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MBA volunteers, outstanding young lawyer honored at July 31 dinner

Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019 By Cameron Woodcock
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Photo Credit: Jeff Thiebauth
The MBA honored its 50-year members at the July 31 Volunteer Recognition Dinner.

Five Massachusetts Bar Association members, including an Outstanding Young Lawyer, were honored for their volunteer service at the MBA Volunteer Recognition Dinner at Lombardo's in Randolph on July 31.

Patrick Francomano, Hon. Bonnie H. MacLeod (ret.), Patricia Ann Metzer and Barry Ravech were each presented with an MBA Volunteer Recognition Award, which salutes members who volunteer substantial time and effort to the mission, programs and/or publications of the MBA or otherwise enhance the organization in a significant way.

Elizabeth E. Monnin-Browder received the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award, which is given to a young lawyer who has demonstrated outstanding character, leadership and legal achievement, and has contributed service to the community.

Nominations for the four volunteer awards were made to the MBA's Volunteer Recognition Committee who provided recommendations to MBA officers. The officers voted on the award recipients based on the committee's recommendations. The MBA would like to thank the members of our Volunteer Recognition Committee for their help on this important annual event: Grace V. B. Garcia, chair and MBA secretary; Hon. Thomas J. Barbar; Jennifer Clapp; Kevin Diamond; MBA Past President Bob Harnais; Ed Pikula; Jayne Tyrrell; MBA Senior Programs Manager Marc D’Antonio; and MBA Director of Community and Public Services Beth O'Neil.

Members of the MBA's Young Lawyers Division screened applicants for the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award before bringing a final recommendation to a full committee vote. The chosen candidate was then approved by the MBA's Executive Management Board. 

At the dinner the MBA also recognized its 50-year members who were in attendance. MBA President Christopher A. Kenney and MBA President-elect John Morrissey presented plaques to Janet Askeroff, Stanley Cohen, Hon. Thomas Connolly (Ret.), Robert Costello, Gerald D'Avolio, W. Robert Graves, Raymond Jowdy, Robert Ledoux, John Leonard, Thomas Sartory and Frank Shealey.

Read more about the MBA Volunteer Recognition Awardees and the Outstanding Young Lawyer honoree below. Click here for event photos.

Volunteer Recognition Awards:

Patrick Francomano

PatFLongtime Massachusetts Bar Association volunteer Patrick Francomano views community service as a fundamental calling of the legal profession and a powerful tool in shaping how lawyers are perceived by the public. He has embodied these core principles while serving in key positions throughout the MBA, including current roles on the Budget & Finance Committee, Membership Committee, Mock Trial Committee and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship Committee.

A former chair of the Law-Related Education Committee and the Lawyer Referral Service, Francomano has also completed previous terms on the House of Delegates, Terrorism Task Force, and various other boards and section councils. With such a diverse range of volunteer experience, Francomano says he has readily accepted leadership appointments in large part to help meet specific areas of need in the MBA and the broader legal community.

In keeping with his position that lawyers should aspire to serve the greater good, Francomano has devoted much of his professional career to advocating for effective public education in the commonwealth. Outside of the MBA, where he is an active contributor to the High School Mock Trial Program, Francomano served for 26 years on local school committees and spent time as a Board of Directors member and past president of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

According to Francomano, he believes strongly in the importance of a well-informed society because of his admiration for John Adams, who established Massachusetts as one of the first states to grant citizens a constitutional right to education. He also suggests that public education is built on many of the same basic tenets that represent the foundation of the legal system, and that “education and social justice are very difficult to disconnect.”

“If you have a well-educated society, that is going to be the foundation of a good republic and democracy,” Francomano said.

Hon. Bonnie H. MacLeod (ret.)

MacLeodHon. Bonnie H. MacLeod (ret.) has attended every annual meeting of the Massachusetts Bar Association since she joined the organization in 1972, a testament to the sense of service that has defined her legal career. In addition to serving for 27 years on the District and Superior courts, MacLeod has distinguished herself as a devoted MBA volunteer and an avid mentor to lawyers entering the profession.

A fixture at MBA community service programs and networking events, MacLeod has taken on leadership roles with the Dispute Resolution and Judicial Administration section councils, Executive Management Board, Membership Committee, and House of Delegates. As Education Committee chair since 2012, MacLeod notably led a successful effort to establish the MBA as an approved provider of the Supreme Judicial Court’s Practicing with Professionalism course.

Inspired by the welcoming nature of MBA leaders during her early days in the profession, MacLeod has consistently offered support and guidance to new attorneys making their first foray into bar service. “As the generations of lawyers change, we have to continue mentoring the ones behind us,” MacLeod said. “The way to do that is to show up, and to make people feel welcome and part of a community of lawyers.”

MacLeod’s commitment to volunteerism also stems from an appreciation for the sacrifice made by busy attorneys who come forward to serve in officer positions, as well as for the diligence of the MBA staff.

Believing that members of the legal community owe an additional obligation to society at large, MacLeod regularly participates in MBA charitable efforts, including those benefiting the Pine Street Inn and Cradles to Crayons. “Not only do we have a responsibility to make sure that people receive representation, but also that we represent them as human beings,” MacLeod said. “The MBA has always given us the opportunity to do both.”

Patricia Ann Metzer

MetzerPatricia Ann Metzer has spent the last two decades as a volunteer leader for the Massachusetts Bar Association, most notably serving for 18 consecutive years on the Taxation Law Section Council. Whether acting as chair, vice chair or amicus liaison, Metzer has embraced her senior standing within the section by sharing her extensive knowledge of tax law with fellow practitioners.

“To the extent that I can help somebody and share what I know, I’ll do it,” said Metzer, who currently serves as a commissioner of the Appellate Tax Board and previously worked for the U.S. Treasury Department. Metzer’s long-standing involvement with the Taxation Law Section has also helped to drive her own professional growth, providing valuable insight into the legal practices of other respected attorneys in the field.

With additional experience on the Amicus Brief, Budget & Finance, and Elder Law Advisory committees, as well as the House of Delegates, Metzer has seen firsthand that the work of the MBA begins at the grassroots level. The role of MBA committees in shaping public policy was readily apparent this past January, when newly signed legislation developed by the Taxation Law Section Council created an innocent-spouse provision for joint tax filers. 

“Serving on the Taxation Law Section has been a very rewarding experience. We’ve done some great things, and not just related to tax issues,” said Metzer, a former president of the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus who presently serves on the Moorestown Friends School Committee in New Jersey.

Now deep into her MBA and professional career, Metzer encourages junior attorneys to carry on the tradition of volunteerism as active participants on section councils and in the Young Lawyers Division.

Barry Ravech

RavechFor nearly three decades, Massachusetts Bar Association member Barry Ravech has played an unsung but pivotal role in producing the nation’s longest continually published law review. A veteran of several volunteer positions on the Massachusetts Law Review Editorial Board, Ravech has made arguably his greatest impact while serving as a case summary contributor over the last 10-plus years.

Following previous stints as case note editor, articles editor, and editor-in-chief, Ravech now handles the important task of summarizing monthly civil decisions to assist the board in identifying discussion-worthy topics for the Case Comment section. Since he began writing case summaries, Ravech has emerged as a highly respected voice on the Editorial Board, noted for his reliably detailed submissions and thoughtful commentary on proposed articles. 

Ravech describes himself as naturally drawn to the academic side of law and most comfortable working behind the scenes, making him an ideal fit on the Editorial Board. “Law Review has satisfied the part of me that is interested in various aspects of civil law, and it didn’t cost anything,” said Ravech, who has remained in his current position at the request of multiple editors-in-chief. 

As a longtime Law Review volunteer, Ravech is grateful to have worked alongside many other accomplished attorneys and proud of his larger role in maintaining what he calls “a great institution” and “the Cadillac of the MBA.” For all the hours he has given in service to the Editorial Board, often on nights and weekends, Ravech says the impact of the experience on his own career has been immeasurable. 

“For anyone who has the time and inclination to serve on the board, it’s a godsend,” Ravech said. “It makes you a better lawyer.”

Outstanding Young Lawyer Award:

Elizabeth E. Monnin-Browder

OYLFrom the moment she arrived in law school and throughout her career as a rising employment attorney, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein’s Elizabeth E. Monnin-Browder has taken a passionate and personal interest in advocating for transgender rights. Having witnessed the lived experiences of her transgender sibling and friends, Monnin-Browder has used her platform in the legal profession to work toward ensuring that people of all gender identities and expressions receive equal treatment under the law and in the workplace.

Coming from an activist background, Monnin-Browder remained committed to social justice while enrolled at Boston College Law School, most notably partnering with non-profits and law students at other Boston-area law schools to establish a free monthly legal clinic for transgender individuals. After graduation, she continued her close affiliation with the transgender community as a staff attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), where she worked on a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act and co-authored and co-edited the groundbreaking book, “Transgender Family Law: A Guide to Effective Advocacy.” 

Monnin-Browder has since moved into employment law with Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP, the firm she joined in 2017 after spending six years as a litigation associate at Ropes & Gray LLP. As part of her current role, Monnin-Browder frequently leads employer trainings designed to encourage inclusive practices in the workplace and promote compliance with anti-discrimination laws covering transgender individuals and members of other protected groups. 

During her workplace trainings and in all other forums, Monnin-Browder seeks to emphasize that being transgender accounts for only one aspect of a person’s identity, an important sentiment that bears repeating because it is so often overlooked. 

“Sometimes, when someone has an identity that seems different than ours, we think of them as being just that single thing and assume we have nothing in common,” said Monnin-Browder, who is also a member of the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association and previously served on the steering committee of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. “We don’t always give ourselves a chance to get to know everything else that they bring to the table. When we do, we realize how multifaceted all of us are and find connections.”