Later this month, I look forward to returning to Washington,
D.C., to participate in the American Bar Association's Lobby Day.
This year, I am especially honored to represent the commonwealth as
the MBA president in the many congressional meetings that take
place over this three-day event.
As one can imagine, orchestrating such a trip and coordinating
such high-level meetings require tremendous effort. The MBA is well
poised throughout this influential trip, thanks to MBA Chief
Operating Officer and Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy and MBA
Legislative Activities Manager Lee Constantine, who serves as the
state captain for the Massachusetts ABA delegation.
This event enforces the theory of strength in numbers. To be
joined by bar leaders throughout the country lobbying the nation's
lawmakers on issues of keen importance to the citizens of the
country all at one time is awe inspiring. In past years, we've made
headway on critical pieces of legislation.
For example, most recently, through our work with the ABA, we were
successful in lobbying to not have the Red Flags Rule apply to the
legal profession. This year, the Massachusetts delegates and I will
address Legal Services Corporation funding, federal judicial
vacancies and state court funding throughout our meetings with
While the ABA continues to fight for funding LSC at $420 million,
this is a very difficult budget cycle. It remains to be seen
whether Congress will vote for level LSC funding. During our visit,
we will remind Senators Kerry and Brown of such devastating
consequences should this level of funding not be granted. Our
lobbying efforts will be consistent with written testimony
submitted to the Committee on Appropriations' Subcommittee on
Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies by ABA President
Stephen N. Zack in mid-March.
Meanwhile, the mounting vacancies on the judicial bench become
increasingly worrisome. According to a Feb. 7, 2011, Washington
Post article, "Since Obama took office, federal judicial
vacancies have risen steadily as dozens of judges have left without
being replaced by the president's nominees. Experts blame
Republican delaying tactics, slow White House nominations and a
dysfunctional Senate confirmation system."
As reported in the Feb. 7 Post, "There are now 101
vacancies among the nation's 857 district and circuit judgeships,
with 46 classified as judicial emergencies in which courts are
struggling to keep up with the workload. At least 15 more vacancies
are expected this year, according to the administrative office of
the U.S. Courts. When Obama took office in 2009, 54 judgeships were
And, as always, the MBA will have much to share with those on
Capitol Hill regarding the dire impact the lack of adequate state
court funding is having on citizens of the commonwealth. We will
echo the sentiments that we have consistently shared with our
legislators on Beacon Hill with our congressional leaders on
I look forward to not only offering the Massachusetts legal
community's viewpoint on these important topics, but for the
opportunity to thank our congressional leaders for their support
and advocacy on these important topics and others over the past
year and into the future.