Court and Community News

Thursday, April 1, 2021
SJC appoints new co-chairs for Mass. Access to Justice Commission; U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts statement regarding SJC Lawyer Well-Being Standing Committee report; Women's Bar Association holds Annual Meeting; Symposium to honor Chief Justice Gants


SJC appoints new co-chairs for Mass. Access to Justice Commission 

The Supreme Judicial Court recently announced the appointment of three new co-chairs to lead the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission: Hon. Serge Georges Jr., associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC); Marijane Benner Browne, Esq.; and Laura W. Gal, Esq. They will take office on June 30, 2021, succeeding current co-chair Susan M. Finegan, Esq., and the late Hon. Ralph D. Gants, former chief Justice of the SJC, who served as co-chair of the commission until his death last September.  

Established by the SJC in 2005, the Access to Justice Commission seeks to improve access to legal assistance and other resources for people who are unable to afford an attorney for essential civil legal needs, such as cases involving housing, consumer debt, and family law.    

Georges was appointed to the SJC by Governor Charlie Baker in December 2020 after serving seven years as an associate justice of the Boston Municipal Court. Before his appointment to the bench, he had a diverse private practice focused on commercial litigation and criminal defense practice in state and federal courts. He also teaches at Suffolk University Law School and the University of Massachusetts School of Law. Georges is a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University Law School.

Browne is director of lateral partner recruiting at Ropes & Gray LLP. Browne has been a member of the commission since 2012, serving as co-chair of its Revenue Enhancement Committee. She has also served as a member and chair of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation; as a trustee of Bowdoin College; and as vice chair of the Boston Law Firm Group, a consortium of Boston-area legal employers dedicated to the recruitment, retention and advancement of attorneys of color. She is a graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard Law School.  

Gal is the managing attorney of the Family Law Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services and has previously held positions as supervisory attorney for family law at Northeast Legal Aid and as a staff attorney at Community Legal Aid. She served the commission as its part-time consultant from September 2017 through June 2019. Since her appointment as a commissioner in September 2019, she has also served as co-chair of the commission’s Family Law Committee, and as a member of the Executive Committee. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the George Washington University National Law Center.  

Georges and Browne will both be serving three-year terms, while Gal will be serving a special one-year term to assist with the commission’s leadership transition.


U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts statement regarding SJC Lawyer Well-Being Standing Committee report 

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts' judges and clerk of court have issued a statement regarding Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being’s report summarizing Affinity Bar Town Hall Meetings. Click here to read the announcement.


Women's Bar Association holds Annual Meeting

The Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts (WBA) held a Virtual Annual Meeting on March 16 and introduced its new leadership.

The WBA welcomes Heather Gamache as its incoming president. Gamache is a director in the litigation department at Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster and was previously a partner in the litigation department at Prince Lobel Tye. Gamache has been actively engaged in the WBA for over six years, sitting on the Board of Directors since 2017 and serving in other leadership roles, such as the Women’s Leadership Initiative, and as tri-chair of the Law Firm Advancement Committee, where she assisted with the Summit on Women’s Initiatives in May 2017 and participated in administering the groundbreaking survey on workplace conduct and behaviors in law firms in the spring of 2018.

At the annual meeting, the WBA also voted on a slate of officers and elected members of the Board of Directors.  The organization welcomes the following new and returning officers and directors for 2021-22.

WBA Officers

President: Heather Gamache, Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster
President-Elect: Kristy Lavigne, Office of Bar Counsel 
Vice President of Membership & Statewide Outreach: Kim Donlon, Major, Lindsey & Africa
Vice President, Operations: Jessica Babine, Cornetta Babine LLC
Treasurer: Alexandra Mitropoulos, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP
Secretary: Julie Dick, Community Legal Aid 

WBA Immediate Past President

Nicole Forbes, Globalization Partners

WBA Board of Directors

At-Large Directors
Jessica Caamano
, Goulston & Storrs PC
Margaret Caulfield, Alkermes, Inc.
Theresa Coney, Committee for Public Counsel Services
Kristen Grannis, Latham & Watkins LLP
Kate Isley, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Danielle Johnson, Greater Boston Legal Services
Gwen Nolan King, Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, PC
Emily Robey-Phillips, Jones Day
Nancy Rothstein, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Jamie Sabino, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Payal Salsburg, Laredo & Smith LLP
Amy Sennett, Open Text, Inc.
Sarah Sousa, Arrowood LLP
Jenna Ventorino, WilmerHale
Raquel Webster, National Grid

Regional Directors
Lesley A. Leonessa
, Dell EMC (Greater Boston)
Victoria Spetter, Law Firm of Victoria C. Spetter PC (Middlesex)
Brianna Sullivan, Tang & Maravelis PC (North of Boston)


Symposium to honor Chief Justice Gants

The Boston College Law Review invites you to attend a virtual Symposium Event on Friday, April 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., celebrating the jurisprudence and legacy of former Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. 

Gants was a historic leader of the SJC, serving as the court’s first Jewish chief justice and tirelessly acting as a stalwart, insistent and forward-thinking advocate for progressive change. The world was deprived of his further leadership when he unexpectedly passed away in September of 2020, but the causes he championed continue through commissions and projects he led, relationships he helped build and advocates he inspired. The Symposium Event (which will be followed by a special print edition of the Boston College Law Review in the fall of 2021) will feature panel presentations and tributes from those who knew and worked alongside Gants and who are actively continuing the work he challenged us all to pursue.

Registration is required. To learn more and register, visit the event listing