Issue September 2013

President's View

When Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis founded the Massachusetts Bar Association more than 100 years ago, the law was believed to be the noblest of professions. Many years later, my first impression of the law was one of respect for lawyers. My dad was a trial lawyer, and wherever he went, people asked for his opinion as a trusted expert on just about everything. It was a time when lawyers and judges enjoyed a public image of honor and integrity. Unfortunately, over the last 40 years our profession's reputable standing has been severely eroded in the eyes of the public.

Three initiatives to restore the public trust

Improving the public perception of lawyers hinges on the successful implementation of three related Massachusetts Bar Association-driven initiatives that incorporate three of the most popular words in the English language:  family, consumer and justice. Each of these initiatives -- the "Working Families Initiative," the "Consumer Advocacy Initiative," and the "Justice For All Initiative" -- is designed to assist critical elements of our society, while advancing the image of attorneys and the MBA.

Presidential Profile: Sheff in double time

Douglas K. Sheff is a drummer, but no one could ever accuse him of just marking time.

"I do everything double," says Sheff, whose style of drumming involves hitting twice on the down stroke. "I can get two for the price of one and create a fuller sound."

Sheff, the new president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, has taken a similar approach to his profession, combining his deep commitment to client service with his strong dedication to the bar to forge a fuller -- and more fulfilling -- career as a lawyer.

MBA to provide professionalism course for new attorneys

The Massachusetts Bar Association has been approved by the Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Advisory Committee on Professionalism to administer a mandatory Practicing with Professionalism course for new lawyers admitted to the Massachusetts bar, pursuant to the new SJC Rule 3:16.

New age to dawn under juvenile justice bill

MBA-supported legislation is expected to raise the age of Juvenile Court jurisdiction to 18, providing 17-year-old defendants access to the benefits of the juvenile justice system.

As of the writing of this article, House Bill 1432 had passed both the House and the Senate unanimously. At press time, the bill awaits action by the governor. With final passage of the legislation and the governor's signature expected soon, practitioners need to understand the impact of the law on 17-year-olds and some of the subtle changes in Juvenile Court practice contained in the bill.