Boston Bar Association President Jack Regan announced that Mary (Meg) Connolly will receive the John G. Brooks Legal Services Award at the Boston Bar Association's Annual Meeting. The luncheon meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 7, at the Seaport World Trade Center.
"Meg has been unique in her ability to articulate both the civil legal needs of low income families and individuals and the importance of lawyers and law firms stepping up to the plate to perform essential pro bono services," said the BBA president. "She is a both a leader and a team player in providing access to justice, and her legacy will be lasting."
Ms. Connolly has served as the executive director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association since 1985. In her 24 years of service, she has built a model structure for facilitating private bar participation in civil pro bono work.
Under Ms. Connolly's leadership and with the active help of BBA members, the VLP has launched a number of successful efforts to engage private attorneys, including the Lawyer for the Day program at Boston Housing Court - soon to celebrate its 10th anniversary - and Senior Partners for Justice. More recently, with a grant from the Pro Bono Institute, the VLP has begun a program called Second Acts© , which is designed to assist lawyers who are transitioning from an active private practice to taking on pro bono assignments.
In 1996, Ms. Connolly, along with her colleague Bob Sable, the executive director of Greater Boston Legal Services, helped engineer a major reorganization of legal services throughout Massachusetts so that client needs could still be met despite new restrictions on the use of Legal Services Corporation funds.
Known for her creativity in recruiting volunteers to provide pro bono legal services, Ms. Connolly provided the leadership for VLP to be the first in the nation to get waivers of conflicts from banks to allow law firms to handle pro bono bankruptcy cases. Throughout the legal community, she also has a reputation for being flexible in responding to changing client needs and to the changing needs of the private attorneys doing pro bono work.
Ms. Connolly, who has announced her intention to retire from the VLP in December 2009, began her career as a legal services staff attorney in Brockton at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and later served as regional counsel to the New England Regional Office of the Office of Economic Opportunity/ Community Services Administration.