The Boston Bar Association (BBA) has announced that it has given its 2012 John G. Brooks Legal Services Award to Lynn Girton, Chief Counsel at the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). The John G. Brooks Legal Services was established by the BBA in 1988 to recognize legal services lawyers on the front lines, working to improve the lives of people who might otherwise fall through the cracks. The 2012 award was presented to Girton by BBA President J.D. Smeallie at the BBA’s Annual Meeting Luncheon, an event at the Sheraton Boston Hotel that drew some 1,2000 guests.
She has devoted virtually her entire legal career to providing representation to those unable to afford private counsel in civil cases. What’s more she leverages the talents of hundreds of lawyer volunteers so that they too can help.
Even prior to attending Northeastern University School of Law, she worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services as a paralegal. From 1980 to 1996, Girton worked at Greater Boston Legal Services, first as a staff attorney and then as senior managing attorney of the Employment and Welfare Unit. She has been chief counsel of the Volunteers Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association since 1996.
In less formal ways, she has mentored younger women attorneys and law students, helping them to build the self-confidence to assume leadership roles themselves. In more formal settings, Lynn has assumed the role of teacher. Girton has taught courses at the University of Massachusetts on topics ranging from legal issues in human services to negotiations. Over the years she has participated as a panelist on programs dealing with adoption laws, foster care system, ethical issues in legal services and litigating consumer claims in state court.
Girton just completed a two year stint as Co-Chair of the BBA’s Delivery of Legal Services Section, worked on the Medical Legal Partnership, led the important veterans-focused assistance project, and in myriad other ways has been the backbone of Boston’s pro bono infrastructure for decades.
A leader on diversity and inclusion, Girton has worked with the Diversity Coalition Steering Committee, the Advocacy Coordination Committee, the Leadership Institute of the Legal Aid University, the Judicial Appointment Project of the Gender Bias Study Committee, and the Fair Employment Project. She has served on the committees at the Parenting and the Legal Profession Committee, the Raising Our Children’s Children Committee, the Child Care Tuition Assistance Committee, the MCAD Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee to the Attorney General Fair Business Practice Division, and the Advisory Committee to Harvard University Children’s Studies Program. Currently, Girton is on the Board of Directors at the Massachusetts Appleseed Center.