Attendees with the BBA's "Practicing with Professionalism" CLE course showed up at 16 Beacon Street for registration bright and early, ready for a full day of networking and informative panel presentations.
The one-day Professionalism course is a requirement for all attorneys admitted to the Massachusetts Bar after September 1, 2014 to complete within 18 months. The BBA is one of 4 institutions in the state certified to offer the course.
The opening speaker, Chief Justice of the Trial Courts Paula Carey, urged attendees to get out from behind the desk, serve the community, and be alert - "it takes a career to build your reputation, but it only takes a second to lose it."
Justice Carey also made a recommendation specifically to those who anticipate a more transactional or non-litigation career path: get some court experience in the form of pro bono services if you can.
David Wilson (Corwin & Corwin) moderated the second panel covering all aspects of Professionalism.
On the second panel focusing on professionalism at large, Raquel Webster (National Grid) advised young lawyers to find attorneys that they respect and emulate them, "but do what works for you." BBA Secretary Michael Ricciuti (K & L Gates) agreed that attorneys should remain true to their morals and trust their instincts: "if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right," he added.
Of course, Professionalism was not all serious -- Webster, Ricciuti, and panelists Berg Ng (Health Policy Commission) and Cristina Serrano (Desmond, Strang & Scott) found ways to lighten the mood as well.
The attendees were given multiple breaks, giving them the chance to meet other young lawyers before the afternoon's panels and networking activities.
John Whitlock (Edwards Wildman Palmer) and Martin Newhouse (New England Legal Foundation), panelists for "Ethical Hypotheticals," offered a major takeaway: don't gossip about your cases.
Sixty-three young lawyers attended the BBA's first Practicing with Professionalism course.
Board of Bar Overseer and Bar Counsel representatives Karen O'Toole and Linda Bauer discussed the roles and work of their offices.
To wrap up the pre-lunch panels, Peggy Ho (Asian American Lawyers Association of MA), Joanna Allison (Volunteer Lawyers Project), Sebastian Pacheco (MA Association of Hispanic Lawyers), and BBA Member Programs Coordinator Susie Helm talked about other involvements in the legal community, like pro bono and other service work and the affinity bars.
Lunch afforded the young attorneys the chance to network and speak with representatives from legal services organizations and the BBA’s affinity bar partners, like Staci Rubin (far left, Alternative for Community & Environment) and Adam Foss (far right, Suffolk County District Attorney's Office and director at the MA Black Lawyers' Association).
Conversation during lunch was lively -- after a packed morning, there was plenty to talk about!
Michael Xavier and Elizabeth Roberts of the MA LGBTQ Bar Association spoke to lunch attendees about their organization's work and generally being involved in the legal community.
MBLA President Abim Thomas (Goodwin Procter) and Nadine Cohen (Greater Boston Legal Services) reminisced about when they first met each other, and used this to encourage young lawyers to make connections early on -- they can last throughout an entire career.
There were two rooms for lunch, between which both community partners and course attendees were encouraged to mingle and move.
Molly Froelich (Community Dispute Settlement Center) gave a list of community organizations that offer great opportunities for involvement and service work.
BBA CLE Manager Kristen White was able to answer questions and talk more about involvement at the BBA as well.
The panels started back up after lunch -- Heidi Alexander of the Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) and its role in helping attorneys to establish and institutionalize professional office practices.
The parent organization of LOMAP, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, also had some advice to offer.
Jeff Fortgang (Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers) presented on stress and time management.
The attendees had the chance to fill out a post-course evaluation form, which will help to shape future Professionalism training courses.
The final step to the day - an official certificate of completion!
Attendees also had the chance to meet BBA staff members at the post-course reception.
It was a long day, but the chance to learn about the profession and speak with experienced lawyers one-on-one made it all worth it.