Celebrate with a thank you

Issue May 2015 By Marsha V. Kazarosian

This is a wonderful time for the Massachusetts Bar Association - we have a lot to cheer about. And now that our Annual Dinner is upon us, that is exactly what we are going to do, loud and clear!

In 2015, with the support of our judiciary and our Legislature, Massachusetts finally embraced attorney-conducted voir dire, and we recognize two individuals in particular - House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (President's Award) and Superior Court Judge Dennis Curran (Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award) - who played significant roles in bringing this to fruition. Both have been vocal supporters of justice and friends of the bar for many years, and I am so pleased to present them with these well-deserved awards.

And I am also particularly excited to have Mark Geragos, an internationally acclaimed trial lawyer and civil rights advocate, who has represented some of the most recognizable figures in entertainment and politics, as our keynote speaker. On a personal level, I am especially looking forward to meeting a fellow Armenian who has done so much for the Armenian community and brought important recognition to the Armenian genocide, which marks its 100th anniversary this year.

I cannot highlight the Annual Dinner as a celebration of our year without recognizing our member-volunteers who made it possible. Quite a lot happens in an MBA year, from CLEs to seminars to community-based programs and everything in between. And while we are fortunate to have an incredibly dedicated and hard-working staff, equally important are the hundreds of members who volunteer substantial time and effort to the association. The MBA will honor several volunteers this summer at our Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner, and we are grateful for all the nominations we received last month. We have many worthy award recipients, including those unsung heroes whose important work behind the scenes often goes unheralded.

We have extraordinarily dedicated members - members who not only participate, but who give back to us every day. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all, even if there isn't enough space in this column to list each and every volunteer by name.

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered to be on an MBA committee or task force. You not only make us better as an association, you give heft to our role as the preeminent voice of the legal profession.

Thank you to everyone who served as a faculty member or panelist during one of our CLEs or seminars this year. As we repeat and believe, "A Massachusetts Bar Association lawyer is an educated lawyer." And we have you to thank for that.

Thank you to the nearly 150 lawyers and judges who volunteered as team coaches or mock trial judges during our Mock Trial program. We are grateful for your commitment to this program, especially this year - Mock Trial's 30th - when the weather wreaked havoc on the schedule. Your guidance and tutelage has enriched the lives of hundreds of high school students.

Similarly, I want to thank all of the volunteer mentors who take part in our Tiered Community Mentoring Program. You continue to build on the program's national reputation for innovation and, most importantly, positively affect the lives of students at all levels, many of whom are destined for great careers in the law.

Thank you to everyone who brought MBA services to our community at large. We had more than 60 lawyers literally "answer the call" as a volunteer with one of our Dial-A-Lawyer programs, in Boston and in Western Massachusetts. And more than 100 of you donated time and expertise to our Elder Law program, including work on the Elder Law Guide. Whether answering questions and giving pro bono legal advice by phone or visiting a senior center in person, you have filled a much needed service for some of the most vulnerable residents throughout the commonwealth.

And I want to offer a special thank you to the volunteer leaders of the bar; those of you who serve on our Executive Management Board, our House of Delegates, or as a section or division chair or vice chair, and to all of the Section Council and Division members. Your active leadership and steady guidance makes the MBA better year after year.

There is a particular set of volunteers I do need to mention by name: my fellow officers. They, too, are volunteers who sacrifice their personal and professional time to serve their fellow Massachusetts lawyers through the MBA. The MBA is lucky to have them, and they deserve a virtual standing ovation for all of the time, energy and personal commitment that each one has given to our association. Robert Harnais (president-elect), Christopher Sullivan (secretary), John Morrissey (vice president), Christopher Kenney (vice president) and Jeffrey Catalano (treasurer) - thank you from the bottom of my heart for serving with me this year. Not only have I learned a great deal from each of you, but your support and friendship have made it a wonderful journey to success!

At the Annual Dinner on May 7, I will ceremonially pass the president's gavel to the next MBA president, Bob Harnais, who will take over on Sept. 1. But we still have a few more months left in this association year for summer socials, free CLEs and more. So for any MBA member reading this today, consider this a resounding "Thank you!" for making this entire year so wonderful.