Identifying the things we stand for as an association is essential. Without question, one thing that the BBA has always stood for is equal access to justice for all. This is a fundamental part of the BBA’s mission and something that the BBA works on throughout year.
A key component of equal access to justice for all is adequate funding for the judiciary. Alas, it’s no secret that the courts have been underfunded for years and the problem is getting worse.
Figuring out “why” something matters to us is just as important. Our support for funding for the courts may seem obvious; we are a professional association of lawyers so it makes sense that we would want the courts to have the money necessary for delivering justice to all. But our support goes beyond our allegiances as attorneys, and the impact of grossly inadequate funding for the judiciary reaches beyond the courtrooms and halls of law firms and into the boardrooms of major corporations.
Conversations focused on court funding and what the BBA can do to help often find their way onto our Council agendas. And when court funding isn’t an agenda item it’s talked about in small groups before or after the meetings. Even a cursory glance around our Council table will reveal that the BBA’s governing board is made up of several representatives from the business community. Of our 34 member body, we have seven in-house counsel from global companies employing thousands of residents throughout the state. Like their colleagues working in other sectors, in-house counsel believe adequate funding for the judiciary is critically important.
Here are some of the reasons why:
- A well run Superior Court Business Litigation Session provides a valuable forum for resolving major commercial disputes;
- Court delays and backlogs mean that employees have to take more time from work to appear in court, resulting in lost wages for the employee and lost productivity for the employer;
- Delays in resolving civil cases drive up costs for companies and can postpone business transactions, mergers, and acquisitions. This may diminish the appeal of the business environment in Massachusetts.
Putting a dollar figure on these delays is difficult. One thing we do know: an inadequately funded court system is bad for the Massachusetts economy.
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association