A fitting tribute to our year

Issue June 2015 By Marsha V. Kazarosian

If you weren't able to join us at our Annual Dinner last month, you missed an incredible event that had an energy that was infectious. Between the beautiful weather, the sold-out crowd, the well-deserved awards and a wonderful keynote by Attorney Mark Geragos, the evening was the pinnacle event of our association year.

And I am so proud of the Massachusetts Bar Association's Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Scholarship recipient this year, Ying Wang, who received her scholarship at the Annual Dinner. As you can see from the cover story about her and her extraordinary accomplishments, she is truly the embodiment of what our profession celebrates.

Although the Annual Dinner had no official theme, it was a celebration of everything that we have all accomplished this year -- especially the advent of voir dire after decades of advocacy. As if part of the script, Geragos' stories about voir dire and his own high-profile trials were the perfect punctuation to our night.

There was no better way to kick off the dinner than with the presentation of the Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award to Superior Court Associate Justice Dennis J. Curran, whose own voir dire trials played such an integral role in proving voir dire works. We were also honored to host so many members of the judiciary at the Annual Dinner, including Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants. Without the collaboration of the judiciary, we never would be where we are today, and we are thankful for their continued partnership and support.

It was also particularly inspiring to see so many of our friends from the trial bar, including those from the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, with whom we worked so closely for 20 years to achieve this goal of voir dire in Massachusetts. It was truly a celebration of our joint efforts..

Of course, voir dire would not have become law without support from our elected officials. When we presented the President's Award to Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, his acceptance remarks were telling: "I was proud to work with the Massachusetts Bar Association and many of you here on the legislators' attorney-directed voir dire law. In drafting that law we relied on diverse opinions, and after much consideration were compelled to address the system on a whole. I believe that because of this strategy we are seeing positive effects much earlier than it would have taken. That's why I can stand here tonight and say that today the state of the judiciary is strong and getting stronger every day."

And looking around the packed ballroom at the Westin on May 7 and seeing so many engaged and dedicated members of our association, I realized that the same is true of the MBA. We are getting stronger and stronger every day.

There are many wonderful organizations that represent specific interests of the bar -- many being long-time MBA-affiliated bars with which we enjoy a synergetic  partnership. But one of the things about the MBA that makes us so special is our unique position as the statewide bar association.

The MBA boasts members from large firms and small firms, solos and in-house lawyers, criminal lawyers,  civil litigators, transactional attorneys, and  judges. We have 50-year members and law students and everyone in between from every corner of the commonwealth. Our constituents are our profession and those who work in the legal community day in and day out, and it is an honor and a privilege to serve them both.

Thank you to all of our sponsors, friends and colleagues around the commonwealth for making this Annual Dinner the huge success that it continues to be each and every year. We are deeply grateful for your continued support of the MBA.

I also want to thank my fellow MBA officers and Executive Management Board members for their collective dedication to this annual milestone and to the excellence of the MBA, especially our Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy, whose leadership of the MBA staff in orchestrating this special event is admired and appreciated. And a very special thanks goes out to the staff -- thank you all for putting on what has become the highlight of the year for fun events in the legal community.

Our Annual Dinner may be the symbolic end of the association year, but we still have several exciting programs to look forward to this summer. Please mark your calendars for our upcoming Summer Networking socials. The first one is Thursday, June 25, at Watermark East in Kendall Square. Then there will be one at Sterling's in Boston on July 23 and a third at Tia's on the Waterfront on Aug. 13. These are the events to attend if you want to meet new attorneys and new members and have fun in the process. I hope to see you there.

The MBA's best keeps getting better and better. I am looking forward to what next year brings!