It’s encouraging to see that several lawyers remain candidates in races for statewide office following the state primary elections. As mentioned last week, several veteran lawyer legislators have chosen not to seek reelection this year. A notable loss is Senator Steven Panagiotakos, the current chair of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means, who announced earlier this year that is stepping down in order to pursue other challenges.
In spite of these losses, the number of lawyer candidates that remain may not result in a net loss in the number of lawyer legislators in the State House. In the House there are 10 lawyer legislators that are not seeking reelection. Of those 10 seats, 6 do not feature a single lawyer candidate in the general election while 2 feature only lawyer candidates. The other 2 seats have one lawyer candidate in the general election. Additionally, there are 5 more races in which there is a lawyer candidate on the general election ballot.
In the Senate there are 4 lawyer legislators not seeking reelection. Half of those seats do not have a lawyer candidate and the other 2 races each have one lawyer running. Interestingly, there are 2 current lawyer House members running in different open Senate races.
While the BBA has not and will not endorse political candidates, we commend those that choose to utilize their legal education and skills by becoming public servants. Lawyers and legislators share the same drive: to use law to protect the public’s rights and to improve society. Lawyers make good legislators no matter their party affiliation because the education and training involved gives lawyers analytical and oratorical tools that prove exceptionally useful in the legislature.
Still, it requires an enormous amount of disciple and balance for lawyers to maintain an active practice and serve as a legislator (not to mention a healthy personal life). A former lawyer legislator and reader who served 3 terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives noted in a comment on last week’s blog post that, “Combining a law practice with legislative duties is very difficult as the time demands of legislative business in Boston and of constituent servicing in the district are great. Contrary to public perception, being a legislator harms, rather than helps, the development of the law practice as so much time is spent away from the office.”
Hopefully lawyers will continue to answer this call for public service by choosing to run for elective office. Regardless of your politics, please remember to vote in the general election on November 2nd.
-Kathleen M. Joyce
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association