President's Message: Thank you to ‘Team MBA’

Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 By MBA President Christopher A. Kenney
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MBA President Christopher A. Kenney

Attending the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Volunteer Recognition Dinner in Randolph a few weeks ago proved to be a fitting farewell to what has been one of the most inspiring years of my professional career.

The room at Lombardo’s was filled with MBA members who volunteer for our community programs, serve as faculty on our CLE programs, share their thought leadership in articles and testify on Beacon Hill to advance MBA-supported positions. In short, this was “Team MBA” in a nutshell: lawyers and judges from all corners of the commonwealth who work together to improve and support our profession and the administration of justice in the commonwealth.

I was honored to help celebrate their efforts that day and, indeed, we’ve had a lot to celebrate from the past year. There are several people I want to recognize for their extraordinary efforts, starting with my fellow officers on the MBA’s leadership team. Each one of them simultaneously made me a better president, while making the MBA a better bar association. I’m confident the MBA is in good hands for many years to come.

Thank you to MBA President-elect John Morrissey, one of the finest people I’ve had the privilege to work with, who, in true MBA fashion, has become one of my closest friends. John is an accomplished trial lawyer, who is widely respected in both the legal and business communities. He put his talent and experience to work helping to launch our inaugural MBA Trial Academy this year to rave reviews. John has a way of bringing people together, and I cannot wait to see the MBA grow even more under his presidency.

MBA Vice President Denise Murphy’s leadership is readily apparent if you look at the recently released report on wellness by the SJC’s Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being. Denise represented the MBA on the SJC committee, whose report is chock full of recommendations from the MBA’s own wellness subcommittee. I am grateful for Denise’s vision on this important issue, as well as for her support, good humor and friendship this year.

I also need to express my sincere appreciation to MBA Treasurer Tom Bond, another fellow officer who became a close friend and trusted confidant. Building upon his years of leadership on our Judicial Administration Section, Tom has continued to grow the MBA’s fruitful relationship with our friends in the judiciary, offering members an important “view from the bench” and opportunities to learn from their wisdom.

Civics was one of my main areas of focus all year, and I’m proud of all we accomplished. It could not have happened without MBA Secretary Grace Garcia, who did a phenomenal job at the helm of this important initiative. Through her leadership, the MBA raised more than $15,000 for iCivics to support its mission of improving civics education in Massachusetts, trained volunteer lawyers to assist disabled eligible permanent residents during critical stages of the naturalization process and sent dozens of lawyers to high schools around the state as part of our Law Day outreach. Thank you, Grace for your friendship, leadership and dedication!

I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank our terrific partners in the judiciary, who strongly supported the MBA and my initiatives over the past year. Early on in my presidency, Marty Healy, John Morrissey and I had the opportunity to meet with the chief justices from each court, who listened to our input on various court services and operations, and shared their valuable insights on bench-bar relations. It was a great start to a year that saw many fruitful bench-bar collaborations, particularly in our section council meetings, seminars and other programs. Judges and clerks are an invaluable part of our association, and I found it particularly gratifying to see so many of them celebrating with us toward the end of our year at the MBA’s Annual Dinner.

I want to offer special thanks to Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants for his support and inspirational leadership. In addition to partnering with the MBA on his annual State of the Judiciary Address each fall, Chief Justice Gants continues to give generously of his time to the MBA, including at our Leadership Academy graduation, which he has presided over every year since its inception. Thank you, your honor.

I think each of my fellow officers would agree that what we do at the MBA would not be possible without the guiding hand and support of MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Marty “Makes Things Happen” Healy and the dedicated staff of the MBA. Often working unheralded behind the scenes, they are the professional team that makes our jobs as volunteers easier and the MBA’s programs and initiatives successful, year after year.

I’ve also benefited from another incredible team this year: my firm. I want to thank my partner Mike Sams, who co-founded the firm with me, and all my colleagues at Kenney & Sams PC, for continuing to support me, our firm and our clients, and for also matching my enthusiasm for the MBA and its important work.

Finally, I could not do this job that I love without the people I love most: my family. Thank you to my wife, Patty, and our children, Allison, Joe, Mike and Cal, for supporting me unconditionally. You continue to be my greatest inspiration.

As I “pass the gavel” to incoming President John Morrissey, I encourage everyone, whether you’re a seasoned section council member or a new MBA member, to embrace what makes the MBA special. We call the MBA the “preeminent voice of the legal profession,” because, as the largest general bar association in the commonwealth, the MBA is the home to all lawyers, regardless of where or what kind of law you practice. That unifying spirit is also our best feature and why every MBA achievement is truly a win for us all.

The year goes by quickly. But as our accomplishments of the past year demonstrate, we really can make a big difference in a small amount of time — thanks to Team MBA. I remain grateful to and humbled by every MBA member who collaborated on and supported all our important initiatives and programs. It has been my honor to serve you as MBA president. Thank you … and go team!