Trial Court Orientation better preps attorneys with practical tips for trial

Issue May 2009 By Tricia M. Oliver

Always a popular offering, the MBA’s Trial Court Orientation drew nearly 70 attorneys to the John Adams Courthouse on March 25. Participants heard from distinguished panelists from the District, Juvenile, Boston Municipal and Probate and Family Courts.

Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan offered some opening remarks that set the stage for practical advice for the audience made up of recently admitted attorneys and seasoned attorneys looking to expand their practice areas.

MBA President Edward W. McIntyre provided a complimentary introduction for the chief justice. “His leadership has been instrumental in carrying forth court innovations that have caught the attention of the nation, implementing efficiency, responsiveness and quality measures to enhance the Trial Court system not only for us as practitioners, but more importantly, for the citizens we serve,” McIntyre said.

Mulligan was quick to get right to words of wisdom on the nuts and bolts of trial preparation. He suggested to the crowd that it should put much care and attention to both opening statements and closing arguments. “Draft your final argument before you begin your case. This may be the best way to focus on what you need to prove.”

He spoke fondly of his years as a Superior Court judge and remarked how he was continually surprised by attorneys’ lack of personalizing their plaintiff for the judge and jury.

Following Mulligan, the opening panel was led by the Hon. John A. Curran Jr., first justice, Leominster District Court. The other lead panelists throughout the day included the Hon. Michael F. Edgerton, chief justice, Juvenile Court; the Hon. Paula M. Carey, chief justice, Probate and Family Court; and the Hon. Robert Ronquillo Jr., first justice, Boston Municipal Court, East Boston Division.
Three more three-person panels followed to provide attendees with helpful information regarding jurisdiction, tips from a clerk and the role of probation.

Following each panel, attorneys and panelists engaged in a comfortable exchange of questions and answers. The daylong program came to a close with a networking reception.

The MBA will offer a second installation of the Trial Court Orientation program featuring the Housing Court, Land Court and Superior Court later this year.