When Marsha V. Kazarosian's term as MBA president comes to a
close at the end of August, she jokes that she will finally be able
to get back to running a law practice after serving as an officer
since 2008. Kazarosian, who will hand over the reins to
President-elect Robert W. Harnais on Sept. 1, enjoyed both a
successful and historic association year as president in
Highlights included free CLE courses, the passage of legislation
allowing for attorney-conducted voir dire and increased
court funding for civil legal aid.
At the annual President's Reception in September 2014,
Kazarosian spoke about the importance of creating a strong MBA
community and dedicated her year as president to fostering
relationships between lawyers and judges while furthering
"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," Kazarosian said at the event.
Beginning on Sept. 1, 2014, the MBA began offering free
educational programs to members, excluding conferences and the
Practicing with Professionalism course. For no additional cost,
members can now advance their careers and stay on top of the latest
legal topics by attending programs in person or online through MBA
On Demand. FREE CLE was an especially meaningful development for
Kazarosian, a former chair of the MBA's Education Committee.
"Education has always been a huge priority for me. When people
talk about the most important thing they look for when joining a
bar association, it's often education," remarked Kazarosian.
Perhaps the most notable event of Kazarosian's presidency was
the passage of Chapter 254 of the Acts of 2014 in August which
allowed attorney-conducted voir dire in Massachusetts. In
February 2015, Massachusetts attorneys were finally allowed to
question prospective jurors in civil and criminal trials throughout
the Superior Court.
The new law not only permits attorneys to question potential
jurors and screen for bias in Superior Court trials, it also allows
attorneys to suggest a monetary amount for damages suffered by a
plaintiff in a civil trial. The MBA advocated strongly for both
measures for many years.
"Voir dire was a great victory for the entire legal
community," said Kazarosian. "It gave us the ability to work with
the judiciary and our legislators to hone how it's going to be
done, while continuing to work on best practices to ensure access
to justice for all."
Maintaining a mutually beneficial partnership with the judiciary
through effective communication and camaraderie was a major part of
the success in the voir dire process, according to
Continuing the MBA's successes on Beacon Hill, the fiscal year
2016 state budget passed in early July by the House and Senate
included a $631.5 million trial court budget (restored through
overrides, see related story on page 1) and $17 million in funding
for civil legal aid, an approximately $2 million increase over last
year's levels. In January, the MBA once gain asked participants at
the 16th annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid to urge their
legislators to support increased state funding for civil legal
"This is not a legal issue, it is a universal issue," said
Kazarosian in her remarks at the event. "And so as we meet with
legislative leadership and the key members of Governor Baker's
administration, we will continue to address the dire need for
increased funding for legal aid as we stand with the many bar
organizations who have worked to support legal aid for the
MBA in the public eye
Throughout the past association year, the legal landscape in
Massachusetts has featured high-profile cases and trials, including
those of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and former New
England Patriot star Aaron Hernandez. There has also continued to
be legal fallout from the Annie Dookhan drug lab scandal.
Kazarosian and other MBA officers were often called upon to be the
voice of the legal community in the media for these cases.
"You definitely have to be on top of what's going on both
socially and legally," said Kazarosian. "Because the MBA is the
go-to association for the media to explain what's going on in a
case, you absolutely have to be prepared and media-ready so that
you can educate the public and keep its attention. You become the
face of the law when you talk about these issues, and that is a
Kazarosian notes that by serving as the president of the MBA you
are not only educating fellow lawyers, but also the public.
"It's important that the public understands and respects lawyers
and what how the law and access to justice affects them on a
day-to-day basis," added Kazarosian.
MBA support, collaboration
As Kazarosian winds down her presidency, it is clear that she is
incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to work closely with
her fellow officers as well as the MBA staff throughout the last
"I have had the best experiences I could possibly ever hope to
imagine with the extraordinary officers that I've had the privilege
to work with," said Kazarosian.
She acknowledges that leadership may seem daunting at the outset
but would strongly urge other MBA members to pursue officer
positions as they advance in their careers. It is a time commitment
and it takes hard work, but Kazarosian praises the MBA staff and
officers for their unwavering support.
"The MBA is an unbelievably efficient, experienced, supportive
organization and as president you are really just steering
the ship," said Kazarosian. "Every year there's a different
captain, but everybody works together to maintain the best course
for our members."