I recollect the last 11 months with a sense of pride. The MBA
has accomplished much and been front and center on the issues with
the highest relevance to the Massachusetts legal community.
It has been a privilege to be at the helm for this year's worth
of progress and impact. Many accomplishments were possible thanks
to the support and collaboration of MBA volunteers, including my
talented and collaborative fellow officers. I could not have done
it without them. Thanks also go to the tireless work and support of
the MBA staff.
The MBA centennial anniversary was an opportunity for all of us
to reflect on and celebrate the many ways in which our association
served as a professional and societal force over the last 10
decades. Thank you to all members for sharing in your association's
celebration of its century of service to the public, the profession
and the rule of law.
Today, we continue to reap the benefits of our founding members
- including the likes of Louis Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Such luminaries helped establish and begin an organization that
chose "fiat justitia" (let justice be done) as its motto
and opened its membership to attorneys from all ethnic, religious
and social backgrounds.
The strength from such inclusion has been extraordinary
throughout our history. This past year was no different. Thanks to
the rich diversity in geography, practice area and background,
members once again came together to accomplish exponentially more
than they could alone.
Although the last year was mostly focused on the centennial
celebration, there was still room for much progress to be made with
MBA legislative activities, major events, education, public and
community services and recognizing exemplary attorneys who are
positively impacting their respective communities throughout the
On the Hill - an eye on alimony, court reform and funding
Alimony, court reform and court funding took center stage in our
legislative efforts. As we entered a new legislative session, all
three topics required much of our attention and garnered much of
the media's. The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 was passed in both the
House and Senate in July. At press time, minor technical
differences in the bills passed by both branches before heading to
Gov. Deval Patrick's desk.
The MBA is in strong support of this comprehensive reform, which
adds more predictability to alimony rewards. Since 2003, I have
been working with the MBA, and more recently with the Legislature,
to advance such reform. As a family law practitioner for nearly 30
years and someone who has been intimately involved in this
emotionally charged topic on behalf of my clients, I am delighted
to not only be involved in the drafting of this legislation, but to
see it move closer to becoming law.
As Gov. Patrick signed the state's fiscal 2012 budget,
inadequate court funding remains and continues to impact the daily
operations of the court system, negatively affecting the public it
serves. Each day, 42,000 citizens look to our courts for justice.
Those individuals will now experience even further delays and
injustice with continually diminishing resources unable to support
The House and Senate wisely enacted court reform legislation
that professionalizes trial court administration and better aligns
Massachusetts with other innovative court systems in the country.
Keeping with recommendations from several court management studies
over the last 20 years - many led or supported by the MBA - the
reform bill urges the appointment of a non-judicial professional to
manage the courts' business operations.
The bill prudently calls for the creation of a chief justice of
the Trial Court to work alongside a professional administrator as a
way to delineate the judicial from the administrative duties
associated with the complex Trial Court. At press time, the bill
was awaiting action by the governor.
Also, the MBA endorsed and testified in support of a workplace
safety "right to know" bill that was the subject of a joint hearing
on June 9. We are hopeful that it becomes law soon so that
employers will be mandated to give employees basic information
about their legal rights.
I have found my work on legislation, alongside MBA Chief
Operating Officer and Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy and
Legislative Activities Manager Lee Ann Constantine, to be among the
most rewarding during my tenure as MBA president. The MBA's
presence and testimony provide an important perspective for
legislators as they vote on bills that affect or shape the future
of the legal profession and the livelihood of those we serve.
Distributing recognition and energizing volunteers
In addition to serving as a resource for our colleagues at the
Statehouse, the MBA also selects a lawmaker to honor each year.
This year, I had the high privilege of honoring Sen. Joan
Bestowing Sen. Menard with the MBA Legislator of the Year Award
was one of my first duties as president. Since then, I have been
pleased to honor deserving colleagues from the bench and bar across
the state. These professionals continue to go above and beyond the
call of duty to use their expertise to improve our practice or
better their hometown communities. This has been a delightful
aspect of my presidency and one of many that I will look back on
Although I was able to publicly recognize many of our colleagues
with honors throughout the year, the less visible work being done
quietly by our committed members deserves mention as well.
Collectively, you all have worked tirelessly to advance the mission
of the organization.
Results were plentiful. We set up a Joint Foreclosure Task Force;
formed a Construction Law Committee; began developing training
materials for the proper use of peremptory challenges during jury
selection; collaborated on the 12th Annual Walk to the Hill for
Civil Legal Aid; joined arms with MassINC to present the "A New
Path for Probation" forum event; hosted a statewide discussion to
preserve bar advocates; collaborated with our colleagues in health
care to launch the MBA Pro Bono Prescription program; continued to
build our inventory of online educational programs through MBA On
Demand; offered legal assistance to those affected by the
devastating tornadoes in Western and Central Massachusetts; joined
high school classrooms to discuss the First Amendment and the
Internet with students in Fall River, Springfield and Worcester;
and lent the attorney's perspective to the debate of cameras in the
courtroom, just to name a few.
I also recently announced the MBA Mentoring Circles Program, which
will provide resources and mentoring relationships to all
participating members of the MBA and county bar associations. It's
a perfect way for members to give back and help others learn and
grow from their shared experiences. The first groups will be
forming in late August. Particular thanks go to MBA Director of
Membership and Programs Lisa A. Ferrara for her leadership on
initiative and the assistance she has always given me.
Celebrating a milestone
In May, we presented our Centennial Conference and Ball. Thanks
to all of you who participated in our cornerstone event and those
who joined as sponsors of the historic celebration. With delight,
we welcomed U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer as
the keynote speaker at the Centennial Ball.
The evening also featured the presentation of the Chief Justice
Edward F. Hennessey Award to U.S. District Court Judge Nancy
Gertner. Both esteemed members of the federal bench offered their
insight, wisdom and humor to the crowd of nearly 1,000 attendees.
The event was a remarkable culmination of our yearlong celebration,
and personally, a highlight of my involvement with the
Massachusetts Bar Association.
I trust many of you share my awe in realizing how much the MBA has
accomplished in its first century, as well as my interest in seeing
how its next 10 decades will unfold. Quite admirably, the MBA
remains on the path to continue to serve the public, the profession
and the rule of law in its next 100 years of history and