President’s Message: Collaboration Fosters Better Outcomes, Broader Partnerships

Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 By MBA President Grace V.B. Garcia
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MBA President Grace V.B. Garcia

When our association year began in September, I announced that we would bring a renewed focus on communication, collaboration and community to further the Massachusetts Bar Association’s core objectives, including the administration of justice and respect for the rule of law. One of the built-in advantages of bringing a collective focus on the “three Cs” is that each element augments the others. Working with others expands our ability to connect and do more for more people. Yet, you cannot collaborate without communicating with others, and you cannot build a community without collaborating with others.

As the largest statewide bar association in Massachusetts, the MBA has a long history of collaborating with other organizations, including our courts, county and affinity bar associations, and other organizations that share similar values. In each case, partnering with others has not diluted our accomplishments – it has enhanced them. Our history demonstrates that working collaboratively with others often leads to different perspectives, a more expansive reach and better outcomes. The following are highlights of some recent collaborations:

  • Just in October, the MBA presented a virtual tour of the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM) at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The program was offered to the entire Massachusetts legal community at no charge. Impressively, 30 affiliated bar associations – representing most of the county and affinity bar associations – signed on as co-sponsors and helped spread the word about this informative and captivating program, making it a true community-wide experience. It was a tremendous program.

  • Collaborating with the courts and other organizations on shared goals has also proved effective in our advocacy efforts on Beacon Hill. The most recent example was the $165 million IT bond bill to modernize the information technology infrastructure of state courthouses in the commonwealth, which was signed into law this past summer. Our joint advocacy with court leaders helped paint a broader picture of how the much-needed tech upgrades would benefit all court users by making court proceedings more accessible, courthouses more secure and court filings more efficient.

  • Collaborating with other organizations has also provided opportunities to enhance the MBA’s programs, including our community-focused programs. This past summer, for the first time, the MBA and the Massachusetts Trial Court partnered on a program that offered paid summer internships in courthouses for five student participants in the MBA’s Tiered Community Mentoring Program.

  • Our Elder Law Education Program is another example. The MBA has enjoyed a fruitful collaboration with the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for many years on the annual publication of our Elder Law Education Guide, which gets distributed to senior centers and councils on aging in the commonwealth.
Additionally, we have benefited from collaboration within our own organization. Like colleges and universities that offer cross-listed courses across different concentrations, the MBA’s CLEs have routinely brought various section councils together to present on topics of common interest. And the appetite for internal collaboration continues to grow.

Recently, I convened an informal “cabinet meeting” of MBA officers and section council leaders where section council leaders shared updates about their section’s plans for the year, discussed where they can support one another and exchanged information. The conversation was robust and exemplified how easy it is to partner on educational programs and other events.

Collaboration not only benefits us as a whole, but it can benefit us on an individual level as well. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. The MBA’s diverse membership – with lawyers from all backgrounds, from different corners of the commonwealth, and across different practices – offers opportunities for you to connect with members who share your interests as well as those who might provide a different perspective. For example, My Bar Access, the MBA’s online community, is a particularly useful tool for collaboration. Many members already use it to crowdsource answers from others, seek referrals from lawyers in another area of law or announce an upcoming event of interest. If you have not had the opportunity to use it, I urge you to check it out, as it is a terrific resource.

Coming up this month is the State of the Judiciary Address, which will be webcast on Nov. 15 from 4-5:30 p.m. This is just another example of a successful partnership between the MBA and judges. This annual collaboration has given court leaders an opportunity to communicate with lawyers around Massachusetts and marshal support for their goals and initiatives. 

Whether we are partnering with another bar association on advocacy, teaming up with another section council on a CLE or brainstorming solutions with a colleague, the old saying, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” rings true. Collaboration is confirmation that we work best when we work together. So, I encourage you to look for opportunities to collaborate, as it always brings about a better result.