A bright future

Issue September 2008 By Edward W. McIntyre

Our children and their children will always need the timeless principles of lawyering carried forth by wise, compassionate and courageous attorneys professionally trained to serve others.

At this point in my career, I reflect upon my professional as well as personal experiences for motivation. As baby boomers, my wife and I are lucky enough to enjoy watching our first grandchild develop. When I think about her future, it makes me want to work harder for her and her children and to ensure those timeless principles of the law are indeed maintained. As little Caitlyn’s presence transforms a room with optimism, I’m confident we too, as lawyers, can continue to practice with a renewed sense of optimism and service.

Such ideals weighed heavy with my selections for this year’s section and committee chairs who ultimately compose the heart and soul of the association. They, together with my fellow officers, have begun to map out a full year of objectives at the Massachusetts Bar Association. The upstanding character and commitment of these men and women, coupled with their progressive spirit, strengthen my belief that the future of the MBA is bright.

Of course, before speaking of where we are going, let’s reflect and applaud where we’ve been. As the first order of business in 2008-09, I want to express our appreciation to the 76th President of the Massachusetts Bar Association, David W.
White Jr. David’s vision and energy impacted literally thousands of people in our community.

He challenged and encouraged all of us throughout all 12 months of his term and we inherit his legacy to continue to shape this great bar association. David formed the Energy and Environment Task Force that launched the hugely successful MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge. Partnering with the Conservation Law Foundation, the MBA and the nearly 60 participating firms and practitioners leveraged the Eco-Challenge to promote energy and resource conservation and environmental consciousness among the Massachusetts legal community and beyond.

David also created the Drug Policy Task Force that represents interests from the defense bar, prosecutors, rehabilitation and treatment professionals, the medical society, pharmacists, social workers and other opinion leaders on this issue. This first-of-its-kind, broad-based collaboration will work to propose creative, more effective solutions to the status quo remedies related to our current criminal justice system overburdening our prisons.

On the civil side, our friends at the Boston Bar Association, particularly Immediate Past President Anthony Doniger, have launched a special Task Force on Civil Right to Counsel this past year. "We are now beyond discussing the civil right to counsel as a positive concept, which we accept, and must address the harder issue, which is how to go about implementing such a right," Doniger has said.

I look forward to collaborating with the BBA and all of the MBA’s affiliated bar associations on issues as important as this.

As always, the efforts of the MBA to improve access to justice have remained strong for the past 12 months. Equally critical to ensuring access to justice for all citizens of the commonwealth are the Massachusetts courts. Illustrating our collaboration with the courts is the exemplary work of members John G. Dugan and Edward Notis-McConarty. For more than six years, John and Ned, as co-chairs of a working group established by the Supreme Judicial Court, diligently worked to enable access to the Massachusetts courts through Limited Assistance Representation pilot projects in Probate and Family Courts in Suffolk, Hampden and Norfolk counties. Here, their keen leadership and commitment have made possible a workable solution permitting attorneys to assist pro se litigants on a limited basis without undertaking full legal representation.

Building on the momentum of these important accomplishments over the past year, we will work to refine such projects while adding others that make sense for the bar and the communities we serve.

Because the standards and trends of a modern day law practice evolve quickly, we are met with a continually dynamic collaboration throughout the Massachusetts legal community. This dynamic provides the opportunity to convene conversations and enable innovations. I pledge to convene such conversations, to listen respectfully, to seek mutual purpose and to nurture the innovations that improve the quality
of justice.

The future of our profession, as well as that of those we serve, continues to be enlightened in large part due to the high caliber of the men and women who are the Massachusetts Bar Association. I am privileged to serve along with them on our bright path.