Lawyers Journal

The spirit of volunteerism

Many before me have commented on how the events of Sept. 11 have brought the country closer together and brought out the best in many of our citizenry. I wanted to take a moment to highlight how that spirit has echoed through the Massachusetts Bar Associations since those tragic events.
In my last column, I referred to the plans that were under way for us to conduct a special Dial-A-Lawyer program for the families of the victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy. With the guidance and support of the special September 11 Committee formed by MBA President Carol A. G. DiMento, that event is taking place right now in the MBA building even as I wander in and out of it to get this column completed. Although I have only recently arrived here, I already know some of the lawyers who are here to take the calls; others I had not met until this evening. But what I know about each and every one of them is that they have busy practices and demanding lives, and have taken time out from those pressures to participate in this vital program.
I thank them all for that.
A second program, based on input from the September 11 Committee, is an all-day clinic to be held at the Parker House in early December to provide in-depth, one-on-one legal support and advice. The exceedingly busy volunteers from our membership will staff that program too.
The third leg of this program is still being designed. It will involve asking members to volunteer some level of pro bono assistance to these families. Although the parameters of this program are still being discussed, what struck me in listening to the September 11 Committee's discussion and in talking about this possibility with others, is how forthcoming with offers of assistance so many of our members have been.
When I think about this further, however, I realize that the energy being extended by so many of our members in this context is a natural extension of the day-to-day workings of the MBA, even in times when the need may not be so apparent or so urgent. More than once in the few weeks I have been here, I have taken note of the steady stream of volunteers all over the state who spend so much of their precious time moving the mission of the MBA forward. Your tireless efforts on behalf of the membership to improve the lives for lawyers in the state of Massachusetts are truly awesome to witness. On behalf of all of the staff at the MBA and (if I can be so bold), on behalf of our membership, I thank you for that.
News from 20 West St. I am very pleased to inform you of recent staffing decisions we have made. Those of you in Western Massachusetts, many of whom know Pat Plasse, the MBA's staff representative in our Springfield office, will be happy to know that she became a full-time employee on Nov. 19. This is one significant step we have taken in pursuit of the commitment Carol DiMento and I have made to increase our service and support of our members in the western part of the state.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to announce the selection of our new communications director, Bill Weber. Bill was most recently involved in the development and oversight of the operation. Prior to that Bill had considerable experience as an assistant managing editor at the Boston Herald.

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