Delegates begin 2006 with productive meeting

Issue March 2006

The Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) 2005-06 House of Delegates convened for a third time on Jan. 19 at Regis College in Weston. The productive meeting provided important updates, discussions and debates related to an assortment of agenda items.

MBA President Warren Fitzgerald began the meeting with his report. He officially introduced Executive Director Marilyn J. Wellington, Esq. to the group and offered praise for her efforts since joining the MBA in December. Wellington presented her first official report to the group later in the agenda.

Photo by Tricia Oliver
MBA Past President Marylin Beck offers her viewpoint on one of the many topics up for debate at the Jan. 19 meeting.
Photo by Tricia Oliver
Andy Kaufman, chair of the MBA Ethics Committee, presented two opinions on which the delegates voted to have published.
Photo by Tricia Oliver
MBA Executive Director Marilyn Wellington delivers her first official report to the House of Delegates.
Fitzgerald announced this year’s Nominating Committee, charged with producing a report for the 2006-07 officers and regional delegates. Past President Kathleen O’Donnell chairs this year’s committee. Fitzgerald then provided brief updates on the MBA Task Force on Diversity led by MBA Vice President Valerie Yarashus and the Lawyers in Transition Committee chaired by MBA Secretary Denise Squillante. He then shared recent activity of the Judicial Independence Committee chaired by Ed Ryan, who was on hand to discuss such happenings.

MBA General Counsel Martin Healy shared a brief update on legislative activities. Healy announced that Massachusetts Senate President Robert Travaglini would be this year’s recipient of the Legislator of the Year Award to be presented at the association’s Annual Dinner on Friday, March 24. He also encouraged delegates to participate in the March 7 Walk to the Hill event at the Statehouse. “This is always a well-attended event and offers a key opportunity for practitioners to show their support for increased funding for legal aid,” he said.

Healy continued by updating the group on the MBA’s involvement on the House of Representatives’ subcommittee on Shared Physical and Legal Proposal. He explained that he, Pauline Quirion and Fern Frolin expressed the MBA’s longstanding opposition to the proposal at a recent meeting. Healy added that he and other MBA representatives met with Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall to discuss the Evidence Proposal unanimously endorsed by the House of Delegates last spring. “I am confident that we will be able to make the law of evidence more accessible,” said Healy.

A major portion of the January meeting centered on two opinions presented by Ethics Committee Chair Andy Kaufman. The delegates granted permission for both opinions presented by Kaufman to be published. They are as follows:

Opinion 2006-1: While there is no outright bar to Massachusetts lawyers’ drafting wills naming themselves as fiduciaries and, as such, retaining themselves as counsel to the fiduciaries, ethical rules require that these steps be taken only when in a client’s best interest.

Opinion 2006-2: A request that a judge instruct jurors that they are free to speak to participating lawyers after the case is concluded would be improper if the proposed instruction does not describe completely the restrictions contained in Rule 3.5 (d).

Delegates were then called upon to vote on legislation brought forth by the Family Law Section Council and approve award nominees presented by the Access to Justice Section Council. As a result, the delegates voted to approve proposed legislation amending G.L. c.46 pertaining to the issuance of a certificate of change of name to parties who have changed their names in accordance with the certificate of marriage. Then, the group approved the slate of nominees to receive Access to Justice Awards at the 2006 Annual Conference Luncheon on March 24. Pauline Quirion led the Family Law conversation, while Jacquelynne Bowman offered the Access to Justice awardee nominations.

The next MBA House of Delegates luncheon and meeting will occur during the MBA’s Annual Conference on Thursday, March 23, at 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. respectively.