Government attorneys receive education, motivation at Public Law Conference

Issue July/August 2007 By Tricia M. Oliver

Nearly 90 public law attorneys gathered in the second floor conference suite in the John Adams Courthouse in Boston for the MBA’s Public Law Conference. The June 5 conference included a comprehensive panel of speakers who shared their expertise on topics that intimately impact and involve attorneys at the municipal, state and county level.

Following an interactive morning session on "How to Be a More Effective Government Attorney," the highlight of the half-day conference came during the luncheon when Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley delivered the conference’s keynote address.

MBA Public Law Section Chair Robert L. Quinan Jr., a colleague of Coakley’s in the Office of the Attorney General in Boston, introduced her as "a passionate advocate for public safety."

When taking the podium, Coakley was met with much interest as she easily struck a familiar rapport with the audience when heralding the work of public attorneys. "There is no better way to serve the public or be more patriotic," Coakley said. "Public law is more challenging today, but it is more important than it has ever been," she added.

She encouraged the group to reinvigorate its role as attorneys and to highly value its collective role in addressing the "gaps" in the system and its influence in changing regulations and laws. "We help the system work," said Coakley, the state’s first female attorney general.

When commenting on her relatively new role, she encouraged those in attendance to reach out to the Office of the Attorney General. "We are open to new ideas," said Coakley, who explained that she and her staff are still getting used to the transition since she took office earlier this year.

She welcomed comments and questions following her remarks. When asked how Massachusetts was perceived by other attorneys general across the country, Coakley explained that "the quality of work that is done here is highly respected," and she credited the path paved before her by former Massachusetts Attorneys General Thomas F. Reilly and Scott Harshbarger.

Coakley’s upbeat remarks concluded the MBA’s first-ever Public Law Conference.