Last month, Supreme Judicial Court Clerk for Suffolk County
Maura Doyle swore in 1,176 new lawyers here in Massachusetts. The
new lawyers took their oath during eight separate admission
ceremonies over the course of six days at Faneuil Hall in
I had the privilege of speaking to many of our newest
Massachusetts bar colleagues at the ceremonies. But if I had more
time and the opportunity, I would have loved to pass along some
words of wisdom to help them get started down the right track.
One of my friends suggested the best words of wisdom I could
provide might be, "Don't do what I did." But the truth is, I must
have done a few things right because I love my profession. I love
being a lawyer. So here are a few tips for our newest
Surround yourself with good people. The best part of being a
lawyer is the people I get to practice with. Not just people in my
office, but the judges, clerks and so many others I see in court
day in and day out.
Don't be shy about asking for help. Everyone was new at some
point. You can get valuable advice from veteran lawyers; most are
happy to share their considerable knowledge. If you're in court,
introduce yourself and talk to the people who work there. The more
you know about how things work, the better you can perform for your
You will make mistakes. Everyone does. Learn from them. Don't
make them twice.
No matter which kind of law you are practicing, you will begin
to accumulate "wins." They can come in the form of prevailing in
court for your client, making a useful suggestion to an office
associate or getting over some other hurdle. They are all good. At
the same time, don't let those "wins" go to your head. We work in
an adversarial profession. You will have ups and downs. Keep a
level head. Stay grounded.
Get involved with the Massachusetts Bar Association. We can help
you get a strong start with free access to legal research,
networking opportunities and so forth. We can help surround you
with those good people I mentioned earlier. Become involved with
our Young Lawyers Division, volunteer at an event, attend free
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes.
Most importantly, take pride in being a lawyer. You are part of
a noble profession. You are taking up the mantle left by lawyers
before you. You are a representative of the Massachusetts bar. You
have a responsibility to do your best, not only for your client,
but for your fellow lawyer.
I've said it before, but it's important enough to repeat: we
need to restore civility to our profession. Practice civility
yourself and you'll attract the right kind of person and hopefully
inspire it in others. In the end, it comes down to this: do the
Our profession has a long tradition of passing knowledge down
from one generation to the next. It is one of the ways we keep the
profession strong. Lawyers like to practice with and against
competent colleagues. When I first entered a courtroom, I didn't
even know where to stand. But compassionate and helpful veterans
helped me along.
It won't be long until you're passing down your own advice to
tomorrow's new lawyers, and you can feel confident that you've
already started on the right foot. By passing the bar and joining
the MBA, you've already got two of those "wins" I mentioned earlier
under your belt. It's just the beginning, and I wish you continued
success throughout your career.
On behalf of all of us at the MBA, welcome to the Massachusetts
bar -- and welcome to the Massachusetts Bar Association.