We’re in it together

Issue September 2012 By Robert L. Holloway Jr.

The Massachusetts Bar Association has a long and proud history. I am honored to commence my service as president of this great organization and thank everyone for this wonderful opportunity.

As lawyers and citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we have shared values. We benefit from those shared values, but also bear the burden of the privilege of being lawyers. We have taken oaths to uphold the constitutions of both the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As all of you know, the United States Constitution was based upon the Massachusetts Constitution.

Massachusetts is among the few states that call themselves commonwealths. It is useful to note that the word commonwealth derives from the "the common weal" and means generally public welfare, general good or advantage. The word commonwealth connotes, in essence, that we all are in this business of society (however that may be defined from time to time in its particulars) together. Being "in this together" is a useful premise to contemplate as we all work through our daily lives, practicing law in the private or public sector, serving as judges or otherwise using our legal education and experience to address and find solutions for problems.

Being "in this together" also relates to the notion of being inclusive, another useful premise, I think. The Hon. Louis Brandeis, a great lawyer and great jurist, was among those who, more than 100 years ago, founded the MBA, based upon the premise of inclusion. That is what the MBA has been. The structure of the MBA furthers the objective of inclusion. The House of Delegates includes representatives from all of our county bar associations, as well as most of the commonwealth's affinity and specialty bar associations. In addition, the MBA's 17 section councils represent practice areas relevant to all practitioners in the commonwealth.

Through its structure, the MBA carries out its commitment to inclusion, providing a seat at the table for all Massachusetts practitioners. Indeed, all lawyers in the commonwealth effectively have a seat at the MBA table.

Because I believe we all are in this together, I challenge all MBA members to be as active as they can in the association and that those of you reading this message who are not yet members, join us soon.

There are many ways you can benefit from active involvement in the MBA. Perhaps the easiest way is to join as many sections as may interest you. Section membership is free with your MBA membership, with no limit on the number of sections. The sections, as led by their councils, provide timely, practical and relevant information in their respective practice areas.

Participate in MBA social events. They are fun and a great way to network with your colleagues in the profession.

Stay abreast of the advocacy efforts of the MBA by visiting www.massbar.org. You will find the MBA's advocacy efforts to be considerable and effective.

Precisely because we are privileged to be part of a great profession we must not ignore the problems in our profession -- those "elephants standing in the corner of the courtroom." We need to recognize and address the problems. We need to do so honestly and forthrightly. We cannot wait for a young child to tell us that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

I reiterate: be an active MBA member. If you are not a member, join and be active. In addition to the MBA, I urge you to join and support your county bar, affinity bar or specialty bar.

Do it because it will help make you a better lawyer. Do it because it is the right thing to do. Do it because we are stronger speaking together than separately. Do it because we all are in this together.