MBA to implement governance review, diversity training

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Massachusetts Bar Association is proud to announce that it will undergo a review of its governing structures and provide diversity training to MBA employees and board volunteers as part of the association’s commitment to provide an open and inclusive environment for its members, volunteers and staff.

The February 2021 Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being’s Report Summarizing Affinity Bar Town Hall Meetings brought to light many of the inequities that remain in the legal profession in Massachusetts, particularly for attorneys of color and those who identify as transgender or nonbinary.

MBA President Denise I. Murphy has made addressing these inequities one of the MBA’s top priorities this year. In addition to working closely with the MBA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, she removed barriers on MBA programs to encourage more participation from non-members with diverse backgrounds and also announced that MBA conference and panel opportunities would be more diverse and reflective of the legal community as a whole.

Murphy recently appointed a Governance Committee, following recommendations from the MBA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which will review MBA bylaws, committee structures and the MBA mission statement and recommend any changes necessary to achieve these goals. The Governance Committee will be chaired by attorney Marc Moccia, and include Hon. Thomas Barbar, Hon. Robert W. Harnais, Hon. Bonnie McLeod (ret.) and attorney Terrence Parker.

"The MBA was founded as an inclusive organization and has a proud history as a diversity leader, but we recognize that, as the statewide bar association, we have a responsibility to do more if we are to continue to provide a supportive environment for all our members as well as our colleagues in the legal community at partner organizations," said MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy. "I am grateful for MBA President Denise Murphy’s strong focus on diversity, equity and inclusion this year and believe strongly that the important work of our Governance Committee, along with the upcoming diversity training, are necessary steps that will help advance the MBA and ensure that it remains a welcoming association where everyone feels respected."

For the training, the MBA will be working with Kantola Training Solutions, which developed a training course on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in partnership with Littler, the world’s largest labor and employment law firm. The training will address topics such as identities and perspectives, unconscious bias, microaggressions and forms of exclusion, and will provide steps that MBA participants can take to proactively support diversity and inclusion at the association. It will also give those in a supervisory position the tools they need to work in diverse team environments.

The training is expected to start this summer for members of MBA staff, and then will be provided to board members and section leaders appointed for the start of the 2021-22 association year in the fall.