- Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
- Massachusetts Court System
Media Contact for Supreme Judicial Court Justice Frank M. Gaziano Presents Clients’ Security Board’s William J. LeDoux Award to Attorney
Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago
BOSTON, MA — At a ceremony today in the Seven Justice Courtroom of the John Adams Courthouse, Supreme Judicial Court Justice Frank M. Gaziano presented the Clients’ Security Board’s William J. LeDoux Award to Attorney Mary M. Howie in recognition of her outstanding efforts in helping Massachusetts clients recover significant financial losses resulting from the misuse of funds by an attorney who was disbarred in 2019.
Established in 1997 in honor of the late William J. LeDoux, a member of the Clients’ Security Board (the Board) from 1987 to 1997 and Chair for seven years, the award is offered to a lawyer who, serving pro bono, has demonstrated extraordinary skill and perseverance in representing one or more claimants before the Board.
Attorney Howie, who practices with the Howie Law Office in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, was selected as the 15th award recipient by the Clients’ Security Board. It is not an annual award and was last presented to an attorney in 2018.
Attorney Howie represented two claimants, an estate where the remainder beneficiary was a special needs trust, and a woman suffering from mental disabilities, in successfully presenting claims before the Board arising out of thefts by the same attorney.
Attorney Howie presented evidence demonstrating that the attorney, who was disbarred in 2019, had received the net proceeds from the sale of real estate that was jointly owned by his clients, a mother and daughter. He used the real estate proceeds to reimburse another unrelated client whose funds he had previously stolen, and to pay himself unearned and excessive fees.
In September 2020, the Board awarded the mother’s estate $32,026 for her share of the stolen proceeds. This award was paid to a special needs trust that was the remainder beneficiary of the mother’s estate. In October 2022, the Board awarded $151,840 to the daughter under the special needs trust.
Attorney Howie has practiced with the Howie Law Office since 1992. A graduate of Western New England School of Law and the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Attorney Howie also has an M.B.A. in Finance from Rivier College. A member of the New Hampshire and Massachusetts state bars and local bar associations, she is also a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Merrimack Valley Estate Planning Counsel. Attorney Howie serves on the Board of Directors for Parkland Medical Center in Derry, NH, and is a past Board member of Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, MA, and the Salem Haven Nursing Home in Salem, NH. Attorney Howie is a resident of Salem, NH.
The Clients’ Security Board was established by the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in 1974 to reimburse clients whose lawyers have stolen their funds after the lawyers have been suspended, disbarred, resigned, or died. The SJC appoints seven volunteer attorneys to make all awards and acts as public trustees for the Clients’ Security Fund. The current Clients’ Security Board Chair is Gary M. Weiner and the Vice-Chair is Sally R. Gaglini.
Since 1974, the Board has awarded over $57 million to more than 2,400 claimants. The disciplined or deceased lawyers responsible for those claims represent less than 0.04% of the licensed lawyers in Massachusetts. All funds used to make awards come from Massachusetts lawyers through their annual registration fees. No public funds or tax dollars are used for any reimbursements.