From top to bottom: Pro Bono Law Firm Award -- Brown Rudnick LLP; Legal Services Award -- Ruth A. Bourquin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute; Legal Services Award -- James Breslauer, Neighborhood Legal Services; Pro Bono Publico Award -- Timothy G. Lynch, Swartz & Lynch LLP; Defender Award -- Gloria Tan, confirmed as an associate justice of the Juvenile Court, to be sworn in May 3; Prosecutor Award -- Adam J. Foss, Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.
The Massachusetts Bar Association's Access to Justice Awards
will honor five attorneys and one law firm for their exemplary
delivery of legal services at its SOLD OUT May 9 Annual Dinner at
the Westin Boston Waterfront.
The event will also feature keynote speaker Gov. Deval L. Patrick and the presentation of
the Legislator of the Year Award to State Rep.
Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill), chairman of the House Committee on
Ways and Means. Click here to view the MBA's 2013 Annual Dinner
Pro Bono Award for Law Firms
Brown Rudnick LLP
Brown Rudnick LLP has a deep commitment to pro bono work. After
forming the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation Corp. in 2000, the
firm decided to combine all of its charitable efforts under one
umbrella. As such, the firm created the Brown Rudnick Center for
the Public Interest which combines the firm's pro bono, charitable
grants and volunteer efforts. Since the center's creation in 2001,
the firm has provided over 89,500 hours of pro bono legal
representation -- valued at over $36 million.
Much of Brown Rudnick 's pro bono work has been in Massachusetts.
The firm has partnered with the Volunteer Lawyers Project to
provide pro bono legal representation to low-income clients. The
Center for Public Interest provides $25,000 a year to the MBA
Statewide Mock Trial program. In addition, Brown Rudnick has
recently worked with the Lawyers Clearinghouse on Affordable
Housing and Homelessness to create and implement a Legal Assessment
Program for non-profit organizations. The firm also participates
bi-annually in the Clearinghouse's Legal Clinic for the Homeless
and has donated 855 hours over the last two years.
"The fact that the state's largest bar association would take
the time to applaud, focus on and support this type of pro bono
legal work is the real award," Brown Rudnick Center for the Public
Interest Executive Director Al Wallis said.
Legal Services Award
Ruth A. Bourquin, Massachusetts Law Reform
If it takes a village to raise a child, it often takes an army to
protect one -- especially one as vulnerable as a homeless child.
Ruth Bourquin, a staff attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform
Institute, has been a general of this army -- a diverse network
dedicated to ensuring homeless children are not exposed to harmful
and unsafe conditions.
Bourquin specializes in public benefits, including family
shelter. She has engaged in legislative and administrative
advocacy, as well as class action litigation, expanding access to
both income support for needy families and emergency assistance for
Bourquin recently served as the lead advocate statewide, working
with pro bono counsel and medical providers, as well as the legal
and social services communities, to preserve safety net programs
that protect homeless parents and their children. When
Massachusetts decided to reorganize its emergency shelter system,
proposing significant regulatory restrictions to access shelter for
homeless families with children, Bourquin assembled a diverse
coalition to identify deficiencies in the state's proposed policies
and to suggest remedies to protect homeless families.
"I was extremely honored to be told about this award, particularly
because it is based on my work on behalf of homeless families with
children who are now facing great difficulty accessing emergency
shelter in the commonwealth," Bourquin said.
Legal Services Award
James Breslauer, Neighborhood Legal Services
Neighborhood Legal Services Advocacy Coordinator Jim Breslauer has
dedicated his entire career to helping the underrepresented. Before
joining NLS in 1996, Breslauer worked as a legal aid in
Pennsylvania and at Merrimack Valley Legal Services in
"In college in the 60s I got very bothered by the inequities I was
seeing as far as how poor people were being treated and black
people were being treated . . . I couldn't stand the injustice so I
decided to go to law school and do something about it," Breslauer
It was at Dickinson School of Law in Pennsylvania, where Breslauer
truly began his career in legal aid.
"I almost got kicked out of law school because I was working 40
hours a week in the legal aid clinic," Breslauer said.
Over the years Breslauer has worked in many different areas of
legal aid including public benefits law, unemployment, anti-hunger
issues, housing, health law, trial work and appellate advocacy. In
addition, Breslauer spends at least one morning a week at the
Northeast Housing Court in Lawrence, where he helps
less-experienced attorneys and law students represent low-income
tenants in mediation. Breslauer has also served as a hearing
officer for the Board of Bar Overseers for many years and a judge
for the MBA Statewide Mock Trial Program.
Pro Bono Publico Award
Timothy G. Lynch, Swartz & Lynch LLP
One of Timothy G. Lynch's most illustrative anecdotes about what
impermanence does to shape a child is the one about "The
Lynch says a teen in foster care, who has a morning spat with a
foster parent, comes home in the afternoon -- after school -- to
find a social worker sitting on his or her bed with a box to
collect personal belongings in order to leave the home.
"It's just common sense that children brought up without any
permanency are not going to do very well," Lynch said. "Their odds
are greatly diminished, but if you have a volunteer to give a kid
direction, that kid will succeed."
Lynch says foster children can sometimes be made keenly aware --
by their foster parents -- that the foster parents are being paid
to take them in and that message is mostly less than kind.
Lynch's main charity focus has been his work with Boston CASA
Inc., a non-profit child advocacy association concentrating on the
best interests of children, who are the subject of abuse and
neglect cases. Lynch has volunteered for CASA since 1991, first as
a court-appointed legal advocate, then as a board member and
currently as the organization's president.
Gloria Tan, confirmed as an associate justice of the
Juvenile Court, to be sworn in May 3
Gloria Tan remembers being told, as a newly-minted public defender
at the Trial Unit of Committee for Public Counsel Services, that in
the role of public defender you are "the one person in the
courtroom standing in the way of a high-speed train going toward
your client, and you are the only one who can stand on the
Most people wouldn't care for that job description, but Tan, who
worked at Harvard's Criminal Justice Institute as a clinical
instructor and supervisor for law students representing indigent
adults and youth in criminal and delinquency proceedings, says she
feels lucky to have served in that role.
"A client is more than just a docket number on case. It's your
job to tell the court who your client is and what crime they're
charged with," Tan said.
Tan has served on the Board of Directors of the Asian American
Lawyers Association of Massachusetts and has chaired the MBA
Criminal Justice Section Council. Tan has also served as a member
of the MBA's House of Delegates, the MBA Executive Management Board
and as a member of the Gov. Deval L. Patrick's Juvenile Justice
Advisory Board. Tan has volunteered at a citizenship tutor at the
Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center.
Adam J. Foss, Suffolk County District Attorney's
Assistant District Attorney Adam J. Foss started law school to
become an entertainment lawyer. However, after a clerkship in
Roxbury District Court and participating in the Suffolk Defenders'
Clinic at Suffolk Law School, Foss realized he wanted work in the
criminal justice system.
"I thought I wanted to be a defense attorney," said Foss, who
ended up starting his career as a prosecutor in Suffolk County
after graduating from law school in 2008. Foss explained that ADAs
are capable of giving someone a second chance, something unique to
the prosecutor's role. Foss currently works in the Juvenile
Division of the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.
Foss has committed himself to giving back to the community through
efforts such as the Roxbury CHOICE Program, an initiative to turn
probation from a punitive sentence into a beneficial relationship
with the court. In addition to the CHOICE Program, Foss is founder
of a reading program in which members of the Suffolk County
District Attorney's Office, as well as other government agencies,
volunteer to read in early elementary classrooms in Roxbury.
Foss finds his work extremely rewarding and has no plans of
slowing down. He is currently working to create a diversion program
for the Suffolk County Juvenile Court.
For complete Access to
Justice Award recipient profiles, look in the May Lawyers