Two extraordinary Massachusetts Bar Foundation (MBF) supporters were honored for their commitment to increasing access to justice for the most vulnerable and marginalized citizens of Massachusetts at the MBF's 2013 Grantee Receptions.
Davis, Malm & D'Agostine PC received the 2013 MBF President's Award at the Eastern Massachusetts grantee reception held in Boston on Sept. 26. Hon. Robert G. Fields, an associate judge at the Western Division of Massachusetts Housing Court in Springfield, received the award at the Western Massachusetts grantee reception held in Springfield on Oct. 3.
The MBF President's Award is given to individuals and organizations who have demonstrated exemplary service to the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and the Massachusetts legal community through their leadership and commitment to increasing the availability of legal services for low-income citizens of the state.
"Davis Malm's motto - 'Forward thinking, not just looking forward, since 1979' - certainly extends to the firm's charitable endeavors as much as it does to its professional ones," noted MBF President Jerry Cohen in his introduction of the firm. Davis Malm was the first to join the MBF's Law Firm and Corporate Partnership Program, through which private companies contribute financially to support the MBF's work, and they have continued their support each year since the program's inception. In addition to firm-wide support, many Davis Malm attorneys have also joined the MBF Society of Fellows, donating their time, leadership skills and valuable financial resources to the foundation. Most notable among them is Davis Malm shareholder Laurence M. Johnson, who served as MBF president from 2008-2009.
"The firm is honored to be recognized by the board of trustees," said Thomas S. Fitzpatrick, Davis Malm's managing partner, who accepted the award on the firm's behalf. "We recognize that lawyers have a special responsibility to see that equal access to the legal system is available to all people, and we are proud that the firm can be an influential part of the community through support of the foundation."
In the western part of the state, the MBF has a true ally in Hon. Robert G. Fields. Judge Fields' commitment to public service began long before he took the bench. Just out of law school, he began his career at Neighborhood Legal Services in Lynn. He continued his public interest work by co-founding Heisler, Fields & Feldman PC (currently Heisler, Feldman, McCormick & Garrow PC). The Springfield firm is unusual in that it served, and continues to serve, almost exclusively low-income clients. After much success at the firm, Judge Fields was nominated to become clerk-magistrate at the Housing Court and served in that position until he was nominated for judgeship in 2009.
In addition to dedicating his professional life to addressing the low-income community's legal needs, Fields has been an active supporter of the MBF since he joined the Society of Fellows in 2002. A perennial presence on the foundation's annual grant review committees, Fields' expertise and local knowledge helps the MBF make strong grants each year.
"Judge Fields' entire professional life exemplifies the work this award seeks to honor," said MBF Secretary Lawrence J. Farber, a solo practitioner in Amherst, who introduced Fields. "From his days as a legal services attorney, to founding a legal services law firm, to his clerkship and judgeship, to his annual participation in the MBF grant review, Judge Fields' steadfast commitment to increasing access to justice is clear."