Massachusetts Bar Association President Christopher A. Kenney addresses HOD delegates at the May 2019 meeting.
The Massachusetts Bar Association’s House of Delegates (HOD) welcomed a Supreme Judicial Court justice and elected new members to the MBA’s Executive Management Board at its May 23 meeting, the last of the 2018-19 association year.
To start the meeting, MBA President Christopher A. Kenney recounted recent activities related to the MBA’s civics initiative, including the Law Day program where MBA member volunteers gave civics presentations to students in schools around Massachusetts during the month of May. He thanked MBA Secretary Grace V.B. Garcia for leading the initiative on this and other civics-related endeavors, including last month’s Immigration Naturalization Disability Waiver Program.
Kenney also expressed gratitude to MBA President-elect John J. Morrissey for spearheading the successful Trial Academy training, which included opportunity for participants to take on pro bono cases via limited assistance representation — a win-win for pro se litigants who benefit from representation at trial, as well for the Trial Academy attorneys who get actual trial experience.
MBA Vice President Denise I. Murphy, who represents the MBA on the SJC’s Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being, said she expects the SJC’s report to be released in July. She thanked members of the MBA’s subcommittee on lawyer wellness, noting that several MBA priorities were addressed by the SJC committee, including those related to technology, court deadlines, financial issues, and the secondary trauma of handling cases related to life-changing events or tragedies. Integrating wellness into every discussion and increasing the visibility of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers were also among the MBA-backed strategies that Murphy said would be included in the SJC committee’s report.
Guest speaker SJC Associate Justice David A. Lowy followed Murphy and recommended participation in bar associations as one way to increase enjoyment in the practice of law. Turning to the topic of civility, Lowy noted the often-heated political climate that has become the norm on social media and in other places, and he said the legal profession has lessons that can be imparted to others on civility, including on how to communicate in disputes. He urged lawyers to listen with civility and challenge ideas rather than engage in personal attacks. “Civility means staying in the room,” the SJC justice said.
In his report, MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy shared news about the Senate’s May 22 vote to allocate $24 million in funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) after an amendment filed by Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem (D-Newton) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Jamie Eldridge (D-Marlborough) passed unanimously. He also pointed to the MBA’s participation in MassINC’s Criminal Justice Policy Summit earlier in the day as another example of the MBA’s leadership in the criminal justice arena.
Turning to new business, the HOD members elected three members to the MBA’s 2019-20 Executive Management Board: Lee J. Gartenberg and Hon. Bonnie H. MacLeod, who are both currently serving, and Francis C. Morrissey, who will join as a new member. While those ballots were being tallied, HOD members approved the report of the Nominating Committee, introduced by MBA Past President Christopher P. Sullivan, which included the new at-large delegates for the upcoming 2019-20 association year: Anthony Benedetti, Georgia Critsley, Peter Elikann, Robert Mellion, Marsha Kazarosian, Robert Callahan and Jason Armiger.
Just prior to the House of Delegates meeting, the MBA held a membership vote, which approved amendments to the MBA’s bylaws.