New attorneys across the state have been heading back to the
"classroom" for a required one-day Practicing with Professionalism
course within 18 months of being admitted to the bar.
With the implementation of Rule 3:16 by the Supreme Judicial
Court's (SJC) Standing Committee on Professionalism, all newly
admitted Massachusetts attorneys must attend the course in order to
maintain their good standing at the bar. The rule applies to anyone
newly licensed to practice law in Massachusetts on or after Sept.
The Massachusetts Bar Association is the only SJC approved
provider to offer the course statewide. Since January 2014, the MBA
has partnered with the University of Massachusetts to host the
one-day course on UMass campuses in Boston, Worcester and
Dartmouth. The course will also be offered at UMass Lowell on Sept.
18 and UMass Amherst on Oct. 27.
On May 22, newly admitted attorneys made their way to UMass
Medical School in Worcester for a full day of training and
networking. Some general themes of the day included building a good
reputation, finding a mentor, making ethical decisions, giving back
through pro bono work and the importance of continuing legal
MBA Secretary Christopher M. Kenney welcomed the attendees by
noting that this course was just the beginning of a flourishing
legal career. "Today, you are investing in your own success," said
The first session of the day was "Your Reputation is Everything:
How Lawyers Should Act," presented by Hon. Edward M. Ginsburg
(ret.) and Hon. Paul A. Chernoff (ret.). Ginsburg and Chernoff
spoke about how to develop a good reputation and keep it. The
former judges noted that an attorney who earns the respect of the
judge, the court officers, the clerk and other court personnel will
be more successful in the long run.
Ginsburg and Chernoff also addressed the importance of acting
professionally both within and outside the courtroom as a lawyer's
reputation is never limited to how they conduct themselves in front
of a judge.
"The walls have ears. You establish your reputation everywhere
you go," said Chernoff.
Also included in the morning portion were sessions on "The
Attorney-Client Relationship" and "Ethics for the Practicing
The highlight of the course was keynote speaker Hon. Shannon
Frison of the Superior Court, who spoke about hidden bias within
the legal profession and strategies to combat it.
Frison noted that hidden bias is prevalent in society today,
most commonly in the areas of race, gender and sexual orientation.
According to Frison, bias is often unconscious or hidden and can
sometimes be based on attributes or assumptions that may not even
be true. Bias exists everywhere and is not confined to the legal
"This is really a conversation to be had by our larger
society, not just in the law," Frison told the new attorneys.
"We're all subject to it. It doesn't matter what your race or
By using the current example of Los Angeles Clippers owner
Donald Sterling, who has been accused of making racially
discriminatory comments, Frison remarked that the media attention
in that situation has made bias "not so hidden anymore." However,
most cases of everyday bias don't play out on a national stage.
Being an attorney means interacting with many people both inside
and outside of the legal community. Therefore, Frison encouraged
course attendees to be mindful, focus on inclusion instead of
exclusion and to "view the person as a whole person" without making
"Keep the discussion on the table," said Frison. "Don't be
afraid to discuss these issues as they come up."
After Frison's presentation the afternoon sessions covered
topics such as navigating social media, time management, and
introductions to law office management, managing client fund
accounts and trust account recordkeeping, the bar disciplinary
system, the Massachusetts court system and bar associations.
The Practicing with Professionalism course registration fee
includes breakfast, lunch, a cocktail reception and opportunities
to network and learn about pro bono projects in the legal services
community. All necessary record keeping and attendance reports to
the Board of Bar Overseers are handled by the MBA and course
attendees enjoy complimentary MBA membership which allows new
attorneys to take advantage of valuable resources and programs.
"This course covered everything I set out to learn,"
acknowledged a new attorney on a course evaluation form.
For more information on the Practicing with Professionalism
course, including dates, locations and frequently asked questions,