MBA Annual Dinner celebrates ‘true heroes of the bar,’ societal impact of lawyers

Thursday, April 26, 2018
Article Picture
Photo Credit: Jeff Thiebauth
Top: 2018 MBA Annual Dinner keynote speaker David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN.

Second from top (from left): MBA Secretary Hon. Thomas J. Barbar, MBA Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy, MBA President Christopher P. Sullivan, CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, MBA Vice President Denise I. Murphy, MBA President-elect Christopher A. Kenney and MBA Treasurer John J. Morrissey.

Third from top (from left): Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship Honoree Mario N. Paredes and MBA Secretary Hon. Thomas J. Barbar.

Third from bottom (from left): MBA 2018 President’s Award Honoree Francis C. Morrissey and MBA President-elect Christopher A. Kenney.

Second from bottom (from left): MBA Legislator of the Year Sen. Will Brownsberger (D-Second Suffolk and Middlesex), MBA Legislator of the Year Rep. Claire D. Cronin (D-11th Plymouth) and MBA Treasurer John J. Morrissey.

Bottom (from left): 2018 Access to Justice Pro Bono Publico Awardee James T. Van Buren; 2018 Access to Justice Legal Services Awardee Annette R. Duke; 2018 Access to Justice Rising Star Awardee Kathryn Condon Grace; MBA President-elect Christopher A. Kenney; MBA Vice President Denise I. Murphy; 2018 Access to Justice Lifetime Achievement Awardee Dick Bauer; Eugene Nigro of 2018 Access to Justice Pro Bono Law Firm Awardee Nigro, Pettepit & Lucas, LLP; MBA President Christopher P. Sullivan; 2018 Access to Justice Defender Awardee Maryellen Cuthbert; and 2018 Access to Justice Prosecutor Awardee Sara A. Colb.

The legal profession’s continued leadership in times of political uncertainty became the running theme at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Annual Dinner on April 24, when more than 1,000 members of the law community gathered to support the MBA and its many award winners.
MBA President Christopher P. Sullivan began the evening by outlining member efforts to confront some of today’s most pressing issues, among them the opioid epidemic, the immigration and student debt crises, and the need for greater diversity in the courts. Sullivan also praised MBA representatives for helping to usher in criminal justice reform and the statewide expansion of the housing court, and encouraged others to follow their civic example.
“In short, the MBA is doing more and accomplishing more than ever before,” Sullivan said, mentioning specifically the MBA’s Leadership Academy, Judicial Youth Corps, Tiered Community Mentoring and High School Mock Trial programs.

Sullivan concluded with an appeal to his fellow lawyers, urging them to “stand together advocating our core beliefs: the rule of law, equal justice for all, due process of law, and of course, the separation of powers.”
Keynote speaker David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN, discussed the current state of American politics with an eye toward the 2020 presidential election, assessing Donald Trump’s chances of remaining in office. With Trump as president, the country has not regressed to an authoritarian state, Gergen stressed, but he said leaders of such regimes commonly employ similar intimidation tactics against their opponents in the media and in government. Gergen, previously a White House adviser for four different administrations, spoke more favorably of Canadian President Justin Trudeau, who maintains a gender-balanced cabinet and has openly welcomed refugees.

“Time after time after time, the legal profession has been at the forefront when we had major challenges to our democracy,” said Gergen, noting that four of the Founding Fathers, as well as President Abraham Lincoln, were lawyers. 

MBA President-elect Christopher A. Kenney, Vice President Denise I. Murphy, Secretary Hon. Thomas J. Barbar and Treasurer John J. Morrissey took turns at the podium to introduce this year’s honorees, applauding the following “true heroes of the bar:”

• Legislators of the Year: Sen. Will Brownsberger (D-Second Suffolk and Middlesex) and Rep. Claire D. Cronin (D-11th Plymouth)
• President’s Award: Francis C. Morrissey, Morrissey, Wilson & Zafiropoulos
• Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship: Mario N. Paredes, Boston University School of Law
• Rising Star: Kathryn Condon Grace, MetroWest Legal Services
• Legal Services Award: Annette R. Duke, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute Inc
• Pro Bono Law Firm: Nigro, Pettepit & Lucas, LLP
• Pro Bono Publico Award: James T. Van Buren
• Defender Award: Maryellen Cuthbert, Law Office of Maryellen Cuthbert
• Prosecutor Award: Sara A. Colb, Attorney General's Civil Rights Division
• Lifetime Achievement Award: Dick Bauer, Greater Boston Legal Services

Thank you to the 2018 Annual Dinner event sponsors for their help in making the event a success.

Click here to view dinner images, by Jeff Thiebauth.
Click here to view reception images, by Eric Haynes.