Sen. Biden keynote speaker for Annual Conference 2006

Issue March 2006 By Bill Archambeault

U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. will give the keynote speech at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Annual Conference 2006 on Friday, March 24.

Biden will speak at the Annual Dinner on Friday, March 24, at this year’s Annual Conference, “Shaping the Future of the Legal Profession,” which runs March 23 through 25 at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel.

“We are thrilled to welcome Senator Joe Biden to provide the Annual Dinner keynote address. As a leading voice on the judiciary, foreign relations, crime prevention and terrorism, Senator Biden is always at the center of the most significant activity in Washington. His dynamic speaking style guarantees a fascinating evening,” said Warren Fitzgerald, MBA president.

A senior member, and former chairman, of the Judiciary Committee, Biden took part in the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings for U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr.

Biden has played a key role in writing the major crime laws of the last 20 years, including the 1994 Crime Bill and the Violence Against Women Act.

Biden has served as either the chairman or ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 1997 and has helped shape U.S. foreign policy for more than 30 years.

Originally trained as a trial attorney, Biden practiced law in Delaware from 1968 to 1972, when he was elected to the Senate. He received his law degree from Syracuse University College of Law in 1968. Since 1991, has been an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law.

Also, Massachusetts Senate President Robert E. Travaglini will receive the Legislator of the Year Award at the Annual Dinner on Friday, March 24. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall’s annual address to the MBA at the closing luncheon will be on Saturday, March 25, at 12:30 p.m.

Journalist Bill Kovach announced as Bench Bar Forum keynote speaker
In addition to Biden, another featured speaker has been added to the Annual Conference lineup. Noted journalist Bill Kovach will be the keynote speaker for Saturday’s Bench Bar Forum.

The overarching theme of this year’s Bench Bar Forum, which Leo Boyle and Judge Cynthia Cohen co-chaired for the planning committee, will be “Covering Justice: The Media and Public Perception of the Legal System.”

Kovach, the founding director and chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, will be the featured speaker. Kovach has been a journalist and writer for 40 years, serving as chief of The New York Times Washington bureau, editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and curator of the Nieman Fellowships at Harvard University.

Kovach’s professional affiliations include serving on the advisory board of the Center for Public Integrity. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Washington Post, The New Republic and many other newspapers and magazines.

Other media speakers include David L. Yas, publisher of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and Rachelle Cohen, editorial page editor of the Boston Herald.

The first Bench Bar Forum session, moderated by Hon. Gordon L. Doerfer of the Appeals Court, will discuss the “Public Understanding of the Role of Judges.” Michael S. Greco, American Bar Association president and an attorney with Kirkpatrick and Lockhart, will moderate the second panel on the “Public Understanding of the Role of Lawyers.” Associate Justice John M. Greaney of the Supreme Judicial Court will moderate the final panel on “Improving Public Understanding of the Legal System.”

Thursday features new “Lawyers in Transition” program
In addition to programming for law students and new lawyers on Thursday, “Lawyers in Transition” is a new track this year that is aimed at professionals who have put their career on hold, either to start or take care of their family, because of a sabbatical or to make career changes.

It will feature a program called “Re-imagining the Practice of Law” by Northeastern University School of Law professor David Hall, former dean and provost. Following the program, Hall will sign his book, “Spiritual Revitalization of the Legal Profession: A Search for Sacred Rivers.”

Thursday’s “Lawyers in Transition” track will also feature: Barbara Bowe of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers leading a program “Coping with Stress/Work/Life Balance”; Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Publisher David L. Yas and Lisa Terrizzi, formerly of Harvard University’s human resources department, on “Nontraditional Legal Paths”; and a Lawyers in Transition forum led by MBA Secretary Denise Squillante.

Friday programming highlights Rouse, other Superior Court justices
A highlight of Friday’s programming will be a forum on the Superior Court’s “Firm, Fair Trial Date Initiative.”

The forum, moderated by Superior Court Chief Justice Barbara J. Rouse, will give an overview of changes in Superior Court practice relating to the initiative undertaken this year. Topics will include bench expectations in pre-trial conferences, calendaring of trials, new standing order on trial continuances and motion practice.

The forum will be followed by a brief Q&A period with a panel of Superior Court justices, including: Rouse, Hon. Nonnie S. Burnes, Hon. John C. Cratsley and Hon. Stephen E. Neel.

In addition, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Standing Committee is sponsoring a 45-minute briefing on Friday. The briefing will address the issue of Massachusetts attorneys representing parties in out-of-state arbitrations and whether doing so constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.

Saturday program features small firm/sole practitioner programming
Saturday’s programming features a new track geared toward small firm and sole practitioners, with programs on: “Setting Fees & Attracting Clients”; “Handling Retainers and Collecting Fees”; “High Tech Trends in Office Efficiency”; and “Work Smarter, not Harder.”

“This new track is exciting because it features timely, practical tips that registrants can put to immediate use in their practice,” said MBA Director of Programs and Services Lisa Ferrara.