Sometimes it is easy to overlook the good being done by attorneys in our city. Of course Boston’s legal history is full of examples of lawyers answering the call of public service, not the least of which was John Adams’ defense of the British soldiers following the Boston Massacre. The legacy of pro bono representation and public service is evident all over Boston’s legal community from multinational firms to solo and small practices and from in-house counsel of large corporations to legal departments of governmental agencies. In order to cultivate the talent of new attorneys who exemplify the characteristics of an active lawyer citizen, the Boston Bar Association began the Public Interest Leadership Program (“PILP”) in 2003.
On March 2, over 40 PILP alums gathered at the BBA for an Alumni Reception hosted by this year’s class. Chief Judge Mark Wolf of the United States District Court and BBA Past President Mike Keating stopped by to speak to the group and catch up with alums who have gone on to do extraordinary things. One example of the work that PILP participants have gone on to do is to organize pro bono support for the Medical-Legal Partnership at Boston Medical Center. Judge Wolf recalled speaking with Samantha Morton and Leiha Macauley, two PILP alumnae, after they were honored at the 2009 John & Abigail Adams Benefit for their work with the Medical-Legal Partnership. Both women remarked that they might not have continued to practice had they not been selected to join PILP because the program inspired them to use their skills for public service.
PILP began as an idea and was the brainchild of Judge Wolf. In early 2002, Judge Wolf wrote a letter to then-BBA President Mike Keating suggesting the idea for establishing a group for new attorneys who are engaged in the community. It would be a forum for discussing common interests and problems, education, social activity, and planning public service projects. Now eight classes later, that group has grown into a network of nearly 100 distinguished lawyers.
The Alumni Reception was a successful event – with Judge Wolf and Mike Keating noting that PILP has grown beyond their original vision and encapsulates the best of the profession. It is truly remarkable to see a group of committed newer attorneys who find the time to balance full case loads, pro bono representation, public service projects, and bar activities. As Mike Keating said last night, it is work that is done in a program like PILP that makes being a lawyer worthwhile.
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association