When Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis founded the
Massachusetts Bar Association more than 100 years ago, the law was
believed to be the noblest of professions. Many years later, my
first impression of the law was one of respect for lawyers. My dad
was a trial lawyer, and wherever he went, people asked for his
opinion as a trusted expert on just about everything. It was a time
when lawyers and judges enjoyed a public image of honor and
integrity. Unfortunately, over the last 40 years our profession's
reputable standing has been severely eroded in the eyes of the
Improving the public perception of lawyers hinges on the
successful implementation of three related Massachusetts Bar
Association-driven initiatives that incorporate three of the most
popular words in the English language: family, consumer and
justice. Each of these initiatives -- the "Working Families
Initiative," the "Consumer Advocacy Initiative," and the "Justice
For All Initiative" -- is designed to assist critical elements of
our society, while advancing the image of attorneys and the
Douglas K. Sheff is a drummer, but no one could ever accuse him
of just marking time.
"I do everything double," says Sheff, whose style of drumming
involves hitting twice on the down stroke. "I can get two for the
price of one and create a fuller sound."
Sheff, the new president of the Massachusetts Bar Association,
has taken a similar approach to his profession, combining his deep
commitment to client service with his strong dedication to the bar
to forge a fuller -- and more fulfilling -- career as a lawyer.
The Massachusetts Bar Association has been approved by the
Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Advisory Committee on
Professionalism to administer a mandatory Practicing with
Professionalism course for new lawyers admitted to the
Massachusetts bar, pursuant to the new SJC Rule 3:16.
MBA-supported legislation is expected to raise the age of
Juvenile Court jurisdiction to 18, providing 17-year-old defendants
access to the benefits of the juvenile justice system.
As of the writing of this article, House Bill 1432 had passed both
the House and the Senate unanimously. At press time, the bill
awaits action by the governor. With final passage of the
legislation and the governor's signature expected soon,
practitioners need to understand the impact of the law on
17-year-olds and some of the subtle changes in Juvenile Court
practice contained in the bill.