"The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand,
as in what direction we are moving."
- OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
As we celebrate the Massachusetts Bar Association's centennial
anniversary, we recognize the association's sustained influence in
the legal community and society as a whole. We need to make certain
that we pull from the lessons of our past as we work to construct
its promising future.
Poised as a new organization welcoming an unprecedented breadth of
practitioners' viewpoints, MBA inaugural President Richard Olney
and others set the direction for the new association by established
its initial charge:
"To cultivate the science of jurisprudence, to promote reform
in the law, to facilitate the administration of justice, to further
uniformity of legislation through the Union, to uphold the honor of
the profession of the law, and to encourage cordial intercourse
among the members of the Massachusetts bar …"
The MBA got off to a running start by leveraging its voice in
improving the educational requirements for bar admission. Shortly
thereafter, it adopted a code of professional ethics to guide the
actions of future generations of lawyers.
The association was one of the driving forces for the legal aid
movement in the 1920s. And, through its Massachusetts Judicial
Council, the MBA embraced a decades-long mission of participating
in activities related to the intricacies of the administration of
justice. In addition to refining the state's legal educational
offerings, the association became entrenched in public service in
the 1950s, recognizing our profession's obligation to selflessly
serve, with a major impact, the greater good.
Over the years, the MBA has influenced court reform, advocated for
the establishment of a client services fund, thwarted the
unauthorized practice of law and consistently fought to preserve an
independent judiciary and legal services funding.
It is apparent that throughout the MBA history, at no time did
its leaders or membership rest on their laurels. In contrast, the
MBA has been and should continue to be at the ready to address the
many issues worthy of our efforts as they continue to reveal
themselves at a steady pace.
So, we carry on and begin writing the next century of MBA history
the only way we know how - with consideration to the best interest
of the profession and the clients we serve.
I hope you'll join me and your fellow members of the bar in
commemorating the first century of the MBA and celebrating what
lies ahead on May 18 and 19 as we present our Centennial Conference
and Ball in Boston. As much as we have to be proud of in our
heritage, we have even more to be inspired by in our future.
As I've told some of you reading this, before my presidency began,
I was struck by the clarity of an unattributed quote inscribed on
the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. It reads, "The
heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the
With that sentiment in mind, I thank those of you who have been
instrumental in the MBA's heritage so far and look forward to
working with those who will be integral in its future.