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MBA plugs second video in public awareness campaign

Next YouTube post emphasizes courts’ adaptations to funding crisis

The Massachusetts Bar Association has posted its second video as part of its public awareness campaign on the effects of underfunded courts. The second video in the series concentrates on the judicial system's response to the underfunding crisis.

Video subjects -- representatives from the bench, bar and academia -- shed light on the reality for the 42,000 Massachusetts citizens who seek justice in the commonwealth's more than 100 courthouses each day.

The subjects' collective insight paints a picture of the mounting burdens on the system's shrinking resources, including its workforce.

"We are really asking our people to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources," Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland said in the video.

MBA President Richard P. Campbell also spoke to the escalating strains on court personnel. "It's a huge problem for us," he said.

"We have not hired one single person," Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey added, referencing the court's hiring freeze since 2008.

The Hon. Anthony Nesi, also of the Probate and Family Court, commented on the lack of clerks and weeks-worth of delays in processing judicial decisions. He explains that the lack of support services has significantly slowed down the process for citizens and impacts the service that they receive.

"People are waiting for their decision. Their lives are in limbo. And, we may have decided the case, but no one knows it," Nesi said.  

Maurice Cunningham, PhD, JD, chairman, Department of Political Science, UMass Boston, also featured in the video, said, "There is a point where you just can't tighten your belt any longer. We're at it right now."

View the video below or click here.

Court Funding Video 2

MBA members are asked to continue to share the MBA videos and the link to online resources with colleagues and acquaintances. All can serve as resources when members of the legal community and citizens alike reach out to legislators on this important issue.

Since its first YouTube video post, statewide billboard launch and online resources provided last week, the MBA's public awareness campaign has garnered significant media coverage, including pieces on/in boston.com; State House News Service; MassINC's CommonWealth magazine; WBUR-FM; the American Bar Association's ABAJournal; Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly's blog, The Docket; Banker & Tradesman; and Worcester's Telegram & Gazette.

In addition, news of the campaign has received considerable attention on social media, especially Twitter. Follow @massbar for the latest tweets on the topic or to join the conversation. In addition to MBA's social media platforms, MBA's e-Journal and Massachusetts Lawyers Journal will contain campaign updates.

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Legislative News

Governor files FY13 budget recommendations

Yesterday, Gov. Deval L. Patrick filed his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2013. Recognizing the tremendous cuts already endured by the court system, Patrick recommends level funding for the courts. Further, Patrick recommends removing the Probation Department from the auspices of the court and seeks to place it with parole under the Executive Office of Public Safety. Additionally, in a repeat of his last year's stance on restructuring the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Patrick proposes to further expand the use of public attorneys instead of state contracting with private counsel. Additionally, Patrick recommends enhanced efforts on indigency verification.

Also, Patrick allocates $12 million for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. That is a $1.5 million bump from FY12 funding levels. You may recall, MLAC received $1 million in supplemental funding last week bringing FY12 funding to $10.5 million.

The House and Senate will take up their own versions of the budget in the spring. The Massachusetts Bar Association will continue to vigorously advocate for full funding for our courts.

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Top: Lt. Gov. Tim Murray speaks at the 13th Annual Walk to the Hill
Bottom: Hundreds of lawyers from across Massachusetts attend the annual program.

Photos by Jeff Thiebauth.

Hundreds gather for annual Walk to the Hill

Hundreds of lawyers from across Massachusetts converged on the State House today to implore their legislators that funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation be increased $5 million to $14.5 million in the fiscal year 2013 budget.

The 13th annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid featured a surprise visit from Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, who told a standing-room-only crowd in the Great Hall of Flags he is confident the governor will sign a supplemental budget to increase MLAC's funding this current fiscal year "because he believes in what you do."

"You represent people who have been disenfranchised . . . you make sure they are heard," Murray said. "Thank you for your advocacy."

In the past four years alone, MLAC has seen a drop in its funding from the Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts from $17 million to just over $3 million and has reduced its staff attorneys by 34 percent. At the same time, the number of people in Massachusetts who qualify for civil legal aid has jumped 11 percent to just under one million.

"The free lunch from IOLTA is gone," Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Ralph D. Gants said. "The legal problems of the poor have not dwindled. They too have grown."

Gants said there is no way to ask for less than the $5 million increase, which he considers a "sound investment" for the commonwealth. "Legal services ensure the promise of justice for all is more than just a promise," he said.

MBA President Richard P. Campbell commended the governor for stepping up and recommending $12 million for MLAC for fiscal year 2013, but it's not enough.

"Legal service organizations throughout the state are being pushed to their breaking point as they are faced with drastic cuts in IOLTA funds and an ever-increasing need for services," he said. "The sad truth is that the resources fall short of the need for legal aid."

Increased funding is critical to restore service levels and prevent further cuts to legal aid programs, as they have been struggling to meet demand due to a 78 percent decrease in revenue since fiscal year 2008 in IOLTA funding.

"Thousands of low-income Massachusetts residents with critical problems . . . have to be turned away when they seek legal aid," Boston Bar Association President Lisa C. Goodheart said.

Without the help of Greater Boston Legal Services, Remon Jourdan of Randolph would never have been able to fix a discrepancy between MassHealth and his doctor that left his personal care attendants without pay for one month. Jourdan, who is confined to a wheelchair following a car accident 10 years ago, said GBLS was able to convince MassHealth to retroactively pay his attendants.

"It was like a weight lifted from my shoulders," Jourdan said. "I know it might not seem like  a big case, but for me it was huge."

The event was sponsored by the Equal Justice Coalition, Boston Bar Association and MBA, and was co-sponsored by 30 county and specialty bar associations.

Click here to view Campbell's remarks.

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Top (left to right): Massachusetts Medical Society President Lynda Young, MD; MBA Vice President Jeffrey N. Catalano; MMS Past President Alan C. Woodward; and MMS Vice President and General Counsel Charles Alagero.

Bottom: MBA President Dick Campbell addresses the delegates.

Photos by Tricia Oliver.

HOD discusses mandatory CLE and foreclosure mediation

A lively discussion on the practitioners' views of  mandatory minimum CLE and debate over legislation to draft mandatory mediation prior to foreclosures were among the topics deliberated at the Massachusetts Bar Association's Jan. 19 House of Delegates meeting at UMass Medical School in Worcester.

The first topic of the meeting, fittingly, was improving health care quality as it relates to medical errors. "As a patient advocate I am always open to listening to means to address this crisis," said MBA Vice President Jeffrey N. Catalano, who specializes in medical malpractice. Dr. Alan Woodward, an emergency physician, consultant and former president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, presented a detailed power-point on the subject of transforming medical liability and improving patient safety in Massachusetts.

HOD voted to support in principle a report of the Foreclosure Task Force presented by Robert Cannon, which outlined draft legislation to create a mandatory mediation procedure prior to foreclose on residential properties in Massachusetts. The task force originally presented the matter to HOD in November, but it was tabled. The legislation calls for face-to-face mediation within 90 days, said Cannon, who described the process as creating predictability. Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts President Christopher S. Pitt reported that REBA does not support the bill as drafted, but does not oppose mediation in principle. MBA Civil Litigation Section Chair Raymond P. Ausrotas said the section also does not support the legislation as drafted. 

A  vote of approval by HOD was given to a resolution from the American Bar Association that grants United States magistrate judges the power to conduct any and all proceedings in a jury or non-jury civil matter in federal court.

HOD voted unanimously to express opposition to provisions contained in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012 that concern detention, interrogation and prosecuted of suspected terrorists. MBA member Michael Mone Jr., son of MBA past president Michael Mone, presented the matter to HOD.

The MBA's Mandatory Minimum CLE Task Force, co-chaired by MBA Vice President Marsha V. Kazarosian and Christopher A. Kenney, a region 10, Worcester County delegate, provided an overview of its report. The seven-member task force, created in September, met with and sought input from MBA members, affiliated bars, MCLE, the Board of Bar Overseers and Minnesota Continuing Legal Education.  "The message was Massachusetts lawyers are a very self-motivated group," Kazarosian said. "Many are not against CLE, just the mandatory aspect of it."

MBA Treasurer Douglas K. Sheff gave an positive report, noting the MBA is operating with a profit in the first quarter of its fiscal year, new members have increased 10 percent over the same time period last year and CLE has grossed more than anticipated in part due to the success of the MUPC series.

Catalano alerted HOD that he is now forming a committee to decide how to distribute funds collected for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship, which was created with money raised above the amount needed for last year's Centennial Celebration.

For more information, look in the February Lawyers Journal.

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Do you have practice management experience?

MBA's Law Practice Management Section seeks mentoring volunteers

Are you a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association who works with attorneys and law firms on law practice management issues? Do you have expertise in law firm bookkeeping and finance, law office technology, legal marketing or general office administration? The Law Practice Management Section is in the process of helping to expand the MBA's mentoring program. We are looking for volunteers who are willing to invest a few hours a year helping MBA members who have questions about how to run a law practice more efficiently and more effectively.

Interested in learning more?
Contact LPM Section Vice Chair Stephen Seckler at [e-mail legal].







Don't document; Tell a story

In most areas of legal practice, being thorough is an important element of doing a good job. In fact meticulous attention to detail is one of the best ways to avoid committing malpractice.

At the same time, getting bogged down in details can be detrimental when you are trying to market your law practice. Rattling off 15 different practice areas when you describe what you do is generally ineffective. 

Advertisers understand this. An effective commercial will highlight one or two key benefits of a product or service and then the commercial will be repeated over and over again so that the message sticks. Successful politicians do the same thing with political ads.

This has  to do with the limitations of human memory. Most of us are unable to recall a barrage of information, particularly if it is not put into some kind of context. Stories, in particular, are easier to recall. 

Therefore, when describing what you do as a lawyer, don't just list everything you have worked on in the past six months.  You are under no obligation to do so. Instead,  decide what you want to be known for and talk about that. Give an illustration or two of the kinds of problems that you solve. Tell a good story. Resist the urge to simply document what you have done. 

If you keep your messages simple and focus on just a couple of practice areas where you have expertise (particularly the areas that are most relevant to the prospect), then people you meet are much more likely to remember you and remember what you do.  If you communicate in the way you draft documents for a closing, you may get high marks for accuracy; but don't expect that person to remember you when they have a need.

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

Published January 26, 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.

Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Register for February programs, including a criminal lawyers guide, an all-day MUPC conference and more.

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.


A Criminal Lawyer's Guide to Practice in the Massachusetts District Courts
Wednesday, Feb. 1, noon-5 p.m.
Massachusetts School of Law, 500 Federal St., Andover

Law Practice Management Section Educational Series: Rules You Need to Know Live program
Wednesday, Feb. 1, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Contempt Actions in the Probate and Family Court: Cut and Dry?
Thursday, Feb. 2, 3-5 p.m.
Norfolk Probate & Family Court, 35 Shawmut Road, Canton

The MUPC Demystified 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

MUPC Basics: An Overview of the New Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code
Friday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Massachusetts School of Law, 500 Federal St., Andover

Law Practice Management Section Educational Series: Going Paperless
Live program
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

MBA co-sponsors program: Uniform Commercial Code Conference
Thursday, Feb. 16, 12:30-5:30 p.m.
New England Law | Boston, 154 Stuart St., 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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Featured member benefit: Daily Legal Headlines

Looking for recent legal news?

Each morning, visit www.massbar.org to view the latest news headlines related to state and federal laws, the legal profession and the MBA. Updated every day, our headlines section is accessible on the Homepage and here.

Subscribe to the MBA's Headlines RSS feed here.

Section News: Upcoming meetings and special section events

Join in the Feb. 2 Public Law Section council meeting. Attend the Feb. 7 Labor & Employment open meeting on labor report.

Public Law Section Council meeting

Thursday, Feb. 2, 5:30-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Public Law Section Council is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 2 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Labor & Employment Section open meeting

Improving workplace conditions through strategic enforcement
Tuesday, Feb. 7, 12:30-2 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

In 2010, a team led by economics professor David Weil of the Boston University School of Management issued a report, which was commissioned by the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, entitled "Improving Workplace Conditions Through Strategic Enforcement."  The report has been embraced by both the DOL Wage and Hour Division, and by the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, and has caused a seismic shift in the way those enforcement agencies approach wage and hour enforcement.  

The Labor & Employment Section Council invites MBA members to a discussion of the far-reaching impact of this little understood report.

The panelists include George Rioux, district director of the DOL Wage and Hour Division and Jocelyn Jones, deputy chief of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Fair Labor Division. The panel will be moderated by John Tocci of Tocci, Goss & Lee PC.

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


©2017 Massachusetts Bar Association