Lawyers Journal

MBA to sponsor ’Conversations on Law & Liberty’

Members needed to lead discussions at local high schools
The Presidential Task Force on the Preservation of Rights, Liberties and Access to Justice, established by MBA President Carol A.G. DiMento in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is developing a program to hold volunteer-led discussions in Massachusetts high schools organized around topics related to terrorism and civil liberties.
These discussion sessions, to be titled "Conversations on Law & Liberty in Times of Crisis," are scheduled to kick off during the week of Sept. 9 at high schools throughout the commonwealth and continue throughout the school year.
The MBA is now calling for volunteers to participate in "Conversations" as facilitators at local high schools in their communities.
The initiative is based largely on the American Bar Association's "Conversations" project, which is designed to encourage public discussion of the complex legal and civic issues facing our nation.
"The attacks of Sept. 11 and their aftermath have put America's basic values to the test," said MBA President DiMento. "Policy decisions are being made and citizens are being asked to make choices that will impact our lives for years to come.
"By talking about the role of law in American society, we can better understand how we should respond to changing circumstances, we will better appreciate the importance of our liberties, and we can encourage real and reasoned discourse about our country's future."
The MBA "Conversations" program will focus on creating a dialogue with students about American values in relation to our identities, civic traditions and diverse world cultures. Extensive supporting materials are being created and training sessions are planned to assist volunteer members in preparing for their roles as facilitators.
"It is our hope," said Kathleen M. O'Donnell, co-chair of the Presidential Task Force on the Preservation of Rights, Liberties and Access to Justice, "that lawyers, judges, educators and the public will find the 'Conversations' program helpful in engaging their local communities in discussions about our liberties, our responsibilities as citizens and the role of American values in a global age."
"Conversations" is part of ongoing efforts of the MBA to assist those affected by the Sept. 11 tragedies. In November, the MBA held a special Dial-a-Lawyer program for families of the victims, in which volunteer attorneys provided free legal advice on probate, family and tax-related issues over the telephone to callers. Also in November, the Presidential Task Force provided comments to the U.S. Department of Justice on the Air Transportation Safety And System Stabilization Act. MBA members also currently are working with some of the 150 Massachusetts families affected by the terrorist attacks by offering free legal assistance and pro bono referrals in the areas of Real Property and Labor & Employment law.
To volunteer as a facilitator or for more information about the MBA's "Conversations on Law & Liberty in Times of Crisis" program, contact Edward J. Hermann at (617) 338-0565 or e-mail [e-mail hermann].

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