Issue May 2013

Mentoring's many forms and paths

The poet and classics scholar Rolfe Humphries graduated from Amherst College in 1915, taught secondary school Latin for about 32 years, and then returned to his (and my) alma mater in 1959 to teach English. Humphries, well regarded as a poet, mentored many poets over the years, including Theodore Roethke. Humphries was lauded by the poet W.H. Auden for Humphries' translation of Virgil's "Aeneid," which Auden called "a service for which no public reward could be too great." Humphries recognized the inestimable value of mentoring and teaching in all its forms. When Humphries retired from Amherst in 1966, he wrote a poem in tribute to Jim Ostendarp, Amherst's head football coach from 1959 to 1991. The poem, in its entirety, is well worth reading, but I quote just the following excerpt:

The wisdom to know the difference

Probate and Family Court maps strategy to improve delivery of justice

The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court has been persistently cross-cut in recent years by an increase in pro se litigants and a decrease in legal representation, piled on top of staff and budget cuts. It's the worst possible combination for a court in which litigants are more likely to come into the court process already highly stressed, inexperienced in the legal process, and short on funds to hire an attorney.

While the increase in pro se litigants is out of the court's control, one of the underlying causes of this rise is rooted in skyrocketing costs of court litigation. Costs are rising to due to the structural inefficiencies in court processes themselves which lead to excessive waiting time for attorneys and litigants - which in turn run the legal clock.

These root causes are what Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey has set out to address. She is concerned about the quality of information judges receive due to the dearth of legal representation in the court, and also about the rising costs of litigation stemming in part from the court system's structural inefficiencies.

Access to Justice Award winners to be honored

Find out who will receive the 2013 Access to Justice Awards at the May 9 MBA Annual Dinner.