The Massachusetts Bar Association has a long history of
supporting our judicial system and our communities. And we will
continue to build upon our accomplishments this year through my
Working Family, Consumer Advocacy and Justice for All initiatives.
We know what we've accomplished and what we're capable of. But if
we want to do more - and we do - we need to make sure the public
understands, as well.
This notion cannot be emphasized enough: it all begins with the
public. As Abraham Lincoln said: "In this age, in this country,
public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against
it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper
than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial
I firmly believe we can go deeper and accomplish more by creating
a visible public presence, which emphasizes our support for the
courts and our communities, and the good deeds of lawyers. We
already have many of the pieces in place.
MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W.
Healy and his legislative team are second to none when it comes to
lobbying our legislature for appropriate court funding. We
consistently use all means possible to educate the public as to the
importance of our courts. Under the leadership of Past President
Richard P. Campbell, we went so far as to rent space on billboards
to facilitate and enhance public awareness with respect to the
By combining those efforts with a strong message that the courts
are a critical element, essential in the protection of the rights
of working families, consumers and the disadvantaged, we will
unquestionably create a strong public sentiment for properly
funded, effective and fair civil and criminal justice systems. In
turn, legislators would respond to their constituents and the
courts would receive sufficient resources.
Of course, the bench and bar must work together and present a
"unified front" when it comes to support for the judicial system. I
am proud to say that several members have been working with the MBA
to enhance bench/bar relations. This year we have already created
and commenced regular bench/bar lunches with the Supreme Judicial
Court and have scheduled educational programs and receptions
co-sponsored by our Judicial Administration Section Council. The
House of Delegates passed a resolution to update the Judicial
Preference Guide, a useful tool to assist lawyers and judges alike
in the everyday workings of the courts. We will spend more time
with judges than ever, develop a deeper understanding of how
lawyers and judges can support each other, and together recapture
the public trust.
Creating a more visible presence will also pay dividends with our
membership - the single most important consideration for any
organization. I believe our membership efforts would skyrocket if
we were to watch our leaders, not simply at MBA functions, but in
major media as well. A public presence will have a synergistic
effect on the MBA, and all of its initiatives, past, present and
future. Immediate Past President Robert L. Holloway has worked
tirelessly on membership, as has Vice President Christopher P.
Sullivan, whom Holloway appointed to chair the Membership
Committee. This year, Vice President Martha Rush O'Mara will
contribute her considerable talents and co-chair the Membership
Committee, as well. The work that Bob, Chris, Martha and others are
doing is essential to the MBA, and can only be enhanced with
increased visibility to non-members.
In addition to our Education and Membership committees, we have
formed a Public Relations/Media Committee, which is led by a
talented group of MBA leaders and staff. President-elect Marsha V.
Kazarosian has agreed to contribute her superior skills as well. We
have even included non-lawyers with media backgrounds. We will work
to increase positive exposure in the media, while responding to
unfair negative exposure. We will generate, initiate and promote
positive story ideas, drawing from the wonderful and selfless
activities of attorneys throughout the commonwealth which have, all
too often, gone unrecognized. We will have a speaker's bureau,
position papers, and media training. Treasurer Robert W. Harnais
has been leading projects that protect the public regarding
criminal law issues. Secretary Christopher A. Kenney has agreed to
chair our new Consumer Advocacy Task Force. All of this work is
bound to have a positive effect on the public.
But the real key to improving the public perception of lawyers is
found through you, our members. You're the ones who are serving on
community associations, working with the boards of nonprofit
organizations, and donating your time and your money to help
people. We need to get the word out about the positive
contributions you make, day in and day out, and there's no time
like the present.
October is Pro Bono Month, and, as I noted last month,
Massachusetts lawyers give back roughly 1,000 years of pro bono
each year. That's a lot of stories, and we ought to tell them. I
encourage each of you to embrace Pro Bono Month by not only taking
pro bono cases, but telling us about it, so we can spread the good
word. Send an e-mail to [e-mail tellus].
Through our staff, our leaders, our three initiatives and our
committees, we have the infrastructure for an incredible year. And
with your help we are going to improve our public image and regain
the reputation for integrity once enjoyed by our great