Why we need more 'Conversations'

Issue January 2003

If you have not already done so, I hope you will consider leading one or two "Conversations on Law & Liberties in Times of Crisis" programs in a high school near you. What an experience and what a need!

I had the great fortune to hold a "Conversations" session at a program called Splash, run by MIT. Splash is an intensive weekend of unusual academic programs that MIT students coordinate. It is geared toward gifted high school students, more than 1,000 of who came from all over the country to participate in the smorgasbord of classes offered during a recent cold November weekend. My two-hour class included 20 exceedingly challenging and highly participatory students.

As I had hoped, I learned at least as much from the class as they may have learned from the dialogue with each other and with me. The tenor of the dialogue convinced me more than ever of the need for this MBA program.

Of the 20 students, more than 18 expressed a strong willingness to surrender such rights as the freedom of press in the current climate in which our country is operating. Perhaps I am naive, but I must admit that I found this somewhat startling. Only a lengthy string of probing questions finally found a limit on the willingness of many of these students to surrender some of our fundamental freedoms.

Annual Conference notes

Much of this month's newspaper is filled with news of Annual Conference 2003. Along with a core of very strong substantive programs there are a number of events that I would like to highlight.

Dean Ron Cass of the Boston University School of Law and Justice Cordy of the Supreme Judicial Court will open the conference with a probing exploration of the role of courts in our legal system. We are very excited to welcome Louis Freeh, former Director of the FBI, as the keynote speaker for our Gala Dinner. Saturday morning will feature a very provocative panel that will lead a discussion about issues surrounding court reform.

And the conference will close on a high note when Chief Justice Marshall gives her annual lunchtime presentation about the state court system. We also have the most valuable roster of exhibitors we have ever featured at this event.

We are very excited to see how the conference is taking shape and we hope to see you all there!

New staff

I want to highlight some recent additions to our staff, together with some recent promotions, to acquaint you with the team that performs many of the functions most visible to our members. Growth brings change.

Cheryl Bailey not only works to create and facilitate change, she believes it is the hallmark of a successful business. Our new Director of Operations and Administration (taking on many of the responsibilities previously handled by Kristen Locke) has a career in start-ups and an MBA. She will use her invaluable experience and training to help us navigate our way through the changes we are making as we work to find ways to be more of the association our members need and want us to be.

Jenny J. Okamoto has joined as Manager, Professional Programs, replacing Tracy Ricker. She will work with our Section Councils, Practice Groups, Ethics Committee and Law Student Intern Program. Jenny's prior experience in association management and development, including working extensively with volunteers and affiliate groups, will undoubtedly prove quite valuable in our ongoing efforts to provide strong support to the volunteers, who are at the heart of the MBA's success.

Those of you who are active participants in our CLE programs no doubt already know that Lisa Ferrara was promoted to Director of CLE. I know that Lisa wants to hear from all of you on any new ideas you may have for CLE programs. Assisting Lisa as Program Attorney is Jason Yert, a recent law school graduate. Jason was an intern in the MBA's first group to participate in our intern program. We are delighted that he enjoyed his association work so much that he has agreed to stay with us.