"Is possible to do both?"
That's the question I am frequently asked when people hear that
I serve as the president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, in
addition to practicing law full time. It is not an unfair question,
and I think the answer is important for everyone to hear if you are
considering volunteering for a leadership position at a bar
association. I am familiar with this question because during the
time I was raising my three children, practicing law and
volunteering in the legal community, many fellow attorneys asked:
"How do you juggle it all?"
You CAN do it all, particularly in this day and age of
electronic and virtual offices. However, the remedy ultimately lies
in knowing how to prioritize projects, using the technology
available to be as efficient as possible, delegating liberally and
being as lucky, as I am, to have the support of staff and
I have been volunteering in one position or another at the MBA,
as well as other bar associations across the commonwealth, for as
long as I can remember. I firmly believe that if you truly
understand that working to make the practice of law better is
actually a task that goes hand-in-hand with growing your own
practice, doing both is a no-brainer. There is always time to make
things better, but if becoming involved in bar leadership is
important to you, it is an experience you should embrace. There is
no better place to meet like-minded, committed and engaged
attorneys than in an association setting where the common goal is
to learn the law, improve the profession and right wrongs.
I am very proud that I have been able to be a part of an
organization like the MBA that is always at the forefront in
addressing the issues facing the legal profession throughout the
state. It is not just lawyers we are helping; we are benefitting
all citizens in the commonwealth. When we testify on Beacon Hill or
appear in the press as an expert, we show lawyers at their best and
strengthen the MBA's role as the preeminent voice of the
profession. And I know that our increased presence on the public
stage helps improve the public's perception of lawyers.
Perhaps the greatest benefit I've received during my years of
leadership is the close friendships I have developed with my fellow
officers, past and present. We all have work colleagues in our
lives. Mine here at the MBA have become so much more; they have
honestly become like family. The bond you develop with fellow
officers when you stand together for a cause or tackle an
adversarial issue is indescribable, and it is not easily
If I haven't already convinced you to volunteer, let me take
this time with my last message to you all, to try to allay concerns
and dispel some of the myths associated with volunteering as part
of bar association leadership.
You don't need to give up your practice. Over
the years that I have been active with bar association work, I have
learned how to be more efficient in prioritizing my time and the
issues that need my attention. I pace myself. Understanding that it
is normal not to be able to please everyone is the first step
toward success. You will not have time for everything and everyone
may not be reached at once. That is normal, and the sooner you set
expectations, the happier everyone will be. Although I may have
joked about it, I have never felt that I could not be effective and
successful in both volunteer and professional roles. In fact, the
MBA, like the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and the
Essex County Bar Association, have been great complements to my
You don't need to be from a large firm, with a pool of
associates to take up the slack. You just need to manage
your time and learn how to use the resources available to you.
Fortunately, at the MBA, the resources are substantial. The MBA has
some of the most dedicated, hard-working staff I've ever seen. From
event planning to scheduling to researching a legislative issue,
the MBA team does a phenomenal job of keeping the MBA running
smoothly and making our jobs as officers manageable. In addition to
the staff, the MBA is made up of volunteers who, just like you and
me, have practices to run and clients to serve, so we all chip in
for the cause. We all do the heavy lifting, and consequently that
makes it lighter for all of us.
And by the way, I understand that good fortune plays a role.
Marty Healy is the MBA's good fortune, and as a result every
officer's and every member's as well. He is an extraordinary leader
whose support and advice and counsel are invaluable. Without
Marty's incomparable guidance and leadership, the MBA would not be
where it is today.
So, yes, leading the MBA requires making some extra commitments
and sometimes finding that 25th hour in the day, but
that is more the exception than the rule. And it is no different
for anyone who is a partner at a firm, or who runs his/her own
business or serves on a board. If your goal is to nurture and grow
your practice, you do what you need to do. And volunteering at the
MBA has most assuredly helped nurture and grow my practice. As the
saying goes, when you are doing what you love to do, it never feels
You don't need to worry about the time
commitment. For anyone who is worried, let me put it this
way: I've been a bar president, raised a family, grown my career
and run my own firm -- all seemingly full-time jobs and all at the
same time. And I survived, my kids survived and my practice has
survived and grown. In fact, I am now a member in a firm that
includes a wonderful partnership with two former bar presidents and
colleagues, Walter A. Costello Jr. and Kathleen M. O'Donnell, whom
I was fortunate enough to meet as a result of my bar involvement.
So believe me, you may not understand what benefits your
involvement in bar leadership may bring you, but I can promise you
that it is a gift that keeps on giving in ways that you might never
You don't need to worry about fitting in. One
of the best parts about the MBA is that my MBA family comes from
all different backgrounds and practices. I am a litigator, but at
the MBA I've worked shoulder to shoulder with lawyers from a
variety of specialties. It's something I don't think you see as
much in more specialized bar associations.
Our strong partnership with the judiciary is equally impressive.
The relationships I've developed working closely with our
colleagues on the bench this year is another thing I will
This year, it has been the honor of my career to serve as MBA
president. I am grateful for the unwavering support I've received
from my fellow officers, staff and all the members I've been
fortunate to meet during my tenure in leadership. Each of you has
played a part in making my year as president so rewarding.
It is an awesome experience to see the fruits of your labor. And
there is no better place to have that experience than here at the
MBA. Try it. You'll love it. I did!