Dorothy Varon, assistant vice president of and counsel to the
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company in Springfield, has
devoted countless hours of her time to the Western Division of the
Housing Court in Springfield and has helped establish an innovative
corporate counsel pro bono program.
Varon, while in private practice, helped form a pro bono program
through the Women's Bar Association about five years ago that
provides legal services to indigent tenants and landlords with
cases in the housing court. Her ultimate goal is simply "to help
people remain in their homes," Varon said.
When she began working for MassMutual about three years ago, it
was Varon's hope that she could continue working in the program.
With the approval of MassMutual's General Counsel Mark D. Roellig,
Varon organized a group of the company's attorneys and paralegals
to participate in the pro bono program.
"Dorothy's work in developing the pro bono program at MassMutual
has been tremendously helpful to our court. Dorothy has recruited
an impressive number of MassMutual attorneys to participate in our
Lawyer for a Day Program," said the Hon. Dina E. Fein, first
justice of Western Housing Court in Springfield.
"It's particularly exciting to see the value of pro bono work
recognized in the corporate context, as it opens up an untapped
reservoir of attorneys, and I know from my discussions with the
MassMutual volunteers that they find the work deeply rewarding,"
Fein said. "Now that Dorothy has blazed the trail, my hope is that
other corporate counsel will adopt this best practice and
incorporate pro bono work into their offices. We are enormously
grateful for Dorothy's contribution to the legal profession."
The pro bono program is first-come, first-served, and applicants
are initially screened in order to determine whether they are
income eligible. While some pro bono work lasts for only a day,
other cases may last for a longer period of time.
Although there is a limit on the amount of company time
attorneys and paralegals can spend doing their pro bono work, many
- including Varon - dedicate personal time to working on their pro
"I do a lot of work on my own," Varon said. "I also try to get
other people interested, with as many attorneys and paralegals from
the department participating as possible."
In addition to her pro bono work and position at MassMutual,
Varon currently serves on the Standing Committee of the Supreme
Judicial Court for Pro Bono Activities. She also currently serves
as a commissioner on the Judicial Nominating Commission.
Before joining MassMutual, Varon was in private practice in
Springfield, worked as an assistant attorney general, and as a
judicial law clerk for the Hon. Elizabeth A. Porada (ret.) of the
Massachusetts Appeals Court.