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MBA applauds Gov. Patrick’s appointment of independent investigator to examine drug lab failings

The Massachusetts Bar Association praises Gov. Deval L. Patrick for his quick action in appointing an independent investigator to undertake a broad review of the William Hinton State Drug Laboratory, a request the MBA and other groups made two weeks ago.

On Monday, Nov. 5, the governor appointed Massachusetts Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha to lead the investigation. Cunha, both a former assistant attorney general and assistant district attorney with 30 years of experience, brings a wide breadth of experience to this critical role.  

"We are pleased that the governor has selected the inspector general, who has the experience and strong investigatory tools at hand to thoroughly examine the matter," said Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel to the MBA.

The MBA, along with the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts called on Attorney General Martha M. Coakley in an Oct. 24 letter to appoint an independent investigator to examine the Jamaica Plain lab, where chemist Annie Dookhan is alledged to have mishandled the evidence in thousands of drug cases.

Coakley, on Oct. 31, asked the governor to appoint an independent investigator to review the policies, practices, and oversight at the lab. The attorney general said her office will continue to focus on the criminal investigation of Dookhan and the impact on drug cases in which she was involved.

"It is critical that all parties have unquestioned faith in that process from the beginning so that they will have full confidence in the conclusions drawn at the end," Coakley said in a statement.

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From top to bottom:
Probate & Family Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey delivers to the State of the Trial Court address to open the second day of programming at the MBA’s Annual Family Law Conference.

MBA Past President Denise Squillante; Rep. John V. Fernandes (D-Milford); Sen. Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham); MBA President Robert L. Holloway Jr.; Probate & Family Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey and MBA Director of Policy and Operations Lee Ann Constantine.

Family Law Chair and Conference Co-Chair Michael Flores; Conference Co-Chair Marc Fitzgerald; and Family Law Section Vice Chair Jennifer Clapp.

MBA members attend the annual Family Law Conference on Oct. 26-27.

Did you miss the Family or Public Law conferences?

Review conference highlights and purchase MBA On Demand recordings today.


Family practitioners head to the Berkshires to learn the latest in the law

The Massachusetts Bar Association's sold-out 22nd Annual Family Law Conference was held at the Cranwell Resort in Lenox at the end of October. Delivering on its high expectations, the popular event featured award presentations to state legislators, Probate & Family Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey's State of the Trial Court and panel presentations on the latest in family law.

The conference's Oct. 26 opening reception featured MBA President's Award presentations to Sen. Gale D. Candaras (D-Wilbraham) and Rep. John Fernandes (D-Milford). The legislators of honor co-chaired the task force pivotal in bringing to fruition the long-awaited, new alimony laws enacted this past spring.

"The MBA applauds their far-reaching contributions to both the legal community and the citizens of Massachusetts," said MBA President Robert L. Holloway Jr., who was joined by MBA Past President Denise Squillante to present the awards. Squillante served on the task force led by Candaras and Fernandes.

The second day of conference programming began with Chief Justice Carey's address. Her remarks touched upon the fiscal challenges endured by the Massachusetts Trial Court over the last five years and provided a more optimistic view of the court's current fiscal health. She also spoke to the high level of collegiality from the Massachusetts probate and family bar in the face of such fiscal constraint and its resulting challenges. "That doesn't exist in other states," she noted.

Among the many Probate and Family court initiatives discussed by Carey were the recent conciliation programs in all counties; the interdisciplinary settlement conference piloted in Norfolk and Plymouth counties; and work being done to develop a screening tool for domestic violence thanks to a Violence Against Women Act grant.

Carey announced that the Probate and Family Court's strategic planning process is well underway and that the technical changes to the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code are now up on the court's website. "Once the kinks are worked out, I think you'll be pleased with it," she said.

The remainder of the conference featured panel discussions -"The New Era of Alimony-One Year After the Alimony Reform Act"; "Demystifying the GAL Process-Explanation and Preparation and Preparation for your Client"; and "Parenting Plans Focusing on the Best Interests of the Children."

The conference was planned by Marc E. Fitzgerald and Family Law Section Chair Michael I. Flores.


If you missed the Family Law Conference, click here to view the program via MBA On Demand.


Sixth Annual Public Law Conference focuses on private lives of public attorneys

Sixth Annual Public Law ConferenceThe Massachusetts Bar Association's Public Law Section held its sixth annual conference on Thursday, Nov. 1 at the MBA, 20 West St., Boston. This year's conference delved deeply into the issues surrounding the private lives of public employees. A wide array of speakers examined state law, regulations and employer policies that impose limitations on what public employees can do, both "on" and "off" the clock.

Public Law Section Chair Michele Randazzo began the conference by posing the question, "Where is the line between employee's privacy interests on the one hand, and on the other, government employer interests in efficient operations?" This theme resonated throughout the program with Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha cautioning public employees and those in supervisory roles that, "anything you do, say, text, or e-mail could end up on the front page of the paper." Cunha advised agency leaders that clearly communicating this concept is key to have public employees better understand the risks.

Other conference panelists discussed the limits a public employer can place on the use of social media by its employees, both on and off the job. Robert Fitzgerald from the Lorenzi Group led a very lively discussion on online monitoring.

The conference concluded with a keynote address from the Hon. Timothy S. Hillman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Hillman offered valuable insights on evidentiary issues related to electronic discovery.

Photo (right): MBA members listen to panelists at the Sixth Annual Public Law Conference on Nov. 1. Photo by Marc D'Antonio.


If you missed the Public Law Conference, click here to view the program via MBA On Demand.

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Volunteer as an attorney coach or judge during the 2013 MBA Mock Trial season

As the Mock Trial Program enters its 28th year, we hope you will volunteer as an attorney-coach or a judge during the 2013 season. The goal of the program is to further an understanding of the law, court procedures and our legal system while helping students hone their analytical, listening and speaking skills. The program also seeks to promote better communication and cooperation between the school community and the legal profession.

Using a hypothetical case developed by the MBA's Mock Trial Committee, students begin preparing for their three preliminary round trials as early as November. This year's case is an old-fashioned murder mystery. The victim, a wealthy widow with no children of her own, dies from a heart attack shortly after informing her heirs that she is giving half of her estate to a charity, and her live-in caregiver will receive a remaining equal share with the grandnieces and grandnephews. The prosecution asserts that the defendant, one of her grandnephews, poisoned her by tampering with her medication to cause the heart attack. The defense asserts that the heart attack was natural, or that if it wasn't, she was murdered by her live-in caretaker or another relative who was upset by the significant reduction in his share of the estate. Can the prosecution prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, or will the defense be able to poke enough holes to prevent the case from being proven to a moral certainty?

This year, the program has a record number of high schools participating this year.  With this increase of new high school registrants, there is a need for additional attorney-coaches to assist the teams. 

The following schools are still in need of an attorney-coach:

  • Arlington High School, Arlington
  • Bartlett Jr Sr High School, Webster
  • Bellingham High School, Bellingham
  • Boston Collegiate Charter School, Dorchester
  • Bromfield School, Harvard
  • Brookline High School, Brookline
  • Foxborough Regional Charter School, Foxboro
  • Four Rivers Charter Public School, Greenfield
  • Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, Devens
  • Jeremiah E. Burke High School, Boston
  • Lee Middle and High School, Lee
  • Lexington High School, Lexington
  • Lynn Vocational & Technical Institute, Lynn
  • Narragansett Regional High School, Baldwinville
  • Needham High School, Needham

If you would like to volunteer as an attorney-coach for any of the above listed schools, we will contact the school and provide them with your information. The time-commitment is based on both your schedules and the teachers, but the trials begin at the end of January and run through the end of March, depending on the success of the individual teams. The schools may need your assistance any time between now and the end of the season to help prepare for upcoming trials.

If you are unable to volunteer as an attorney-coach for Mock Trial, we are also recruiting attorneys to act as judges during the tournament. The yearly Judge's Orientation is scheduled on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the MBA, 20 West St., Boston.

If you are interested in participating as an attorney-coach or a judge, please contact Mock Trial Central at (617) 338-0570 or mocktrial.
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CPCS employment opportunities

The Committee for Public Counsel Services is committed to protecting the fundamental constitutional and human rights of its clients by providing zealous advocacy, community-oriented defense, and excellent representation.

Click here view a current list of available positions.

Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Can't make it to Boston for the Nov. 15 "How to Draft a Trust that Works" seminar? The MBA will provide a live program simulcast at Western New England University School of Law in Springfield.

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.


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: The New CHINS Statute
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, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
MBA, 20 West 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.



Harnessing the billable hour to improve your marketing results

80% of success is just showing up. -- Woody Allen

There are many reasons why marketing does not come naturally to attorneys. Most of us are uncomfortable with self promotion (shouldn't clients just hire us because we do a good job?) Many of my clients would rather be doing billable work than spending time at networking functions. And most of us graduated from law school with no training in how to market a professional services practice.

But there is one valuable marketing skill that most lawyers master when they enter private practice. Lawyers learn how to record their time and this in turn is a tool that can help you stick with marketing long enough to be successful.

Whether or not you like recording your time, having the discipline to keep track of what you are doing as a practicing attorney is a very important skill that you can use to increase your marketing success. One of the truths about building a professional services practice is that it can take a long time before the relationships you cultivate will turn into referrals. Therefore, you need to stay in contact with your referral sources over a long period.

There is no magic to it. You need to find creative ways to "show up" over and over again. In some cases, you may not see referrals for years. So keeping track of your time and budgeting an amount of time that you devote each week to marketing, ensures that you are not simply putting off marketing for a rainy day.

This is a great strength of many lawyers. If you get involved in any community or nonprofit organizations, you know how hard it is for many people to simply get things done. If nothing else, lawyers know how to make lists and document what they are doing.

If you make the effort to write down your marketing goals and create a specific list of marketing tasks each week, you dramatically increase the likelihood that you will follow through. If you then record your time and describe what you have done, you can keep track of what activities seem to be effective ways to build your referral relationships and where you may be spending too much time tinkering with the bio on your firm's website.

The billable hour is being challenged and increasingly, clients are looking for more fixed fee arrangements. But the billable hour is far from dead. So start recording your non-billable time and watch your marketing activity increase.  You may not see any results in the short run. But in the long run, your practice will benefit greatly.

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

Published November 8, 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 Cynthia E. MacCausland.

Register for the 10th Annual In-House Counsel Conference on Nov. 30

Attend and hear remarks from Lauren Stiller Rikleen, an update on the BLS Pilot Project, current cyber-security issues, best practices in insurance planning and more.

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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MBA hosts Cradles to Crayons "Gear Up For Winter" Collection

This holiday season, the MBA is joining Cradles to Crayons for "Gear Up for Winter" -- a collection for children's coats, warm clothing and boots to help thousands of families. Please join us in recycling children's items your family/friends have outgrown and help make a difference. Click here for donation guidelines. Please be sure the items are new or gently used. Items with tears or stains can not be accepted.

Donations can be made through Wednesday, Dec. 19 at:

  • MBA's Boston office, 20 West St., Boston;
  • MBA's Springfield office, 73 State St., Springfield and 20 West St., Boston;
  • Denise Squillante PC, 190 Rock St., Fall River;
  • Fuller, Rosenberg, Palmer & Beliveau LLP, 339 Main St., Worcester;
  • Marcotte Law Firm, 45 Merrimack St., Lowell;
  • The Law Office of Michael T. Cupoli III, 48 Central St., Manchester-by-the-Sea; and
  • Zizik, Powers, O'Connell, Spaulding & Lamontagne PC, 690 Canton St., Suite 306, Westwood.

The MBA thanks the Young Lawyers Division for its contributions to the "Gear Up for Winter" collection.

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Section News: Upcoming meetings and special section events

Attend the Nov. 13 Labor & Employment, Health Law, Property Law and Family Law section council meetings. Participate in the Nov. 14 Individual Rights, Immigration Law, Juvenile & Child Welfare Law section council meetings and the ABA Committee on Practice and Procedures/NLRA.

Labor & Employment Section Council meeting

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 4:30-6 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Labor & Employment Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 13 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Health Law Section Council meeting

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 5:15-6:45 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Health Law Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 13 from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Property Law Section Council meeting

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 5:30-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Property Law Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Family Law Section Council meeting

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 5:30-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Family Law Section Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Individual Rights & Responsibilities Section Council meeting

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 4-5:30 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Individual Rights & Responsibilities Section Council is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 14 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Immigration Law Section Council meeting

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 4:30-6 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Immigration Section Council is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 14 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. All section members are invited to attend.

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


Juvenile & Child Welfare Law Section Council meeting

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 5:30-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

The next meeting of the Juvenile & Child Welfare Law Section Council is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 14 from 5:30 to 7 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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