MBA tapped by ABA to receive prestigious Harrison Tweed Award

Issue July/August 2007 By Tricia M. Oliver

The Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association have been selected as joint recipients of the 2007 Harrison Tweed Award. Both associations are being recognized for their long-standing commitment to the funding and provision of quality legal services to the poor in Massachusetts in both criminal and civil matters.

Both associations have worked tirelessly to expand the Massachusetts Equal Justice Coalition and its efforts to secure adequate funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corp. to support civil legal aid. In addition, the MBA and BBA share a long history of encouraging efforts by the Committee for Public Counsel Services to establish and maintain effective quality controls related to the provision of indigent defense services. In addition, the bars have been strong advocates of adequate compensation for both public defenders and assigned counsel.

MLAC nominated the bars because their commitment has positively affected the lives of individuals and families who would have no other recourse for basic human needs such as health and housing.

"We are deeply grateful that the fundamental American value of justice is kept alive in Massachusetts through the dedication of both the Massachusetts and Boston Bar associations," said MLAC executive director Lonnie Powers. "They truly deserve this prestigious honor."

The award is given annually by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. It will be presented during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Friday, Aug. 10, at a joint luncheon of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, National Association of Bar Executives and National Conference of Bar Foundations.

"We are deeply honored to share in the award with our friends and colleagues at the BBA," said MBA President Mark D Mason, who will accept the award on behalf of the MBA. "The award demonstrates the power and synergy in coalitions such as the Equal Justice Coalition. Without the dedication and commitment of the BBA and the nearly 200 members of the EJC, our voice would be singular. Together, we have made a difference and we will continue to strive to ensure equal access to justice for all."

The Harrison Tweed Award was created in 1956 to recognize the extraordinary achievements of state and local bar associations that develop or significantly expand projects or programs to increase access to civil legal services for poor persons or criminal defense services for the indigent.