MBA honors leaders in public service, legal aid, at Access to Justice Awards Luncheon

Issue June 2011 By Jennifer Rosinski

The Massachusetts Bar Association honored five attorneys and one law firm at the Access to Justice Awards Luncheon on May 18 at the Boston Sheraton Hotel for their efforts in providing exemplary legal services to the public. The luncheon was held on the first day of the Centennial Conference.

"It is the dedication of today's honorees to the public, the profession and the rule of law that exemplifies the MBA's founding principles and rich tradition of service," MBA President Denise Squillante said.

Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray delivered the keynote address and was honored with an MBA Centennial Award, which has been and will continue to be bestowed across the state throughout the MBA's 100th anniversary commemoration.

"Access to justice must be universal," said Murray, who spoke out in favor of keeping the state's current judicial vetting system. "Our judicial system touches everyone in our commonwealth."

Murray congratulated the MBA on its anniversary and presented Squillante with a citation from Gov. Deval Patrick recognizing the association's 100 years of service.

Legal Services Award

Linda L. Landry of the Disability Law Center and Daniel S. Manning of Greater Boston Legal Services were both honored with the Legal Services Award.

Landry has spent her career committed to people with disabilities, beginning with her days at Neighborhood Legal Services in Lynn, before joining the Disability Law Center 20 years ago. She is manager of the SSI Coalition, an association of legal services and private attorneys that supports people with disabilities.

"I'm very honored, but the truth is, civil service work is not done in a vacuum," said Landry, who thanked her colleagues and the private attorneys she has worked with. "I can't believe I'm getting an award for something I love doing."

Manning has committed more than 35 years to legal services. He has worked with the Boston Center for Independent Living to secure medical services at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Woman's Hospital, among others, for those with physical disabilities. Manning played a key role in securing a settlement and changes to MBTA facilities and practices on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

"The work I have been able to do is very rewarding," Manning said. "My clients are people of great courage and perseverance."

Pro Bono Award for Law Firms

The Law Offices of Howard Friedman in Boston was honored with the Pro Bono Award for Law Firms because of its pro bono commitment to access to justice for people in need. The firm, including top civil rights attorney Howard Friedman and associate David Milton, has successfully represented minorities, those of little means, and prisoners who have been victims of illegal strip searches, inhumane holding conditions and other police misconduct.

"Cases that effect a change in practices are the most satisfying," said Friedman, who urged attorneys at firms of all sizes to try civil rights work.

Pro Bono Publico Award

Eleanor J. Newhoff, a Cambridge attorney, was honored with the Pro Bono Publico Award for her commitment to the immigrant community for more than 30 years. In 2007, Newhoff put her private practice on hold and represented more than 70 clients around the clock on a limited part-time salary after a raid in New Bedford.

"The collaboration in the pro bono effort was really essential. If we don't have the collaboration, you have a far weaker situation," said Newhoff, who described the pro bono bar as an essential part of the immigrant community.
Defender Award

Radha Natarajan, of the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Somerville, was honored with the Defender Award. She has made a lasting contribution through her expertise on cross-racial eyewitness identification. Natarajan is vice chair of the MBA's Criminal Justice Section Council and a member of the Commission to Study Inmate Fees.

"I am so incredible proud to be a public defender. I'm proud to fight for my clients," said Natarajan, who described the award as a "promise of what I hope to achieve in my career."

Prosecutor Award

Katharine B. Folger of the Middlesex District Attorney's Office in Woburn was honored with the Prosecutor Award. She maintains her own caseload, and as chief of the Child Abuse Unit, supervises 20 in a department that reviews more than 1,000 investigations each year into child sexual and physical abuse, deaths and child pornography. She was instrumental in launching the state's first online child abuse mandated reporter training.

"I am routinely asked how is it that you deal with what you see and hear every day," Folger said. It is the hope of the children and the families who have been victims of crimes that help her through it, she said. "It also has something to do with the talented, dedicated, caring and compassionate people I have the pleasure of working with."