May HOD meeting highlights ceremonial passing of the gavel, creation of two new sections

Issue June 2008 By Tricia M. Oliver

Massachusetts Bar Association President David W. White Jr. swiftly led the MBA House of Delegates through a full agenda on May 14 at the Salem Waterfront Hotel. The meeting marked the fifth and final meeting of the House until the new association year begins in September. Sprinkled throughout the business of the meeting were various accolades about White’s many initiatives since he assumed his presidency last September.

Following reports from the officers, MBA Executive Director Marilyn J. Wellington and General Counsel Martin W. Healy, the delegates unanimously approved the creation of the Juvenile and Child Welfare Section, as well as the Immigration Law Section. Prior to Wednesday’s vote, the Juvenile Practice Group existed under the Criminal Justice Section and the Immigration Law Committee was not incorporated into any of the association’s existing sections.

By elevating the Juvenile Law Practice Group to an independent section, the MBA “meets the civil and criminal side of this practice area,” said Peter Elikann, who presented the proposal alongside Michael Broderick, both members of the Criminal Justice Section.

Elikann said juvenile law practitioners “find themselves in a strange hybrid of the law.”
The idea to elevate this practice area to a section came to Broderick when he first joined the MBA and was selecting his free section. Broderick explained to the delegates that neither the Family Law nor the Criminal Justice Sections fully addressed the unique issues with which practitioners in this field are faced. Broderick is an attorney for the Department of Social Services.

As part of the Immigration Committee Report, Chair Roy J. Watson advocated for his committee’s evolution into section status. “Recognize that immigration is a very complex area of law,” he said. For solo and small firm practitioners struggling to keep up on the law, the Immigration Law Section will “provide an easy, entry-level gate” for those practitioners to stay updated on the ever-changing laws surrounding immigration.

Judicial Administration, Public Law and Business Law votes

Kathy Jo Cook, chair of the Judicial Administration Section, called for a vote to expand the pilot program on Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct 3.5(d) into criminal cases. The HOD previously approved the section to launch the program with civil cases, but Cook called on the delegates to “modify that house action to incorporate the criminal side of things.” Delegates approved that modification.

The lengthiest portion of the meeting surrounded the Public Law Section’s bid to have delegates endorse in principle “much needed reform legislation” regarding the Open Meeting Law. Robert L. Quinan Jr., co-chair of the section, explained that the law needed to be updated since its inception in 1975 in order to keep up with technology and to address more timely factors surrounding the law. Ultimately, the HOD approved a twice-amended endorsement.

Peter McDermott, co-chair of the Business Law Section, quickly received an HOD vote to support the resolution to amend the Business Corporation Act to permit businesses to consider the environmental and social impact of corporate action. White added to McDermott’s plea, explaining that the MBA’s Energy and Environmental Task Force — responsible for orchestrating the popular MBA Eco-Challenge — brought this to the attention of the Business Law Section.

Passing the gavel, responding with praise

Following the votes and informational reports, White then began the ceremonial passing of the gavel to his successor, Edward W. McIntyre. White spoke about the year ahead under the auspices of McIntyre. Said White, “Ed is focused on the needs of our members.” He then spoke of the challenges that lie ahead for the bar, both in and outside of the profession, emphasizing that McIntyre is up for those challenges.

Upon accepting the passed gavel, McIntyre provided words of tribute to White’s productive year. He summarized White’s year as a “dogged endeavor,” describing White as a leader whose “challenge-seeking personal life carried over to his professional life.” McIntyre touched on the many accomplishments of White’s tenure, most notably his criminal sentencing initiatives, the hugely successful Lawyers Eco-Challenge and an unprecedented sell-out crowd at the Gala Dinner, which was held in November. “David consistently encourages the bar and bench to reach higher,” McIntyre said.

White returned to the podium to close the last business meeting of the HOD for this association year and gave some final thanks and reflective remarks. White applauded his wife Denise Murphy; his fellow MBA officers; MBA Executive Director Marilyn J. Wellington and General Counsel Martin W. Healy; other staff he has worked closely with; and finally, the delegates and section council chairs. “Thanks to all of you for making such good news for the MBA, our clients and the law,” concluded White.

Delegates retired to a closing reception, at which four law firms were honored for their unique implementation of the Green Guidelines developed by the MBA Energy and Environment Task Force as part of the Eco-Challenge launched in January 2008 (see story, page 1).