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MBA statement in response to the release of the special counsel’s report on OUI cases

The Massachusetts Bar Association has a long history of advocating for and supporting an impartial justice system that protects the rights of all involved.

"The special counsel's report to the Supreme Judicial Court demonstrates that overall the Massachusetts courts are treating OUI cases in line with that of other states. While drunk driving cases are a serious matter, judges must remain independent and be provided the freedom to decide individual cases based on the weight of the evidence before them and the unique circumstances of each particular case," said Thomas Hoopes, chair of the MBA's Committee on Fair and Impartial Courts.

In regard to the high bench trial acquittal rates of certain judges, the report correctly cautions against drawing any adverse conclusions about those individual justices. Rather, as identified by the report, evidentiary barriers and other systemic factors may contribute to those elevated rates.

The MBA will closely examine the report's recommendations and work with court and legislative leaders to ensure that the independence of the judicial system is preserved.

For the full report and a statement from the Supreme Judicial Court, click here.

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Featured member benefit: My Bar Access

MBA to launch interactive new section/division pages with My Bar Access

My Bar Access -- a new online member-to-member community exclusive to Massachusetts Bar Association members -- will launch this December. A valuable new member benefit, My Bar Access transforms the way members can exchange information by combining social networking, member-created content and imperative bar resources, in one convenient web location.

My Bar Access member groups will replace the current section pages on www.massbar.org and allow members to instantly connect with each other through My Bar Access member groups, using these interactive tools:

  • Announcements (ONLY available to Group Admins);
  • Discussions (formerly known as listservs);
  • Blogs; and
  • Resource libraries.

In addition to offering member-created content, My Bar Access member groups provide information on section-sponsored MBA On Demand programs, Section Review articles, section leadership and more.

As an added benefit, My Bar Access is completely customizable to the user -- allowing members the ability to decide how often they wish to receive My Bar Access group activity notifications.

Take advantage of this invaluable resource, which enables you to connect, share and collaborate with members of the legal community. Look for upcoming My Bar Access details on www.massbar.org, in Lawyers e-Journal and in future Lawyers Journals.

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New issue of Lawyers Journal available

The November issue of Lawyers Journal has been mailed and is available online.

It features a piece on recent MBA President Award recipients State Sen. Gale D. Candaras (D-Wilbraham) and State Rep. John V. Fernandes (D-Milford), who were honored for their service to the legal profession and their community. Both Candaras and Fernandes were recognized by the MBA for their work as members of the legislative task force that wrote the alimony reform bill signed into law last fall.

Additional highlights include:

  • Full coverage of the MBA's Annual Bench-Bar Symposium, which featured Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland's second address to the legal community;
  • Information on the MBA's call, with others, on Attorney General Martha M. Coakley to appoint an independent investigator in the crisis involving the William Hinton State Drug Laboratory;
  • Details about the MBA's new Member-Get-A-Member program. Learn how you can refer a colleague and be rewarded.

Click here to read the November issue.

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Tell us why you belong to the MBA

Douglas Sheff feels the MBA has provided him with business opportunities and pride and purpose in the law. Share your story.

Engaging conferences. Inspiring pro bono work. Welcoming networking events. You belong here, at the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Tell us why YOU belong. E-mail us at ibelong to share your story and be entered to win a FREE 2013-2014 MBA membership. E-mails must be received by Dec. 31, 2012. A winner will be selected on Jan. 14, 2013.

The MBA offers the legal community a wide array of professional development and volunteer opportunities.See why others belong.

Sheff iBelong

NOTE: All testimonials shared by e-mail, mail and phone may be published in various MBA publications, posted on the MBA web site and its social media platforms, printed on marketing materials and used in advertising or for other related endeavors.

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Upcoming November Conferences

11th Annual Western Massachusetts Bankruptcy Conference, Nov. 8; 10th Annual In-House Counsel Conference, Nov. 30

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Western Mass. Bankruptcy Conference

Attend the 11th Annual Western Massachusetts Bankruptcy Conference on Thursday, Nov. 8 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Western New England University School of Law, 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield. Since we expect consumer bankruptcy to continue to be a busy practice area, it is important to stay up to date on the latest trends in bankruptcy law. The 11th Annual Western Massachusetts Bankruptcy Conference aims to keep practitioners current and up-to-date to best serve their clients.

Featuring most of the Massachusetts Bankruptcy judges, this year's conference will focus on important updates and issues relevant to both new and experienced bankruptcy practitioners. This year's panelists will include Connecticut presenters in order to explore similarities and differences between the Massachusetts and Connecticut bankruptcy code. Specific topics include:

  • Changes in the intersection of bankruptcy and family law;
  • Successful attorney/trustee interactions and issues;
  • Updates on new claims and new foreclosure law; and
  • Comparing bankruptcy practice and procedure between Massachusetts and Connecticut.

MBA member paralegals, law students, recent admittees: $40; MBA members: $80; and nonmembers: $160.

For more information, or to register, call Member Services at (617) 338-0530 or click here.

In House Counsel Conference

The theme of the MBA's 10th Annual In-House Counsel Conference is "Best Practices for In-House Counsel." The conference will be held on Friday, Nov. 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the MBA, 20 West St., Boston. Designed to present in-house counsel with information from in-house practitioners, outside counsel, and experts in selected areas of current interest to in-house counsel, this year's conference highlights include:

  • Opening remarks by Lauren Stiller Rikleen regarding strengthening multigenerational relationships. Rikleen is an attorney and a nationally-recognized expert on developing a diverse and multi-generational workforce and creating a culture where professionals can advance and flourish.
  • An update from the Business Litigation Session of the Superior Court Department regarding the BLS Pilot Project, which was designed to lessen the burdens of litigation. Attendees will learn about the advantages of the pilot program over other alternatives as a means of resolution of business disputes.
  • A presentation regarding current cyber-security issues, including cyber-stalking, use of false identities and other threats; electronic data security and privacy; how to address cyber-threats; and cyber-security insurance and other insurance products available to address risks.
  • Best practices in insurance planning, including commonly encountered insurance terms and forms, where gaps in coverage can occur, funding mechanisms for self-insured retentions and deductibles, insurance issues that arise under contracts and tailoring contracts to suit insurance coverage.
  • Traps for the Unwary in Independent Investigations. Independent investigations are a proven strategy to reduce the risk of shareholder litigation in public and private companies, but what does it take to satisfy a court that the investigation was independent? Recent court decisions may raise the bar.
  • The conference will again have brief "lightning round" presentations concerning current developments of interest to in-house counsel. There will be two intellectual property segments:

    1. "First-to-file and absolute novelty for patent applications is (almost) here"
    In March 2013 the U.S. implements a first-to-file patent system requiring "absolute novelty" for patentability.

    2.  "Patent validity challenges by a licensee (or having your cake and eating it too)"
    Patent licensees can now sue their licensor and assert invalidity of the licensed patent. What contract provisions are licensors using in license agreements to protect themselves against a patent validity challenge by their own licensees -- and will they work?

InHouseCounselConferenceThis year the MBA will be offering a special post-election presentation for those who arrive early. Witt Associates will sponsor a breakfast and vice president John Weinfurter will offer remarks regarding what in-house counsel can expect from the recent elections, including who will likely be chairing important congressional committees and other political projections of interest to in-house counsel.

The conference is co-sponsored by New England In-House, a publication affiliated with Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, and the New England Corporate Counsel Association.

Live programUnable to come to Boston? This program is available as a real-time Webcast. When registering, participants can choose to attend virtually from a home or office computer. If you choose to attend the program via real-time Webcast, space is limited. Registrants will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.

MBA member paralegals, law students, recent admittees: $40; MBA members: $80; and nonmembers: $160.

For more information, or to register, call Member Services at (617) 338-0530 or click here.


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From left: Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ralph D. Gants; Susan M. Finegan, Esq. of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC, chair of the SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services; John Adams Pro Bono Publico Award recipient Steven Dzubak, recent graduate of Western New England University School of Law; John Adams Pro Bono Publico Award recipient Dorothy Varon of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company in Springfield; John Adams Pro Bono Publico Award recipient Susan Corcoran of the Massachusetts Chapter of the ACLU; John Adams Pro Bono Publico Award recipients Daniel Rosenfeld, Michael Vhay and Matthew Iverson of DLA Piper LLP of Boston.

Photo courtesy of the Supreme Judicial Court.

Three MBA members receive 2012 Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services awarded three MBA members 11th Annual John Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards.

The John Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards are given in recognition of distinguished service and outstanding commitment in providing legal services for the poor and disadvantaged.

The recipients were presented awards by Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ralph D. Gants on Wednesday, Oct. 24. at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston.

Honored MBA members include:

  • Dorothy Varon, assistant vice president of and counsel to the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company in Springfield. Varon has devoted countless hours of her time to the Western Division of the Housing Court in Springfield and has helped establish an innovative corporate counsel pro bono program. She graduated from Western New England College School of Law in 1995.
  • DLA Piper LLP, one of the largest business law firms in the world. The Boston office is being recognized for their diligent commitment to providing pro bono legal services. In particular, DLA Piper LLP Boston is being honored for their collaboration with the Massachusetts Advocates for Children on the Education Rights Signature Project. MBA members of DLA Piper LLP include Boston partners Robert J. O'Connor Jr and William B. Forbush III.

Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Trust and special needs trust language is under attack by federal and state agencies. Learn how to draft a trust that works on Nov. 15.

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.


11th Annual Western Massachusetts Bankruptcy Conference
Thursday, Nov. 8, 4-7 p.m.
Western New England University School of Law, 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield

How to Draft a Trust that Works Live program
Thursday, Nov. 15, noon-4 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Juvenile & Child Welfare Legal Chat Series Live program
Friday, Nov. 16, 1-2 p.m.
NOTE: There is no on-site attendance for Legal Chats.

10th Annual In-House Counsel Conference Live program
Friday, Nov. 30, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston


MBA On Demand

Unable to attend October seminars? Practitioners who were not able to attend MBA CLE programs in October can now view select programs on MBA On Demand. MBA On Demand is an innovative MBA member benefit that offers you the opportunity to watch an MBA program from the comfort of your home or office, at a time that suits your schedule.

In addition, watching an MBA seminar or conference just got easier. All previously recorded MBA On Demand programs are now available anytime, anywhere on your mobile device.  

October CLE programming now available includes:

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

Attend the Nov. 7 Law Practice Management Section Council meeting. Join in the Nov. 14 ABA Committee on Practice and Procedures/NLRA.

Law Practice Management Section Council meeting

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 5:15-6:45 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Law Practice Management Section Council is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 7 from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


ABA Committee on Practice and Procedures/NLRA

Wednesday, Nov. 14, noon-2 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The annual meeting of the Regional Subcommittee of the ABA Committee on Practice and Procedure (P&P) under the NLRA will be held as a combined meeting with the MBA's Labor & Employment Section. The ABA's P&P Committee focuses on procedural labor law issues. This is an excellent opportunity to learn what the subcommittee does and to participate in its face-to-face discussions with NLRB officials.

The meeting will include two segments and you are invited to attend one or both:

  • Noon: Discussion of procedural concerns and questions that have arisen in practices before the board over the past year. A list of these issues will be prepared for discussion at the 1 p.m. session with Acting Regional Directors Elizabeth Gemperline, Ronald Cohen and their staff. Some of these issues may be presented to the NLRB's general counsel for presentation at the national midwinter meeting of the ABA P&P Committee under the NLRB.
  • 1 p.m.: A brief presentation by the acting regional directors and staff of Region 1 -- and by the regional director for Region 34 in Hartford -- concerning pending regional office, general counsel or board policy initiatives, including a Q&A session, a discussion of possible topics for the P&P midwinter meeting and a discussion of other committee activities.

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

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News from the courts

SJC appoints MBA members to committee to study the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct; Probate and Family Court releases procedural advisory and revised estate administration forms; SJC seeks judge evaluations in Middlesex Counties; Memorandum regarding Chapter 193 of the Acts and Resolves of 2012


SJC appoints MBA members to committee to study the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court justices have announced appointments to a committee to study the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct. The committee has been formed to review the current Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct adopted in 2003, in comparison to the Model Code of Judicial Conduct adopted by the American Bar Association in 2007. Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court Cynthia J. Cohen has been appointed chair of the Committee.

Appointed MBA members include:

  • Hon. Cynthia J. Cohen, Appeals Court;
  • Hon. Peter W. Agnes Jr., Appeals Court;
  • Hon. Kenneth V. Desmond Jr., Boston Municipal Court;
  • Hon. Judith Fabricant, Superior Court;
  • Hon. Linda S. Fidnick, Probate & Family Court;
  • Hon. Diana H. Horan, Housing Court;
  • Hon. Angel Kelly-Brown, District Court;
  • Hon. Mark D. Mason, District Court;
  • Hon. James F. McHugh, Appeals Court (retired);
  • Hon. Karyn F. Scheier, Land Court chief justice;
  • Hon. John S. Spinale, Juvenile Court; and
  • Michael S. Greco, K & L Gates LLP.


Probate and Family Court releases procedural advisory and revised estate administration forms

Chief Justice Paula M. Carey of the Probate and Family Court has releases a procedural advisory for estate administration matters. The procedural advisory summarizes procedural changes to estate administration matters as a result of Chapter 140 of the Acts of 2012. Chapter 140 amended various sections of G. L. c. 190B, the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code and incorporates the Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code as Chapter 203E of the general laws. The procedural advisory was developed by the MUPC Procedures Committee which includes Probate and Family Court judges, court staff and members of the bar. The advisory is a new method to educate court staff, members of the bar and litigants on procedural updates. A procedural advisory on the MUTC will be released in late November.

Carey also announced the release of 'round one' of newly-created and revised estate administration forms for actions brought under the MUPC. In response to comments received from members of the bar, litigants and court staff, the MUPC Forms Committee created a new combination Assent and Waiver of Notice/Renunciation/Nomination and Waiver of Sureties form (MPC 455) and Instructions (MPC 941). The new form will replace the need to file separate forms for common requests in estate administration matters. The Assent and Waiver of Notice portion of the form may be used in all probate matters, excluding guardianship of minor proceedings.

Revised forms include:

  • MPC 801-Bond
  • MPC 255-Petition for Informal Appointment of Successor PR;
  • MPC 760-Order for Informal Appointment of Successor PR;
  • MPC 270-Petition for Formal Appointment of Successor PR;
  • MPC 765-Decree and Order for Formal Appointment of Successor PR;
  • MPC 264-Statement of Resignation of PR; and
  • MPC 550-Notice of Informal Probate.

New forms, now acceptable for filing, include:

  • MPC 455-Assent and Waiver of Notice/Renunciation/Nomination/Waiver of Sureties; and
  • MPC 941- Instructions for MPC 455.

Click here for forms.

A second round of form revisions for estate administration and trust matters is scheduled for late November. Comments on any of the forms may be sent to: [e-mail emily.deines].

SJC seeks judge evaluations in Middlesex Counties

As part of the continuing program to evaluate and enhance judicial performance, the Supreme Judicial Court will evaluate judges of 46 District, Housing, Probate and Family, and Juvenile Court in Middlesex County.

Attorneys who receive a questionnaire should take the time to complete it, as the more responses received, the more helpful the judicial evaluations will be. The SJC's evaluation program is the best opportunity for attorneys to offer their opinions of the members of the judiciary. Attorneys 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 a confidential website to complete the evaluation electronically. If an attorney wishes the Supreme Judicial Court to have their e-mail address for conducting evaluations in the future, e-mail addresses can be registered here.

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

Memorandum regarding Chapter 193 of the Acts and Resolves of 2012

On August 2, 2012 Gov. Deval Patrick signed Chapter 193 of the Acts and Resolves of 2012, An Act Further Regulating Animal Control, concerning animals in conjunction with restraining orders, which became effective on Oct. 31, 2012.

Click here to learn more.

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