MBA honors best at annual dinner

Issue June 2013 By Kristin Cantu

As scores of Massachusetts Bar Association members filled the Westin Boston Waterfront ballroom for a night of festivities and to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers, attendants also recognized this event as a time to encourage the future good work of others. The dinner, taking place just three weeks following the Boston Marathon bombings, began with a moment of silence.

"Let us reflect and remember ... the four who lost their lives in the senseless, tragic events involving the Boston Marathon" said MBA President Robert L. Holloway Jr. at the start of the annual dinner.

While the evening was dedicated to honoring the best in the local legal community, there was no denying the lingering presence of recent terrorist attacks on the city of Boston. The evening's distinguished keynote speaker, Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick, was proof of that.

"The horrific events of Marathon Monday brought such tragedy and devastation ... the senselessness of it all, even now, is hard to absorb," Patrick said. "And yet in some ways Marathon Monday and the days following brought out the best in our community ... (including) the everyday people who, in their own private ways, showed repeated acts of kindness, compassion and courage."

That theme of kindness, compassion and courage rings true in the work of all those honored during the annual dinner. Each person acknowledged has done something their community can be proud of.

Patrick, building on that theme said:

"The common good. The commonwealth. Community. Out of the dust of tragedy, the spirit of community emerged. It might just have been our finest hour because we showed the world - and each other - that nothing can defeat that spirit."

MBA Legislator of the Year, Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, was proof of that spirit of community as he leaned over the stage's podium, speaking passionately about his hometown of Haverhill to the applause of everyone in the crowd that evening. Dempsey, who has "proven to be a leader," said MBA Treasurer Marsha V. Kazarosian, has "made an exceptional contribution to the administration of justice in the commonwealth."

"I'm certainly no stranger to the voice of the Mass. Bar and the effective voice of the legal community in the State House," Dempsey said. "Over the last few legislative sessions, we have worked to enact legislation that would continue to make the Massachusetts judicial system among the best in the nation."

The MBA took time to honor some of the best legal representatives in the nation with its 2013 Access to Justice Award recipients, which included five attorneys and one law firm "for their exemplary delivery of legal services," according to the MBA.

Pro bono awards were given to the law firm Brown Rudnick LLP and to Timothy G. Lynch of Swartz & Lynch LLP. Since 2001, Brown Rudnick has contributed nearly 90,000 hours of pro bono legal representation, much in Massachusetts, valued at $36 million. Lynch, a long-time child advocate, has volunteered for the nonprofit Boston CASA Inc., which concentrates on the best interests of children in abuse and neglect cases, since 1991.

Legal services awards were also handed out to Ruth A. Bourquin, of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, and James Breslauer, of Neighborhood Legal Services. Bourquin has worked tirelessly over the years to expand access to emergency shelter and income support for needy and homeless families. Breslauer, whose career has been dedicated to helping underrepresented persons, focuses on issues such as anti-hunger, unemployment, housing and health law.

The Hon. Gloria Tan, associate justice of the Juvenile Court, accepted the Defender Award for her diligent work in the legal system. Tan sees clients as "more than just a docket number on a case," she said. "It's your job to tell the court who your client is and what crime they're charged with."

Adam J. Foss, of the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, accepted the Prosector Award in part for his efforts to give back to the community. Foss, who originally thought he wanted to work as an defense attorney, quickly changed his mind after discovering that "ADAs are capable of giving someone a second chance," he said.

The MBA thanks its 2013 Annual Dinner sponsors for helping to make the association's hallmark event a success (see page 19 for a list of sponsors).