President’s Message: Annual Gala much more than a ‘return to normal’

Thursday, April 13, 2023 By MBA President Grace V.B. Garcia
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MBA President Grace V.B. Garcia

The Massachusetts Bar Association’s 2023 Annual Gala is less than a month away, and we have more to celebrate than meets the eye.

For years, the MBA’s Annual Gala served as a signature event in our legal community, offering a chance to hear from nationally renowned speakers, celebrate the stars of the bar, and mingle with friends and colleagues from all over the commonwealth. Then the pandemic arrived in spring 2020; everything shut down, and our own event that year had to be canceled. 

Now, three years later, as our world has changed, we are proud to host our signature event once again on Thursday, May 11. We have lined up an incredible speaker in Juliette Kayyem, faculty chair of the Homeland Security Program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. And we’re looking forward to presenting the MBA's Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award to Supreme Court Justice Kimberly S. Budd, the Gold Medal Award to MBA Past President Christopher A. Kenney, the Public Service Award to the Honorable Bonnie MacLeod (ret.) and the Legislator of the Year Award to Rep. Michael Day, in addition to the presentation of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship.

What makes this year different, however, is the perspective we bring from the past three years. The connections we lost during the pandemic have made us value our time with friends, family, colleagues and clients that much more. It is why this year’s relaunch of the MBA’s Annual Gala promises to be more than just a “return to normal.” It is a time to celebrate our resilience, as well as our return as a community.

Zoom meetings — including some of the more social online events offered by the MBA — continue to offer an easy and efficient way to get together. But when it comes to a true celebration of community, there is nothing like the MBA Annual Gala, which allows members from all backgrounds, from all corners of the commonwealth and across all areas of practice to come together in such a positive and energizing way. 

Where else can law students and new lawyers rub elbows with veteran trial lawyers and judges, or see attorneys enjoying friendly conversations with their courtroom adversaries? Civility, camaraderie, a sense of belonging — they are all there at the Annual Gala. It also provides an incredible opportunity to showcase our welcoming community to newer lawyers or those who are not yet involved at the MBA. So not only come yourself, but make sure you personally invite your colleagues to come with you. 

Some of the most beneficial and lasting connections I have made in my career have been at bar association events, particularly at the MBA. With so many practices and backgrounds represented, the Annual Gala also offers a terrific opportunity to build or enhance your network, as well. For solo or smaller firm lawyers interested in taking it to the next level, why not consider what some firms are already doing and split a table with other lawyers or firms? Whether it results in a promising business lead or referral, or just some good conversation, attending the Annual Gala is well worth the time.  

For those who have not yet sponsored, or need a ticket, you can find the information here. If you already are a sponsor and have a table, thank you! If you have extra tickets, please let us know by emailing, and we will be sure to have someone from our legal community join your table. As they say, the more the merrier!

Our association year began in September with a focus on the “Three Cs” of Communication, Collaboration and Community, so it is fitting that our Annual Gala encourages all three. Whether you are joining us on May 11 to hear the presentations, catch up with old and new friends, or network or collaborate with others, we look forward to welcoming you back to our community in person!