Kazarosian: "The MBA wants to be your village"

Issue October 2014 By Anna Sims

Extended applause and whistles greeted Marsha V. Kazarosian, president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, as she took to the podium at the MBA's President's Reception Sept. 18, at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

Kazarosian kicked off the 2014-2015 association year by emphasizing the importance of creating a strong MBA community. She dedicated her year as president to fostering relationships - particularly between lawyers and judges - and furthering educational opportunities.

"'The MBA educates.' That is a phrase that you will hear quite a bit this year," Kazarosian said. "With the MBA's free CLE commitment [effective Sept. 1], we offer not only free education to all lawyers, but in doing so we provide mentoring relationships, networking opportunities and social events that will enhance any lawyer's practice."

Immediate Past President Douglas K. Sheff opened the evening by recounting how, when Kazarosian was 12 years old, her uncle told her she couldn't come golfing with him at the Haverhill Country Club because she was a woman.

"The Haverhill Country Club had no idea what lion they had just awakened. Decades later, Attorney Marsha Kazarosian went to work, and she crushed them," Sheff said, referring to her victory in the landmark case Borne, et al. v. Haverhill Golf and Country Club, Inc. "She didn't just crush them by making the Haverhill Country Club treat women in every respect equally to men [or] by doing the same for a thousand country clubs all over the country. She changed the culture. She made everyone in the country realize and think about how we need to treat women the same as men."

Elevating the profession

In her speech, Kazarosian, who began her law career working for her late father Paul Kazarosian, explained the important role a supportive community played in her path to becoming a lawyer.

"My grandfather was an immigrant barber who came from a small village in Armenia and had no formal education, but he raised my dad to believe that he could go to Harvard," Kazarosian said. "When he was accepted, but found that the tuition was more than a barber could afford, an Armenian businessman in the community paid his first year's tuition … It really did take a village to get ahead in those days, and I don't think much has changed today."

Kazarosian had many members of her "village" in tow, including her sons Matthew, Marc and Jeremy Moccia; her law partners Walter A. Costello and former MBA President Kathleen O'Donnell; and her 88-year-old mother, Margaret.

"Since she was a little girl my favorite thing to tell her - and all of my children - was that she could do anything she wanted," Margaret Kazarosian said.

In Kazarosian's case, she said she wants to help others achieve their goals.

"As I mentioned earlier, 'It takes a village.' … The MBA wants to be your village. We are here to help, we have the resources and we want to provide you with what you need to succeed," Kazarosian said. "That is our commitment to you, and that is my goal for the MBA this year. Together, through education, unity, a strong partnership with our judiciary and a commitment to ensuring access to justice, I see the MBA as the community that will elevate our profession, and I'm incredibly honored to have this opportunity as your president to help make that happen."