Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Apr. 19, 2012
Image for Annual Dinner
From top to bottom: Pro Bono Law Firm Award -- Brody, Hardoon, Perkins & Kesten LLP, Boston; Legal Services Award -- Thomas Mela, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Boston; Legal Services Award --
Linda C. Hickman, Neighborhood Legal Services, Lynn; Defender Award -- Dulcinea (Duci) Goncalves, Quincy Youth Advocacy Department, Committee of Public Counsel Services; Prosecutor Award -- Michael A. Fabbri, Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

Access to Justice Awardees to be honored May 31

Attend MBA Annual Dinner to support honorees

The Massachusetts Bar Association's Access to Justice Awards will honor four attorneys and one law firm for their exemplary delivery of legal services at its May 31 Annual Dinner at the Westin Boston Waterfront.

The event will also feature keynote speaker Victoria Reggie Kennedy and the presentation of the Legislator of the Year Award to House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. Click here to register for the MBA's 2012 Annual Dinner.

Pro Bono Award for Law Firms

Brody, Hardoon, Perkins & Kesten LLP, Boston

One of only six law firms involved in a unique pro bono collaboration with the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, the  13-attorney firm of Brody, Hardoon, Perkins & Kesten LLP in Boston will be honored with the 2012 MBA Pro Bono Award for Law Firms for its representation of high-risk and complex domestic violence cases.

The pro bono working relationship between Brody, Hardoon and the DA's office is due -- in large part -- to firm partner Larry Hardoon, who previously served for more than 14 years in the Middlesex DA's office and began the Middlesex Child Abuse Unit there.

Hardoon describes the pro bono efforts of the firm to be a "win-win." "First and foremost, we are helping people in very vulnerable situation," Hardoon said.

Legal Services Award

Thomas Mela, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Boston

After more than 40 years in the profession, Massachusetts Advocates for Children Managing Attorney and Senior Project Director Thomas Mela is still passionate. His longstanding career in public services is highlighted by his work serving the underrepresented.

At Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Mela facilitates the interests and efforts of legal services and public interest attorneys from around the state who wish to promote the rights of low-income children.

This past year, Mela advocated for House Bill 178, legislation that would reform school discipline laws in the state. He expressed appreciation to those who have supported the bill.

Pro Bono Publico Award

Linda C. Hickman, Neighborhood Legal Services, Lynn

Linda Hickman grew up with a strong sense of fairness and decided to attend law school after realizing the potential a lawyer has to help people.

In 2005, Hickman contacted Neighborhood Legal Services and interviewed with Director John Ford. She began volunteering with the Elder Law Project, one of four units at the organization. Although Hickman originally signed on for a six-month commitment, she continued to volunteer at Neighborhood Legal Services.

Over the years, Hickman has worked in the Elder Law Unit on many complex cases and has been instrumental in providing legal services to those who might not otherwise have access.

Defender Award

Dulcinea (Duci) Goncalves, Quincy Youth Advocacy Department, Committee of Public Counsel Services

As soon as Dulcinea (Duci) Goncalves could practice, she went straight to where she needed to be: representing indigent juveniles in the criminal justice system. Now, turning 32 this month, she's the attorney in charge of the Quincy Youth Advocacy Department (YAD) of the Committee of Public Counsel Services (CPCS).

At the Quincy YAD, she supervises three attorneys and support staff and carries 15 to 20 cases at a time. She also helps newer attorneys with their cases, including offering advice and support during their first court appearances.

In one case, she helped one former client get probation instead of prison. "Sometimes it's hard to see where we've been successful, but had she gone to state prison for five years … Now she's got a job and is pursuing higher education."

Prosecutor Award

Michael L. Fabbri, Middlesex District Attorney's Office

The gratifying work is what has kept Michael L. Fabbri a prosecutor for the past 26 years. Despite the challenges and stress that come with a job responsible for proving a defendant's criminal guilt, Fabbri finds immense joy in his work.

Fabbri has spent 24 of his 26 years as a prosecutor with the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, where he is currently chief trial counsel. He has also held the positions of chief of homicide, chief of the Special Investigations Unit, deputy chief of the Appeals and Training Bureau and Framingham regional supervisor. He spent two years in the Attorney General's Office, working in the Special Investigations Unit and as deputy chief of the Medicaid Fraud Division.

Fabbri decided to join the legal profession while working as an Air Force electromechanical technician on Minuteman missiles in Missouri. He earned degrees from Framingham State College and Northeastern University School of Law.

For complete Access to Justice Award recipient profiles, look in the May Lawyers Journal.

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