Letter From The President Of The Boston Bar Association

2004-09-01 01:00

To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

"The Boston Bar Association changed my life." I was at a luncheon recently with past President Lauren Stiller Rikleen when a woman approached her and spoke those words. The woman explained to me that she had become active in the BBA with Lauren's encouragement, and her experiences had caused her to evaluate her satisfaction with her job and what she wanted from her career.She eventually left her job and took her career in a whole new direction. Her words rang true to me, because the Boston Bar Association also changed my life. Let me tell you how.

When I moved to Boston 17 years ago to assume a position as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, I knew one person in this city. When five of us left the U.S. Attorney's Office two years later to start our own firm, I was still relatively new in town and did not have the contacts I would need to generate business.Additionally, none of my partners practiced bankruptcy law, so I had no one with whom to consult on difficult issues.

My then partner, now Superior Court Judge, Leila Kern, told me I had to get involved in the BBA's Bankruptcy Law Committee, now Section, as that was theplace to go for bankruptcy practitioners. It was the best advice Leila ever gave me.

I will never forget walking into 16 Beacon Street to attend a Bankruptcy Committee's brown bag lunch for the first time.I was nervous and intimidated, for I was walking into a room of strangers certain that everyone at the meeting would know more than I. What awaited me instead was a warm welcome from the other attendees, particularly from the chair of the Committee, now Bankruptcy Judge Henry Boroff. I knew immediately I had found my community.

As I became more involved in the Bankruptcy Law Committee and then the larger Association, I learned that the BBA is not only a place to go for education on substantive legal issues, it is also a place to have fun while doing good works. My participation in the public service and pro bono activities the BBA sponsors have provided depth to my career.

But the BBA means more to me than a beautiful building and social events. It is at heart the people - the remarkable staff and the lawyers I have met with whom I have exchanged ideas in an open setting - that have made the BBA so vital to my career. I have been so fortunate to have met many, many wonderful attorneys who are committed to improving the practice of law for our brothers and sisters at the bar and the clients we serve. Those lawyers have inspired me.

One of the most remarkable and truly inspirational people I have met is Renée Landers, who has just completed her presidency.Renée is truly committed to the goals of the BBA, and has given selflessly of her time and talents to the Association. She has been a wonderful role model, particularly for women and attorneys of color. She has also been very generous to me and is a valued advisor. I am honored to be her friend and I thank her for all she has done for the BBA - and for me.

One of my goals for my presidency is to push the doors at 16 Beacon Street wide open. I am passionate about the BBA and I want you to have the same experiences, especially those of you who haven't been active or who have never even been in the building, as well as those who are not yet members. To that end, one of my projects for this year is to reach out to law students through programs both at the BBA and at area law schools. The law students will bring energy and new ideas to our Association, and we will bring training in substantive law and mentoring to the students.

I know from personal experience that participation in the BBA leads to professional and personal satisfaction. Please join me and become an active member. I invite you to walk into 16 Beacon Street for a brown bag lunch or a CLE program. You will find a committed and friendly staff and lawyers, like you, who want to make a difference. You will find your community. At the end of my year as president, I hope to hear "the Boston Bar Association changed my life" from you.


M. Ellen Carpenter