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MBA leverages billboards, YouTube videos to raise awareness on court funding

President Campbell says it’s a “first”

As Massachusetts nears its state budget process for FY 2013, the Massachusetts Bar Association is launching a high profile awareness campaign on the effects of underfunded courts. The statewide effort is geared toward the commonwealth's general public.

"Understandably, the average citizen may not appreciate the irreplaceable role courts play in their security, livelihood and freedoms," MBA President Richard P. Campbell said. "This significant communication will attempt to change that."  

Through a billboard campaign to begin on Monday, Jan. 16, the association aims to grab the average citizen's attention to reinforce that court funding does impact him or her. The MBA's message will be showcased on billboards in Greater Boston, along I-93 in Dorchester and Medford; in Worcester along I-290; and in Fall River along Rt. 24.

The billboard message will direct passersby to the MBA Web site -- www.massbar.org. Included on the MBA's site will be informational materials on court funding as well as resources citizens and members of the legal community can reference when reaching out to their respective legislators on this important issue.

As part of the informational on-line package, public service announcement-style videos can be viewed. The videos highlight the negative impact of inadequate court funding through the perspective of judicial leadership, attorneys, academic leaders and court staff.

"We've never done this before," Campbell said. "The fact that the MBA has committed to elevating awareness in this fashion is a clear indication of how dire the circumstances have gotten in the court room atmosphere and operations."

Campbell said he realizes that the campaign won't reach every citizen of the commonwealth, but he is eager to take the MBA's communication and advocacy efforts to the next level to better convey why Massachusetts should properly fund its third branch of government.

In addition to the billboards and YouTube videos, the MBA will work to share word of this new campaign through comprehensive outreach to membership and the larger legal community, as well as other key community and opinion leaders.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick is expected to release his version of the FYI 13 budget later this month, while both the House and Senate will begin their budget debates in April and May respectively.

For more information, click here.

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Photo courtesy of UMass Medical School.

Next MBA House of Delegates meeting scheduled for Jan. 19

The next House of Delegates meeting will take place at UMass Medical School in Worcester on Thursday, Jan. 19, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Included on the agenda are a report from the Mandatory Minimum CLE Task Force; discussion of legislation requiring mandatory mediation prior to foreclosure; detainee provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act; and an ABA resolution on the powers of the federal magistrates, among other items.

Look for coverage of the Jan. 19 HOD meeting in the Jan. 26 e-Journal.

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Save the Date: Jan. 26 Forum on Gateway Cities to be held at UMass School of Law

Following a Gateway Cities initiative proposed by Massachusetts Bar Association President Richard P. Campbell, the MBA will host an informational forum on Thursday, Jan. 26 at the University of Massachusetts School of Law in Dartmouth beginning at 5 p.m.

"The focus of the forum will be identifying ways in which attorneys can lend their expertise with issues affecting Gateway City communities across Massachusetts," Campbell said.

Massachusetts' Gateway Cities are those mid-sized cities whose residents are experiencing significantly higher rates of unemployment and a stalemate in social, economic and civic innovation. Some examples are Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, Springfield and Worcester.

Campbell has tapped Margaret D. Xifaras, who practices in New Bedford, and Francis A. Ford, who practices in Worcester, to lead the MBA's Gateway Cities initiative.

Xifaras will serve as moderator at the Jan. 26 event. Area leaders who have long worked with the issues impacting the state's Gateway Cities will share their insight and be part of the conversation to pinpoint ways in which the legal community can help address these issues.

Look for more specifics in next week's e-Journal and in other e-communication in the coming weeks.

Members interested in attending should R.S.V.P. to Gwen Landford at (617) 338-0694 or glandford.

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Legislative News

MLAC snags $1 million in supplemental funding

The House Ways and Means Committee is considering a supplemental budget today that provides an additional $1 million to the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. Legal service programs across the state have experienced deep cuts in recent years due to the enormous drop in IOLTA funding. Additionally, the need for legal services has dramatically increased due to the economic crisis. The supplemental budget could come before the full House as early as today.

Learn more about Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid here.

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Featured member benefit: Traps for the Unwary

Check your mailboxes for this updated guide for hazards to avoid

The sixth edition of Traps for the Unwary is in the mail and available exclusively to MBA members this month. It is the first revision since 2004, and mentions numerous new hazards for lawyers to avoid.

New to this edition is a table of cases, as well as an improved index and system of organization, all designed to make a quick desktop reference.

Funding for Traps for the Unwary has been provided by the MBA Insurance Agency Inc.

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Photograph by Christine Peterson
2011 Walk to the Hill.

Join the MBA at the Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid on Jan. 26

Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid is one of the largest lobbying events at the Statehouse. Join the Massachusetts Bar Association on Thursday, Jan. 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Statehouse to advocate for increased funding for civil legal services throughout the commonwealth. The program includes:

  • 11 to 11:30 a.m.: Registration;
  • 11:30 a.m. to noon.: Speaking program featuring MBA President Richard P. Campbell, Supreme Judicial Court Asscociate Justice Ralph D. Gants and a legal aid client; and
  • Noon to 1 p.m.: Legislative visits and lunch.

This event is co-sponsored by the MBA, the Equal Justice Coalition and the Boston Bar Association.

Honorable William G. Young to receive MBF Great Friend of Justice Award and deliver keynote at Wednesday, Jan. 25 Annual Meeting

R.S.V.P. by Jan. 20

Click here to R.S.V.P. for the MBF's 2012 Annual Meeting.

MBF 2012 Annual Meeting

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Photograph by Merrill Shea
Teams compete at the 2011 Mock Trial Championships.

Volunteer as an MBA Mock Trial Judge

The MBA Mock Trial Program is in the midst of finalizing over 190 scheduled trials throughout the commonwealth. Every year, MBA members serve as Mock Trial Program judges, while thousands of high school students across Massachusetts prepare for the tournament. Students are given a hypothetical case that tests their skills as lawyers and witnesses in a simulated courtroom competition. We are currently looking to recruit lawyers who may be interested in acting as a judge for the various trials scheduled throughout the state.  

Below is a brief description of this year's case:

This year's case explores the division of legal responsibility when addressing a pervasive social problem, one that is familiar to most, if not all, high school students-bullying. The issue at the heart of the civil claim, to be tried by the participating students, is what level of responsibility do teachers bear in identifying and preventing bullying among students. This is a topic that is prevalent in the media and one that illustrates the challenging intersection between law and social policy.

If you are interested in volunteering as a judge for one or more trials, below is a list of preliminary week trials in need of judges.

  • Fall River District Court, Jan. 24
  • Falmouth District Court, Jan. 26
  • Holliston Town Hall, Jan. 24
  • Leominster District Court, Jan. 24 and Jan. 25
  • Northampton District Court, Jan. 25
  • Northampton Superior Court, Jan. 24 and Jan. 25
  • Palmer District Court, Jan. 23
  • Somerville District Court, Jan. 26
  • Sturgis Library, Barnstable, Jan. 23
  • Westfield District Court, Jan. 24

If you are interested in signing up for a trial, or would like to inquire about other open trials, contact Mock Trial Central at
(617) 338-0570 or via e-mail.

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News from the courts

SJC endorses final report by Task Force on Hiring in Judicial Branch

The Supreme Judicial Court has reviewed and endorsed the recommendations in the Final Report of the Task Force on Hiring in the Judicial Branch, the sixth report in a series to offer "recommendations designed to ensure a fair system with transparent procedures in which the qualifications of an applicant are the sole criterion in hiring and promotion."

The task force recommends a full commitment from the top down to merit-based hiring and promotion throughout the court system based on seven well-known elements that are designed to recruit and cultivate a talented, high-quality workforce. The elements include well-defined mission statements, job descriptions and competencies, enhanced applicant pools, objective candidate interviews and assessments and comprehensive applicant tracking systems. To achieve success, the task force emphasizes the need for continuous training and performance reviews and a supportive culture in which all employees are united in common goals and understanding of the system's mission and shared values.

The task force issued five previous reports within the past year. The first two focused on hiring and promotion in the Probation Department and the critical situation that led to the court to create the task force. The subsequent reports dealt with hiring and promotion of court officers, administrative personnel, and employees of the offices of the appointed and elected clerks, registers and land court recorder.

Click here to view the final report and for more information about the task force.



Just do it

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good".

While the philosopher Voltaire probably did not have law firms in mind when he said that several centuries ago, he could have easily been giving advice about marketing legal services. Simply put, when it comes to building a law practice, excessive thinking can get in the way. "Showing up" frequently is an important part of the legal sales process. Thinking a lot (and doing little) will not help you build business relationships.

This is difficult for many attorneys because good analysis is the cornerstone of good lawyering. This is not to say that no analysis should go into your marketing. But if you have the choice between dashing off several brief client alerts over the course of a couple of months or putting together a brilliant law review article once in six months, then go with the client alerts. It is more important for prospective clients and referral sources see your name repeatedly (i.e. versus trying to demonstrate your brilliance to them with a single article that they will probably never read).

Advertising agencies understand this dynamic. If a client has $100,000 to spend on advertising for a year, then most agencies will suggest that that the client purchases a series of smaller ads rather than blowing the entire budget on a single full-page spread .

In other words "just do it" (i.e. meet prospects for coffee, give presentations, write articles, etc.) and the business will come.

Tip courtesy of Stephen Seckler, president, Seckler Legal Consulting and Coaching.

Published January 12, 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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Attorney vacancies at the U.S. Department of Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice has numerous attorney vacancies. All interested applicants are encouraged to apply, but due to temporary funding restrictions, the department may not be able to fill all of the currently advertised positions.

Click here to view a current list of available positions.

To learn more about the U.S. Department of Justice and its legal careers, click here.

In addition, every year over 1,800 volunteer legal interns serve in DOJ components and U.S. Attorneys' Offices throughout the country. Law students interested in a DOJ volunteer internship, should click here for opportunities.

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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.

Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Do you dream of starting your own practice ? Attend the Jan. 26 "How to Start and Run A Successful Solo or Small-Firm Practice" for a nuts-and-bolts seminar on how to set up your own firm.

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.


"The MUPC Demystified" PART IV: Remedies and Protections under the MUPC Live program
Tuesday, Jan. 17, noon-4 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Law Practice Management Section Educational Series:
How to Build a Technology Plan for Your Firm
Live program
Wednesday, Jan. 18, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

How to Start and Run A Successful Solo or Small-Firm Practice
Thursday, Jan. 26, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Lombardo's, 16 Billings St., Randolph


This dynamic series is designed to provide probate practitioners (as well as those who aspire to be) with an in-depth knowledge of the MUPC, exactly how it works and instruction on the new probate forms that will be issued by the court. Click here to register for the remaining two programs, and to receive the first three programs via MBA On Demand, at a discounted price.

PART IV: Remedies and Protections under the MUPC Live program
Tuesday, Jan. 17, noon-4 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

PART V: Estate Planning under the MUPC Drafting Wills and Trusts Live program
Tuesday, Feb. 7, noon-4 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Recorded program In case you missed the Oct. 25 Part I: Informal Probate and Appointment Proceedings, the Nov. 15 Part II: The 'Ins and Outs' of Formal Probate Proceedings or the Dec. 13 PART III: Powers and Duties of the Personal Representatives and Options for Closing Estates, you can view the sessions via MBA On Demand.


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 Jan. 17 Labor & Employment, Property Law and Criminal Justice Section Council meetings. Attend the Jan. 18 Civil Litigation, Judicial Administration, Probate Law and Taxation Law section meetings.


Labor & Employment Section Council meeting

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 4:30-6 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Labor & Employment Law Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Property Law Section Council meeting

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 5:30-7 p.m.
CATIC, 20 William St., Suite G90, Wellesley

The next meeting of the Property Law Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Criminal Justice Section Council meeting

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 5:30-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Law Practice Management Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. All section members are invited to attend. The guest speaker will be Josh Wall, chairman of the Massachusetts Parole Board.

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


Civil Litigation Section Council meeting

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 4:30-6 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Civil Litigation Section Council is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Judicial Administration Section Council meeting

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 4:30-6 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Judicial Administation Section Council is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Probate Law Section Council meeting

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 5-6:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Probate Law Section Council is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 11 from 5 to 6: 30 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Taxation Law Section Council meeting

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 5-6:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Taxation Law Section Council is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 5 to 6: 30 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


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