President’s Message: The progress continues

Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023 By MBA President Grace V.B. Garcia
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MBA President Grace V.B. Garcia

With Sept. 1 only a few weeks away, my time as president of the Massachusetts Bar Association is drawing to a close. But I prefer to look at the end of one MBA year and the start of another as only continued opportunities for the MBA and legal community as a whole.

While mindful of the ongoing nature of our efforts, I am encouraged by the progress we’ve made this year to address inequities within the bar and also enhance lawyer well-being. With our emphasis on the “Three Cs” of communication, collaboration and community, we took many steps forward in both of these areas and others, and did not shy away from uncomfortable, but important topics.

I am proud of the leadership shown by the MBA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC), whose three-part webinar series on “Microaggressions in the Workplace” raised important conversations about improving diversity, equity and inclusion in our profession. The MBA’s Lawyer Well-Being Committee also did a phenomenal job tackling weighty subjects, especially with its series of columns in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about “Fighting Stigma,” which helped normalize discussions about disabilities and mental illness.

Collaboration also played a key part in our success this year, and the MBA’s strong relationship with the courts again led to opportunities to partner on CLEs and bench-bar programs, as well as advocacy efforts to strengthen access to justice. After last summer’s successful pilot, I’m also happy to report that the MBA again teamed up with the Massachusetts Trial Court this summer on a program that offered paid internships in Massachusetts courthouses for five students from the MBA’s Tiered Community Mentoring Program.

With statistics showing the declining numbers of young people choosing the legal profession as a career, programs like TCM and the Judicial Youth Corps are vital for the future of our profession. Programs that support newer practicing lawyers, such as the MBA’s Leadership Academy, are equally important. The six-part “Transition into Practice” Program Series that was designed by our 2023 Leadership Academy Fellows this year was a terrific example of how the MBA can provide transitional support to newly admitted attorneys and soon-to-be-graduating law students.

I am also grateful for all the organizations who worked with us on our initiatives, programs and events. We were able to enjoy some truly special programs – including the MBA’s inaugural Juneteenth Reception, which the MBA’s DEIC presented in partnership with the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association and the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys. The free virtual tour of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, which was offered by the MBA last October, was another amazing event made possible by the support we received from 30 affiliated bar associations.

In addition to the work with our partners, I am particularly proud of the many ways that the MBA’s committees, task forces, section councils and the Young Lawyers Division worked together this year on CLEs and other joint programs. Not only is it valuable to be exposed to issues and people outside of one’s own practice area, it also helps strengthen our identity as a united and diverse statewide community.

Community, of course, is at the heart of who we are at the MBA. And my most vivid memories of the past 12 months will be the times I spent with fellow members of our community, whether at fun social events like the Casino Royale Holiday Party or at celebratory events, such as our Annual Gala and the Access to Justice Awards. As president, I am particularly thankful to have met so many new people from within and outside the MBA. As I’ve said before, I am grateful to everyone who invited someone to the “MBA table” this year to make our MBA community only stronger.

As I prepare to “pass the gavel” to the next president, President Turco, I want to truly thank my fellow officers – Damian Turco, Tori Santoro, Mike Hayden and Sam Segal – along with MBA Chief Legal Counsel Marty Healy and the dedicated members of the MBA staff, for their work and support this year. With this team in place next year under the leadership of incoming President Turco, and the addition of incoming MBA Secretary Shayla Mombeleur, I know this group will knock it out of the park and the MBA will continue to make great strides.

I also want to take this time to thank my colleagues at Morrison Mahoney LLP, who have been so supportive of both me and the MBA. 

It has been one of the great honors of my career to serve as MBA president. THANK YOU ALL for giving me this incredible opportunity to work with you in this amazing organization! I am grateful for our MBA community!