MBF honors Judge William G. Young at annual meeting

Issue March 2012

The Massachusetts Bar Foundation honored U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young with its Great Friend of Justice Award at its annual meeting, which was held Jan. 25 at the Social Law Library in the John Adams Courthouse.

The award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary passion for justice, consistent with the MBF's values and mission.

Newly elected MBF President Jerry Cohen noted, "Judge Young's unwavering commitment to the rule of law in our society, to the absolute importance of trial by jury, and to the preservation of individual rights in our justice system exemplifies the values the MBF Great Friend of Justice Award recognizes."

In his keynote address, Young inspired the more than 125 MBF Fellows, grantees and friends in attendance to do all that they can to ensure that justice remains a priority, not just for the judiciary and those in the legal community, but for the nation's general public.

Citing a troubling decrease in trial by jury, particularly in the federal courts on civil cases, Young challenged those assembled to seek out ways to keep this vital aspect of democracy alive. He said, "[T]here has to be a place where these words that we lawyers and judges use - 'Equal justice under the law, fair and impartial' - where these words have actual meaning, and we have to be it."

In addition to honoring Young, the MBF inducted 14 new Life members into the MBF Society of Fellows, all of whom successfully completed generous pledges to advance the MBF's mission of increasing access to justice.

Before closing the meeting, Cohen stated the MBF's determination to preserve the structure and scope of legal services and urged outreach by the MBF Fellows to identify new sources of funding and volunteer efforts to mitigate the effects of the drastic cuts in Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) and other funding sources for the foundation and its grantees.

Cohen told the lawyers and judges present, "In addition to teaching today's truth of the legal system, as urged by Judge Young, we can also preach a vision built on our aspirations for better days of legal services and work at it so the aspirations of today become the truth of tomorrow."

Founded in 1964, the MBF is the philanthropic partner of the Massachusetts Bar Association. Through its grant making and charitable activities, the MBF works to increase access to justice for all Massachusetts citizens. In 2011, the MBF IOLTA Grants Program awarded grants totaling approximately $3.4 million to legal service related programs statewide.

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