Luncheon to honor colleagues for public service dedication

Issue February 2005

Several attorneys and a law firm dedicated to public service will be honored Friday, March 4 during the annual Access to Justice Awards Luncheon, which is co-presented by the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Bar Foundation.

The Access to Justice Section Council each year selects individuals to recognize. The luncheon, which will take place as part of Annual Conference 2005 at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel in Boston, will honor the following individuals: Prosecutor: Assistant District Attorney Adrienne C. Lynch of Middlesex District Attorney's Office; Pro Bono Attorney: Denise Squillante of Fall River; Pro Bono Law Firm: Holland & Knight, Boston; Defender: Anthony C. Bonavita of Springfield; and Legal Services Attorney: Mary Monica Miner or Worcester.

In addition, Steven L. Wollman, past president of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, will receive that group's Great Friend of Justice Award. He is a partner in the Swampscott form of Davids & Wollman, where he concentrates his practice in domestic relations, cases involving the Department of Social Services and general civic and criminal litigation, including litigation involving mental health issues.

This year's Legal Services Award recipient, Mary Monica Miner, is a supervising attorney of the Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts, who has practiced in Massachusetts since 1992. She previously practiced in a civil legal services organization in Kentucky. The award is given annually to an attorney employed by a public or nonprofit agency to provide civil legal services to low-income clients, and who has made a particularly significant or meaningful contribution to the provision of low-income legal services, above and beyond the requirements or his or her position.

As a supervisor, Miner offers assistance and advice to less-experienced members of her staff and has developed a reputation as a knowledgeable and fair attorney. She has contributed enormous time, effort and experience in helping to establish programs and continues to contribute to the service of indigent communities in a most efficient and comprehensive manner.

This year's Pro Bono Award for Law Firms goes to Holland & Knight for its longstanding commitment to public service. Holland & Knight has a four-decade history of providing pro bono legal services, most recently through its Community Services Team, a group of four lawyers who devote their time to organizing the firm's pro bono work. The Pro Bono Award for Law Firms is given to a law firm, comprised of two or more attorneys with one or more offices in the commonwealth, whose pro bono activities are particularly noteworthy in relation to the firm's size and which has performed significant or meaningful pro bono activity or which has been particularly instrumental in developing, implementing and/or supporting a pro bono program or pro bono services within Massachusetts.

The Community Services Team of Holland & Knight is a core group, supplemented by partners, associates and recent law school graduates or "fellows," that litigates impact cases (such as the bar advocate case) and provides a broad range of legal advice to groups as diverse as the clients at the Women's Lunch Place and the Boston Medical Center's Family Advocacy Program.

This year's Pro Bono Publico Award recipient, Denise Squillante, has a legal career spanning over two decades that reflects the values that make attorneys proud to be in the legal profession. The award is given to an individual who has been instrumental in developing, implementing and supporting pro bono programs for the MBA or for a local county bar association; or a pro bono program of a law firm, or, has developed a pro bono program sponsored or organized through an agency in the commonwealth or has performed significant or meaningful pro bono activity.

Squillante's dedicated pro bono service embodies the heart and soul of what pro bono is about - empowering clients and supporting them as human beings. Through her service in numerous civic and professional organizations, Squillante has helped strengthen her community and strengthen the bar's commitment to equality and access to justice.

Anthony C. Bonavita, the recipient of this year's Defender Award, is for being an exemplary leader and committed volunteer during a particularly difficult period for defender bar advocates across the state. The award is given to an attorney who is employed or retained by a public or nonprofit agency to provide criminal legal services to low-income clients, and who has made a particularly significant or meaningful contribution to the provision of low-income legal services above and beyond the requirements of his or her position.

In both his capacity as president of the Hampden County Bar Advocates and as a defender himself, Bonavita has worked to insure that indigent defendants across the state receive the representation to which they are entitled. In the words of his colleagues, though his significant efforts, Bonavita has "held the Hampden County bar advocates together" and "kept the organization itself intact." Bonavita spent countless hours meeting with judges and court administrators, testifying in court as to the efforts his county was making to continue representation for indigent criminal defendants. He also worked tirelessly to keep morale high among Hampden County Bar Advocates, all the while successfully encouraging advocates to continue accepting cases on behalf of defendants. In addition to his statewide efforts, and perhaps most importantly, Bonavita makes a difference in the lives of indigent defendants in his own caseload.

This year's Prosecutor Award recipient, Adrienne C. Lynch, is an assistant district in the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office in Cambridge, where she has served for 22 years. The Prosecutor Award is given to a state or federal prosecutor who has distinguished himself or herself in public service and whose commitment to justice and serving the communities where he or she lives or works is particularly praiseworthy.

Lynch is a division chief for the Cambridge region, supervising a Superior Court trial team and prosecuting homicides and other serious felonies. She has been a guest speaker and panelist at Massachusetts District Attorneys Association conferences, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education programs, in-house training programs for prosecutors and police officers as well as faculty for the Trial Advocacy I and II courses as well as the Pre-trial Advocacy course at the National Advocacy Center.