Sheff goes 'Nightside' to promote lawyers

Issue September 2013

Massachusetts Bar Association President Douglas K. Sheff appeared as a guest on WBZ Radio's "NightSide with Dan Rea," where he publicized the MBA and the positive work that lawyers do for the public.

Refuting the public misconception of lawyers as "takers," Sheff cited a 2013 report by the American Bar Association, which found 80 percent of attorneys nationwide perform some kind of pro bono during the year at an average of 56 hours per year.

Applying those figures to the close to 60,000 attorneys in Massachusetts Sheff said, "That would mean in Massachusetts alone … the legal community is giving back over 1,000 years of free legal service to our underprivileged, to folks who can't afford a lawyer. That's an amazing figure." He said the legal community stands out as a model profession, noting that only 26 percent of the general public does volunteer work, according to a 2012 study by the Corporation for National Community Service.

Sheff touched on several topics during the hour-long discussion, from his own background handling traumatic brain injury cases to the MBA's Working Families, Consumer Advocacy and Justice for All initiatives, which support Massachusetts communities. He also recalled the MBA's involvement in the passage of the "Workers' Right to Know" bill last year as an example of how the association's legislative advocacy efforts have excelled at bringing people with diverse interests together for the public's benefit.

Both Sheff and Rea took questions from callers, which opened several opportunities to promote the MBA's Lawyer Referral Service. By the end of the interview, Sheff told the "NightSide" host that he hoped the listening audience no longer viewed lawyers by their often negative stereotypes. "We're really caretakers," said Sheff. "We really do care, and we do a lot of good things for the communities in the commonwealth."