(Boston, Revised 10/14/10) New England Law | Boston: Charles D. “Charlie” Baker was the speaker at New England Law | Boston’s 2010 Law Day Banquet on Friday, April 9. Baker, a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Massachusetts, was formerly CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC).
Baker received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He served in the cabinet of the Weld and Cellucci administrations, first as secretary of health and human services and then as secretary of administration and finance, and received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Governor’s Association in 1998. From 1999 to 2009, he served as CEO of HPHC, where he led a major turnaround in financial performance.
Following an introduction by Dean John F. O'Brien, Baker was presented with an honorary doctor of humanities degree in recognition of his many years of public service.
“I’m not a lawyer, although many people who have worked with me over the years will tell you that I pretend to be one sometimes and manage to get everybody in a lot of trouble when I do,” Baker admitted, speaking in a relaxed and engaging manner. After paying tribute to John Adams’s famous maxim, “We’re a nation of laws and not of men,” he proceeded to list what he believes distinguishes the United States from other countries.
“Contracts matter. Liberty matters. Property matters. Law determines the rules, the regulations, and how things get decided and the country as a whole buys into that. That creates an enormous amount of prosperity, freedom, and opportunity, and the Rule of Law is where it all begins.”
Baker, 53, pointed out that the law must continually evolve to meet the demands of society, and he referred to the significant changes that he has witnessed during his lifetime in criminal justice, public assistance, environmental, energy, and telecommunications law.
He then segued into a discussion of heath care law and his tenure as CEO of HPHC, and how insurers and state officials worked quickly on behalf of the citizenry to develop a necessary statute when dire financial conditions threatened his firm and others in the 1990s.
Baker concluded his remarks by thanking the many lawyers whose services and skills have benefited Massachusetts and society at large, including fellow Law Day head table guests Thomas F. Reilly and Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert J. Cordy. Reilly was Massachusetts attorney general during the HPHC fiscal crisis; Baker and Justice Cordy worked together during the Weld administration.
Law Day was established in 1958 by proclamation of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Celebrated annually by the nation’s legal community and the general public, it promotes awareness of our country’s laws and justice system and the role they play in maintaining our nation's freedoms. Speakers at the law school's previous Law Day Banquets have included Supreme Court Justices Harry Blackmun, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Antonin Scalia; United States Attorney General Janet Reno; former chief UN weapons inspector, Dr. Hans Blix; and former federal Court of Appeals judge and solicitor general Kenneth Starr.