About the Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards

The Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services annually presents awards to honor those in the legal profession who have demonstrated outstanding and exceptional commitment to providing unpaid legal services to those in need.

Named in honor of attorneys John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards are presented annually by the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services to honor those Massachusetts lawyers, law students, small and large law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments, law schools or other institutions in the legal profession that have improved the lives of clients in need by committing an extraordinary amount of their time and energies to provide volunteer legal services.

How awardees are selected

The Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services selects awardees from among those who have excelled in providing volunteer services in one or more of the following ways:

  • participated in an activity or pro bono program that resulted in satisfying previously unmet needs or in extending services to underserved segments of the population;
  • successfully litigated pro bono cases that favorably affected the provision of other services to those in need; and/or
  • successfully achieved legislation that contributed substantially to legal services for the disadvantaged

Nomination guidelines

Please note that that the nomination period for 2017 has closed. The nomination period for 2018 will be available again in late spring, and nomination information will be available on this page at that time. Below is general information on the nomination process.

  • To nominate a candidate, submit a narrative explaining how the candidate meets the criteria for the Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards. Describe in detail the nature of the pro bono contribution and identify those who have benefited. Additional information that would be helpful includes principal areas of practice, the number of years practicing law, hours spent on pro bono activities, other public service contributions, educational background, and bar association activities.
  • Include up to three letters of support from other individuals and organizations who are aware of the candidate's pro bono contribution. If possible, please include one letter from a beneficiary of the pro bono legal services.
  • Nominations submitted the previous year remain active for consideration for the following year's awards program, provided that the nominating party submits a letter restating the intent to nominate the candidate and updating the narrative with any relevant information.


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