Honoring Volunteerism as Something We Do FOR Our Families, Not TO Our Families, at the BBA Law Day Dinner

Last night, I had the honor of hosting the BBA’s annual Law Day Dinner at the Seaport World Trade Center. The event is always enjoyable for me; it’s a rare opportunity to see so many of my colleagues and friends in a lively, social setting. But last night was even more special for several reasons.

First, I had the chance to recognize three talented and dedicated professionals who have made remarkable contributions to public service and have unwaveringly worked to improve the lives of people in need.

Second, I was thrilled to have our new Attorney General, Maura Healey, there with me to give the keynote speech. I came to know Maura through her service on the BBA Council, and I can tell you that she is every bit as engaging, fair-minded and thoughtful in the board room as she is on the big stage.

During her keynote, Maura delivered a heartfelt and moving tribute to the BBA, claiming that she “grew up” at 16 Beacon and attributed many of her core values to what she had learned as a bar member. It was a reminder of why I chose to become involved in the bar myself.

Finally, it was wonderful to be able to share part of the evening with my beautiful daughter Skye, who is five years old.

People often wonder why working parents take on volunteer roles, such as my role with the BBA, in addition to their roles as parents and professionals.

My answer is that doing bar association work makes our community a better place.  This work becomes more important, not less important, when you have a child.  Volunteerism is something we do for our families, not to our families, and I believe that children fundamentally understand this.

Skye and I often look at select pictures in the newspaper and talk about what is happening in the world, and how it is often up to the lawyers to make things better. A few months ago Skye spotted Tom Bean’s picture on the front page of the Mass Lawyers Weekly newspaper honoring the top lawyers for 2014.  Skye said, “That’s Tom from church!”

I said that it was Tom Bean from church, and that Tom – who was in attendance at the dinner – was being recognized for letting people decide for themselves whether gambling in Massachusetts is right or wrong by putting it to a vote.

Skye then started asking about other lawyers, like Allison Wright of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. Skye and I talked about what it must be like to be gay in Uganda, where they had laws saying who you were allowed to love, and how Allison was able to help a gay rights leader from Uganda live in the United States where he could be safe and love whomever he wanted.

It was a wonderful way for me to show my daughter that being an attorney is about helping people. And I’m so glad she could be there to see us as a community of lawyers honor three professionals who help people every day. That’s what we as lawyers do, and it’s why 1,300 of us came together last night to celebrate. I hope those in attendance found the evening to be as special and inspirational as I did.