MBF Awards $2 Million in Grants for Legal Aid Programs Across Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Bar Foundation (MBF) recently awarded $2 million to 84 programs conducted by 56 different nonprofit organizations through its annual IOLTA grants program.

“MBF grantees are working hard every day to meet the increasing demand for civil legal assistance,” said MBF President Janet F. Aserkoff of Boston’s Rappaport, Aserkoff & Gelles. “We are proud to be able to support these critically needed programs that provide services to communities throughout the Commonwealth.”

MBF IOLTA grants support projects that either offer civil legal services to people who could not afford them, or improve the administration of justice in the Commonwealth. Grants providing direct legal services include support to domestic violence programs, special education advocacy, humanitarian immigration assistance, and homelessness prevention.  Grants to improve the administration of justice include efforts such as court-connected mediation and lawyer of the day programs.

The Massachusetts Bar Foundation is one of three charitable entities in Massachusetts that distributes funds from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts Program.

Additional information about the MBF IOLTA Grants Program, as well as a complete listing of the 2017/2018 IOLTA grant recipients, is available here.

MBF Grants $24,000 to Law Students for Public Interest Internships

The MBF Trustees proudly announce that four exceptional law students were recently selected to receive a stipend of $6,000 each for their unpaid summer internships at non-profit legal aid organizations in Massachusetts. The grants are provided through the MBF’s Legal Intern Fellowship Program, which is funded by the MBF Fellows Fund and the Smith Family Fund and has two concurrent goals: to give talented students the experience and encouragement they need to continue in the public interest law sector and to provide legal aid organizations with much-needed additional staff capacity for the summer. 

This year’s award recipients are:


Erika Jacqueline Chavez
Boston University School of Law
Kids in Need of Defense
(Supported by Smith Family Fund)






Sarita Manigat
Western New England School of Law
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts
(Supported by MBF Fellows Fund)





Elinett Oquendo Burgos
Northeastern School of Law
Massachusetts Advocates for Children
(Supported by MBF Fellows Fund)




Madelyn Finucane
Harvard Law School
Greater Boston Legal Services: Housing & Employment Units
(Supported by MBF Fellows Fund)




Click here for more information about the Legal Intern Fellowship Program.

MBF Honors Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants with Great Friend of Justice Award, Elects Officers and New Trustees

At the Massachusetts Bar Foundation’s recent Annual Meeting, Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was honored with the Great Friend of Justice Award. Over 150 MBF Fellows, grantees and friends attended the event, held on March 17, at the Social Law Library in the John Adams Courthouse in Boston.

The MBF’s Great Friend of Justice Award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to justice, consistent with the MBF’s values and mission of increasing access to justice in the state.

Ralph D. Gants became the 37th Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in July 2014 when he was sworn in by Gov. Deval Patrick. Before joining the SJC, he served for more than eleven years as an Associate Justice of the Mass. Superior Court, and was Administrative Justice of the Superior Court’s Business Litigation Session in 2008. In addition to his distinguished judicial career, Chief Justice Gants has taught at Harvard Law School, New England Law | Boston, and Northeastern University School of Law. He received honorary Doctor of Law degrees from New England Law | Boston in 2015, and the University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth in 2016. He was chair of the SJC Indigency Committee, and from 2010–2015 and co-chaired the Mass. Access to Justice Commission. He currently chairs the SJC’s Standing Committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide. 

From left to right: Vice President Harvey Weiner, President Janet F. Aserkoff, Secretary Angela McConney Scheepers, Treasurer Richard J. Grahn

From left to right: Vice President Harvey Weiner, President Janet F. Aserkoff, Secretary Angela McConney Scheepers, Treasurer Richard J. Grahn

At the business meeting held that same evening, the MBF also elected the following officers and trustees:


  • President Janet F. Aserkoff, Rappaport, Aserkoff & Gelles, Boston
  • Vice President Harvey Weiner, Peabody & Arnold, LLP, Rockport
  • Treasurer Richard J. Grahn, National Coast Guard Museum Association, Inc., Mattapoisett
  • Secretary Angela McConney Scheepers, Division of Administrative Law Appeals, Boston


  • Hon. Megan H. Christopher, Suffolk Probate and Family Court, Boston
  • Marguerite T. Grant, Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office, Canton
  • Melissa F. Langa, Bove & Langa PC, Boston
  • Dennis M. Lindgren*, Pierce & Mandell PC, Boston
  • Angela C. McConney Scheepers*, Division of Administrative Law Appeals, Boston

* Indicates second term

The MBF also inducted twenty-six new Life members into the MBF Society of Fellows, all of whom successfully completed generous pledges made to advance the MBF’s mission of increasing access to justice. 

ACLU of Western Mass. Receives Grant from the MBF Civil Justice Fund

ACLU IPP Call Center 1.JPG

Earlier this summer, the MBF awarded a grant of $8,360 to support the recently launched ACLU Immigrants Protection Project of Western Mass. The program aims to mobilize and strengthen the pro bono capacity of the local bar to help immigrant families in the region during these times of fear and uncertainty.

This grant is the first ever to be awarded from the MBF's Civil Justice Fund, which was created to support civil legal services to those in need and to which members of the bar contribute in accordance with the SJC's Professional Conduct Code's Rule 6.1. We are grateful to everyone who helped to build this important source of funds. 

The ACLU IPP of Western Mass. was developed in response to the urgency expressed by local immigration lawyers about the dearth of legal services available to immigrants living in the region, which includes an estimated 15,000 undocumented immigrants and thousands more threatened with deportation. The program aims to mobilize and strengthens the pro bono capacity of the local bar to help immigrant families during these times of fear and uncertainty.

The IPP has two core goals:

  1. To train volunteer lawyers in the specific legal services most needed by the immigrant population in the four counties of Western Mass. After the training, pro bono lawyers will be ready to (1) to go to Probate and Family Court to seek specific orders for immigrant parents and children at risk of being detained and deported and (2) to go to Immigration Court to seek bond for detained immigrants.
  2. To establish a western Massachusetts intake help-line for immigrants that will handle referrals to and from the program, which will be staffed by volunteer intake workers and be developed in coordination with a area legal, social, employment and mental health providers.

For more information, click here.

MBF presents grant to mock trial champs

The Massachusetts Bar Foundation proudly presented a check for $2,500 to the Winsor School’s Mock Trial Team on March 24, following their victory in the final round of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s 32nd Annual Statewide High School Mock Trial competition.  The funds will be used to help with the team’s expenses when they head to the National Mock Trial competition next month in Hartford, Connecticut.