Local, specialty bar leaders gather for first-ever institute

Issue December 2003

More than 40 executive directors and other leaders representing 20 local and specialty bars across Massachusetts gathered on Oct. 31 for the first MBA Bar Leadership Institute.

SJC Marshall
SJC Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall addresses the MBA Bar Leadership Institute.
This unprecedented day of seminars, discussions and networking included addresses by SJC Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall and executive coach Dan Coughlin, as well as a variety of panel discussions and roundtables.

"You are the leaders of the profession across this commonwealth," said MBA President Richard C. Van Nostrand in opening the daylong session at the Warren Conference Center in Ashland.

"In the coming months, you will be facing a number of challenges - courthouse facilities restructuring, equal access to justice, fair pay for appointed criminal defense attorneys, the erosion of our freedoms and liberties and the death penalty, to name just some.

Citing these shared concerns regardless of each attendees' bar size or specialization, Van Nostrand said, "This conference is not the beginning, but rather another point in a continuum - let this be recognized as the official defining moment when all bars locked hands."

American Bar Association state delegate and past MBA president Michael Greco picked up that point in his remarks.

"What I'm doing with the ABA," said Greco, who is the leading nominee for presidency of the national organization, "and what you're doing with your bar association is very similar. It's all about the importance of being a leader of your profession.

"You and I can be proud to be lawyers - and with that comes the opportunity and responsibility to lead our colleagues. It's an opportunity you must not pass up."

Separate programs throughout the day echoed these themes and included sessions on motivating volunteers, led by Coughlin; media relations, with Boston Herald columnist Maggie Mulvihill and corporate trainer Diane Ripstein; fiduciary responsibilities, with former MBA president Kay Hodge; and working with a volunteer board, with New Hampshire Bar Executive Director Jeannine McCoy and ABA Bar Services associate director Elizabeth Derrico.

A highlight of the afternoon was a panel discussion with past presidents from several bars across the state talking about "what they wished they'd known" before becoming president. During the session, former MBA president Elaine Epstein talked about the need for maintaining a sense of humor, while Joseph Kociubes of the Boston Bar said, "during your term, people will pretend to take you seriously. You have a platform - take advantage of that!"

The successful day wrapped up with a series of roundtables on non-dues revenue, lawyers' image concerns, volunteer leadership issues and staff communication.

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