Image for Court Advocacy Day
Images from the 2012 Court Advocacy Day on March 19 at the Statehouse.

Photos by Jeff Thiebauth.

MBA and BBA lead lobby day for court funding

The Massachusetts Trial Court will lose the ability to both deliver justice and ensure security within their walls if the Legislature does not approve adequate funding for fiscal 2013. That was the message delivered by court leaders and lawyers at a Court Advocacy Day hosted by the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association at the Grand Staircase of the Statehouse on March 19.

"Losing more than 17 percent of court personnel directly affects our ability or deliver justice in ways that are all too familiar to you and your colleagues," Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland said. "Inadequate funding has made access to justice all the more harder."

The Trial Court Department is asking for $593.9 million in "critical funding" it needs to preserve the integrity of the courts. Gov. Deval L. Patrick recommended level funding the courts when he released his state budget proposal in late January. The House and Senate will start debating the budgets in April and May, respectively.

"Our message today is pretty simple… supporting the courts request for $593 million is essential," MBA President Richard P. Campbell said.

Following the speaking program, attendees met with their local legislators to emphasize the need for $593.9 million in funding.

Click here to view event images.

Court Advocacy Day complements the Massachusetts Bar Association's comprehensive public awareness campaign on underfunded courts. In addition to a statewide billboard campaign on this topic, the MBA has posted videos on YouTube and conducted outreach to members of the legal community and other key community leaders and groups. All stress the importance of adequately funding the state's third branch of government. For more information on the March 19 event or the MBA's overall campaign on underfunded courts, visit www.massbar.org/courtfunding.

Image for Annual Dinner

Join us at MBA Annual Dinner on May 31

Consider sponsoring our premier event

The Massachusetts Bar Association will hold its 2012 Annual Dinner on Thursday, May 31 at the Westin Boston Waterfront, 425 Summer St., Boston. The event will feature the presentation of  the Legislator of the Year Award to Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and the annual MBA Access to Justice Awards.

Attend this annual event as a sponsor. Sponsorship opportunities to consider include:

  • Platinum Sponsor ($5,000)
    Table for 10, full page ad in dinner program, firm logo projected at the dinner, sponsorship level recognition in Lawyers Journal and displayed on MBA website
  • Gold Sponsor ($3,500)
    Table for 10, 1/2 page ad in dinner program, firm logo projected at the dinner, sponsorship level recognition in Lawyers Journal and displayed on MBA website
  • Silver sponsor ($2,500)
    Table for 10, 1/4 page ad in dinner program, firm logo projected at the dinner
Click here to register for the MBA's 2012 Annual Dinner online. For a printable PDF outlining sponsorship opportunities and table reservation information, click here. For additional information, call (617) 338-0543.

Member Appreciation Reception

Network with MBA and Worcester County Bar members next Thursday, March 29

Member Appreciation Reception March 2012

Join the Massachusetts Bar Association and Worcester County Bar Association at a FREE Member Appreciation Reception and Networking Event from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Citizen, 1 Exchange St., Worcester.

This event will feature passed hors d'oeuvres. Cash bar available.

Click here to R.S.V.P.

Space is limited; R.S.V.P. today.

Image for Gateway Cities Forum

MBA to host second Gateway Cities forum on April 30

Following the success of its debut forum in Dartmouth on Jan. 26, the Massachusetts Bar Association will host its second Gateway Cities forum in Worcester on Monday, April 30 beginning at 5 p.m. in the Jury Room at the Worcester Trial Court.

"Like with the first forum, the focus of the Worcester event will be to identify ways in which attorneys can lend their expertise with issues affecting Gateway City communities across Massachusetts," said MBA President Richard P. Campbell, who set Gateway Cities as a prioritized initiative.

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.

Margaret D. Xifaras, who practices in New Bedford, and Francis A. Ford, who practices in Worcester, have led the MBA's Gateway Cities initiative.

Ford will serve as moderator at the April 30 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.

Confirmed speakers to date include:

  • Massachusetts Secretary of Education S. Paul Reville;
  • Massachusetts Sen. Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester);
  • Benjamin Forman, research director, MassINC;
  • Craig Blais, executive vice president, Worcester Business Development Corporation; and
  • Michael F. Collins, MD, University of Massachusetts senior vice president for Health Sciences and chancellor of UMass Medical School.

Look for more specifics in e-Journal and in other e-communication in the coming weeks.

Members interested in attending, click here.

Image for Member benefit

Featured member benefit: New Lawyer Referral Service web site

Expand your client base as an MBA LRS member; check out the new www.masslawhelp.com

The Massachusetts Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service, one of the largest referral services of its kind, has launched a new website to help connect members of the public with an attorney in their area who has the knowledge they need.

The user-friendly website, offered as a public service of the MBA, provides the public with answers to the most common legal questions in the areas of family law, labor and employment, estate planning, real estate, consumer protection, personal injury, criminal law, personal finance, business, individual rights, government benefits and services and immigration.

The website also makes it easy for the public to contact the MBA's LRS to find an attorney.

Go to www.masslawhelp.com to view the new public site, or to sign up to become a member of the MBA's LRS. Also, link the LRS site to your website to provide your clients with answers to frequently asked questions, as well as how to prepare for their first meeting with an attorney. The website replaces the MBA's past practice of distributing printed client pamphlets.


Current LRS members can avoid any interruption in their membership by renewing before the March 31 deadline. The cost of joining the LRS is either $100 or $150 depending on how long you have been admitted to practice. Just one LRS referral can cover the cost of your annual membership in both the MBA and the LRS.

For more information, click here.


Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Learn the implications of the Anti-Bullying Law at the March 30 "Taking on the Anti-Bullying Law from All Angles" 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.


It's Confidential -- Privilege Law in Massachusetts Live program
Thursday, March 29, 4:30-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Taking on the Anti-Bullying Law From All Angles Live program
Friday, March 30, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston


Criminal/ Immigration Law Training Conference Live program
Wednesday, May 9, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

GP Solo Symposium Recorded program
Thursday, May 10, noon-5 p.m.
Lombardo's, 6 Billings St., Randolph

33rd Annual Labor & Employment Law Spring Conference Recorded program
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.

Image for Section news

Section News: Upcoming meetings and special section events

Join in the March 27 Access to Justice and Business Law section council meetings. Attend the March 28 Family Law Section Council meeting.

Access to Justice Section Council meeting

Tuesday, March 27, 6-7:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Access to Justice Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, March 27 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Business Law Section Council Meeting

Tuesday, March 27, 6-7:30 p.m.
MBA's Western Mass. office, 73 State St., Springfield

The next meeting of the Business Law Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, March 27 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the MBA's Springfield office. Professor Eric J. Gouvin of the Western New England University School of Law will speak about innovative programs for teaching transactional law both at his school and across the nation and suggest ways the bar can support those efforts.

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


Family Law Section Council meeting

Wednesday, March 28, 5:30-7 p.m..
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Family Law Section Council is scheduled for Wednesday, March 28 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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





Learning to communicate with clients in the age of information overload

The widespread adoption of e-mail in the workplace has made written communication with clients much simpler and faster. Prior to the 1990's, if you wanted to write to a client, you had to print out a letter, address an envelope and pay for postage. Electronic communication changed all that. Now with a few simple clicks, your message is not only on its way but in the inbox of the recipient in a matter of seconds. On top of that, social media and other on-line content has created an explosion of information that is readily available right in a browser window.

Overall, the advent of e-mail has been a huge improvement for most lawyers. But as with any new technology, there have been a host of unintended consequences as a result of change in how we communicate. One large unintended consequence is that most attorneys are put in the position of having much more to read (and less time to read it). Since sending an e-mail message is so easy, clients and lawyers alike have more to communicate. Even worse is that electronic communication has created much higher expectations about how quickly one might receive a response.

The end result is that you need to employ a new set of communication strategies if you want your messages to break through the "noise." This is true whether you are communicating with prospective clients and referral sources or with active clients with live matters.

In order to manage the volume of messages that end up in one's inbox each day, many people resort to skimming. So what are some ways to make it easier for e-mail recipients to skim your messages?

  1. Use descriptive subject lines that are likely to get the attention of the recipient.
  2. When replying to an e-mail, consider changing the subject line particularly if you are changing the subject.
  3. Make use of bulleted lists and other formatting tools like underlining, bold, italics and even red text.
  4. Try to cover only one subject in each message and limit your message to a few sentences.  If you address several unrelated issues in the same message, you increase the likelihood that the reader will ignore at least one of them.
  5. If you need to provide a lot more depth, use links and attachments to provide the reader with more detail. Don't overwhelm them in the body of the message.
  6. If you do not get a response, consider resending the same message indicating that it is your second attempt.  People who get too much e-mail everyday tend to ignore older messages once they have moved down the queue considerably. A friendly "not sure if you received this" is one way to get back to the top of the queue.

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

Published March 22, 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.
Image for Bullying conference

MBA co-sponsors 2012 Massachusetts Conference on Bullying

Conference featured keynote speaker Dean B. Eggert, Esq.

The Massachusetts Bar Association co-sponsored the "Bullying and the Law: Policies, Programs and Best Practices" Conference on Friday, March 16 at Harvard Law School.

The conference featured keynote speaker Dean B. Eggert, Esq., who explained the law's response to bullying in the cyber age, by reviewing and seeking to harmonize the legislative and judicial responses to the new challenges presented by the bully and her avatar.

Conference attendees also had the opportunity to attend workshops including educators, attorneys, school counselors, resource officers, nurses, other school climate leaders and community members.

Image for Excellence

Nominate your colleagues for 2012 Excellence in the Law awards

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and the Massachusetts Bar Association will honor the very best of the legal profession on Thursday, May 10 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, 138 St James Ave., Boston. The ceremony will include the recipients of the Excellence in Legal Journalism Award, Daniel Toomey Excellence Judiciary Award, Excellence in Pro Bono Award and more.

Click here to nominate firms and individuals, who go above and beyond on a daily basis, for Excellence in the Law 2012 awards.
Nominations are due by Friday, March 23.

Image for News from the courts

News from the courts

Courthouse signs on camera use; SJC Committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide invites comments on proposed revised model jury instructions on homicide

Courthouse signs on camera use

A sign detailing the trial court policy regarding the use of cameras in courthouses by the general public has been developed and was posted by security on March 19.

The trial court decided to post the policy as a result of the proliferation of electronic devices with camera capability and a number of court proceedings impacted by inappropriate camera use.

The sign specifies that the use of any camera, including those in cell phones, tablets, or other electronic devices, is prohibited inside a courthouse. It also indicates that cell phones must be turned off inside a courtroom.

Court officers working in concert with the presiding judge may determine a need to confiscate a device that is used in violation of this policy and to require removal of the party from the courtroom or courthouse.

The Supreme Judicial Court recently updated Rule 1:19 to address the issue of electronic access to the courts for the news media. The new rule, which becomes effective on July 1, 2012, will allow news media to register with the Public Information Office in order to use electronic devices in the courtroom.


SJC Committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide invites comments on proposed revised model jury instructions on homicide

In 1999, Supreme Judicial Court justices approved and recommended the use of Model Jury Instructions on Homicide (1999 Model Instructions). In 2010, the justices created a new committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide (committee), and charged it with reviewing and updating the 1999 Model Jury Instructions on Homicide.

Because of the many relevant legal developments since 1999 and the committee's decision to reorder some of the instructions, the justices have authorized the committee to post the Proposed Revised Model Jury Instructions on Homicide for public comment.

These revised instructions do not include instructions for motor vehicle homicide; the revision of those instructions has not yet been completed. The committee welcomes all comments pertaining to the issues raised by this proposal and will make recommendations to the SJC after reviewing the comments submitted. When submitting comments, please clearly identify the page number, specific instruction, and the specific language in the instruction that you are commenting on; suggest alternative language, if appropriate; and provide any applicable authority for your position.

Comments should be directed to The Committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide, c/o Attorney Barbara Berenson, Supreme Judicial Court, second floor, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston MA 02108 on or before May 31; comments may also be sent to [e-mail barbara.berenson]



©2017 Massachusetts Bar Association