Once each year, lawyers in the commonwealth gather to attend educational programs, to renew old acquaintances, to meet new colleagues, to honor the stars in our profession and to ponder esoteric legal issues about which they usually do not have the luxury of thinking. The Massachusetts Bar Association's Annual Conference is the forum to do these things and to remind ourselves about why we became lawyers and about the contributions lawyers make on a daily basis. Attorneys have been attacked ferociously over the past decade and this attack will certainly continue over the next several years. Please join the Massachusetts Bar Association for its conference on March 3, 4 and 5 at Boston's Marriott Copley Place Hotel to celebrate our great profession. The theme of this year's conference is "Lawyers: Champions of Justice. Protectors of Liberty."
During the three-day conference, hundreds of lawyers and judges will participate in numerous educational programs and special events. From Thursday's practice and career-development programs through Saturday's closing lunch, this year's conference promises to provide practical educational programs and inspiring speakers.
The two main speakers will examine interesting projects that illustrate the great work done by members of our profession. The keynote speaker at the Annual Dinner will be Calvin C. Johnson, Jr., a wrongfully convicted man who was released after many years behind bars and who then helped launch the Georgia Innocence Project. Kenneth Feinberg, Special Master to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, will honor us with his presence at the Access to Justice Awards Luncheon. This program, which recognizes people in our profession who are making tremendous contributions often to their own financial detriment, is always inspiring and humbling.
The education programs this year are varied and cover topics of interest to lawyers from many areas of specialization and from all size practices. On Thursday, there will be two tracks of half-hour programs focusing on how to manage your practice and your career in a changing economy and with ever-changing technology. Whether you are a law student, a new lawyer or an experienced attorney, these seminars will provide useful pointers on law practice management and career options. On Thursday and Friday, experts will be available to give you an overview of the latest tools, techniques and services needed to handle the demands of a law practice in today's fast-paced business climate.
Of course, the cornerstone of our educational programming at the Annual Conference is the Recent Developments programming on Friday. This year, we also have added 11 "Briefings" programs, during which expert panelists will address cutting-edge legal topics in an open-discussion format.
The Bench/Bar Forum on Saturday will examine forces threatening the ability of lawyers to represent indigent people charged with crimes; to represent indigent, low-income and middle-income families in probate and juvenile matters; and to represent injured people if the contingent fee is abolished. We will all try to address the challenges facing individual citizens today when seeking access to justice through our court system.
The programs, special events and exhibits will only be successful if lawyers from varied practice areas and backgrounds attend and participate. Because the MBA wants as many members of our profession as possible to come to the conference, there are many pricing options. If you are a legal-services lawyer, a government attorney or a bar advocate, there is a special registration category. We also have a Student Pass designed to make the conference affordable for law students. For all MBA members, we have tried to make the Full-Conference Pass a great value.
Much thanks has to go to our major sponsors. I would like to thank personally the New York Life and LexisNexis for their major sponsorship of AC05. I also must thank MCLE for continuing to publish our seminar materials and the Flaschner Judicial Institute for its continuing support of the Bench/Bar Forums and luncheon.
Whether you are a general practitioner in the suburbs, a partner in a large firm in Boston, an in-house counsel or a law student, the MBA's Annual Conference presents a unique opportunity for professional development and networking. Please be sure to send in your completed registration as soon as possible to take advantage of the early-registration discount.
I look forward to seeing you in March at the conference.
Kathleen M. O'Donnell
Massachusetts Bar Association