Inspiring honorees and Supreme Court insights mark 2017 Annual Dinner

Thursday, May. 11, 2017
Article Picture
Top: 2017 Annual Dinner Keynote Speaker: CNN senior analyst and best-selling author Jeffrey Toobin. Second from top: 2017 MBA Leadership (from left): MBA Treasurer Christopher A. Kenney; President-elect Christopher P. Sullivan; MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy; Jeffrey Toobin; MBA Secretary Denise I. Murphy; MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano; and MBA Vice President John J. Morrissey. Middle (from left): MBA's 2017 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship Honoree Shayla Mombeleur; MBA 2017 President's Award Honoree David W. White Jr.; 2017 MBA Gold Medal Awardee Robert J. Muldoon Jr.; and 2017 Legislator of the Year Award Honoree Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen E. Spilka (D-Second Middlesex and Norfolk). Bottom: 2017 Access to Justice Award Honorees.

By Malea Ritz

More than 1,000 members of the legal community gathered at the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2017 Annual Dinner on May 4, to celebrate a slate of honorees and hear the fascinating insights into the U.S. Supreme Court from CNN senior analyst and best-selling author Jeffrey Toobin, who gave the keynote speech.

At the beginning of the evening, MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano addressed the sold-out crowd at the Westin Boston Waterfront by acknowledging the numerous civic engagement efforts that members of the MBA have assisted with over the past year, including its Leadership Academy; programs like the Judicial Youth Corps, Tiered Community Mentoring and Mock Trial; and the MBA's MassBar Beat podcast, launched during his year.

"There are many fingerprints all over the great work we do. So many of you have put the interest of others before yourself. And I deeply appreciate that," Catalano said. "One thing that I've learned is that Massachusetts lawyers, legislators and judges never stop proving what we're capable of."

During the awards portion of the evening, the first presentation went to Shayla Mombeleur, a third-year student at the University of Massachusetts School of Law in Dartmouth, who was chosen to receive the $10,000 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship. The President's Award came next, presented to MBA Past President David W. White Jr. of Breakstone, White & Gluck. Robert J. Muldoon Jr. of Sherin and Lodgen LLP received the MBA Gold Medal Award, and Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen E. Spilka received the Legislator of the Year Award.

Following dinner, Access to Justice Awards were presented to seven lawyers and one firm, including:

  • The Defender Award: Rebecca Jacobstein, the Committee for Public Counsel Services
  • The Prosecutor Award: Kevin J. Curtin, Middlesex District Attorney's Office
  • The Pro Bono Publico Award: Andrew Troop, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; and Christopher Mirick, Harvest Power Inc.
  • The Legal Services Award: Brian Flynn, Greater Boston Legal Services
  • The Pro Bono Award for Law Firms: K&L Gates, Boston
  • The Rising Star Awards: Weayonnah Nelson-Davies, Community Legal Aid; and Claire Valentin, the Children's Law Center of Massachusetts

During his ensuing keynote speech, Toobin's observations about the history and influence of the U.S. Supreme Court showed why he is considered one of the country's most esteemed experts on politics, media and the law.

"It is often believed, and sometimes hoped, that the Supreme Court represents a refuge from the political battles that we are so familiar with. Well, I'm here to tell you, for better or for worse, it's not true," he said.

Catalano wrapped up the night by thanking attendees, adding: "So to repeat what I said at the beginning of this year, join us in leadership. Because the MBA is the sum of the amazing people who support it."

MBA Director of Media and Communications Jason Scally contributed to this report.

Click here to review photos from the Annual Dinner Reception. Click here to review photos from the Annual Dinner.