The Massachusetts Bar Association presented Outstanding Young Lawyer Awards to Anne M. Stevenson for 2020 and Avana A. Anderson for 2021 at the May 19 MBA House of Delegates meeting. The annual award recognizes a young lawyer who has demonstrated outstanding character, leadership and legal achievement, and has contributed service to the community.
Anne M. Stevenson
2020 Outstanding Young Lawyer Honoree
A practicing attorney and bar advocate since 2017, Stevenson (pictured right) has dedicated herself to protecting the rights of youth in Children Requiring Assistance (CRA) cases and adults with mental illnesses in civil commitment hearings. Notably, in serving as trial and appellate counsel on a matter that reached the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), Stevenson helped address an urgent need for CRA case law to ensure due process for children before they are placed in state custody. In another case, Stevenson supported an appeal to the SJC by raising the important issue of indefinite hospitalization for clients who require psychiatric treatment, inspiring fellow mental health attorneys to follow suit in their own practices.
In conjunction with her work for the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), Stevenson led an MBA program on the defense of CRA cases that prompted CPCS to update its practice standards for bar advocates. She has also shared her institutional knowledge with new attorneys completing certification training for the CPCS Mental Health Litigation Division, and with MBA members seeking to join CPCS panels.
Avana A. Anderson
2021 Outstanding Young Lawyer Honoree
Anderson (pictured left) is an associate at Peabody Arnold LLP, focusing on professional liability and insurance coverage litigation, and a committed advocate for survivors of domestic violence. Since her admission to the bar in 2016, Anderson has provided pro bono representation to domestic violence victims in restraining order and family law matters as part of the Women’s Bar Foundation’s Family Law Project. Similarly, as an “Innbassador” for Pine Street Inn, Anderson works to increase community awareness regarding the strong correlation between domestic violence and homelessness, while also assisting the organization in its fundraising efforts.
Noted for her leadership within the profession, Anderson is an at-large director for the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, a member of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) Associate Board, and a 2018 graduate of the ADL’s Glass Leadership Institute. In addition, Anderson has actively pursued opportunities to mentor younger attorneys and help them succeed in their early years of practice, including through guidance on working with difficult partners and finding employment after being laid off.
Stevenson and Anderson received their awards from Young Lawyers Division Chair Jason E. Armiger and Chair-elect Michelle M. Byers at the House of Delegates meeting.