By Chinh H. Pham
A few weeks ago, when walking into 16 Beacon Street, I noticed the day’s schedule on the wall; there were five different in-person events taking place throughout the day, each tailored to a different practice area, some focused on education and others on networking and socializing. I thought, at that moment, “This is what the BBA really is; this is what we’re really meant to be.”
A year ago, this wouldn’t have been the case; that screen would have been blank, as it was most days while we continued to work through the uncertainty of the pandemic and re-evaluate how we could connect with our members through a computer screen.
Around that time, I was asked how I would define a “successful” year as President of the Boston Bar Association. There were many factors I considered, but ultimately the answer came down to one simple point: I wanted to lead the BBA out of the pandemic era and back to what I knew it always could be. While that may be difficult to measure objectively and empirically, I can say without hesitation that, for the first time in years, we were able to return to a sense of normalcy, resulting in a BBA that is once again—in every sense—the hub of Boston’s legal community.
There is so much to be proud of over the last calendar year. We welcomed thousands of members back into the building for a variety of social and educational programs. By the spring, hardly a day went by without an in-person program or meeting. Perhaps best of all, you could see and feel how eager our members were to meet, socialize, and learn with colleagues and friends face-to-face once again.
In particular, we have re-engaged with our youngest members—new lawyers as well as law students, many of whom had been trapped in front of a computer screen for two years, robbed of the invaluable in-person aspect of their education and first jobs. Before my presidency began, I wanted to make sure those members saw the true impact of the BBA, and the only way to do that was to engage them in-person.
Through events such as our DEI Career Fair, student study sessions and bar coaching, mentoring opportunities for new lawyers, our PILP program and community events, the BBA has become a place to nurture our next generation of lawyers and truly help them grow, personally and professionally. Perhaps the highlight of this year for me has been hearing from so many of these younger members how helpful, insightful, and valuable these opportunities have been for them, especially given how rare such opportunities were during the worst of the pandemic years.
We also saw a return to full force of our major annual events—the Beacon Awards, the Adams Benefit, and Law Day. To see the Boston legal community celebrate its accomplishments with the likes of Mayor Michelle Wu and Governor Maura Healey instilled in me both pride for what we’ve recaptured and hope for how much we can continue to grow as part of our city and our community.
Without the unexpected disruptions of the past few years, we were able to amplify our work as a thought leader in the Boston legal community, ensuring we were prepared for whatever came our way; from the migrant crisis on Martha’s Vineyard to troubling decisions from the nation’s highest court, the BBA was ready to lead. From ABA Day in Washington, DC to the annual Talk to the Hill event and our numerous amicus briefs filed, the BBA cemented itself as an authoritative voice for the community as we continue to work to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession and facilitate access to justice for all.
It’s been an honor serving during such a pivotal time for our Association, and the community at large. While my title may have been President, my role took on many forms: convener, guide, shepherd, educator, and leader. I know the BBA is in excellent, capable hands with President-Elect Hannah Kilson, and I have no doubt that, once again, the BBA will be in an even better place a year from now than it is today.
Thank you to our members, our Council, our hundreds of volunteers, the BBA staff, and everyone else who allowed me the chance to lead this great organization back to its full glory; it has been the honor of a lifetime.
Chinh H. Pham