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MBA News

MBA, others call for independent investigation in wake of alleged evidence mishandling at DPH lab

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Bar Association 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 to appoint or call for the appointment of an independent investigator in the crisis involving the William Hinton State Drug Laboratory.

"As unimpeachable as the Office of the Attorney General is, an institution that prosecutes drug cases, supports the State Police unit that investigates drug cases and also supports drug prosecutions by district attorneys will be perceived as having a stake in the investigation's outcome," the letter states. Click here to review the letter.

Following the delivery of the letter to Coakley, the signing parties received multiple media inquiries. To review the MBA's press coverage, click here and look under "LATEST NEWS." Comments from MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy were included in articles and segments featured in/on The Associated Press, The Boston Globe, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, State House News Service, WBZ radio, WBUR-FM and Channel 5 WCVB-TV.

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Denise Shear, Esq.

October is pro bono month

Volunteer spotlight: MBA member Denise M. Shear has volunteered with Western Massachusetts Dial-A-Lawyer program for the past 12 years

Massachusetts Bar Association member Denise M. Shear has volunteered with the Western Massachusetts Dial-A-Lawyer program for the past 12 years, providing free legal services to callers during the bi-annual event. A graduate of Roger William Roger Williams University School of Law, Shear was first encouraged to volunteer for Dial-A-Lawyer by fellow attorney David Ostrander when she joined Ostrander Law Office in Northhampton.

"A lot of callers may be worried about an attorney's legal fees, and wonder whether their issue even requires legal counsel," Shear said. "Being able to run it by an attorney helps them decide how to proceed forward -- whether it be through legal recourse, or just letting it go."

Shear fondly remembers when she provided advice to a distraught caller on the brink of foreclosure. Shear referred the caller to the Springfield Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, which coincidentally referred the caller to Ostrander Law Office, a participant in their pro-bono program. The caller became Shear's client, and immediately recognized her voice on the other end of the phone line during their first conversation. Shear has been able to help the client remain in her home.

"It instilled in me, from the very beginning of my career, that volunteer service is a part of this profession and a duty," Shear said.

In addition to the Western Massachusetts Dial-A-Lawyer program, Shear also volunteers her time participating in the Mary Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program and numerous other programs.

"I am setting an example for my children … this is part of what you do -- you help others," Shear said.

Shear is currently an associate at Ostrander Law Offices, where she specializes in consumer bankruptcy law and debtor/creditor representation.

October has been proclaimed Pro Bono Month by Gov. Deval L. Patrick, for the fourth year. In addition, the American Bar Association has declared Oct. 21-Oct. 27 at Pro Bono Week. The MBA urges members to expand their pro bono efforts to help those who need legal services.

Next week's Sixth Annual Public Law Conference to feature a keynote by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman

Register for the Nov. 1 conference, which will focus on the intersection between private lives of public employees

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Public Law Conference

Public Law KeynotesThe Sixth Annual Public Law Conference for state and local government attorneys will focus upon the intersection of the private lives of public employees. State law, regulations and employer policies impose limitations upon what public employees can do, both "on" and "off the clock." But such regulation often raises questions of the employee's First Amendment and privacy rights, among other thorny issues. How far can -- or should -- the government, as employer, go in regulating employee conduct? This question is the heart of this year's conference.

Divided into two panel discussions, the program will include a review of various legal restrictions upon public employee activity, such as the state Conflict of Interest Law, as well as consideration of the various competing interests that arise when the government as employer attempts to restrict or regulate employee conduct, from both the public employer and public employee perspectives.

The conference keynote speaker is the Hon. Timothy S. Hillman, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. In addition to serving as both a state and federal court judge, Hillman's career has included serving as counsel for several cities and towns. Recently appointed Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha will also participate as a panelist.

Click here to view the conference brochure.

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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The Massachusetts Bar Association's fourth annual Tiered Community Mentoring Program on Oct. 25.

MBA's Tiered Community Mentoring Program kick-off focuses on importance of networking

Networking can open up doors of opportunity that would otherwise remain closed, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland told participants at the kick-off of the Massachusetts Bar Association's fourth annual Tiered Community Mentoring Program. The Oct. 25 event was held at the John Adams courthouse in Boston.

"Those of you who are here are making the right choice," said Ireland, a long-time supporter of programs that introduce young people of diverse backgrounds to the possibility of careers in the law. "This is great opportunity. Take advantage of it."

The program, the idea of Norfolk Probate and Family Court First Justice Angela M. Ordoñez, matches up practicing lawyers with students from high school, college and law school. The program was honored with the 2011 ABA Partnership Award from the American Bar Association because of its commitment to diversity.

MBA President Robert L. Holloway Jr., who called the program terrific, shared how networking has helped him advance his career and build his business.

Program alum Loren Forbes, a student at UMass Boston interested in pursuing a career in law, said his experience shaped his education path. "Use the program. It does work," he said.

The kick-off included an overview of its requirements, introductions of the teams and a lesson on the art of networking from Mandie LeBeau, Esq. , the director of career services at New England Law | Boston.



Telling stories that resonate

Listening to the presidential debates reminds me of the importance of good story telling. Telling good stories that illustrate what you do is one of the best ways to make yourself memorable. Romney and Obama were at their best when they told vivid and simple stories about individuals. They were at their weakest when they lapsed into detailed policy discussions.

While I wrote about good story telling earlier in the year, it is such an important point that I am returning to it.

One of the big challenges in selling legal services is that it can take months (or years) before your referral sources actually have the opportunity to refer work to you. Therefore, it is important to find creative ways to ensure that someone in your network will think of you when they hear about a problem that you can solve. Telling good stories is a great tool to accomplish this.

But what makes a story "good"?

Simply put, a good story (for marketing purposes) holds the attention of the listener. It also positions you in a way you want to be known.

So a long winded story told with excruciating detail is generally not an effective tactic for making yourself memorable. Distill the story to its basic facts and choose something that highlights the kind if work you want to be known for.

Note, in some instances this will not be the work that you are most proud of. Remember, you are marketing, not documenting. Choose a case you are proud of; but make sure it is a good example of the work you want in the future. You may be very pleased with yourself for the results you achieved in a child custody case. But if you don't want to handle child custody cases, then find another case which describes your advocacy skills.

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

Published October 25, 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.
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Tell us why you belong to the MBA

Thomas J. Barbar enjoys meeting practitioners from all over the commonwealth. Courtney C. Shea has found the MBA has helped her grow and develop as an attorney. Share why you belong.

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.


Thomas J. Barbar, Deutsch, Williams, Brooks, DeRensis & Holland PC, MBA member since 2002 (above, left)

"In my role as a member and later co-chair of the MBA's Family Law Section Council, I enjoyed meeting practitioners from counties all over the commonwealth and participating with them in pragmatic discussions and educational seminars.

An unexpected benefit was being labeled a leader in the field of family law, which provided me with leverage in successfully settling many of my more acrimonious cases.

In addition, being part of an MBA delegation that welcomed visiting family court judges from Slovenia was a reminder of the breadth of our profession; and has led to my planning a visit to Slovenia."


Courtney C. Shea, Looney & Grossman, MBA Member since 2010 (above, right)

"The MBA has afforded me the opportunity to grow and develop as an attorney. As a member of the Young Lawyers Division, I am able to represent the needs and views of young attorneys by proposing ideas to the MBA House of Delegates, aid in planning events and CLEs beneficial to young attorneys, and give back to my community through volunteering events.

Additionally, my participation in the MBA's Mentoring Circles program and networking events has enabled me to build relationships with experienced practitioners who have offered advice and guidance as I progress in my career."

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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Need conference room facilities?

Take advantage of your MBA membership and rent an MBA conference room today

MBA members may rent conference rooms at our headquarters in Boston's Downtown Crossing or at the MBA's satellite Western Mass. office in Springfield, located directly across from the Hampden County Courthouse. Both locations are equipped with complete audio-visual capabilities, comfortable accommodations and other practice-centered amenities and conveniences.

Click here to download a room reservation form.

Questions? Contact MBA Member Services at (617) 338-0530.

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Photograph by Joe Caci
The MBA's Lawyer Referral Service booth at the New England 50 + Expo.

LRS and new public website showcased at popular event for seniors

The Massachusetts Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service was featured at the New England 50 + Expo that attracted more than 2,500 seniors. The two-day, weekend event was held on Oct. 20-21, 2012 at the Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough and served as an ideal platform for the MBA to showcase the recently launched, public-geared website www.masslawhelp.com and the MBA's LRS.

For more information on how LRS membership
can help expand your clientele, click here.

Note the newly updated marketing materials designed for www.masslawhelp.com and the LRS program.


Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Register for the Nov. 8 "11th Annual Western Massachusetts Bankruptcy Conference," for important updates and issues relevant to both new and experienced bankruptcy practitioners

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.


Sixth Annual Public Law Conference Live program
Thursday, Nov. 1, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

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 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.

©2017 Massachusetts Bar Association