Lawyers Journal

Make the most of your MBA benefits in 2010

The Massachusetts Bar Association is working hard to provide benefits that will help you every day in the practice of law. The legal profession is being changed dramatically by technology, and we are committed to making the most of the high tech benefits that can provide real value to you.

My challenge to you, as we begin 2010, is to take us up on this. Trying something new takes energy, and so this is the perfect time of year to commit to making the most of your MBA membership. Here are my suggestions for just a few of the benefits that you can try in 2010. Many (but not all) of these relate to technology:

1. Watch an educational program online while sitting at your desk or at home, either live or purchased through our online directory. Starting this month, we have the best new CLE technology called "MBA On Demand." The online educational programs are presented in high definition video and sound, and you can watch a split screen with the speaker on one side and their PowerPoint presentation in the other. After the program has finished, you can put your curser anywhere on the PowerPoint presentation, and the program will take you to that part of the video. For the family law attorneys who could not attend the Annual Family Law Conference in Chatham last November, the entire program is now available online.

2. If you are hiring an associate, paralegal or legal assistant or have some office space to lease, put up a free ad on our new online classified section of our Web page. This service is now completely free to all members. Feel free to use it like a Craigslist for professionals - for example - if you have a vacation home you want to rent out to fellow members of the bar, or if you have office furniture to sell, you can list it there at no charge.

3. If you are in between jobs, underemployed or in some other professional transition, consider joining our Lawyers in Transition task force, and drop in for some networking, mentoring and brainstorming. Of all times, this is the perfect time to seek out people at the bar association who can provide guidance and support to you. You are not in this alone.

4. Sign up for our March 2010 Annual Conference at the Westin Copley in Boston. We will have leading experts throughout multiple practice areas, as well as national speakers on topics including "Building Your Business in the Post-Crash Economy," "Improving Office Efficiency" and "Social Media for Lawyers." (See related story on page 3.)

5. Join the MBA LinkedIn network and follow us on Twitter. Don't know how to do this? Visit www.MassBar.org and click on the Twitter logo to go through a quick sign-up process. We'll keep you informed about the latest legal news, as well as opportunities for socializing and networking. You can follow "Legal Headlines," where we provide links to all of the important legal stories in the news every day.

6. Call the MBA Insurance Agency to make sure that you have appropriate coverage for malpractice, health, disability, auto and life insurance. Due to our strength in numbers, the MBA provides the best coverage at the lowest price available.

7. Try the newest version of Casemaker for your online legal research if you're looking to reduce your office's overhead costs. True, it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of Lexis or Westlaw, but the price is right (it's free to all MBA members). Just go to our Web site and follow the instructions. Webinars are available every Tuesday at 11 a.m. The new Casemaker 2.1 is a great improvement and will keep your legal research up to date and accurate.

8. Scan your favorite MBA publications (Massachusetts Law Review, Section Review) into pdf format and view Lawyers Journal in PDF form on our Web site. Read them at your leisure on a Kindle or other electronic reading device (or even just a laptop as you ride the train, for that matter). Even if you'd rather read them in hard copy, remember to bring them with you anywhere you might have some extra time. If you haven't read the just published special commemorative issue of Massachusetts Law Review to celebrate the Superior Court's 150th anniversary, it is well worth the time.

9. Review all the discounts we have negotiated on your behalf. Remember to double-check all of the businesses that will give you MBA discounts, which include: Affiniscape Merchant Solutions, AmeriVault, Avis, Bank of America, Beacon Hill Staffing, Budget Rental, Catuogno Court Reporting, EsqSites123.com, Geek Office Solutions, Federal Express, Hertz, LimoLiner, Marketyourlawpractice.com, Sports Club/LA, Staples Business Advantage, Thrive Networks, TurboLaw Document Software and TurboLaw Time and Billing.

10. Sign up for a section membership electronic newsletter in your area of practice. We have 17 section councils, including Access to Justice, Business Law, Civil Litigation, Criminal Law, Family Law, Health Law, Labor and Employment and many others (check our Web site for the complete listing). Most of the section councils now send their members periodic electronic newsletters to keep them updated about important developments. If your section hasn't yet started one, you can offer to help get it started.

11. Sign up to receive referrals from our Lawyer Referral Service. For a modest charge, you can be on our list of attorneys who will receive referrals. Every day, we screen more than 200 calls and then make appropriate referrals. Try it in your practice area - you never know when it could be a great case!

12. If you have a fee dispute with a client or law partner, use our Fee Arbitration Board and keep the case out of the courts. A binding arbitration hearing by experienced and fair hearing officers will decide the reasonable value of an attorney's legal services.

13. If you need an ethical opinion, submit a question to our Committee on Professional Ethics. Every lawyer can be faced with difficult ethical questions. You don't need to figure it out alone. The Committee on Professional Ethics will help render an opinion, under appropriate circumstances, free of charge to any MBA member.

Best wishes to all of you in the New Year. May your professional lives be meaningful and enjoyable, and may your work contribute to a more just society.

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association