Is it me, or do "the holidays" seem to start earlier each year?
Of course, what I'm really talking about is holiday
marketing, where department stores begin decking their
halls for holiday shopping soon after Labor Day. Marketing aside,
however, it's hard to deny that there is a little something extra
in the air from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, regardless of
one's background or religion.
This time of year for me has always been marked by giving, and
maybe that's because I grew up as the son of an attorney. (The
photo on page 2 is of my dad and me at one of our firm's holiday
parties.) As I've said before, attorneys by their nature are really
givers and caretakers. Here at the Massachusetts Bar Association,
we've fully embraced that label.
Just last month, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the MBA
partnered with Christmas in the City on its annual Turkey Drive,
where nearly 40 MBA officers, members and staff handed out
Thanksgiving food baskets (see page 15). Our contributions of both
time and money helped feed more than 600 families in need -
approximately 2,000 people - in the Boston area.
This month we also partnered with Cradles to Crayons to collect
warm winter clothing for children as part of its Gear Up for Winter
program. While neither of these programs had anything to do with
the law, they were a natural fit for us as a bar association since
we, as lawyers, routinely help our clients and others both in and
outside of the courtroom. And it's not just limited to the holiday
season. The MBA "gives back" countless times, year-round.
The MBA gives back through our legislative advocacy. This year our
efforts helped usher in the first judicial pay raise since 2006,
while increasing the judiciary's budget for fiscal year 2014. We
also helped improve rehabilitation options for young adult
offenders through the passage of MBA-backed legislation increasing
the age of juvenile jurisdiction. The MBA's Workplace Safety Task
Force has been the gift that keeps on giving. Last year we
increased workplace safety for more than 100,000 temp workers with
the passage of the "Right to Know" law. And this year we're working
on increasing death benefits under workers' compensation, which has
recently begun moving in the legislative process.
The MBA also gives back through our community programs. Our
Dial-A-Lawyer, Tiered Community Mentoring Program, Mock Trial and
other outward-focused initiatives are regular examples of ways
we're helping to improve the lives of others. Of course, none of
these programs happen without our members who volunteer and help
bring them to life. The MBA is the preeminent voice of the
legal profession in Massachusetts, and it's our members who give us
that voice. I want to especially thank our sustaining members,
whose extra financial commitment to the MBA makes many of our
Rest assured, the MBA will continue to give back long after the
holiday season is over. In fact, I recently announced my "12 for
12" program where we will get 12,000 lawyers to ask 12 of their
clients to send letters of support to legislators for increased
funding for the courts and legal aid. I don't believe there will be
anything more powerful than elected representatives hearing
directly from their constituents about the importance of properly
supporting our judicial branch.
In 2014, our philanthropic partner, the Massachusetts Bar
Foundation, will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Many of you have
been key supporters through the years. And I will be asking
everyone to consider giving the MBF "$50 for 50," in honor of this
milestone. You just have to read this month's feature story on the
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute's Homelessness Project - an MBF
grantee - to see the type of critically important work the MBF
assists each year.
We have a lot to be proud of in 2013, and even greater things to
come in 2014. Happy holidays, and happy new year, to you and your