Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Mar. 13, 2008
Image for AJ Awards
Photograph by Jeff Thiebauth
Top to bottom: Family members of the late Nancy King, to whom the award ceremony was dedicated, gather for a photo; State Rep. Byron Rushing delivers the keynote address; and the winners of the six Access to Justice Awards pose for a photo with MBA President David W. White Jr. and Executive Director Marilyn Wellington.

MBA presents 2008 Access to Justice Awards to six honorees

Nancy King’s legal advocate legacy celebrated

Five attorneys and two law firms were honored March 6 at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s 2008 Access to Justice Awards Luncheon held at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, where State Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston) gave a keynote address about eradicating homelessness.

“The common ground for all of the Access to Justice Award recipients is their steadfast and selfless fight for clients who cannot afford representation,” MBA President David W. White Jr. said. “The collective efforts of the 2008 Access to Justice awardees have had an overwhelmingly positive and often life-altering impact on the lives of their many clients.”

The luncheon was dedicated to Nancy King, the former executive director of South Middlesex Legal Services in Framingham, who died in December after a 22-year battle with breast cancer. King’s sisters Mary, Patricia and Eileen, as well as her brothers Michael and Thomas, accepted the Access to Justice Lifetime Achievement Award on her behalf.

“Nancy will be remembered in the legal world as a leader, a compassionate advocate for the delivery of legal services to the poor, a wise mentor, and a highly effective fundraiser for legal services,” White said. “Selfless to the end, rather than fret about herself, she took care of clients, colleagues and relatives. For example, she would even help run her office by phone from the hospital when treatments demanded her presence.”

Mary King read a speech her sister gave more than 10 years earlier when she was honored with the David Nelson Award for Public Interest from Boston College Law School, her alma mater. “I believe in the idea of equal justice under the law, and that may be both naive and idealist, but I am proud of both characteristics,” Mary King said, reading her sister’s speech.

Following the award presentation, White announced that the board of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the MBA’s philanthropic partner, has created the Nancy King Memorial Fellowship. This fellowship will support a legal intern during the summer months at South Middlesex Legal Services. The fellowship was made possible by a contribution from MBA Past President Elaine M. Epstein and matching funds from the foundation’s Fellows program.

Rushing, co-chair of the state’s Commission to End Homelessness, spoke about the need to create true access to justice and public institutions and challenged the crowd to help end homelessness. “Justice is justice when it is for all,” he said.


  • Defender Award - Erica E. Cushna, an attorney in private practice in Springfield and a supervisor for Committee for Public Counsel Service in Hampden County  
  • Legal Services Award - Faye Rachlin, a lawyer with Legal Assistance Corp., Worcester 
  • Pro Bono Award for Law Firms - Heisler, Feldman, McCormick and Garrow PC, Springfield; Nutter, McClennen & Fish LLP, Boston 
  • Pro Bono Publico Award - Thomas A. Manning, attorney in private practice, Worcester 
  • Prosecutor Award - J. Thomas Kirkman, assistant district attorney in the District Attorney's Office, Barnstable 
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