Supreme Judicial Court Presents Awards to Attorneys, Law Student for Pro Bono Work
"We are fortunate in Massachusetts to be a part of a legal community where pro bono service is a part of our culture; you might say it is in our DNA," Justice Geraldine S. Hines said. "What we have here is indeed special; it is born of a tradition that traces as far back as 1783 when pro bono lawyers convinced the Supreme Judicial Court that the Massachusetts Constitution prohibited slavery in the Quock Walker case."
Justice Hines continued, "I have come to believe that one's worth to the cause of justice for those who are at the margins of our society is valued not in who we are but what we give of our time, our talent and of course, our hearts. The people we honor today have given everything expected of them and more. I am proud to be a part of this celebration of their contributions to our community."
Selected by the Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, Justice Hines presented Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards, named in honor of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, to the following attorneys:
- Ann Milner, Boston: for her creative leadership in developing and implementing a weekly debt defense clinic for clients of Rosie's Place Women’s Shelter, establishing a permanent infrastructure for providing debt relief services;
- Roger J. Reid, Greenfield: for an extraordinary forty-one years of providing pro bono and reduced fee legal services to countless clients in the Commonwealth's poorest county;
- Bancroft "Bats" Wheeler, Natick: for his undaunted energy not only in drafting estate planning documents for many indigent clients but also, an octogenarian himself, traveling to meet clients in their homes in all types of weather, if they could not come to him;
and a special student award to:
- Alexandra Tucker, 2016 graduate, Boston University School of Law: for her wide-ranging commitment to pro bono work throughout her law school career; from representing low income parents with psychiatric disabilities in family law matters, children in child protection cases, and youths in delinquency matters, to assisting refugees in filling out immigration forms and applications.
Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants noted the many attorneys who have made "substantial commitments to pro bono work" including an increase in law students, many of whom logged enough hours of pro bono work to be listed alongside law firms, solo practitioners, in-house corporate counsel offices, government legal offices, non-profit organizations and law school faculties to be included on the SJC's Pro Bono Honor Roll for calendar year 2015. Susan M. Finegan, Esq., Co-Chair of the Access to Justice Commission, presented certificates to the attorneys and law students on the Pro Bono Honor Roll in recognition that they have performed a minimum number of hours of approved pro bono legal services during a specified time period.
The SJC's Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, chaired by Kathleen McGrath, Esq., works to promote volunteer legal work in Massachusetts to help people of limited means in need of legal representation, in accordance with SJC Rule 6.1. The awards ceremony is one of many events and activities in October celebrating and building support for pro bono legal work in Massachusetts, a month officially proclaimed as Pro Bono Month by Governor Charlie Baker. The American Bar Association has declared October 25 to 31 Pro Bono Week.