Volunteer Spotlight: McDermott sees value in Lawyer Referral Service

Issue June 2010 By Chelsea Hildreth

Business attorney Peter D. McDermott is devoting his time to the Massachusetts Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service Committee because he sees it as an important volunteer opportunity for helping the public find reliable legal help.

McDermott, who has more than 30 years of experience, including 20 years at Banner & Witcoff LTD in Boston, currently serves as the chair of the LRS Committee, one of the ways he volunteers his time. Last year, he committed to 12 pro bono cases. From 2007 to 2008, he co-chaired the MBA Business Law Section. And every year, he helps organize the Business Law Annual In-House Counsel Conference.

Supporting the LRS is an important effort, he says, because it takes some of the uncertainty out of finding a qualified and appropriate lawyer.

"If you need legal services, your first thought might be to walk into a lawyer's office and see if they can help you. Attorneys who are members of the LRS indicate where they focus their practice," he said. "By having a well-trained staff, we ensure that the client is impartially directed, quickly and efficiently, to a lawyer who can best assist them."

Elizabeth O'Neil, director of the MBA's Public and Community Services Department, praises his work on the committee and commitment to the program.

"With attorney McDermott's involvement as chair for the last two years, LRS has made strides in moving into the 21st century with marketing, the Internet and social networking," she said.

"He has a great understanding of business, which has helped us move forward in that direction."

LRS is a good opportunity for attorneys in more ways than one, O'Neil says.

"The program wears two hats. It provides referrals to attorneys on the LRS panel and gives them the chance to expand their client base. It is also a great public service for those in the state of Massachusetts who need legal help," she said.

McDermott has applied his business skills and given his time to the LRS because he believes in the reliability of the program: "It is a not-for-profit service that can do what others cannot. We ensure the highest standards of ethics and assign clients to the correct type of lawyers."

As chair of the LRS Committee, McDermott says he has the opportunity to work with "outstanding" lawyers while giving back to the community in a fun and interesting setting.

"LRS committee members are accomplished attorneys who have been delightful and enlightening," he said. "It is easier for me to commit to a program of true professionals who work hard to make the service accessible to as many people as possible."