Greetings and happy summer.

Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission May 26 Meeting Highlights
Thank you to the Commissioners and guests who joined us for the meeting of MA Access to Justice Commission on Thursday, May 26. At this final meeting of the 2021-2022 Commission year, we heard from a range of speakers on the impact of the pandemic on pro bono services, both in Massachusetts and nationally. We also had the opportunity to reflect on the work of all our committees and to hear exciting updates from the Commission’s Racial Equity and Justice Committee, Revenue Enhancement Committee, and Family Law Committee.

The Commission also extended its deep appreciation to outgoing Commission Co-Chair, Laura Gal, for her incredible leadership as Commission Co-Chair and for her critical contributions to the Commission over the past several years, both as a commissioner and as a consultant. The Commission also shared its gratitude to outgoing Commissioner Russell Engler. As a commissioner and as a leader on numerous committees and projects over the past ten plus years, Russell’s impact on the Commission’s activities and accomplishments cannot be overstated. Thank you again, Laura and Russell, for your thoughtful and insightful guidance and for your contributions to access to justice in the Commonwealth.

Seeking Nominations for the 2022 Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards and Submissions for Pro Bono Honor Roll!
The Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services seeks nominations for the 2022 Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards and submissions for the Pro Bono Honor Roll.

About the Adams Award: Named for attorneys John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the Adams Awards honor Massachusetts lawyers, law students, law firms, and legal organizations that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to providing pro bono services for the benefit of individuals of limited means. Service worthy of an Adams Award may include, but is not limited to:

  • The creation of or participation in an activity or pro bono program that expands legal services to underserved segments of the population or fills a previously unmet need;
  • Significant work on litigation, the outcome of which benefits persons of limited means; or
  • Significant work on the adoption of legislation or policies that benefit individuals of limited means.

The Committee encourages the submission of nominations that reflect the diversity of the Commonwealth’s residents. More information about award criteria and nomination guidelines can be found here. The deadline for nominations is July 1, 2022.

About the Pro Bono Honor Roll: The Committee is also seeking submissions by lawyers, law students, law firms and other legal organizations who qualify for the Pro Bono Honor Roll.

  • To be eligible for the Honor Roll for Individual Attorneys, attorneys must certify that they have provided at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services during calendar year 2021. Attorneys who completed at least 100 hours of pro bono legal services during calendar year 2021 are eligible for the High Honor Roll for Individual Attorneys.
  • The Honor Roll for Law Students recognizes students who have completed at least 50 hours of law-related pro bono services over the course of their law school careers.
  • The Honor Roll for Legal Organizations recognizes law firms, solo practitioners, in-house corporate counsel offices, government attorney offices, non-profit organizations, and law schools who meet certain criteria for the number of hours of pro bono legal services provided by their attorneys and firm policies concerning pro bono service.

More information and links to online application forms are available here. Applications for the Pro Bono Honor Roll should be submitted by September 30, 2022.

Established in 1999, the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services works to promote volunteer legal work in Massachusetts to help people of limited means who are in need of legal representation, in accordance with Rule 6.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct.

Thank you to everyone for a great year. I will be back in touch over the summer with Commission updates and meeting dates for 2022-2023.