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Pro Bono Recognition in Massachusetts

Pro Bono Recognition: New Honor Roll for Individual Attorneys & Pro Bono Publico Awards Nominations Due in August

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SJC Standing Committee has applications open for a new Pro Bono Honor Roll for individual attorneys, and nominations are open for the Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards.

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The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services made two announcements related to recognition for pro bono work in a press release on July 23, 2020. 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.


New Pro Bono Honor Roll for Individual Attorneys

Applications are due on September 30, 2020. From the press release:

The SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services today announced the creation of a new Pro Bono Honor Roll for individual attorneys…

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 2019. Attorneys who completed at least 100 hours of pro bono legal services during calendar year 2019 are eligible for the High Honor Roll for Individual Attorneys.

“This new Pro Bono Honor Roll will recognize the crucial contributions of the many attorneys who volunteer each year to provide free legal services for individuals who cannot afford a lawyer for their essential legal needs,” said Elizabeth Ennen, Chair of the SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services.

In addition to the new Pro Bono Honor Roll for Individual Attorneys, the Committee will also continue to administer the existing Pro Bono Honor Rolls for law firms and other legal organizations and for law students. New online certification forms have also been created for all of the Honor Rolls to make it easier to apply. More information about the new Pro Bono Honor Roll for Individual Attorneys, as well as the Pro Bono Honor Rolls for Legal Organizations and the Pro Bono Honor Roll for Law Students, is available on the About the Pro Bono Honor Roll webpage. Applications for the Pro Bono Honor Rolls should be submitted by September 30, 2020.


2020 Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards Nominations Open

Nominations are due on August 21, 2020. From the press release:

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.

More information about award criteria and nomination guidelines can be found on the About the Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards webpage. The deadline for nominations is August 21, 2020.


Closing Notes

Pro bono work isn’t just a professional responsibility and individual ethical commitment for each lawyer — it’s an intelligent time investment to make. Volunteers are more satisfied by work than nonvolunteers, according to recent research. According to additional recent research, volunteer work influences health and longevity, too. And yet we recognize that for anyone dealing with financial hardship, finding time to volunteer can feel like a privilege.

While awards are inspirational and help express an important community value, we encourage individual attorneys to seek more reliable sources of recognition. Take time to recognize yourself, and appreciate when clients, colleagues, friends, and family when they compliment your work. If your work feels unrecognized, reflect on whether you share enough about your work (while maintaining confidentiality, of course). Humility is often admired, but not feeling appreciated contributes to burnout.

Filling the access to justice gap is critical. While we need systemic solutions to really address the problem, here are a few related resources to helping as an individual on our Mass LOMAP Blog:


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Lawyers, law students, and judges in Massachusetts can discuss concerns with a licensed therapist, law practice advisor, or both. Find more on scheduling here.

CATEGORIES: Flourishing
TAGS: access to justice

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