In an evening that combined heartfelt admiration with
good-natured teasing, more than 100 friends, family members and
colleagues gathered on Sept. 12 at the Liberty Hotel in Boston to
laud Douglas K. Sheff as president of the Massachusetts Bar
During the event, which marked the opening of the 2013-2014
association year, Sheff announced an ambitious, three-point
initiative aimed at restoring attorneys' reputations as community
caretakers and champions of justice.
Despite their many selfless acts, attorneys and judges are often
viewed as exclusionary and elitist, Sheff said.
Sheff's plan to reclaim the public's trust in MBA members calls
- Helping working families through the Massachusetts Workplace
Safety Task Force he chairs. Other measures include supporting
small business, curbing predatory lending and backing efforts to
control tuition and taxes.
- A consumer advocacy initiative that includes setting up a
clearinghouse to address inadequate and negligent services and
- A "Justice for All" program to publicize MBA charitable work,
from the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and Lawyer Referral Service,
to recent efforts such as helping the One Fund and victims of
traumatic brain injuries.
"We represent the under-represented; that's what makes us
different," Sheff said. "That's what makes us truly great."
MBA President-elect Marsha Kazarosian and Donald Grady, Sheff's
partner at Sheff Law in Boston, kicked off the evening with glowing
introductory remarks about Sheff, their close friend. They also
shared several amusing stories that illustrated Sheff's penchants
for multitasking and always going the extra mile to help
"Sometimes, Doug can drive you a little crazy," Kazarosian said
jokingly. "If Doug has an idea he wants to vet or a problem he
wants to solve, there's nowhere you can hide."
On a serious note, Grady described Sheff as a "driven lawyer and
Sheff is the first president of the MBA, Grady noted, who is also
a past president of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys,
as well as a governor of the American Association of Justice (AAJ)
and trustee of the AAJ's National College of Advocacy.
He attributed Sheff's success as a lawyer and leader to his
In the audience, Sheff's mother, Maxine, said her son demonstrated
a lawyer's argumentativeness from an early age. "He always debated
everything," she said. "We used to call him 'the bulldog.'"
Sheff's sister, Jody Sheff, praised her brother's passion for
justice and the law. "I think that the MBA is extremely fortunate
to have someone as talented, as caring and as knowledgeable about
the law and respectful of justice," she commented.
Sheff in turn thanked his fellow lawyers - whom he called his
extended family - and his actual family, particularly his father,
the late Irving "Chick" Sheff, founder of the personal injury law
firm that bears the family name, for inspiring him to become a
"This is for you, dad," he said.