Please join us March 18 for Lobby Day for the Courts at 11 a.m. in Nurses Hall at the State House. On the 40th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the MBA and the Committee for Public Counsel Services are cosponsoring this very important event to heighten the visibility of the budget crisis that continues to affect both the courts and CPCS. (Event details appear on page 1).
In planning for this event, it struck me how, in recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to observe up close bar association volunteers both from the MBA and the ABA engaged in the multitude of activities that are at the heart of bar association membership.
My time spent at the MBA's House of Delegates Meeting and Annual Conference 2003 was followed very closely with attending the National Council of Bar President's Meeting, one of the opening events for the ABA's mid-year meeting. Experiencing these events myself and sharing the perspective of practitioners across the state and across the country brought into focus the vast array of ways in which joining bar associations can assist practitioners.
As in many states, practitioners in Massachusetts are being buffeted by a wide variety of forces - the changing face of the practice of law, the new state administration and the state of the economy, among others. There are so many ways in which your membership in the bar can help you address these issues as they affect you and your profession. For example, bar leadership and staff continually study emerging trends in the practice of law. Through the MBA's CLE programs and by continually adjusting the member benefits we offer, the MBA seeks to equip members with the tools you need to face new challenges.
Being an active member of the bar can also provide numerous invaluable networking opportunities. Come to a CLE course and meet someone who may someday refer a client to you or who may know of a great job opportunity. Come to a practice group and learn how others are addressing statutory changes. Attend one of our mentoring sessions and learn what it is like to practice in an entirely different area of the law.
With a new governor and the start of another legislative session, every day brings a development in legislative or executive policy that may affect your practice. Why not magnify the effect of your voice on these developments through the MBA? Be active in your section, where MBA policies often sprout. Communicate with the MBA lobbyist on issues that concern you.
Be part of the face of your profession in the local community by doing your community service through the local bar. MBA members participate in so many programs geared toward the assisting the public - Christmas in April, Mock Trial, Elder Law Month, Dial-A-Lawyer, Conversations on Civil Liberties - among others. Why not join us!
As I mentioned at the outset, one of those opportunities to magnify the effect of your voice on public policy is coming March 18 during Lobby Day for the Courts. Let our numbers reflect the grave concern that we share about how the budgetary pressures on the courts affect access to justice.