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From Issue Spot: BBA Welcomes Professionally Diverse New Class of Legislators

Monday, December 03, 2012

With just 6 weeks to go before members of the Massachusetts Legislature are sworn into office on January 5, 2013, we decided to take another look at the number of lawyers serving in the Massachusetts House and Senate. For the 2013-2014 legislative session, 60 of the 200 legislators are attorneys – 46 lawyer legislators in the House of Representatives and 14 in the Senate. This marks a net gain of 6 lawyer legislators over the session that ends on December 31st of this year.

Why should the number of lawyer legislators be of concern to the Boston Bar Association? We count on legislators with legal training to play a role in helping their non-lawyer colleagues understand technical legal concepts – in the same way a physician might clarify medical issues or a business owner might explain economic development issues.

We fervently believe the legislature should reflect the diversity of the public it serves. We are pleased to see that in addition to attorneys, the incoming “freshman class” includes several small business owners, a real estate broker, a free-lance columnist, and a recent college graduate. We want all legislators to know – regardless of their professional experience – that the Boston Bar Association is a non-partisan organization always available to provide technical assistance – whether that means walking someone through the practical ramifications of a complex piece of legislation or explaining in plain English the unintended consequences of a particular proposal. For our legislature and especially for our non-lawyer legislators, the BBA strives to be an accessible resource on issues requiring legal expertise.

The BBA supports initiatives and promotes policy that will have a positive impact on the community, the law and the legal profession. We wish there could be a Cliff Notes version of what is sometimes technical legislation, and try our best to provide summaries and more detailed explanations for those wanting to dig in. A recent example of this is House Bill 25 “An Act Making amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Covering General Provisions, Documents of Title and Secured Transactions.” As Issue Spot noted last month, the BBA supports this legislation because it will provide clarity and more certainty for commercial transactions in Massachusetts.

Even with lawyer legislators whose practices don’t necessarily deal with the UCC or other highly technical pieces of legislation, we understand nobody can be expected to vote on something with which they are not familiar. We care deeply about our credibility with all legislators, lawyer or non-lawyer, and remain committed to supplying them with as much information as they find helpful.

- Government Relations Department
Boston Bar Association

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