MBA officers share their goals for the 2006-07 term

Issue September 2006

President-elect David W. White-Lief
Our voices are heard best when we speak with one voice. Over and over again, the MBA has been that voice for the legal profession, for individual lawyers and for the rights of our fellow citizens.

This year, I look forward to continuing our efforts to promote the independence of our esteemed judiciary and to preserve the rights of claimants and litigants. At the same time, I look forward to expanding the dialogue between the bench and the bar to ensure that trial work is both predictable and fair to litigants and their counsel.

With so many demands on our time, it is often difficult to keep up with the changes in the law and practice. I look forward to working with the educational department to address those needs by delivering more educational programs in more places around the state, and by making programs readily available electronically.

I encourage every member to get more deeply involved with the MBA. There are so many opportunities for professional development, for sharing your skills and knowledge, for networking and for volunteering. Donating our time and energy is one of our highest professional callings and one of our most important duties.

I also look forward to continuing to lead the effort to grow our membership. Last year, 1,000 new members joined the MBA, and there is every reason to believe that trend will continue.

We are starting our new year with the leadership of our energetic new president, Mark Mason, our fine executive director, Marilyn Wellington, and our talented and enthusiastic staff. Under this leadership, we will continue to grow, and our collective voice will be stronger than ever.

Vice President Valerie A. Yarashus
We have an exciting year full of opportunity ahead of us at the Massachusetts Bar Association. In the last year alone, the MBA?has welcomed more than 1,000 members. Even more importantly, we are reaching out to make sure that we are increasing diversity on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, at every level. It has been my privilege this year to co-chair the MBA Diversity Task Force together with Robert Harnais, under the leadership of Warren Fitzgerald. I am delighted that our incoming president, Mark Mason, has committed to giving these issues priority.

We have a full program lineup this fall working with five of the largest minority bar associations in the state, and we will be providing support services to them and discounted joint memberships, which we believe will result in benefiting all of the involved organizations. We will be scheduling numerous programs at middle schools, high schools and colleges in areas with large minority populations to help instill an interest in the legal system and an interest in a future legal career. We have also partnered numerous minority lawyers in the MBA with officers and past presidents in an effort to learn from each other and help move qualified individuals to positions of increased leadership at the Mass Bar. I hope that all of these efforts will result in visibly enriching our bar association, which was founded on the principles of diversity, openness, fairness and inclusion.

As the largest statewide bar, we have a unique opportunity to work on collaborative bench-bar efforts which can change and shape our profession. Through the various section councils and past courses, there are literally hundreds of these projects each year. Just one example is a proposal that I will present to the House of Delegates this fall to work on a Plain English Jury Instruction project.

Finally, the MBA recognizes that the future of our bar association will be to offer dramatically more services and information to members online. I look forward to contributing to the revamping of our Web site, which is expected to be unveiled this fall. We have a very bright future at the MBA with a team of professional staff, officers, House of Delegate members, section councils and other active members contributing to projects too numerous to mention, which will improve the quality of our professional lives as well as those of our clients. It is my privilege to serve as part of this team and I welcome any feedback and information from any of you on how we are doing.

Vice President Denise Squillante
As a solo practitioner for 23 years this year, I am sensitive to the issues of lawyers who are involved in general, solo and small firm practices. I look forward to working with the staff at 20 West St. in addressing issues that are particular to this group of lawyers.

The new slate of officers has been actively planning for the next year. After the strong and steady leadership of President Warren Fitzgerald, we will be moving forward, continuing with initiatives established by his leadership and the new ones President Mark Mason will be announcing. I look forward to working with my fellow officers as we move forward with projects and initiatives to assist lawyers, improve our profession, community outreach and developing how we can best work in partnership with the court system under all the new procedures. I look forward to working with the chair of Law Practice Management, Denise Guerin, as we look at ways to help lawyers with the "business of lawyering."

During the upcoming year, I will be continuing to co-chair the Lawyers in Transition Task Force with Jayne Tyrell. This task force is focusing on how the MBA can address the need of lawyers who have been out of practice due to either health or parenting issues, lawyers who have left the practice for another career and are transitioning back into practice, or senior lawyers who are transitioning out.

As the legal profession is "graying," as baby boomers get older, we will be looking at how to address the needs of those in our profession. As senior lawyers and bar leaders, we have a responsibility to lead the way for those who are coming behind us. It will be also be my privilege to co-chair the Curriculum Development and Education Committee as we seek to improve programs and resources for lawyers throughout the commonwealth. I am committed to having educational programs take place throughout the state.

Treasurer Robert F. Lucas
As the newly elected treasurer of the MBA, I look forward to dealing with its fiscal responsibilities. The nuts and bolts of MBA finances are rather far down on the glamour list of organized bar responsibilities, but all our programming and member services goals will be meaningless without fiscal support. I anticipate working closely with Marilyn Wellington, our executive director, and Mark Doherty, our director of Finance and Administration.

This will be the first full year under a new and dynamic staff leadership which has already promised to seek ways to pare expenses and reduce costs.

We are indeed a diverse organization with multiple needs and membership demands. Full participation in some MBA-related activities has become prohibitably expensive for many of our newer members and many of our sole practitioners, each of whom comprises a significant part of our constituency. We need to continue to explore additional sources of non-dues revenue.

The MBA is providing unparalleled service to us all. It increasingly seeks out and supports matters of public concern, provides professional education and, among a myriad of other activities, gives us a strong and effective public voice. We cannot afford, nor does our membership want, to diminish the services we provide, but the challenge is to expand them within the limitations of our income. It is my expectation this year that the officers and senior staff will be working diligently toward developing mechanisms to make this happen.

Secretary Edward W. McIntyre
Mark has an ambitious agenda for the coming year and I look forward to supporting these initiatives and doing all that I can to ensure success.

The MBA's Standing Committee on Evaluation of Judicial Performance continues its work, infusing the practice of using the MBA's Web-based judicial performance evaluation system into the legal culture.

I am enthusiastic about supporting the MBA's Task Force on Diversity in the profession and visiting middle and high schools in Central Massachusetts with Perry Wu and Judge John Lu, encouraging students to take seriously their education and to consider a career in the law.

Our membership will see a new look with fresh offerings on our Web site as the MBA strives to enhance our online learning opportunities.

An initiative that will be getting considerable attention involves a collaboration of the bench, bar and law schools in identifying issues, assessing trends and setting a coherent and coordinated direction for the profession. I see this initiative as identifying competencies that are not necessarily law-related but essential nonetheless in developing life-learning leadership curricula for the 21st century bench and bar.

I am a strong advocate of raising lawyers' compensation in the public sector and hope to address this issue in the coming year. The Mass. Bar has long recognized the inequities in compensation. At a recent MBA Annual Conference, it became apparent that Massachusetts pays its bar advocates the second lowest in the nation, and that bar advocates, by and large, earn less than their costs and expenses in taking indigent cases. As we were successful in making the case for judges, I feel it's now more incumbent upon us to state the case for lawyers.