News from the courts/agencies

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018
SJC announces Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being; Boston Municipal Court vacancies; MLRI launches new online eviction process training for Lawyer for the Day volunteers; DeRossi appointed Appeals Court administrator

newsfromcourts

SJC announces Steering Committee on
Lawyer Well-Being

The justices of the Supreme Judicial Court last week announced the members of a Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being that will explore ways to reduce stress on attorneys, help restore work-life balance, increase professional satisfaction and better support those who are confronting mental health and substance use disorders. Massachusetts Bar Association Vice President Denise I. Murphy will represent the MBA on the committee.


In his annual State of the Judiciary address in the John Adams Courthouse on Oct. 24, SJC Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants spoke of the profound importance of lawyer well-being. An August 2017 Report of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being found that many attorneys are struggling with serious health issues that are exacerbated, if not caused, by the way that law is practiced today, including increased financial pressures, client and work expectations. A 2016 study surveyed nearly 13,000 practicing lawyers and found that between 21 and 36 percent qualified as problem drinkers; approximately 28 percent were struggling with some level of depression, 19 percent with anxiety, and 23 percent with stress.

The steering committee is coordinated by retired SJC Justice Margot Botsford, who served as an associate justice on the SJC from 2007 to 2017. Committee members represent different areas of the legal community, including judges, bar regulators, legal employers, and representatives from law schools, bar associations, and the lawyer assistance program. They will be responsible for consulting with a diverse, representative group in their respective areas of practice or work, including lawyers in recovery, to learn what is currently being done to support lawyer well-being, to explore best practices, and to consider whether structural changes need to be made to better foster the health of the profession. 

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Boston Municipal Court vacancies

The Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications through Nov. 26 for the following judicial vacancies:

Boston Municipal Court – South Boston Division 
Hon. Robert J. McKenna Jr.           
(June 10, 2016)

Boston Municipal Court – Dorchester Division
Hon. Emogene Johnson Smith       
(Aug. 8, 2017)

For more information, visit https://www.mass.gov/judicial-vacancies.

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MLRI launches new online eviction process training for Lawyer for the Day volunteers

The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) and the Massachusetts Legal Aid Websites Project have launched a new free online training for Lawyer for the Day volunteers in Housing Court. The free one-hour course provides attorneys with an interactive overview of the eviction process. The course arose from discussions during a Lawyer for the Day convening in February 2018, sponsored by MLRI and the Massachusetts Bar Association.

The course follows the eviction process from the beginning to the end. It includes links to key forms and relevant court rules. Throughout the course, users are given a series of “knowledge checks” to apply what they have learned. Additional trainings on substantive landlord tenant law are available from Lawyer for the Day programs.

Developed by a team at MLRI with support from Volunteers Lawyer Project, Community Legal Aid, the North Shore Community Action Programs, and ThinkingKap, an online curriculum developer, the course is posted on MassLegalServices.org along with links to contacts/coordinators for Lawyer for the Day programs in Housing Court.

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DeRossi appointed Appeals Court administrator

Appeals Court Chief Justice Mark V. Green has announced the selection of attorney Gina L. DeRossi, Bristol County register of probate, to serve as the court administrator for the Massachusetts Appeals Court. DeRossi is expected to begin in her new position on or around Nov. 26, succeeding Court Administrator Gilbert Lima, who is retiring on Dec. 4.

DeRossi is currently the elected register of probate for the Bristol County Probate and Family Court. Following her election to that office in 2008, she began serving in January of 2009, and was subsequently reelected to a second consecutive six-year term. In accepting the position as Appeals Court administrator, DeRossi will formally step down from her current position and not serve out the remainder of her term. 

DeRossi was engaged in the general practice of law for more than 13 years, with a focus on probate, estates, family law, business, contacts and housing matters. She is vice president of the New Bedford Bar Association and is a member of the Bristol County Bar Association; secretary for the Massachusetts Registers Association; and is an executive board member of the Massachusetts Association of Clerks and Assistant Clerk Magistrates. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts Law School and Bristol Community College. DeRossi has a J.D. from New England Law | Boston and is a graduate of Providence College. She earned a certificate in judicial administration from Michigan State University in 2017.

The Appeals Court is a court of general appellate jurisdiction and has 25 statutory justices, including the chief justice. The court decides between 1,400 and 1,700 cases a year. The justices, who sit in panels of three, review decisions made by Trial Court judges in the seven court departments. In addition to its panel jurisdiction, the Appeals Court runs a continuous single justice session, with a separate docket.