and outlined factors for evaluating such awards in the future.

How will this decision affect you and your clients? Bring your lunch and join us for an informal roundtable discussion of the particulars of the case and what it might mean to the future of punitive damages awards. Two of the attorneys involved in the case, David Belfort and Rick Fradette, will join in the discussion.


Click here to R.S.V.P.

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Citizenship and Naturalization Law

Thursday, Nov. 12, noon-1:30 p.m.
MBA 20 West St., Boston

Immigration Section Council kicks off it's 2009 Brown Bag Lunch Series. This brown bag seminar will cover topics in citizenship and naturalization Law. Topics include acquisition of U.S. citizenship at birth, derivation of US citizenship by operation of law after birth, and naturalization. Bring your lunch and learn how people become US citizens. Chaired by Richard M. Green, a solo practitioner practicing Immigration and Nationality in North Grafton, Mr. Green earned his Law Degree from Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia Canada. Green teaches Immigration and Nationality Law at Anna Maria College in Paxton, Mass.

Click here to R.S.V.P.

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Changes at the human resources division

Tuesday, Nov. 17, noon-1:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The Public Law Section's first open meeting brown bag luncheon will feature speaker will be John Marra, the general counsel for the Executive Office for Administration and Finance Human Resources Division. He will discuss the recent changes at HRD relative to review of initial civil service appointments and bypasses.

Click here to R.S.V.P.

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Noncompetition agreements: To be or not to be?
A discussion about proposed legislation

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston


Believed by many to be critical to their business, loathed by others as a limitation on innovation, and criticized as being overused and implemented in unfair ways, noncompetition agreements are currently the subject of much interest among businesses, venture capitalists and employees. Two state representatives -- Lori Ehrlich and Will Brownsberger -- have proposed sweeping new legislation that would significantly restrict the enforceability of noncompetition agreements under Massachusetts law. Join these legislators as well as Russell Beck of Foley & Lardner LLP in a discussion about the proposed legislation, moderated by Andrea Kramer of Hirsch, Roberts Weinstein.

Click here to view the legislation in its current form.
Click here to R.S.V.P.

 

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