Kennedy named MBA Legislator of the Year; Access to Justice Award recipients announced

Issue February 2007 By Kate O’Toole

Kennedyach year, the MBA recognizes a distinguished Massachusetts politician who has made an exceptional contribution to the improvement of the administration of justice. This year, the MBA will honor Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who has represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate for 43 years.

MBA President Mark D Mason will present the award to Kennedy on Friday, March 2 at the Annual Dinner – the highlight of the MBA’s Annual Conference.

“Presenting the Legislator of the Year award to Sen. Kennedy is, indeed, an honor for the MBA,” Mason said. “Sen. Kennedy’s compassion and his commitment to the citizens of Massachusetts is extraordinary. We are fortunate to have such a strong representative in the Senate.”

A lifelong resident of Massachusetts, Kennedy received his undergraduate degree at Harvard University and his J.D. from the University of Virginia. First elected to the Senate in 1962 to finish the final two years of his  brother’s term, Kennedy has since been re-elected seven times. He may be best known for his commitment to making health care accessible and affordable for all Americans.

He has also fought for education reform, civil and labor rights, immigration reform and tougher environmental laws. Kennedy is chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the Senate.

He also serves on the Judiciary Committee and the Armed Services Committee, where he has emerged as a vocal critic of the war in Iraq. He is also a member of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and the Congressional Friends of Ireland, and a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

MBA General Counsel Martin W. Healy is proud of the selection of Kennedy as Legislator of the Year. “As a senior member of the Senate, Sen. Kennedy has consistently fought for the working class and endorsed legislation to promote justice and equality for all Americans. Additionally, his work on the independence of the judiciary is unparalleled in Congress. I am thrilled that MBA leaders have chosen to recognize him in this way.”

At the Annual Dinner, Kennedy will be joined by National Public Radio Legal Correspondent Nina Totenberg, who will deliver the keynote speech. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Totenberg has received numerous journalism awards, several honorary degrees and has been recognized by the American Bar Association eight times for her excellence in reporting.

Manuel Medrano, a legal correspondent for ABC News, will also speak at a morning plenary session about diversity in the legal profession. Medrano was formerly a trial lawyer and an assistant U.S. attorney for the Los Angeles office before embarking on his career in broadcasting.

Access to Justice Award recipients announced The Access to Justice Luncheon, which will be at 12:30 p.m. on the day of the Annual Conference, is a chance to pay tribute to MBA members who make significant contributions to their clients’ lives and communities through their volunteer and pro bono work.

Boston law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP will receive the Pro Bono Award for Law Firms. Located in Boston for only five years and beginning with just 17 attorneys, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has expanded to 35 attorneys, with each attorney’s annual pro bono involvement averaging more than 50 hours per year.

The Legal Services Award will be given to two attorneys: Robert A. Sable, executive director of Greater Boston Legal Services for 15 years, and Richard McMahon, the executive director of the New Center for Legal Advocacy in Bristol County. Sable and McMahon have dedicated their entire careers to legal service work, together combining for more than 60 years of efforts.

S. Stephen Rosenfeld, aside from his most well-known position as Governor Dukakis’ chief of staff, has established a career in private practice, public service and teaching. The MBA will honor him with the Pro Bono Publico Award for his tireless advocacy for individuals’ rights to adequate health care.

The recipient of this year’s Defender Award is Wendy Wolf. A public defender in Cambridge, Boston and Dedham for more than 20 years, she has spent much of the last decade representing juveniles. For the past four years, Wolf has also formed and administered the Juvenile Defense Network, which provides support for lawyers in juvenile courts across the state.

Attorney Raymond P. Veary Jr. will receive the Prosecutor Award in recognition of his work at the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office. Described as a “prosecutor’s prosecutor,” Veary has successfully prosecuted a significant number of homicide cases in Bristol County. Recently, he headed the county’s homicide unit and served as a leader in the prosecution of gang activity.

In addition to award ceremonies and prestigious speakers, the Annual Conference will be packed with CLE programming applicable to all types of attorneys, from a small-firm family law practitioner in Lenox to a civil litigator at a large Boston firm. CLE seminars will cover the year’s recent developments in the various fields of law. The conference will also include “Hot Topics” sessions, which will deal with broader topics such as career development and client relations.