On May 15, the House of Delegates of the Massachusetts Bar
Association met at the MBA's offices at 20 West St.
The meeting began with former MBA Vice President Jeffrey N.
Catalano, of Todd & Weld LLP, speaking about his involvement
with the Massachusetts Alliance for Communication and Resolution
following Medical Injury or "MACRMI" as it's commonly known. This
alliance is comprised of patient advocacy groups, teaching
hospitals and their insurers, and statewide provider organizations.
Its mission is to provide patients with transparent communication,
sincere apologies and fair compensation in cases of avoidable
medical harm. Fearing that patients would be compelled to accept
settlements without proper consideration or consultation, Catalano
lobbied to have the MBA become a part of this alliance. Last month,
MACRMI elected to have the MBA join. Going forward, Catalano will
participate in all MACRMI meetings and ensure patients are
encouraged to seek legal representation when presented with a
"If you're not at the table, you're on the menu," said Catalano
about his push to have MBA representation at MACRMI policy
meetings. "Patients are extremely vulnerable in these situations,
and ensuring that they receive a fair offer that takes into account
all things is critical for their future well-being," he stated.
The House of Delegates then heard from president Robert L.
Holloway Jr., as he summarized his tenure over the past nine
months. He stated that his goal had been and continues to be the
unification and promotion of the legal profession. He cited the
recent successful annual dinner - where more than 1,000 legal
professiona-s gathered to support and celebrate the association and
its efforts - as proof of the strength of Massachusetts' legal
community. He then introduced his successor, Douglas K. Sheff, and
reminded him of how fleeting time is, and how important it is to
maximize every moment.
President-elect Sheff took to the podium to lay out his goals for
the following year. He voiced his concerns on how the image
of lawyers has eroded in the past 30 years, and how terms like
"elitest," "deceitful" and "takers" are often used when the press
refers to legal professionals. He stated that no other profession
gives back as much as the legal profession, in terms of pro
bono efforts and other community support. Drawing from
three words - family, consumer, justice - that resonate strongly
with most people, Sheff outlined three platforms on which he will
establish his presidency. First, he talked about the Working Family
Initiative, which will support family-run businesses, workplace
safety and tax relief. His second initiative is consumer advocacy,
promoting consumer-friendly practices and rights for individuals.
Lastly, he talked about "justice for all," which would include
pro bono and charitable initiatives, Access to Justice
efforts, Dial-A-Lawyer programs, the MBA's work with the One Fund
Boston and the MBA's Lawyer Referral Service.
Vice President Christopher P. Sullivan gave brief remarks and
strongly encouraged all members of the MBA to support the victims
of the Marathon bombings. He highlighted the upcoming Dial-A-Lawyer
program, scheduled for May 30, which was created specifically to
answer calls from victims. He also talked about the MBA's
work with the One Fund Boston, spearheaded by Civil Litigation
Section Chair Paul E. White and MBA Past President Leo V. Boyle, as
well as the opportunity for lawyers to represent victims on a
pro bono basis.
MBA Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy provided delegates with a
legislative update. Since the last HOD meeting, the House passed a
budget that included a long-awaited judicial compensation increase.
The Senate released its budget on May 16. For more details see page
Healy also noted that the Hon. Paula M. Carey has been appointed
Trial Court Chief Justice, and that the MBA looks forward to
working closely with her in her enhanced role.
Lastly, Healy highlighted recent testimony by MBA Secretary Martha
Rush O'Mara before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Rush
O'Mara spoke in support of a bill that would raise the age of
juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years of age. This bill has a
long list of supporters, including Chief Justice Michael Edgerton,
CPCS and Citizens for Juvenile Justice. It has passed the House and
awaits action by the senate.
The ABA Nominating Committee, comprised of Boyle, Thomas Carey,
Josephine McNeil, Denise Squillante, Richard Campbell, then
presented its candidates for the ABA's House of Delegates. Three
names were put forth by the committee - Marsha V. Kazarosian,
Robert W. Harnais, Kay H. Hodge - and a fourth name, Martha Rush
O'Mara, was nominated from the floor. After a brief debate, the
House of Delegates voted to elect Kazarosian, Harnais and Hodge to
the ABA House of Delegates.
The meeting concluded with the ceremonial passing of the gavel,
and a book, "The End of Time," from Holloway to Sheff.