Happy New Year! Welcome back!

Issue September/October 2017 By Christopher P. Sullivan

It's that time of year. Summer is ending. Autumn is just around the corner, and the Massachusetts Bar Association begins its new year. Welcome back.

A new year offers the opportunity to set new goals and get a fresh start. It is time we make all sorts of promises to ourselves that we hope will make us better. This year, I hope you will promise yourself to become a more active and involved MBA member. When I was a young associate, the partner I worked for said the MBA was like a relationship; the more I put into it, the more I would get out of it. Looking back at almost 40 years of practicing law in Massachusetts, I realize that his advice was some of the best I ever received.

The MBA provided a way to meet and interact with my peers; network with older, more experienced practitioners; and get to know judges outside the confines of a courtroom. Some of my closest friends are people I met through the MBA. Many of those friends have practices very different from mine. If it wasn't for the MBA, I may never have even met them. These friends have enriched my professional life in many different ways.

My MBA membership also offered an opportunity to continue my legal education so I could keep up with the latest developments in the law and pick up practical tips on how to be a better lawyer. As you may know, now all of the MBA CLEs are free to members.

Before I became a more active member, I didn't realize just how much the MBA does for the judicial system, for our profession and how much it has to offer to its members. In addition to advocating for proper funding for our courts, the MBA has an influential presence on Beacon Hill where it actively supports or opposes pending legislation that impacts the courts or our profession. Through its Amicus Committee, the MBA takes positions in appellate cases that involve significant and important legal issues affecting the legal community or society at large. In short, the MBA is a legal force in our commonwealth that is respected and appreciated.

The MBA also takes an active role in promoting community service with programs, such as the Tiered Community Mentoring, Judicial Youth Corps and SOLACE programs. The Mock Trial Committee runs a competition for high school students who participate in mock trials. The MBA also provides pro bono opportunities through its monthly Dial-a-Lawyer program, where MBA members volunteer a couple of hours of their time to answer legal questions over the phone that are asked by people seeking legal assistance. Often these callers are referred to the MBA's Lawyer Referral Service, where they are matched to appropriate MBA members.

Anyone looking for a way to give back to the judicial system, the legal profession and their community can easily find something at the MBA that suits them well. So make a new year's resolution to get off the sidelines and become a more active member of the MBA. It's a decision you won't regret.