President's Message

Patrick T. Jones
January 5, 2006

 In almost every area of our lives, year end and New Year present the traditional time to take stock, tally up, report the final score, look forward and resolve.  For those of us cursed, or blessed, to look at everything through the sports analogy lens, keeping score becomes even more critical.  We subscribe to the philosophy of life referred to as "contest-living" by Edward Bennett Williams, the pre-eminent trial lawyer of the late 20th century: the notion that in life every effort must be marked down at the end as a win or a loss, that there are no plateaus, and that we're either moving forward or backward.

How should we rate ourselves- as individuals and as a non-profit organization- in the area of generosity and our capacity to give unconditionally of our time, talent and treasure? 

It has long been fashionable to refer to Massachusetts and New England as among the least generous and philanthropic of the country's states and regions.  The image of flinty, stingy New Englanders has only recently been debunked by a study from the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy.  Adjusting for cost of living and taxes, and comparing total charitable contributions to those of other states, the study ranks Massachusetts 11th nationally, far better than the 49th position assigned by the Annual Generosity Index compiled by the Catalogue for Philanthropy, of Boston.

Another recent study, this one from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, finds that New Englanders give in greater numbers than donors in other parts of the country, and give to secular, rather than religious causes at higher rates. New Englanders, including our membership, gave this past year to an astonishingly diverse collection of charities that included shelters such as Pine Street Inn, Globe Santa, child and domestic abuse centers, food kitchens, and educational initiatives.  Whether contributing time or money to the Katrina hurricane recovery effort, or serving in Iraq and assisting in the election process, our citizens and trial lawyers generously stepped up in significant numbers to lend a hand and make a difference.  Donor and service lists for these efforts show trial lawyers as citizens giving back, and provide refreshing rebuttal evidence to those who would label us greedy, selfish and self-absorbed. 

Inside our academy, there are many whose contributions of professional talent and financial resources move the organization forward.  Our membership, from its newest to its oldest member, is called upon to be generous and responds by supporting our educational programs, and our political, legislative and fundraising initiatives.  In doing so, our members contribute to our growth and improvement as an organization, and help improve the civil justice system, as well as the quality of life for Massachusetts families, consumers and patients.
 Thanks to all of you who so generously pitch in to make MATA a great organization.  Happy New Year.










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