|Photo by Jeff Thiebauth
Pictured is McDermott, Will & Emery's pro bono practice group.
The group is being honored with a Pro Bono Award for Law Firms,
along with Tennant Lubell, LLC.
Honoring five Massachusetts lawyers and two firms who have made
significant contributions to their communities and clients' lives
through pro bono work, the Massachusetts Bar Association's Annual
Access to Justice Luncheon will be held May 7 at the John F.
Kennedy Library in Boston.
In addition to paying tribute to members of the legal community
who are exemplary leaders in public service, this year, MBA
President Edward W. McIntyre will also present the 2009 Legislator
of the Year Award to State Rep. Harold P. Naughton Jr. and the
President's Award to Jayne B. Tyrrell, executive director of the
Massachusetts Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA)
|Photo by Christine Peterson
Children's Law Center, Lynn
Legal Services Award
Children's welfare has been an enduring drive for Barbara Kaban.
Earning a J.D. from Boston College Law School, an M.B.A. from
Boston University and an M.Ed. in educational psychology from
Harvard University, her career has been focused on ensuring equal
access to justice for children and youth in Massachusetts.
"To me, kids are the most undervalued and underserved members of
society, yet they are our most important resource. It has been my
lifelong passion to try to maximize opportunity for kids and ensure
they have the skills they need to successfully transition to
adulthood," said Kaban.
While working at the Children's Law Center in Lynn, and through
additional special projects and collaborations, Kaban secured
federal funding from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public
Safety to design and implement a re-entry program for gang-involved
youth re-entering the Lynn community after incarceration. Kaban has
also collaborated on amici briefs addressing the viability of the
common law infancy defense and developed an appellate advocacy
practice addressing, among other things, the implication of
memoranda of understandings between school, police and district
attorneys on school searches.
"My biggest accomplishment is the recent Supreme Judicial Court
decision in Kenniston v. DYS declaring G.L.c. 120, secs. 17-19
unconstitutional. I have been challenging the constitutionality of
this statutory scheme since 2000 and it was rewarding to finally
get the issue before the SJC," said Kaban.
Working with the Center for Public Representation and the
Committee for Public Counsel Services, Kaban served as lead counsel
on this issue. But, Kaban reflected, "I have had to redefine what
is a 'win' and what is a 'loss.' Too often, I find that I may win
the battle but lose the war. My clients come with a host of issues
that cannot be solved in the courtroom and, without sufficient
community-based services, I may not be able to help my clients
achieve their desired goals."
Kaban's devotion to her clients enables her to continue her work
without becoming overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems she
hopes to address.
"The best part of my job is the kids I work with. They make
mistakes but they are courageous enough to keep going. They have
taught me a lot," said Kaban.
Guarding against burnout is necessary in a career in legal
services, and Kaban is grateful for the assistance of her
colleagues, noting "any achievement of mine is really the
achievement of the Law Center as a whole. The support of the other
attorneys and staff enables me to accomplish what I do."
|Photo by Jeff Thiebauth
James M. McCreight
Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston
Legal Services Award
From his experiences as a community organizer in North Carolina
to internships with legal services providers in New Haven, Conn.,
during law school, James M. McCreight has dedicated his career to
the protection of tenant rights.
For more than 25 years, McCreight has worked tirelessly to ensure
low-income tenants have access to secure affordable housing, first
with New Haven Legal Assistance and currently with Greater Boston
Legal Services (GBLS).
"I was interested in doing work that would give me the opportunity
to use my legal skills in the community. The best part of my job is
that I get to work with really excellent people, and to learn from
them while sharing what I can," said McCreight.
With GBLS, McCreight has been involved with the Boston Housing
Authority, working on class action suits, improving rent-setting,
receivership cases and the recent Bridgewaters decision on
"My most significant accomplishment has been my long-term work in
public housing and Section 8 issues, along with the ongoing work
we've done with resident groups to have a real role in decision
making in BHA policies and in the redevelopment of their housing,"
Considered a "national treasure in the legal services world" by
his colleagues, McCreight is generous with his knowledge and time.
He always makes himself available to answer questions, provide
advice and share his extraordinary wealth of knowledge with members
of the housing justice network, while also working closely with
tenant associations and advisory boards to ensure that tenants are
aware of their rights.
Despite his tremendous success, McCreight still faces the
perpetual struggle of all legal services attorneys. "The biggest
professional challenge has been avoiding burn-out. Each advocate
can only do so much and there is a huge unmet need," he said. Even
faced with these difficulties, McCreight is enthusiastic about his
"I look to each case as an opportunity, not only to assist the
individual client, but to try to change institutional practices so
that others can also be benefited. There are always new challenges
and new areas of law or opportunities for advocacy that keeps the
work fresh. And working with a range of committed advocates with
different skills and perspectives in a collective and collegial
atmosphere is always re-energizing."
|Photo by Jeff Thiebauth
Ellen Lubell, left, and Doris Tennant.
Tennant Lubell LLC
Pro Bono Award for Law Firms
"We share a deep concern for those who are suffering as a result
of human rights violations and discrimination on the basis of race,
economic status and other illegal classification. As attorneys, we
believe we have a heightened responsibility to uphold the rule of
law and insist that our public officials be held accountable to
those they serve," said Doris Tennant and Ellen Lubell of the work
that inspired them to form Tennant Lubell LLC in 2006.
The two-person Newton firm has worked with organizations including
Amnesty International, The Child Care Resource Center, Boston
Mobilization, International Justice Network, Newton Human Rights
Commission and Jewish Women's Archive.
"Of all the work we have done in our legal careers, we are most
proud of our representation of Abdul Aziz Naji, our Guantanamo
client," said Tennant and Lubell. Three years ago, they volunteered
to represent a Guantanamo detainee who has been detained since
2002. Since then, their work on their client's behalf has accounted
for at least a third of their professional hours, in addition to
nearly $60,000 in travel, translation and interpreter services paid
for out-of-pocket and with the support of friends and
"We were profoundly disturbed when we learned of our government's
treatment of the detainees and the appalling lack of legal process
afforded to them," they said. Despite harassment by phone and
e-mail, Tennant and Lubell persist in representing their client and
providing time and expertise in the support of access to
"And the work continues. It's important to choose work that
engages your passions, and to not be shy about letting your
colleagues know what you are doing. Many people have told us how
inspired they are by our efforts and how grateful they feel that we
are working on an issue of great concern to them," they said.
|Photo by Jeff Thiebauth
Daniel Curto, left, and Melissa Nott Davis, co-chairs of the
firm's Pro Bono Group in Boston.
McDermott, Will & Emery
Pro Bono Award for Law Firms
Founded in 1934, McDermott, Will & Emery's pro bono and
community service commitments are vast. With offices all over the
world and 15 in the United States, McDermott's efforts range from
obtaining political asylum for the persecuted to protecting
Using a formalized system of encouragement for pro bono work, the
firm has been able to make a massive commitment to their pro bono
clients. "Sometimes in large firms, one of the biggest hurdles is,
'Do I get credit for this?' Pro bono work is real work. At the end
of the year, you're not going to be punished for handling a great
pro bono case that took up a lot of your time. This empowers our
folks to find something they really love, and this has made it a
great success," said Daniel Curto, McDermott, Will & Emery's
Boston office Pro Bono Group co-chair, with Melissa Nott
In the Boston office alone, 87 percent of McDermott's attorneys do
some type of pro bono work during the year and 55 percent commit to
more than 50 hours a year. Approximately three percent of the
office's total time is spent on pro bono issues.
"There are a variety of projects by design: we have a handful of
pro bono partners that we work closely with but we don't limit our
attorneys to working with them. We look to expand our partnerships
as appropriate," said Curto.
One of McDermott's established partnerships is with the Children's
Law Center. Over the past two years, McDermott has sponsored a
full-time attorney to work on a project to determine if the trial
of juvenile offenders as adults and subsequent long-term sentencing
without parole complies with Supreme Court rulings.
"We work very closely with her," Curto said. "We've involved
partners and associates and paralegals, and we're thinking about
ways to effectuate change. This is proactive, it's structured
around an issue that we can reform."
Many of the pro bono cases McDermott is involved in center around
children, representing special needs children and juveniles that
have been sentenced to life without parole. McDermott attorneys in
Boston also work closely with Citizen Schools, providing tutoring
and mentoring services and running a mock trial program with
"Part of the work is to give people a voice that they may not have
otherwise had. With children, giving them that voice is really
important," said Curto.
Lawrence J. McGuire
Committee for Public Counsel Services, Salem Superior
Lawrence J. McGuire is a public defender with the Committee for
Public Counsel Services in the Salem Superior Court. A mentor to
CPCS and all criminal law attorneys in Essex County, McGuire's
public defense career has spanned three decades. Committed to
defending the indigent, he is a zealous advocate, setting a
standard that less experienced defenders seek to achieve.
His effective skills as an innovative litigator have proven to be
successful in the courtroom, but also in training new bar advocates
and as an advisor and faculty member for Massachusetts Continuing
McGuire relishes the tough cases and according to his peers, is
"always the best-prepared attorney in the courtroom."
According to those who nominated him for the award, McGuire
"always dots the i's and crosses the t's."
Wendy J. Rickles
Sole practitioner, Worcester
Pro Bono Publico Award
Wendy J. Rickles is indefatigable. In addition to her busy solo
practice focusing on criminal, family and employment law, she is an
active member of the Worcester County Bar Association's Committee
on Services to the Poor and Homeless.
A volunteer with the Honorable Harry Zarrow Homeless Advocacy
Project, a collaboration between the WCBA and the Legal Assistance
Corp. of Central Massachusetts, Rickles helps provide legal
assistance to those who are homeless or in immediate danger of
becoming so. As part of her work with the WCBA, Rickles founded the
Mustard Seed Dinners at a homeless shelter in Worcester. Several
times a year, Rickles plans menus and enlists volunteers to
provide, cook and serve food to more than 150 homeless or
low-income individuals. In addition, Rickles also contributes to
dinners at the Veterans' Shelter, which serves more than 100 meals
every night. "Throughout my career, I have tried to be an advocate
for the homeless," said Rickles.
However, Rickles' work with the WCBA is not limited to her
advocacy for the homeless. As co-chair of the Family Law Section,
she has started and chaired the winter coat drive, the canned food
drive and the cell phone drive, during which more than 1,100 phones
were collected and distributed to victims of domestic violence. Her
latest project is a blanket drive which, to date, has collected
more than 200 blankets to be donated to Worcester County
"Our parents taught us to be a voice for social justice. There has
always been a tradition of Tikkun Olum in our family: It means 'the
healing of the world.' From very early, we all volunteered for many
causes," Rickles explained. "Our parents instilled the virtues of
hard work and community service in us - their generosity and love
for helping others has been an example for my sister and me."
Rickles is an active part of a local interfaith council promoting
relationships and endeavors between religions, while coordinating
Through all her work, it is her humility and commitment to
community that keeps her energized.
"My first thought when I was notified of this award was that there
are many people more deserving. It's really the attorneys in the
Worcester County Bar Association and the staff of the association
that has made it possible to accomplish these things. Working
together with them has been my privilege," said Rickles.
|Photo by Jeff Thiebauth
Assistant U.S. attorney, Boston
"Like others, Sept. 11, 2001, impacted me on a number of levels,
including professionally," reflected Aloke Chakravarty. "I sought a
way to bring my experience and perspective to bear on the legal
challenges which would inevitably follow, both to provide for
aggressive counter-terrorism enforcement as well as aggressive
protection of civil liberties."
Chakravarty began his career as a public servant working as a
Middlesex assistant district attorney after a brief tenure in
private practice. "A lawyer at the corporate firm where I worked
told me: 'No matter where you do it, if you want to try cases, you
should become a prosecutor somewhere, anywhere.' I heeded his
advice and joined the district attorney's office. It was an
inimitable experience, and demonstrated the impact that people can
have in the communities they serve," said Chakravarty.
An assistant attorney general in the Special Investigations and
Narcotics Unit, Chakravarty began work as an assistant general
counsel in the National Security Law Branch of the FBI after Sept.
11. "The insight into the differences between the intelligence
community and law enforcement, along with long-standing exposure to
international issues, gave me a strong interest in pursuing the
wide array of cases which I am now able to do."
Since 2005, Chakravarty has been an assistant U.S. attorney in the
Anti-Terrorism and National Security Section, working as the
District Crisis Management coordinator and District International
Affairs and National Security Coordinator. "After Sept. 11, 2001,
the relationship between these communities and the government has
become strained with distrust and lack of understanding on both
sides. In this sense, the domestic tensions too often parallel
those of external diplomacy."
Beyond his innovative work as a prosecutor, Chakravarty has helped
establish a groundbreaking initiative bringing together
prosecutors, government agency officials and community groups to
discuss legal issues affecting the Muslim, Arab and Sikh
"For law enforcement, building the support of these communities is
an essential component to effectively detect and disrupt terrorism.
For the impacted communities, understanding their rights and having
an opportunity to shape the implementation of policy is essential
to providing a sense of security and justice and to feel
enfranchised. It has been a great challenge to build constructive
relationships with the communities from which the government needs
the greatest assistance, while at the same time prosecuting some
prominent individuals within these same groups."
Chakravarty's career has been marked by a steadfast belief that it
is critical for minority communities to be involved in the legal
process, and he has used his background to ensure that justice is
carried out with cultural sensitivity. "In my current position, I
have the privilege of serving our community, striving for justice
and working with exceptional people. I am honored and humbled by
this recognition, especially when there are so many deserving
prosecutors in the commonwealth."
|Photo by Jeff Thiebauth
Naughton to receive MBA's Legislator of Year Award
by Tricia M. Oliver
The Legislator of the Year Award is presented annually to a state
or federal legislator who has distinguished himself or herself in
public service through outstanding contributions to the legal
profession, courts and administration of justice.
State Rep. Harold P. Naughton Jr. (D-Clinton) will be presented
the 2009 Legislator of the Year Award. In addition to his native
town of Clinton, Naughton represents Worcester County's Boylston,
Northborough and parts of Sterling and Lancaster.
MBA President Edward W. McIntyre, a Clinton resident, has seen
firsthand Naughton's commitment to the legal community and
constituents. "The people of the commonwealth are the ultimate
beneficiaries of his work to appropriately resource the full
administration of justice spectrum."
Naughton realizes that the current economic climate has affected
court resources and is "difficult for hardworking court personnel."
He describes the current funding reality as a "shared sacrifice"
with the state and the courts.
During a recent visit to Marlborough District Court, Naughton was
told that the court was operating at 70 percent of the appropriate
staffing model, while staff at Worcester Superior Court expressed
similar sentiments. "Until we can turn this around and increase
revenue, the citizens will notice a difference in the service
provided," he said.
In addition to supporting proper court funding, Naughton has
addressed other access to justice issues during his 14 years as a
state representative. He has been an informed voice on matters such
as fair compensation for the Committee for Public Counsel Services,
bar advocates and district attorneys, as well as new courthouse
construction throughout the commonwealth.
"In the United States, justice is the ultimate equalizing tool,"
His commitment to the justice system was on display when then Gov.
Mitt Romney attempted to shut down several district courts in
Massachusetts. Naughton was strongly against such a move. He
explained that actions taken in district courts are felt
"immediately and personally by the community they serve."
Naughton grew up idolizing attorneys and loved reading fiction
involving court cases. Now a practicing attorney, he brought copies
of To Kill a Mockingbird and shared them with Iraqi judges during
his most recent deployment in 2006.
He is one of the nearly 30,000 "new" veterans as a result of the
conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Naughton has been a member of
the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs since its
inception in 2005 and he proudly took over as House chair in
Naughton said his primary job as chair is answering the question,
"How does the community step up to serve the needs of these young
adults coming home?" He explains that swiftly addressing veterans'
needs early on means sparing courts and social services more work
down the road.
Naughton and his staff are well connected with his constituents
and enlist a highly responsive approach. "Even though our office
may be answering our 100th call of the day, that call might be that
caller's most important call of that day," Naughton said.
"Constituent service is his hallmark," said McIntyre of Naughton.
"He includes the bench and bar of Central Massachusetts among his
constituents and both have no greater supporter than 'Hank'
|Photo by Jeff Thiebauth
Tyrrell recognized with MBA President's Award
by Tricia M. Oliver
Jayne B. Tyrrell, executive director of the Massachusetts Interest
on Lawyers' Trust Accounts program, is the President's Award
The award is bestowed by the MBA president upon those individuals
who have made a significant contribution to the work of the MBA, to
the preservation of MBA values, to the success of its initiatives
and to the promotion of its leadership role within the
Massachusetts legal community.
"Jayne's dedication to the core values of the MBA, including
access to justice, inspires everyone who comes in contact with
her," MBA President Edward W. McIntyre said. He added that coming
into contact with Tyrrell is relatively easy "because she seems to
be intimately involved in every access to justice initiative in the
commonwealth and has been for nearly a quarter of a century."
Tyrrell has worked with IOLTA for nearly two decades. After first
IOLTA as a voluntary program in 1985, the Supreme Judicial Court
made it mandatory in 1989. Tyrrell was hired as a consultant at
that time to help with the transition of the new requirements of
all participating attorneys to keep nominal, short-term client
deposits in interest-bearing accounts. Following that transition,
she accepted the offer to serve as executive director and 20 years
later, remains passionate about her influential role.
Tyrrell is a past president of the National Association of IOLTA
Programs. She is the co-chair of the Boston Bar Association Task
Force on Expanding the Right to Counsel and is a member of the
National Coalition on Civil Right to Counsel and the Supreme
Judicial Court Working Group on Limited Assistance
"Jayne has earned a national reputation for her innovative
collaborations with banking institutions, successfully helping them
realize that they too have a role to play in addressing the unmet
legal needs of the poor," said McIntyre.
"Every five years, my job totally changes," said Tyrrell, who
weathered the most recent obstacle by successfully requiring banks
to pay interest on IOLTA accounts at rates comparable to similar
commercial accounts. Defending IOLTA has always been a big part of
When the constitutionality of IOLTA was questioned on the federal
stage, she was enlisted as part of the litigation strategy team for
the federal case that led to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 5-4
majority decision in favor of IOLTA.
"Half of my office used to be filled with litigation files," said
Tyrrell. Strong advocacy for legal services has been a common
thread throughout her legal career.
Following her graduation from Suffolk University Law School, she
served as the assistant director on a groundbreaking study of the
legal needs of the poor in Boston. Tyrrell describes the study
results as "eye opening" and something that set the groundwork for
her professional aspirations.
"I've had so many fantastic jobs," said Tyrrell, who is
recognizably satisfied with her chosen career path and finds her
current IOLTA post enjoyable despite the difficult economic
Tyrrell responded modestly to the news of her award and opted to
shine the spotlight on those on the front lines of legal services
delivery. "Those are the real heroes," she said.