MBF Fellow Spotlight

Issue September 2012

Every day, Massachusetts Bar Foundation grantee organizations advocate for Massachusetts' most vulnerable citizens and families. Lawyers Journal will regularly feature MBF grantees and fellows whose combined effort and generosity make that critical advocacy possible.

H. Theodore Cohen

Of Counsel, Keegan Werlin LLP, Boston

MBF Fellow since 1998

Cohen is of counsel to Keegan Werlin LLP in Boston where he specializes in municipal law, real estate law and land use regulation. Cohen served as town counsel to the town of Reading, Massachusetts from 1972 to 2001, and he has provided town counsel or city solicitor services to numerous other Massachusetts cities and towns. He represents public and private clients in a variety of real estate transactions, including financing, investment, construction, leasing and sales of residential and commercial properties.

Q: Why did you decide to become a fellow of the MBF?

A: During the many years that I practiced as a municipal attorney, I felt that I was working in the public interest and for the public good; however, I never represented individuals or families who were at risk of losing their homes, jobs, or even their individual rights and freedom because of their lack of resources and ability to access and participate in the legal justice system. I felt I had to somehow help such people, even if only indirectly by financially supporting an organization that could provide the necessary access and resources. Through colleagues and friends active in the MBA and MBF, I realized that the MBF was such an organization, and so I was delighted to become a fellow.

Q: What do you see as most important about the work of the MBF?

A: I believe that the MBF's financial and organizational support to the public interest lawyers and agencies that are providing direct legal services and advice to the ever-expanding numbers of vulnerable clients who could not otherwise afford a lawyer or have any real access to justice and the legal system is the most important aspect of the MBF's work.

Q: You recently served on a grant advisory committee. What was your impression of that experience?

A: I have served on approximately ten grant advisory committees, and each time I come away from the grant process feeling that my small role in reviewing applicants was the best and most satisfying thing I have done all year in the law. Serving on [grant] advisory committees has given me the opportunity to meet and learn about the professional lives of the real heroes and heroines of the legal system -- the lawyers and staff who fight on a daily basis for the people in our society who otherwise would have no champions. I come away from the interviews and meetings with great admiration for the lawyers and non-lawyers who work tirelessly for low pay out of a sense of commitment and fair play and who desire to see the legal system just do the right thing for their clients.

Q: Is there anything else you wish to say about the MBF?

A: My admiration also extends to the staff of the MBF for their commitment and efforts on behalf of the Massachusetts legal community, and to all the lawyers who contribute money, time, and effort to increase the access to justice for all and to improve the administration of justice in Massachusetts. In my experience, contributing in one way or another not only does good, it also feels good.