News from the Courts

Issue November 2012

Massachusetts Court System FY 2011 Annual Report release
To view the submitted Annual Report on the State of the Massachusetts Court System for Fiscal Year 2011, visit

Access to Justice Commission launches new Pro Bono Fellows Program
The Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission will launch a first of-its-kind Pro Bono Fellows Program in which senior lawyers will partner with non-profit and legal service organizations to provide critical legal assistance to underserved populations. Seven distinguished, experienced lawyers - who have retired or are transitioning into retirement - have been selected by the commission to participate in the statewide pilot project to help expand legal services to persons of limited means.

The first Access to Justice Fellows and their partners are as follows:

  • Hon. Patrick Fox, district court judge (1990-2010): Massachusetts Justice Project, Dismas House, Lutheran Social Services of New England
  • Martha Koster, Mintz Levin litigation partner: Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR), Access to Justice Fellows Project
  • William Patton, Ropes & Gray retired litigation partner: Volunteer Lawyers Project/Senior Partners for Justice
  • Robert Sable, Greater Boston Legal Services, former executive director: Greater Boston Legal Services
  • Richard Soden, Goodwin Procter business law partner: Lawyers Clearinghouse
  • Eileen Sorrentino, retired solo practitioner from Chicopee: Volunteer Lawyers Project/Senior Partners for Justice
  • Robert Tuchmann, WilmerHale Regulatory and Government Affairs and Corporate and Transactional departments retired partner: The Trustees of Reservations, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Community Dispute Settlement Center, development of urban agriculture

The Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission Fellows Working Group will meet with each fellow to design a project together with the provider or non-profit. The non-profit will provide training and support while law firms will provide resources, such as administrative support and office space. Each fellow is expected to devote between 10 to 20 hours per week to individual pro bono projects. In addition, the fellows will also meet once a month with community leaders, legal services providers, and public interest organizations, among others, to gain an in-depth understanding of the specific needs of the communities they will be serving. Susan Finegan and Martha Koster, partners at the law firm of Mintz Levin, led the Access to Justice Working Group in designing the program.

Amendment to SJC Rule 3:03
The Supreme Judicial Court has approved changes to Rule 3:03 of the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court effective Monday, Oct. 15, 2012.