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Mark your calendars: Court Advocacy Day set for March 19

Court and bar leadership ask attorneys to push for adequate court funding

The Massachusetts Bar Association invites you to participate in Court Advocacy Day on Monday, March 19 at the Grand Staircase inside the Statehouse. Beginning at 11 a.m., the event will help reiterate the need for adequate funding to sustain the critical needs of the Massachusetts Court System. The event will open with a brief speaking program, after which attendees will be encouraged to meet with their local legislators.

An effort of the MBA and Boston Bar Association along with county and specialty bars, the event complements the MBA's ongoing awareness campaign on this topic.

"I encourage all bar members and the greater legal community to support this cause in urging our legislators to approve necessary funding for our courts," MBA President Richard P. Campbell said.

The event will include speaking remarks from:

  • Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland;
  • Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan;
  • MBA President Richard P. Campbell; and
  • Boston Bar Association President Lisa Goodheart.
The MBA and BBA organized a similar grass-roots lobbying effort in 2009.

Click here to R.S.V.P.

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Members of legal community participate in the MBA's Young Lawyers Division's Speed Networking event and reception on Feb. 9.

Free YLD Speed Networking event pairs new, experienced lawyers

More than 40 Massachusetts Bar Association attorneys and members of the legal community participated in the Young Lawyers Division's Speed Networking event and reception on Feb. 9 at the MBA's Boston office.

The program, which paired newer attorneys with experienced mentors, provided participants with an opportunity to gain insight into and information about various legal practices.

Click here to view event photos.

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CPCS accepting Duggan, Marshall, Blitzman, Fitzpatrick and Liacos award nominations

The Committee for Public Counsel Services is seeking nominations for five awards, which will be presented at the annual CPCS Training Conference on Thursday, May 17 at the DCU Center in Worcester. Nominations are being accepted for:

  • The Edward J. Duggan Award for Outstanding Service;
  • The Thurgood Marshall Award;
  • The Jay D. Blitzman Award for Youth Advocacy;
  • The Mary C. Fitzpatrick Children and Family Law Award; and
  • The Paul J. Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award.

For additional nomination information, click here.

All nominations should be submitted to Denise Simonini, executive assistant to the chief counsel, Committee for Public Counsel Services, 44 Bromfield St., Boston, MA 02108, by fax to (617) 988-8495 or [e-mail dsimonini].


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News from the courts

SJC seeks Trial Court judges' evaluations; 2012 edition of Massachusetts Guide to Evidence now available; 2011 annual report on Access to Justice Initiative issued

As part of the continuing program to evaluate and enhance judicial performance, the Supreme Judicial Court is sending questionnaires to attorneys, court employees and jurors to evaluate Massachusetts Trial Court judges. Judges in Suffolk County in the Boston Municipal, District, Juvenile, Housing, and Probate and Family Courts will be evaluated starting Feb. 22.

Lawyers who have appeared in these courts in the last two years, according to court records, will receive questionnaires. Attorneys will receive an e-mail requesting them to log into our website to complete the evaluation electronically. As required by statute, the electronic system keeps the evaluations confidential and anonymous. If there is no attorney's e-mail on record, then a paper questionnaire will be mailed.

Inquiries concerning questionnaires and evaluations should be directed to Mona Hochberg, SJC judicial performance evaluation coordinator, at (617) 557-1156, or via e-mail.


2012 edition of Massachusetts Guide to Evidence now available

The Supreme Judicial Court and its Executive Committee on Massachusetts Evidence Law announced the release of the 2012 edition of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence on Feb. 10. The SJC justices recommend use of the guide by the bench, bar and public.

The 2012 edition is available for free on the web sites of the SJC, Appeals Court and Trial Court. The print edition is available for purchase from the Flaschner Judicial Institute, which is again providing a complimentary copy to every judge in the commonwealth.

The 2012 edition reflects developments in Massachusetts evidence law that occurred between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2011. In includes dozens of new opinions issued in 2011 by the SJC, Appeals Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as new sections addressing industry and safety standards, electronic or digital, consciousness of guilt or liability, and missing witness.


2011 annual report on Access to Justice Initiative issued

The 2011 Annual Report on the Access to Justice Initiative in the Trial Court has been submitted.

The report discusses the role of technology in enhancing access to justice, identifies grants obtained in 2011, and summarizes the activities and accomplishments of five task forces.

Click here to learn more and view the report.



A theory of relativity: Time and space and client capture

The relative speed with which you follow up with potential clients goes a long way to determining what sort of conversion rate you have. The faster you follow up, the better it is; the slower you follow up, the worse it is. The reason for this is simple: people like to feel that they are important, and they want others working for them who are, or who appear to be, on top of things.

After you get a business card, or have an initial conversation with a new prospect, when you get back to the office, or in front of your computer, send them a follow-up e-mail (after you've told them you will), with further information about what you do, and about what you can do for them: make your initial formal contact as personalized as possible, without letting such tailoring derail the follow-up process you've created.

But, make that initial follow-up right away, because, if you don't, you're far more likely to push it off longer than you intended to. And, in the space of that time, your potential client, if aggressive about getting legal help, may already have engaged a more proactive attorney.

In addition to following up quickly, there are some other things you should do to improve your chances of converting your potential client into a kinetic one.

  • Do what you say. If you've promised some specific piece of information, or a resource, provide it. The most convenient way to remember what you've promised is to write it on the back of the potential client's business card; or, if the potential client does not have a business card, you can write on the back of one of your own, or send yourself a text message. Clients want attorneys who are thorough and follow through, and who pay attention to details. Show that you're capable of meeting expectations from the jump.
  • Conclude your follow-up with another action item. You've derived your own 'action item' upon meeting your potential client: letting them know you'll get them more information. Now it's time to turn the tables. If you're following up via e-mail, as you likely are, ask your potential client to do something: e-mail you back with any questions; sign up for your eNewsletter; offer availability for an initial consultation; etc. Whatever, something to drive their action. While it's likely that your interest in paying work will move the conversation forward in the beginning, at some point, the potential client will need to take an actual step in the direction of working with you. (Of course, you'll only provide general information, and not legal advice, unless or until you formalize an attorney-client relationship through the vehicle of an executed, written fee agreement.)
  • Offer the opportunity to subscribe to your information portals. Provide a subscription link to your eNewsletter or blog; if appropriate, ask the potential client to like your law firm's Facebook page, or to follow you on Twitter. Do so within the context of your e-mail signature, if you're looking for an automated method. If you don't get them the first time, the potential client may end up choosing to work with you later on, or in the context of another matter; and, it's more likely that they make that eventual decision if they receive regular updates on the progress of your practice.

When you track your conversion rate of potential clients, include within that analysis information related to how and how quickly you followed up on your initial contact. You're likely to find that this theory of relativity is in operation.

Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Office Management Assistance Program.

Published February 16, 2012


To learn more about the Law Practice Management Section, which is complimentary for all MBA members, contact LPM Section Chair Thomas J. Barbar or Vice Chair Stephen Seckler.
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MBA Past Presidents and current leadership at the 2011-12 Past Presidents' Dinner on Nov. 17.

MBA seeks nominations for 2012-13 officer and delegate positions

Submit nominations to MBA Secretary by Friday, Feb. 24

The Massachusetts Bar Association is currently accepting nominations for officer and delegate positions for the 2012-13 membership year. Nominees must submit a letter of intent and a current resume to MBA Secretary Robert W. Harnais by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, 2012 to be eligible.

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

Massachusetts Bar Association
Attn: Robert W. Harnais, MBA Secretary
20 West St., Boston, MA 02111

If you have any questions about the nomination process, call MBA Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy at (617) 988-4777.

Click here for nomination and election procedures.

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Featured MBA Member Benefit: MBA Insurance Agency

No ordinary insurance agency -- Designed by lawyers for lawyers

With claims against practitioners on the rise, you need comprehensive coverage to protect your practice. The MBA Insurance Agency offers Professional, Health, Life, Disability, Personal Auto and Umbrella policies and one of the broadest malpractice coverages in Massachusetts.

The MBAIA has created a policy to meet your specific practice needs by our no one-size-fits-all pricing. Get a tailored insurance policy with competitive rates, low financing, experienced and knowledgable staff and a malpractice hotline through the MBA's insurance carrier.

Get the protection you need. Contact the MBA Insurance Agency today.


Boston (617) 338-0581 • Springfield (413) 788-7878
E-mail: [e-mail Insurance]

Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Learn relevant statutes, rules and leading cases at the March 1 "Divorce Basics: A View from the Bench and Bar' 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. Scroll down for program details, including dates and registration details.

Recorded program Recorded session available for purchase after live program through MBA On Demand.

Live program Real-time webcast available for purchase through MBA On Demand.


Fundamentals of a Civil Jury Trial: Courtroom Conduct and Procedures
Wednesday, Feb. 29, 4-7 p.m.
Massachusetts School of Law, 500 Federal St., Andover

Divorce Basics: A View from the Bench and Bar Live program
Thursday, March 1, 4:30-
7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Law Practice Management Section Educational Series: Marketing Madness/Ethical Marketing Live program
Wednesday, March 7, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston


33rd Annual Labor & Employment Law Spring Conference
Friday, May 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Colonnade Hotel, 120 Huntington Ave., Boston


MBA On Demand

Unable to attend these seminars? Purchase the recorded session available after the live program through MBA On Demand and watch the presentation from the comfort of your home or office.

To view a listing of current programs offered on MBA On Demand, click here.

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Section News: Upcoming meetings and special section events

Join in the Feb. 21 Labor & Employment, General Practice and Property Law section council meetings.

Labor & Employment Section Council meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 4:30-6 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Labor & Employment Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

The guest speakers will be Ellen Messing, a partner at Messing, Rudavsky & Weliky PC and Felix Springer, a partner at Day Pitney LLP, who will speak about a new project initiated by the federal courts: Initial Discovery Protocols for Employment Cases Alleging Adverse Actions. Both Messing and Springer have been working on the draft protocols.

To R.S.V.P., click here.


General Practice, Solo & Small-Firm Section Council meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 5:30-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the General Practice, Solo & Small-Firm Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

To R.S.V.P., click here.


Property Law Section Council meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 5:30-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Property Law Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

To R.S.V.P., click here.


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