HOD discusses mandatory CLE, foreclosure mediation

Issue February 2012 By Jennifer Rosinski

A lively discussion on the practitioner's views of mandatory minimum CLE and debate over draft legislation requiring mandatory mediation prior to foreclosures were among the topics deliberated at the Massachusetts Bar Association's Jan. 19 House of Delegates meeting at UMass Medical School in Worcester.

MBA President Richard P. Campbell welcomed all to the medical school, which he described as "a really interesting institution." UMass Medical School Vice Chancellor James Leary provided remarks and introduced a video that revealed the campus' accomplishments.

The first topic of the meeting, fittingly, was improving health care quality as it relates to medical errors. "As a patient advocate, I am always open to listening to means to address this crisis," said MBA Vice President Jeffrey N. Catalano, who specializes in medical malpractice. Dr. Alan Woodward, an emergency physician, consultant and former president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, presented a detailed PowerPoint presentation on the subject of transforming medical liability and improving patient safety in Massachusetts.

HOD voted to support in principle a report of the Foreclosure Task Force presented by Robert Cannon, which outlined draft legislation to create a mandatory mediation procedure prior to foreclosure on residential properties in Massachusetts. The task force originally presented the matter to HOD in November, but it was tabled. The legislation calls for face-to-face mediation within 90 days, said Cannon, who described the process as creating predictability.

Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts President Christopher S. Pitt reported that REBA does not support the bill as drafted, but does not oppose mediation in principle. MBA Civil Litigation Section Chair Raymond P. Ausrotas said the section also does not support the legislation as drafted.

A vote of approval by HOD was given to a resolution that grants U.S. magistrate judges the power to conduct any and all proceedings in a jury or non-jury civil matter in federal court and authorizes the MBA to bring it before the American Bar Association at its midyear meeting in February.

HOD voted unanimously to express opposition to provisions contained in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2012 that concern detention, interrogation and prosecuted of suspected terrorists. MBA member Michael Mone Jr., son of MBA Past President Michael Mone, presented the matter to HOD. HOD also voted to bring this matter before the ABA.

The MBA's Mandatory Minimum CLE Task Force, co-chaired by MBA Vice President Marsha V. Kazarosian and Christopher A. Kenney, a region 10, Worcester County delegate, provided an overview of its report. The seven-member task force, created in September, met with and sought input from MBA members, affiliated bars, MCLE, the Board of Bar Overseers and Minnesota Continuing legal Education. "The message was Massachusetts lawyers are a very self-motivated group," Kazarosian said. "Many are not against CLE, just the mandatory ?aspect of it."

Catalano, who sits on the Supreme Judicial Court's Working Group on Professionalism, said the SJC has discussed making CLE mandatory for young lawyers, and that the scope may be broadened. Campbell suggested the task force should now develop a plan that outlines how mandatory CLE should operate in Massachusetts, so that the bar is not blind-sided if it in fact becomes a true possibility.

MBA Treasurer Douglas K. Sheff gave a positive MBA financial report, noting the MBA is operating with a profit in the first quarter of its fiscal year, new members have increased 10 percent over the same time period last year and CLE has grossed more than anticipated, in part due to the success of the MUPC series.

Catalano informed HOD that he is now forming a committee to decide how to distribute funds collected for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship, which was created with money raised above the amount needed for last year's Centennial Celebration

Vice Chancellor Leary addresses MBA delegates

On hand to provide welcome remarks to MBA's HOD at its Jan. 19 meeting was UMass Medical School Vice Chancellor James B. Leary, Esq. (see Viewpoint, page 3).

Leary explained that UMMS is approximately 40 years old and founded with a dual mission -- to provide affordable, high-quality medical education to Massachusetts residents, and increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in underserved areas of the state.

Today, UMMS is ranked eighth in primary care among the nation's 133 medical schools by U.S. News & World Report; and it is 17th in affordability out of the 133 (measured by total cost of tuition, fees and health insurance), according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

"We are by far the most affordable medical school in the Northeast," said Leary, who also noted UMMS' ranking of 31 for competitively awarded National Institutes of Health research grants.

In addition, Leary reported that only 4 percent of the UMMS budget comes from a state appropriation with the other 96 percent derived primarily from revenues from entrepreneurial ventures, such as Commonwealth Medicine, Mass Biologics Labs, grant funded research, and licensing fees.

For more information on UMass Medical School, visit

Next HOD meeting at UMass Lowell campus

The MBA HOD will meet next on March 22 at UMass Lowell.

UMass Lowell is a comprehensive, national research university. The campus offers its 15,000 students bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in engineering, education, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, liberal arts, management, sciences and social sciences.

UMass Lowell delivers educational programs, hands-on learning and personal attention from faculty and staff. UMass Lowell enjoys its ranking from U.S. News & World Report as a top 200 research university. Also, Forbes ranks the university as one of the top 650 undergraduate institutions.

Of the more than 75,000 living alumni, nearly 44,000 are Massachusetts residents. One such alumnus is the current chancellor, Martin Meehan. Meehan is the second chancellor of UMass Lowell and the 14th leader of its predecessor schools founded in the 1890s.