The 1980s is a decade of firsts for state bar
At the turn of the decade, the Massachusetts Bar Association
elected Wayne A. Budd president (1979-80). He was not just the
first black president of the MBA, he was the first black president
of any state bar association. He was also the youngest MBA
president. His prominence in the legal field came at a time when
blacks made up a tiny fraction -- not even 2 percent --
of the state's lawyers in 1983.
Several years later, Alice Richmond set another milestone, as she
became the MBA's first woman president (1986-87).
During Richmond's term, she attracted attention to Massachusetts'
homeless in the post-Vietnam era, and the MBA addressed the
improper conduct of some judges toward female trial lawyers, who
were becoming a greater presence in the courtroom.
The organization experienced another first when, in 1984, the MBA
became a homeowner, having acquired 20 West St. after years of
moving from rented office to rented office in Boston. The purchase
and ribbon-cutting ceremony in the fall of 1984 was accomplished
due to the efforts -- over nearly two decades -- of a
number of presidents and other volunteers.
Michael S. Greco, who led the headquarters search committee and
would later become president of the American Bar Association,
addressed the issue of professionalism in the profession upon the
start of his 1985-86 term. He immediately launched a statewide MBA
Commission on Lawyer Professionalism.
"Throughout the nation, there is a concern among thoughtful
lawyers … that there has been significant erosion of lawyer
professionalism, and not just in terms of competence or ethical
conduct, but in terms of civilities between lawyers, and in the
courtesy and consideration given by lawyers in dealing with their
clients, with other professionals and the courts."
Greco also played a nationally visible and vocal role advocating
greater funding for legal services for the poor, testifying before
the Legal Services Corp. board, a Senate subcommittee and an ABA
Increasing funding for legal aid had been championed nearly a
decade earlier by MBA President Roy A. Hammer (1978-79), who made
the approval of an Interest On Lawyers Trust Accounts program
(IOLTA) a top priority in 1978. But it would take years of
perseverance by Hammer and others to see the program launched in
Using the interest from clients' accounts to fund millions in
court-approved public service programs was a novel approach in the
late 1970s and early 1980s, and it wasn't until July 1985 that the
Supreme Judicial Court approved a petition by the MBA, the
Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corp. and the Boston Bar Association
to create the program.
1980: Richard D. Gelinas is elected president
of the MBA.
1981: Thomas J. Wynn is elected president of the
1982: Daniel O. Mahone is elected president of
1982: Carl Modecki resigns as executive director.
During his tenure, the association's membership nearly triples, the
staff increases from two full-time employees to 20, and the budget
increases from about $83,000 to $1.6 million. He is succeeded by
Daniel Hovey, who remains for two years.
1983: William E. Bernstein is elected president
of the MBA.
1984: Richard G. Hoffman is elected president of
1984: After three years of searching and
negotiating, the MBA moves into 20 West St., the first building it
owns outright, and its current home. Built in 1922, it was featured
in the August 1923 issue of The Architectural Forum as "an
excellent example of the 'Renaissance Revival' style." From the
early 1930s through the 1970s, it housed a restaurant and candy
store belonging to the Schraffts family. At the time the MBA
purchases the building, it has been vacant for a decade, a decrepit
hulk on a street on the edges of the Combat Zone, one of Boston's
most notorious neighborhoods. It is now on the National Register of
1985: Michael S. Greco is elected president of
1985: A University of North Carolina study finds
that the Massachusetts Law Review is the legal periodical
cited most often by courts in the United States.
1985: Roy A. Hammer receives the Gold Medal
1985: The Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts
(IOLTA) program is approved in Massachusetts.
1986: The legal community is shaken by the
dissolution of Herrick & Smith, one of the city's oldest and
largest firms, because the firm felt it could not be successful in
the new, highly competitive marketplace.
1986: Alice E. Richmond is elected president of
the MBA. She is the first female president in the history of the
1986: The MBA celebrates its 75th
1987: John M. Callahan is elected president of
1989: Thomas F. Maffei is elected president of
MBA Did You Know?
Massachusetts was on the forefront of racial equality in the
legal field in the mid-1800s, as home to the first black lawyer,
the first black judge, the first black law school graduate, the
first black admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and
the first blacks to serve on a state legislature.
Although racial problems rose again in Massachusetts during the
busing riots and in simmering tensions, Wayne Budd was elected by
the MBA to become the first black state bar association president
in the nation.
In the early 20th century, aspiring lawyers qualified for the bar
by clerking with or shadowing practicing attorneys. However, the
growth in importance of law schools changed the focus of lawyers
away from strict memorization of the law.
MBA President Mayo Shattuck aimed to solve the gap between theory
and practice and to offer "refresher courses" for returning World
War II veterans through the MBA's annual Massachusetts Law
Institute, which would become the Continuing Legal Education