Section leaders get 'oriented' at initial meeting

Issue October 2003

More than 100 section chairs, Section Council members and officers gathered on Sept. 10 for an all-day orientation program to familiarize themselves with MBA procedures and policies and to kick off the year of new Section activity.

MBA President Richard C. Van Nostrand looks on as Manager of Professional Programs Peter Mina talks with section leaders at the recent orientation meeting at MCLE.
"As we look to the year ahead, we will be focusing on advocacy, strengthening the legal community across the state and building upon our many fine community and public service programs," said MBA President Richard C. Van Nostrand at the start of the program, which was held in the auditorium of MCLE.

"The association needs your help - by attending the House of Delegates meetings, in your Section councils, through CLE, at the Annual Conference, and at other activities and events," said MBA Executive Director Abigail Shaine. "We want you to be leaders in the most comprehensive sense of the word."

Leadership was the theme of the day, as former long-time Section chairs Denise Squillante and Lee Gartenberg gave the members a detailed rundown of the role of section chairs, as well as best practices for working with other sections in drafting legislation or developing recommendations to the HOD.

"Because of the exhaustive selection process, you have been identified as a leader in your field," said Gartenberg. "You are a leader of your section, and of your colleagues. As such you will be called upon to develop educational programs, analyze issues, propose MBA policy and positions, draft legislation and write amicus briefs for the SJC and Appeals Court."

Squillante and Gartenberg also offered practical advice on running effective meetings, tips on enlisting volunteers for special projects, and more.

At one point late in the day, Squillante broke into song to explain the pros and cons of amicus letter writing (to the tune of "Some Enchanted Evening"). The rendition brought down the house - and made some effective points.

"At a time when there is a lot of concern about the image of lawyers," said Squillante, "you can individually really make a difference. As a Section Council member, you are on the cutting edge of the law, because every year there are hot topics, such as the debate of the Patriot Act and civil liberties, or child support guidelines."

"We want you to be a cauldron if ideas," Van Nostrand said.

Van Nostrand announced that, in a move to ensure attendance at each House of Delegates meeting and to tap the collective wisdom of that body, he would be introducing an "issue-oriented forum" or discussion topic to each meeting's agenda.

"I recall a discussion on voir dire of a few years ago," he said. "I intend to do that for this year's meetings. For example, do we want to craft a definition of the practice of law?"

Following on the HOD theme, General Counsel Martin Healy spoke to the group about how to develop legislative proposals, the necessity of working between sections on areas of shared concern, and gave procedural pointers in presenting topics at HOD meetings.

Also at the meeting, Communications Director William Weber spoke about media outreach and the "Get Involved!" lawyers image campaign; Director of Operations and Administration Cheryl Bailey discussed new offerings and opportunities in the education and community-service departments; and Membership Marketing Manager Jeanine Barlow highlighted the newest services and products available to members, including the new MBA Legal Tech Toolbox.