Focusing on Building Strategic Relationships in the New Year

Relationships are everything when it comes to good advocacy work, regardless of which branch of government we’re dealing with. We need to have the right relationships, and we need to work on nurturing them. It’s actually easier than you think to develop these relationships and they begin with making a personal connection.

On January 2, members of the House and Senate took their oaths of office and so began the 188th session of the Massachusetts General Court. As Issue Spot noted in a prior post, the Legislature has 19 new members.

We should also mention recent changes in Governor Patrick’s administration as well. Several of Governor Patrick’s top people have left – including his Chief of Staff Mo Cowan, Executive Office of Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan, and Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez.

These changes mean that we have new relationships to build and cultivate in both the legislative and executive branches.

Building these relationships begins with personal visits that will take time and effort. However, there is no better way to shape the thinking of our policymakers than a personal visit. At the very least, a personal visit is an opportunity to introduce yourself as a constituent. Constituents – and not advocacy groups – elect law makers. And this is where the value of our membership comes into play. Every legislator knows that the best advocate is the individual who works or lives and votes in their legislative districts.

Maintaining these relationships is equally important. Find occasions to connect with your legislator again. If you have useful information or insights, be sure to share that knowledge with your legislator. Eventually, you may even find lawmakers coming to you for information or your point of view.

Back in October, we mentioned that BBA President J.D. Smeallie invited his state representative and senator to his local courthouse in Salem. This event will take place on Monday January 7th. An opportunity to highlight the good work that goes on in our state courts each day, this event is also a chance for the BBA president to get to better know his own state representative and state senator.

This is just one of the many steps in our year round advocacy efforts on behalf of our state courts. On Valentine’s Day, the BBA, the Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA), and the Courts will again hold Court Advocacy Day at the State House. This event will feature remarks by BBA President J.D. Smeallie, MBA President Bob Holloway and members of the Judiciary. That event will help raise awareness about the judiciary’s budget needs on a larger scale.

Consistent advocacy strengthens our positions. By continually developing our relationships, the BBA remains a trusted and valued resource. It is our responsibility to help our legislators and policymakers understand the judiciary’s critical role in ensuring access to justice for everyone in Massachusetts.

 

- Kathleen Joyce
Director of Government Relations
Boston Bar Association
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