I have worked for years with other attorneys to represent the underrepresented. We have done a great deal to assist those less fortunate, the most vulnerable throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond. The following describes some of our work when I served as President of the Massachusetts Bar Association:
The association spearheaded pro bono representation of the Boston Marathon bombing victims, many of whom are still struggling. These include victims of traumatic brain injury, and others with injuries that are not visible and difficult to diagnose. We raised funds for and support the Pine Street Inn Project in the hope of creating a new facility there. We raised funds and helped distribute food to 2,000 hungry people before Thanksgiving. We were able to help those who otherwise would have had very little to celebrate on a holiday so many of us take for granted.
Our “Working Families” and “Justice for All” initiatives are particularly focused on creating safe and fair conditions for workers. Drawing on our collaborative nature, we created the Workplace Safety Task Force and brought together attorneys and professionals from medicine, business, insurance, occupational health, academia, government, labor, etc. The Task Force has educated the public, throughout Massachusetts, on issues ranging from fall hazards—the leading cause of death of workers in my state—to the dangers of prescription drug addiction as it relates to disabled workers on medication. The Task Force and the Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) spearheaded an effort in our legislature which resulted in a new law signed by Governor Deval Patrick that protects 100,000 workers annually.
The MBA, along with worker groups, finally prevailed in creating justice for workers after nine previous attempts by others had failed. Along with fair wages, workers are ensured a higher level of safety. We are currently working to advance a bill which would raise burial benefits for the families of deceased workers, as well as a bill which protects domestic workers, often the victims of abuse. Our Workplace Safety Task Force has become a model for virtually every other state in the country. We recently received an award for innovation and community service by a national non-profit organization representing the interests of millions of workers across the country.
We see much attention paid to professional athletes who have suffered from traumatic brain injury (TBI), but hear little about the 2.4 million in this country, with far fewer resources, who have endured the same. These people go misdiagnosed and unattended. In our military alone, there are 22 suicides per day linked to TBI. The MBA is now actively in the process of establishing a Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force, educating the public and attorneys about this silent epidemic, as well as seeking to collaborate with others in an attempt to facilitate assistance to those in need who are victims of TBI and its consequential conditions.
Our Consumer Advocacy Initiative is a new and exciting component of our work, and seeks to serve as a clearing house for information and legal rights for those who are treated unfairly by big business and powerful interests who would abuse those less fortunate without the means to defend themselves. These efforts include protecting the victims of predatory lending, defective products, and unscrupulous corporate behavior. We also seek to acknowledge businesses that are responsible and supportive of consumers.
The Massachusetts Bar Association has always taken strong and positive positions on issues concerning women, children, the elderly, and sexual orientation. We have developed an entire program devoted to access to justice for the underprivileged. We are proud to represent the underrepresented. I am proud to have served as President of the MBA, an organization that demonstrates that attorneys do great things for our families, our communities, and justice.