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Mintz's Susan Finegan and Martha Koster Recognized By The Supreme Judicial Court For Founding And Supporting The Access To Justice Fellows Program

BOSTON – Mintz is pleased to announce that Susan Finegan, Chair of the firm's Pro Bono Committee, and Member Martha Koster have been honored with a Certificate of Appreciation by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court  for their leadership in co-founding and supporting the Access to Justice  Fellows  Program (Fellows Program). The award was presented by the Honorable Serge Georges, Jr., Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice (ATJ) Commission.

Since 2012, the Fellows Program, currently a project of the Massachusetts ATJ Commission and the Lawyers Clearinghouse, has enabled retired and retiring lawyers and judges to partner with organizations to increase equal access to justice for all. Although lawyers are encouraged to provide pro bono services throughout their careers, they are not often offered a role to play once they move toward and hinto retirement. By matching senior lawyers with groups that need their help, the Fellows Program allows these lawyers to use their specialized skills and expert experience to do engaging pro bono work and remain active members of the legal community. Notably, the Lawyers Clearinghouse also received recognition for taking over the program's day-to-day operations after its third year.

Ms. Finegan expressed, "During the program's establishment, we recognized a significant opportunity with a largely untapped demographic of senior attorneys who were transitioning towards retirement. These individuals possessed a wealth of experience and wisdom that could still make a meaningful impact. As these dedicated attorneys have shown, retirement can also be a beginning.”

Fellows devote an average of 10 - 20 hours per week to their projects, and commit to work for one academic year, from September through June. Each year the Fellows Program relies on references from past Fellows, partner organizations, and firms to recruit and assemble a group of distinguished Fellows from varied professional backgrounds as judges, litigators, transactional attorneys, legal services attorneys, public servants, and public interest advocates.

The Fellows Program seeks to create a community of diverse colleagues for lawyers at any stage of retirement. Fellows meet as a group monthly, sharing their work in the Fellowship, discussing issues with community leaders, and brainstorming new initiatives for the Program.

Most Fellows continue to work with their partner organizations on expanded or new projects after their initial year in the Program and are invited to quarterly meetings and events with the current class of Fellows. All current and continuing Fellows receive benefits while working on access to justice projects, including business cards, malpractice insurance, Social Law Library memberships, and Boston Bar Association memberships.

Ms. Koster, who has also served as a Fellow since the beginning of the program, said, "The success of the Fellows Program has inspired its replication in numerous other states. Our vision extends beyond the immediate impact of the program; we aim to foster a cultural shift within the legal profession here in Massachusetts, and beyond.”

Since the inception of the program, 185 Fellows have dedicated over 200,000 hours of pro bono time to almost 90 nonprofits, legal services organizations, or courts. Among these Fellows, thirteen individuals have been affiliated with Mintz, either as retired attorneys and/or through their spouses/partners. The Supreme Judicial Court's recognition during the presentation specifically acknowledged the firm's generous support of the program, further highlighting Mintz's dedication to promoting equal access to justice.