Supreme Court Justice Breyer to speak at Centennial Dinner

Issue March 2011 By Bill Archambeault

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer will deliver the keynote speech at the MBA's Centennial Conference, the highlight of the organization's 100th anniversary celebration, which will be held May 18 and 19 in Boston.

"We are honored to have a sitting justice on our country's highest court accept our invitation to share his insight firsthand at our Centennial Dinner. We look forward to what will be a remarkable keynote address," said Martin W. Healy, the Massachusetts Bar Association's chief operating officer and chief legal counsel.

Retiring U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner will be honored with the MBA's Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award, which is presented to state or federal judges "who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and dedication to improving the administration of justice and upholding the highest traditions for public service."

"Our Centennial Ball is a worthy venue to honor the legacy of retiring Judge Nancy Gertner," said MBA President Denise Squillante. "The MBA Hennessey Award is a rare honor reserved for a chosen few. We are thrilled to honor Judge Gertner in this fashion, especially during our centennial celebration."

Breyer will speak on May 19, the second day of the two-day conference, which will be held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. A Harvard Law School graduate, he was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President William Jefferson Clinton and seated in 1994.

Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, Breyer was chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals from 1990 to 1994 after serving as a justice of the court for 10 years. A past member of the Judicial Conference of the United States and the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Breyer was chief counsel of the Special Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 1979 and assistant special prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force in 1973.

Gertner was appointed by Clinton in 1994 to fill the seat vacated by A. David Mazzone. She received her bachelor's degree from Barnard College in 1967, and in 1971, earned both her juris doctorate and masters degrees from Yale.

Conference programs will spotlight judges

The Centennial Conference will feature an "unprecedented" amount of participation from and interaction with judges, according to MBA Vice President Douglas K. Sheff, who is chair of the Centennial Conference and co-chair of the Centennial Ball.

"Nobody will want to miss this 100th birthday," Sheff said. "This is a very unique opportunity to meet great people, get educated and celebrate our 100th birthday, all in a couple of days' time. It is, I think, the event of the year. From morning to night, there will be something wonderful for everybody."

The event's educational programming will feature three tracks -- young lawyers, litigation and substantive law -- that will include diverse points of view and substantial participation by judges, Sheff said.

"Especially on the litigation track, but throughout, we're expecting to have an unprecedented amount of judges participating," he said.

Sheff said that he and MBA Secretary Marsha V. Kazarosian, who is chair of the MBA's Education Committee, have put an emphasis on offering a unique and diverse lineup of panelists for this year's programs to make them more interesting and informative.

"We're going to try to shake it up and give them something more interesting, something that they can't get anywhere else," he said. "There will be a strong judicial presence, the likes of which they haven't seen before."

In addition to the increased presence of judges on the CLE panels, Sheff said a bench-bar panel will feature a number of prominent judges, including chief justices, followed by a "bench-bar" reception where attendees can casually interact with the judges. "That's kind of unique," he said.

Look for further details in Lawyers e-Journal, at and in Lawyers Journal.

The CLE programming will include:

Young Lawyers track

  • "Running Your Law Practice on a Shoestring Budget"
  • "60 Sites to Bring Your Firm into the Future"
  • "Technology from Your Office to the Courtroom"

Litigation track

  • "Hot Issues in Discovery"
  • "Crafting a Winning Theme -- from Soup to Nuts"
  • "Direct/Cross Examination of Expert Witnesses"

Substantive Law track

  • "Family Law Update"
  • "Uniform Probate Code Update"
  • "Secret Weapons for the Personal Injury Attorney"
  • "Employment Law Update"