Massachusetts State House.
Policy Library

Enhancing your BBA Government Relations Experience

December 12, 2013

When it comes to public policy, transparency and early communication among stakeholders are of utmost importance.  We can always do a better job communicating.  We need to keep our members up to date and educated, especially when it comes to the history and process of the BBA’s public policy positions.

At the same time, communication with BBA Steering Committee sections is especially important.  Reach out and let us know how we can improve our communication – we’d love to hear from you.  Right now our weekly blog is a good place to find out what we are currently working on and thinking about in the area of government relations.  Starting with our next Public Policy Update, which will be sent out Friday December 20th, all Section Steering Committee members will have the benefit of seeing what items are coming up on the Council’s agenda as well as other legislative activities or events of interest.

Here are some ways you, as members, can also help us improve our public policy process:

Early input – If you spot an emerging public policy issue, let us know either directly or through your Section Co-Chairs.  We may know if another BBA Section is thinking about the same issue.  We will also do our best to keep you up to date on issues that other Sections are working on.  Please share with us any suggestions for keeping communication efficient as public policy evolves.

One recent example of how issue spotting and early input was effective was the amicus brief that the BBA filed in Morse v. Kraft.  The Trusts and Estates Steering Committee had discussed “decanting,” an issue trusts and estates practitioners have long wanted clarified or changed.  Lawyers who advise trustees, as well as lawyers who serve as trustees, have faced significant uncertainty regarding the validity of actions taken or advice given in connection with this issue, and the Morse case was the first time it was taken up by the Supreme Judicial Court.

Therefore, the Steering Committee drafted a proposal to the Amicus Committee asking that the BBA weigh in with a brief.  The Amicus Committee recommended that the BBA Council file an amicus brief.  The proposal was approved, the brief was written by eight members of the Steering Committee, and the BBA filed it in late March.

Stay involved – make personal connections and if you can, attend monthly meetings and programs.  While this may be tougher to work into your schedule than other forms of communication, we have observed many impressive discussions on an array of complex legal and political topics that were made possible because people took the time and effort to meet face-to-face.  In addition, this will give you access to the most up-to-date information.  The professional networking, personal friendships, and snacks are all bonuses to this rewarding experience.  Be one of the people who makes BBA news instead of reading about it.

Stay involved, stay engaged, participate, and, when in doubt, give us a call!

– Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association