- Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
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Media Contact for Supreme Judicial Court Presents 2023 Pro Bono Committee Awards to Three Attorneys and a Law Student
Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago
BOSTON, MA — At a ceremony today at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd presented Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards to three attorneys and a law student selected by the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, in recognition of their exceptional dedication to providing volunteer services for persons who cannot afford an attorney for their essential legal needs.
Ariel Clemmer, Esq., Chair of the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, delivered opening and closing remarks. Committee member Kim Parr delivered remarks recognizing legal organizations, individual attorneys and law students on the Supreme Judicial Court Pro Bono Honor Roll and High Honor Roll.
Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd delivered remarks and presented the awards.
“This year's Adams Awards recipients have stepped up to make a difference through their pro bono efforts in many different types of legal matters,” said Chief Justice Budd. “But there is a common theme that runs through much of their work. Each in their own way, they have fought for families and children in need, whether it was to protect them from homelessness or political persecution, or advocating for their fair treatment.”
This year’s awardees are:
- Devin Cohen, a health care partner with Ropes & Gray, for his pro bono service to families in need, including advising Boston shelter nonprofit Heading Home in negotiations to provide housing for 125 families facing homelessness after their previous housing provider lost its state contract due to the alleged fraud of its CEO; supporting a medical-legal partnership with Dorchester community health center DotHouse Health; and advising PrognosUs, a public benefit organization focused on early dementia screening in at-risk populations.
- Scott G. Ofrias, a litigation associate in the Boston office of K&L Gates, for his advocacy on a variety of pro bono projects, including representing politically persecuted individuals in asylum proceedings; aiding domestic violence victims in obtaining protected citizenship status; counseling veterans in both eviction and service-related benefits proceedings; and assisting human trafficking survivors seeking criminal record relief.
- Doreen M. Rachal, a litigation partner in the Boston office of Sidley Austin, for her leadership in pro bono efforts to advance educational, racial, and economic equity, including her representation of intervenors in litigation concerning admissions policies for Boston's exam schools; partnering with the New England Innocence Project to overturn wrongful convictions in Massachusetts; assisting the ACLU of Massachusetts in developing a racially just model policing policy for college campuses; and creating the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association’s inaugural Know Your Rights training program for Black clergy leaders throughout Massachusetts.
- Sara Sam-Njogu, a law student at Western New England University School of Law, for her pro bono work with the Family Justice Project to investigate and mitigate racial disparities in care and protection proceedings for children.
Named in honor of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards are awarded annually in October. The Committee also recognizes the achievements of attorneys, law students, and legal organizations who have qualified for the Supreme Judicial Court Pro Bono Honor Roll and High Honor Roll.
The SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services works to promote volunteer legal work in Massachusetts to help people of limited means in need of legal representation, in accordance with Rule 6.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys. The awards ceremony is one of many activities celebrating and building support for pro bono legal work in Massachusetts during the month of October, a month officially proclaimed Pro Bono Month by Governor Maura Healey. The American Bar Association has also proclaimed a National Celebration of Pro Bono during the week of October 22-28, 2023.