BBA Annual Meeting Preview

Each fall, the Boston Bar hosts its Annual Meeting, one of the largest legal community gatherings of its kind. At the meeting, the BBA brings together members of the bar, their friends and colleagues, and leaders across a range of professional sectors for an afternoon focused on the law and the evolving landscape of the legal profession. The event will include remarks from President Mark Smith, the presentation of a Distinguished Legislator Award, and a special keynote speech from Piper Kerman (Orange Is the New Black). We hope you’ll join us there!

Distinguished Legislator Award

This year, the BBA will be conferring its Distinguished Legislator Award on Representative Kay Khan for her longstanding dedication to the youth and families of the Commonwealth, her leadership in juvenile justice reform, her stalwart support for persons with disabilities, and her commitment to ensuring inclusion and fairness of all residents of the state.

Representative Khan is the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities as well as a founder and co-chair of the legislative Mental Health Caucus, the first of its kind in the country. She is also an observer on the Criminal Justice Commission, which explores ways to prevent crime by implementing data-driven, evidence-based public safety reforms that protect citizens in our cities and towns, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayer dollars. In addition, Representative Khan is the Co-Chair of the Task Force on Women in the Criminal Justice System, which could not be more relevant to the keynote speaker highlighted below!

Representative Khan has a long history of supporting causes near and dear to our mission here at the BBA. In 2003, we, alongside Greater Boston Legal Services, gave her the “Pillar of Justice Award,” for her role in saving legal aid services for low-income residents in the Commonwealth. Representative Khan has also filed and been an outspoken proponent on legislation that would ban the use of conversion therapy by licensed providers on minors in Massachusetts, which the BBA Council voted to endorse in 2015. As you may recall, the BBA has continued its advocacy on the bill filed by Representative Khan, H.1190, and an identical bill filed in the Senate, S.62 by Senator Mark Montigny this session. In June, we had the opportunity to present testimony in support of these bills before the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities. You can read a full recap on our continued advocacy in support of the conversion therapy ban here.

Keynote Speaker

Of course, it wouldn’t be the BBA Annual Meeting without an exciting keynote speaker who always offers their own specific insights on major topics impacting the legal community. For example, last year Professor David Wilkins, Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession and Director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, reflected on major developments sure to impact the profession, including globalization and the rise in the sophistication of information technology. The year before, we were fortunate to hear from Governor Charlie Baker, who addressed a range of topics, including civil legal aid funding, justice reinvestment, and the importance of pro bono work.

This year, we are thrilled to be joined by Piper Kerman, author of the memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, which was adapted by Jenji Kohan into an Emmy Award-winning original Netflix series. Kerman is also an outspoken advocate of criminal justice reform. She has testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights on solitary confinement and women prisoners and before the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs and Homeland Security Committee on the federal Bureau of Prisons. Kerman was, in addition, invited to speak at the Obama White House about the need to support and expand re-entry and employment programs nationwide as well as the unique conditions facing women in the criminal justice system. We are excited to hear her unique perspective on the challenges facing our nation’s criminal justice system.

The timing could not be any better as well, as the BBA Criminal Justice Working Group, chaired by BBA Treasurer Marty Murphy, of Foley Hoag, and former BBA President Kathy Weinman, of Hogan Lovells, is nearing release of its own recommendations on criminal justice reform here in the Commonwealth. We hope this report will help shape and move the debate on criminal justice reform, which has been ramping up over the last few months, and which is sure to be a legislative priority in the State House in the coming months.

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Be sure to watch this space for more updates as our advocacy around the working group’s report gets underway, and if you haven’t yet registered for the Annual Meeting, it’s not too late!

—Alexa Daniel
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association