The Massachusetts Bar Association's Access to Justice Awards
will honor seven attorneys and one law firm, recognizing their
exemplary legal skills and service to the community, at its sold
out 2016 Annual Dinner at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel on
Thursday, April 28.
Lifetime Achievement Award (posthumous)
T. Richard McIntosh (1948-2015), South Coastal Counties Legal
Thomas Richard (Rick) McIntosh of Falmouth spent
his entire 42-year career working tirelessly to improve the lives
of thousands of low-income families in southeastern Massachusetts.
As a civil legal aid attorney at South Coastal Counties Legal
Services Inc., formerly known as Legal Services for Cape Cod and
the Islands, McIntosh was a trusted colleague and a mentor to many
attorneys and paralegals. His unparalleled commitment to ensuring
that low-income families had access to quality legal representation
made him a recognized leader in the Massachusetts legal aid
An expert in unemployment law, McIntosh litigated many cases
before the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court. He also
had a keen understanding of laws pertaining to government benefits,
particularly veterans' benefits, in addition to housing, elder and
"Dad was the sort of person who believed that hard work was its
own reward," said his son, Andrew McIntosh. "He would have been
humbled, delighted and probably surprised to receive this award,
even though he clearly deserves it."
Rising Star Award
Margaretta Homsey Kroeger, MetroWest Legal Services
In her own words, Margaretta Kroeger advocates for
"people in crisis who are trying to access basic life necessities."
As a government benefits attorney at MetroWest Legal Services,
Kroeger assists clients who have been denied or improperly
terminated from disability benefits, as well as those who have been
denied other government benefits, such as food stamps, cash
assistance, unemployment benefits, health insurance and emergency
In 2014, Kroeger volunteered to serve as co-counsel with the
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute in a lawsuit filed against the
Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. The suit
challenged a new automated procedure for those applying for or
receiving food stamps, which resulted in thousands of people being
improperly denied or terminated from receiving food stamp
"To help prevent somebody from becoming homeless or help them
access basic benefits is incredibly rewarding," said Kroeger, a
graduate of Boston College Law School and Harvard University. "It's
really hard to imagine doing any other kind of work when you see
the power that you have to transform people's lives on a day to day
Benjamin H. Keehn, Committee for Public Counsel Services
As a public defender at the Committee for Public
Counsel Services (CPCS), Benjamin H. Keehn has never had a boring
day since he began working there in 1987. He has dedicated his
career to defending indigent, marginalized, and underserved
clients, and has advanced the cause of access to justice as an
inspirational public servant for close to three decades.
Keehn, a Columbia University and Northeastern University School of
Law graduate, has worked on more than five dozen reported cases.
Among his most gratifying projects has been aiding clients who were
convicted of murder as juveniles and received mandatory life
sentences without the opportunity for parole. As a result of
Keehn's work in this area, juveniles convicted of life without
parole were granted parole eligibility and the right to a fair
hearing in the Supreme Judicial Court's two decisions in
Diatchenko v. District Attorney of the Suffolk District, I and
Described by his colleagues as an outstanding litigator with
contagious enthusiasm, Keehn has served as a thoughtful mentor to
many young lawyers at CPCS. Whether working with one of his clients
or a fellow coworker, he has always displayed a willingness to go
above and beyond.
Pro Bono Publico Award
Charles R. Casartello Jr., Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan &
Springfield native Charles Casartello Jr. is a
partner at Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley PC, where he
concentrates in personal injury, workers' compensation and Social
Known for his passion and dedication to pro bono efforts,
his proudest moment as a volunteer lawyer was representing victims
of the World Trade Center attacks in New York City. Recruited by
Massachusetts Bar Association Past President Leo V. Boyle,
Casartello worked on four pro bono cases, and represented
first responders and families who suffered the loss of a loved one
in the 9/11 tragedy.
Casartello, a graduate of Springfield College and Western New
England University School of Law, is chair of the Hampden County
Bar Association's (HCBA) Pro Bono Committee and Hampden County
Legal Clinic, which helps provide "Lawyers for the Day" in the
Housing Court, Probate and Family Court, and District Court.
A past recipient of the MBA's Community Service Award, Casartello
helped facilitate a "Day of Service" program in Hampden County in
which volunteer lawyers are made available to the public to answer
common legal questions. Casartello is a past recipient of the
HCBA's John M. Greaney Award for his outstanding citizenship to the
law community in Hampden County. In 2015, he was the recipient of
the Legal Aid Champion Award by Community Legal Aid.
Pro Bono Publico Award
Ingrid Martin, Collora LLP
In 2009 Martin volunteered to represent Joseph
Donovan on a pro bono basis before the Massachusetts
Parole Board. Donovan was 17 years old in 1993, when he was tried
as an adult and convicted of first degree felony murder. Many,
including Martin, felt that his sentence of life without parole was
out of proportion, given his age and culpability in a fight that
abruptly and unexpectedly turned fatal in the fall of 1992.
After a 2013 Supreme Judicial Court decision (Diatchenko v.
District Attorney) granted parole eligibility to juveniles
convicted of life without parole, Martin succeeded in obtaining a
parole hearing for Donovan, who became the first juvenile life
without parole inmate to appear before the Parole Board after the
landmark ruling. In 2014, Martin's staunch advocacy ultimately
convinced the board to release Donovan after he had spent more than
20 years in prison.
Martin, a graduate of Harvard Law School and Yale University, said
of her award: "I'm the lucky designee for a large group of people
who've been working hard on the issues around juvenile life
sentences without parole."
Legal Services Award
Valerie Fisk, Community Legal Services and Counseling
Valerie Fisk, a supervising immigration attorney at
Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC) in
Cambridge, has represented hundreds of clients in immigration
proceedings throughout the past 25 years.
During her career she has achieved a near 100-percent success rate
in obtaining legal status for her clients, none of whom have ever
been deported under her legal guidance. Fisk, a North Park College
and Western New England University School of Law graduate, is
deeply committed to providing high-quality legal services to
immigrants and refugees and acknowledges the importance of the
daily work she conducts on behalf of her clients.
"A client once told me I had the best job because the work that we
do allows people to start their lives over," said Fisk.
Known as an immigration and domestic violence expert in
Massachusetts, Fisk was one of the first attorneys in the state to
focus on providing representation in Violence Against Women Act
(VAWA) and U-visa cases. She has also been one of the pioneers in
successfully representing Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) cases.
Fisk has conducted numerous immigration law trainings throughout
the commonwealth, and frequently participates in trainings
facilitated by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy
An accomplished musician, athlete, coach, bee keeper and rosarian,
Fisk is a person of many talents who not only balances work with
her numerous activities, but also brings joy and creativity to her
colleagues and clients.
Ellen Berger, Hampden County District Attorney's
Ellen Berger has been a dedicated prosecutor in the
Hampden County District Attorney's Office for 25 years. A
Springfield College and Western New England University School of
Law graduate, she currently serves as the chief of the Grand Jury
Intake Unit, a division of the office that has contact with every
law enforcement agency in the county.
Described as an unsung hero, Berger plays an important, but often
behind-the-scenes role in all Superior Court prosecutions. She
screens cases for possible indictment, evaluates evidence, contacts
law enforcement agencies to obtain additional information, works
with assistant district attorneys to prepare and present cases
before the grand jury, and coordinates the administration of the
unsolved homicide cases in Hampden County. A key facet of her work
is presenting cases to the grand jury, which includes instructing
the grand jurors on the law by defining the elements of crimes and
In addition to being a valued and trusted colleague, she has also
been praised for her mentoring of younger attorneys as they advance
and transition from District to Superior Court. Berger strongly
believes that mentoring others is a way of paying it forward and
ensuring the fairness and integrity of the criminal justice
Pro Bono Law Firm
Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP, Boston
Founded by social justice pioneer and (later) U.S.
Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Nutter McClennen &
Fish LLP has enjoyed a strong commitment to pro bono representation
for 135 years. A founding member and challenge participant in the
Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Project, Nutter provides
extensive pro bono services on a broad range of issues,
and encourages all of its lawyers at every level to get involved
with various projects and important causes.
The firm has been highly involved with the KIND program (Kids In
Need of Defense), an initiative started by actress Angelina Jolie
in collaboration with Microsoft, which provides free legal
representation to immigrant teenage children facing deportation.
Many of these children arrive at the United States border trying to
connect with a family member when they are confronted by
immigration authorities. Nutter provides attorneys who represent
and counsel these teens on a pro bono basis as they apply
for special immigrant juvenile status. The program has recently
been expanded to have Nutter work in collaboration with the legal
department at EMC to service even more clients.