Supreme Judicial Court Justice Francis X. Spina, on behalf of the SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, presented the fourth annual Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards at a June 8 ceremony in the John Adams Courthouse in Boston.
The recipients included two Massachusetts Bar Association members: attorney Mark I. Berson, president of Levy Winer & Berson PC, and retired Probate and Family Court Judge and founder of Senior Partners for Justice Edward M. Ginsburg.
Mark Berson has provided pro bono legal advice for 32 years to Tapestry Health Systems, a non-profit organization serving western Massachusetts residents. President of the organization since its founding in 1973, and now president emeritus, Berson also received the 1992 Pro Bono Publico Award of the Massachusetts Bar Association for Distinguished Service to the Profession. He serves on the Board of Bar Overseers and is past chair and board member of the Clients’ Security Board. He is also a past president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the Franklin County Bar Association, Franklin Bar Association Advocates, Inc., a former director of Franklin County Bar Advocates for Children and Franklin County Bar Advocates for Women, and a former board member of the Western Massachusetts Pro Bono Referral System.
Judge Edward M. Ginsburg, who retired from the Probate and Family Court in 2002 after 25 years, was recognized for his work recruiting attorneys and retired judges to represent poor and disadvantaged individuals in family law matters through Senior Partners for Justice. Through his efforts, more than 200 lawyers provide legal services through the Volunteer Lawyers Project. He also ensures that these lawyers have access to ongoing legal education and services. Judge Ginsburg teaches at Suffolk University Law School and Boston College Law School.
The third recipient was the Boston law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C., with special recognition to attorneys Susan J. Cohen and Grant Sovern for their work helping the poor and disadvantaged, particularly those seeking political asylum. The firm provides pro bono services in the areas of civil rights, human and public rights, and poverty law, and to charitable and civic organizations lacking financial resources.
Lonnie Powers, executive director of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Southern New England School of Law at May commencement exercises. Presenting the degree were the school’s dean, Robert Ward, Jr., and Judge Elizabeth O’Neill LaStaiti, first justice, Bristol Probate and Family Court. Powers was selected for his work establishing, building, sustaining and revitalizing legal services organizations in Massachusetts. Powers has served as director of MLAC since its founding in 1983 and also initiated the Equal Justice Coalition, a collaboration among bar associations, business, legal, religious and social service leaders that promotes increased funding for legal services. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law and the LL.M. program of the National Law Center of George Washington University.
Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation Corp., a non-profit, tax-exempt entity established by attorneys from Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels LLP, has awarded two of its Insight/Foresight Grants to the James Michael Curley Elementary School and the Children’s Room Center for Grieving Children & Teenagers.
The Insight/Foresight Grant Program provides funding to assist educators with small, concrete projects or needs, which will make an improvement in inner city education in Boston, Hartford, Providence or New York within the coming year.
The James Michael Curley Elementary School will use the funds to support the “Tile Project,” a multi-cultural art enrichment program organized by the school’s ARTS Team. Working with a local artist as well as their teachers, students will paint 120 ceramic tiles, which will then be mounted on wood panels and installed on a retaining wall at the entrance to the school.
The Children’s Room Center for Grieving Children & Teenagers is the first organization of its kind in the Boston area to offer ongoing bereavement support to children and teenagers. The Insight/Foresight Grant will be used to purchase art supplies for bereaved children, ages three to 17, who seek a safe and caring place to receive peer support and guidance from trained volunteers.
Said Albert W. Wallis, executive director of the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation Corp., “We are pleased to award Insight/Foresight Grants to these diverse but equally compelling educational programs.”
The justices of the Supreme Judicial Court recently appointed three new members and reappointed four members to the Committee for Public Counsel Services for three-year terms. New appointees include Boston University School of Law Associate Clinical Professor and MBA member Eva. S. Nilsen, who teaches and supervises students in the Criminal Justice Clinic and also teaches and writes about criminal law. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of the Punjab Law College in Lahore, Pakistan, and at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Reappointees include attorneys and MBA members Ann V. Crowley, Salem; Judith Lindahl, Boston; and Robert H. Quinn, Quinn & Morris, Boston.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has developed and approved the first Model Family Arbitration Act. Members of the AAML Arbitration Committee include attorney William M. Levine, Lee Levine & Bowser LLP, Boston. Arbitration is an alternative to litigation of contested marital dissolution issues, and supporters say it can be faster and more efficient. The model act provides a template to states that want to craft family law arbitration legislation.
Peter C. Bennett has joined CATIC, New England’s largest domestic title insurer, in the company’s Wellesley, Mass., office. He will be working with law firms in eastern Massachusetts to build awareness of the value of attorneys in the closing process. Prior to joining CATIC, Bennett was in private practice in Barnstable, Mass., where he specialized in real estate law, conveyancing, estate planning, probate and civil practice.
Robert M. Lippman, who practiced in Boston from 1981 through 1991, has been elected president of the Defense Trial Lawyers Association of Western New York. He is currently managing attorney of Lippman & O’Connor in Buffalo.
Alternatives for Community & Environment presented its ACE Founders’ Award to Anderson & Kreiger LLP of Cambridge in May. ACE is an environmental justice group based in Roxbury, and the award recognizes the outstanding pro bono assistance provided to Massachusetts community groups that are battling to achieve environmental justice in their neighborhoods. Anderson & Kreiger partner George A. Hall, Jr., expressed “our deep appreciation for this award and our continuing commitment to helping ACE achieve environmental justice for those who, in many ways, need it most.”
The firm’s recent work has helped citizens from downtown Boston to Martha’s Vineyard confront issues such as defective gas pipes in streets, water pollution, proposed siting of a bioterrorism lab, and preservation of a park. Spearheading these and other projects were Anderson & Kreiger attorneys Stephen Anderson, Arthur Kreiger, Elizabeth Pyle, Douglas Wilkins, and Jeffrey Roelofs.