Massachusetts Bar Association President Richard P. Campbell
oversaw a productive association year with regard to his
established priorities. Since last September, Campbell assembled a
task force to analyze the Massachusetts law economy; launched a
high profile awareness campaign for adequate court funding and
inserted the Massachusetts bar into discussions surrounding the
state's Gateway Cities.
Working alongside his fellow officers and the MBA's extended
leadership team, Campbell also oversaw a busy legislative agenda
for the association and celebrated influential, major events while
moving forward other association priorities.
Analyzing a lopsided law economy
After tapping chairs Eric Parker and Radha Natarajan as its
chairs, the Task Force on Law, the Economy and Underemployment
quickly got busy to examine the merits of law school given the
increasingly high unemployment rate for graduates. Throughout the
association year, the group explored, identified and analyzed root
causes of and potential solutions to the underemployment of recent
law school graduates compounded by a weakened economy and bleak
The task force chairs presented a report to the MBA's governing
body -- the House of Delegates -- at its final May meeting.
Delegates voted to accept the report entitled, "Beginning the
"Many new law students emerge from law schools unequipped to
thrive in the current law economy. In their report, the task force
analyzes the problems, provides likely reasons behind this
phenomenon, and offers suggestions on what may turn the tide
around," Campbell said. "The task force has done a great service
for the bar and for society by shining a light on an endemic
problem that leaves so many young law school graduates in desperate
Funding message takes to the
Through a billboard campaign launched in mid-January, the
association aimed to grab the average citizen's attention to
reinforce that court funding does impact him or her. The MBA's
message was showcased on billboards in Greater Boston, along I-93
in Dorchester and Medford; in Worcester along I-290; and in Fall
River along Rt. 24.
"We've never done this before," Campbell said at the onset of
the high-profile awareness campaign.
The billboard message directed passersby to the MBA Web site, www.massbar.org. Included on the MBA's
site were informational materials on court funding as well as
resources citizens and members of the legal community to reference
when reaching out to their respective legislators on this important
As part of the informational on-line package, public service
announcement-style videos were featured. The videos highlight the
negative impact of inadequate court funding through the perspective
of judicial leadership, attorneys, academic leaders and court
In addition to the billboards and YouTube videos, the MBA shared
word of this new campaign through comprehensive outreach to
membership and the larger legal community, as well as other key
community and opinion leaders.
An important piece of that outreach was directed to legislators
during the collaborative March 10 Court Advocacy Day held at the
Statehouse. The MBA and Boston Bar Association spearheaded the
well-attended event that featured speakers from judicial and bar
leadership, including Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick
L. Ireland. Following the program, event attendees were encouraged
to meet with their local legislators to reiterate the importance of
adequately funding the Massachusetts judicial branch.
In early in July, the state budget for fiscal year 2013 was
signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick. The Trial Court received
$561 million worth of funding for FY13.
An eye on Gateway
Campbell was integral in reaching out to key leaders most
knowledgeable about and connected to the research and initiatives
underway surrounding the state's Gateway Cities--those mid-sized
cities whose residents are experiencing significantly higher rates
of unemployment and a stalemate in social, economic and civic
innovation. Some examples are Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, New
Bedford, Springfield and Worcester.
Following his selection of attorneys Margaret Xifaras and
Francis Ford to lead this MBA initiative, Campbell first reached
out to MassINC, a lead researcher on these communities. Following
such outreach, Xifaras and Ford organized two informational
The goal of the forums, as described by Campbell, was to
"identify ways in which attorneys can lend their expertise with
issues affecting Gateway City communities across
On Jan. 26, the MBA hosted its first forum at the University of
Massachusetts School of Law in Dartmouth. The panel featured Sen.
Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield) and Rep. Antonio Cabral (D-New
Bedford), co-chairs of the Gateway Cities Caucus, and other civic,
legislative and educational leaders who have long worked on the
issues with the highest impact on Gateway communities. The success
of the January forum was followed by a second forum in Worcester
that took place on April 30. The panel for the Worcester forum
featured Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, Secretary of Education S. Paul
Reville and other respected leaders on this topic from Central
A stage for sharing MBA's
Alongside his three presidential initiatives, Campbell and his
fellow MBA leaders worked to share the MBA's agenda at key major
events throughout the year. In addition, various special guest
speakers and honorees added a celebratory tone to the events and
their resulting exposure.
The first major event of the association year was the October
Bench Bar Symposium. Chief Justice Ireland delivered his first
address to the bar at that time. As part of the symposium's high
turnout, Speaker DeLeo was in attendance, as were the majority of
SJC associate justices and many Trial Court chiefs.
January's Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid, hosted by
the Equal Justice Coalition, provided Campbell the opportunity to
stress the importance of legal aid funding. Hundreds of legal
professionals and supporters attended the lobbying event and met
with their local legislators to deliver the message personally.
In May, Excellence in the Law, co-hosted with Massachusetts
Lawyers Weekly, afforded the MBA to recognize the judicial
excellence of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf, as well as
the law-related journalistic excellence of Boston Globe
columnist Kevin Cullen.
Also in May, came the MBA's final major event of the association
year -- the MBA Annual Dinner. The MBA's signature event featured
keynote speaker Victoria Reggie Kennedy, as well as the 2012 Access
to Justice Awardees and the presentation of the Legislator of the
Year Award to DeLeo.
As the association year comes to a close, Campbell is set to
hand over the leadership of the MBA to President-elect Robert L.
Holloway Jr. As Campbell explained to the delegates at the final
HOD meeting in May, Holloway is a "true consensus builder and team
Holloway begins his term on Sept. 1.
As for Campbell, his post-presidential plans include getting
"back to earning a living." His renewed focus on his practice will
include his continued work as Caterpillar's national trial counsel
on major litigation, as well as devoting much attention to two
newly retained class action cases.
Aside from his practice, he will continue to serve as a member
of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees. "Advancing
our public university is a labor of love," said Campbell.