|Photos by Merrill Shea
State Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem believes her term as chair of the
Massachusetts Bar Association's Family Law Section in the late
1990s was the perfect training ground for a future legislative
career. In February, the former family law practitioner and current
six-term senator was appointed to succeed Robert S. Creedon as
Senate chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
"I learned how to do policy work at the MBA. This is really full
circle for me," said Creem, a partner at Stone, Stone & Creem,
where she practices family law. "I'm excited about being the chair.
These are areas I've been interested in for so long."
As co-chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, Creem will
weigh in on legislation related to criminal law, the courts and
civil and equal rights. The MBA has recently argued before the
committee on a number of matters, including sentencing and Criminal
Offender Record Information (CORI) reform.
Creem, a Massachusetts Bar Foundation Fellow, is still a member of
the MBA's Family Law Section and is the sponsor of four bills on
behalf of the MBA. She is just one of several new legislative
leaders who have a longstanding history of collaboration with the
MBA. (See profiles of other new leaders.)
"The good news from the bar's perspective is a number of attorneys
have been appointed to leadership positions in the House and
Senate," said MBA General Counsel and Acting Executive Director
Martin W. Healy, who serves as the association's chief legislative
liaison on Beacon Hill. "This bodes well for the practicing
Other notable leaders appointed in February are Speaker of the
House Robert A. DeLeo of Revere, a former MBA Legislator of the
Year; Majority Leader James E. Vallee of Franklin and Ways &
Means Chair and State Rep. Charles A. Murphy of Burlington, a
strong supporter of civil legal aid.
Although it was only last fall when the new child support
guidelines became law, they were a hot topic even when Creem served
as MBA Family Law Section chair a decade ago. It was during her
time as an MBA leader communicating for these guidelines and other
important policy changes that Creem said she first learned the art
of advocating to opposing viewpoints. "It was a good forerunner to
the Legislature," she said.
"I went before the House of Delegates and the Family Law Section
would have something they wanted to pass and I would need to sell
it," Creem said. "When you are going to the House of Delegates,
you're hearing from people coming from all areas of the state
representing varying interests. It's very much like the
Family law is still important to Creem, who has filed a bill on
behalf of the MBA this session that would grant judges the
discretion to determine the duration of alimony payments. The three
other bills she has filed on behalf of the MBA this session would:
allow the court to continue probation with or without extending the
conditions after a violation; allow the court to hold probation
violators on bail; and require certificates of name changes related
to a marriage be given automatically after a marriage certificate
is filed. All four of the bills are currently pending before the
Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
As the former chair of the Legislature's Criminal Justice
Committee, Creem successfully opposed the reinstatement of the
death penalty, helped create safety buffer zones around health
clinics, reformed the sex offender registry and drunken driving
laws and drafted a new law to prevent terrorist threats.
Creem, who also serves as vice chair of the Senate Committee on
Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, also places a high
priority on the issues of health care, the environment, women's
issues, civil rights and education. A native of Brookline, Creem
graduated from Brookline High School, Boston University's School of
Management and Boston University Law School. She lives in Newton,
where she served on the Board of Aldermen.