This afternoon, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts held its Sixth Annual Pro Bono Awards Ceremony. At the ceremony the Court recognized and thanked attorneys who certified they had committed time and energy to providing pro bono representation or to volunteering as a mentor or teacher. Those attorneys are listed on the 2019 Pro Bono Honor Roll which can be found here. The Court also announced and recognized the following recipients of the 2019 Pro Bono Publico awards:
Central Division Award: Craig T. Ornell, Esq.
Over the last 8 years Craig has accepted 11 pro bono bankruptcy cases, 2 Housing Court cases, 1 family law case and a Social Security benefits case referred to him by Community Legal Aid. While Craig’s longstanding commitment to pro bono work is evident from these referrals alone, he volunteered for the Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court’s Guardian Ad Litem Panel and in 2018 became the first attorney in the Central division to be assigned a case. Over the years, Craig has developed a reputation among his colleagues for providing legal counsel in a kind and caring manner to his clients, including those he represents on a pro bono basis. For his contributions to pro bono clients, the Court recognizes and thanks Craig Ornell.
Western Division Award: Joseph B. Collins, Esq.
While Joe has exhibited a career long commitment to pro bono work, he is recognized this year particularly for his participation in Community Legal Aid’s Bankruptcy Basics seminar held in September 2018. As co-chair, Joe was instrumental in developing the agenda and materials for this seminar which was vital in recruiting new volunteer attorneys to accept pro bono bankruptcy cases from Community Legal Aid. As a presenter, Joe helped provide the attendees with a solid foundation for future pro bono bankruptcy work. Throughout his many years as a partner in Hendel & Collins, PC, now Hendel, Collins and O’Connor, P.C., Joe has accepted pro bono case referrals and consistently encouraged his associate attorneys to do the same. Joe has helped facilitate the next generation of volunteer attorneys committed to pro bono work. For his contributions to pro bono work, the Court recognizes and thanks Joe Collins.
Eastern Division Award: Francis C. Morrissey, Esq.
Throughout his career, Francis (“Frank”) has been among the first to volunteer to undertake various pro bono tasks such as serving on the BBA’s Bankruptcy Law Section Steering Committee, the Clients’ Security Board and the board of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s organization that provides assistance to lawyers with substance abuse and other issues. This year, Frank is recognized particularly for helping develop the Massachusetts Bar Association Student Loan Bankruptcy Assistance Program, which he currently co-chairs. Frank volunteered to be lead appellate counsel in a case in this program, which ultimately lead to the discharge of the debtor’s student loans. In addition to providing pro bono legal services directly to debtors, Frank also currently serves as the overseer in the BBA Bankruptcy Section’s suspended and disbarred lawyer protocol. For his contributions to pro bono work, the Court recognizes and thanks Frank Morrissey.