MBF provides major grant for independent judicial education

The Massachusetts Bar Foundation (MBF) Board of Trustees recently awarded an IOLTA grant of $150,000 to the Flaschner Judicial Institute to support its educational programming and publications for Massachusetts judges.  The MBF has long been a proud supporter of Flaschner, providing grants for its core operations annually since 1982.

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“Supporting programs that improve the administration of justice in the Commonwealth is one of the MBF’s priorities, and our grant to Flaschner this year is a sound investment toward this goal,” said MBF President Jerry Cohen. “In addition to the outstanding work Flaschner does year in and year out, the MBF has been particularly appreciative of Flaschner’s recent programs on effectively managing cases involving pro se litigants. This training helps the judges to effectively ensure everyone has equal access to the courts, not just those who can afford an attorney. ”

Established in 1978 as a memorial to former District Court Chief Justice Franklin N. Flaschner, the Institute offers up to 35 full-day, half-day, and evening educational programs each year that are available free of charge to all trial and appellate judges serving in the Massachusetts judiciary, including federal judges.  In addition, Flaschner publishes useful benchbooks, including the Massachusetts Jury Trial Benchbook and the official print edition of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence.  These practical guides are distributed to all judges in the Commonwealth and are available to the wider legal community for purchase through Lawyers Weekly.

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“Continuing education is essential to maintaining the highest professional standards for judges,” said Supreme Judicial Court Justice Margot Botsford, who has served as Flaschner’s President & Dean since 2009.  “Flaschner not only provides training for new judges, but also offers a wide variety of programs that give judges at every level of experience the opportunity to learn about developments, legal and otherwise, in new and established fields that are relevant to their work.”

The vital importance of this “self-help" judges’ organization to the judiciary is demonstrated by the consistently high attendance statistics.  Approximately 70 percent of Massachusetts judges participated in Flaschner programs during the last year.  “Since becoming a judge three years ago, I have attended twelve Flaschner programs, and I have registered for several more this fall,” said District Court Judge Antoinette E. M. Leoney.  “Universally praised and appreciated among my colleagues, these programs were an enormous help in my transition to the bench and they remain so today.”

Flaschner’s agenda for this court year includes programs on Summary Process Evictions/Foreclosures, Evidence, Electronic Discovery, Complex Issues in a Criminal Trial, and more.

For additional information about Flaschner, please visit: www.flaschner.org.

For a complete list of 2013/2014 MBF IOLTA grant awards, please click here

This article originally appeared in the October issue of the Mass. Bar Association's Lawyer's Journal.