News Releases
September 23, 2013

BBA Selects Jay McManus as John G. Brooks Legal Services Award Recipient

Press Release

The Boston Bar Association has announced that it will be presenting its John G. Brooks Legal Services Award to Jay McManus, Director of the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts (CLCM), at the BBA’s Annual Meeting Luncheon on September 27, 2013 at the Boston Convention Center. The John G. Brooks Legal Services Award 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.

Both modest and dedicated, Jay McManus has served as the Director of CLCM since 1999, working to represent abused and neglected children, children with disabilities, children with mental health needs, unaccompanied immigrant minors, and children caught up in the state human services system and institutions. Each year, the Center provides representation to children in between 400 and 500 complex legal cases and at least 1,500 other children and their families in cases requiring brief assistance.

Under Jay’s leadership, CLCM underwent a major transformation, starting with the addition of new management and other personnel. Within a year, CLCM partnered with the Youth Advocacy Project (YAP) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services to implement EdLaw, an education advocacy initiative. The EdLaw Project advocates for indigent and low-income children in danger of not receiving appropriate education services. In addition, the Center began to supplement its direct services by advocating for policy and systems reform; this has expanded CLCM’s ability to ensure the equitable and effective treatment of children by the state agencies charged with their care.

Even prior to becoming the Director of CLCM, Jay devoted his time and energy to helping the less fortunate, with a strong focus on legal support for children. Going to New England School of Law at night, he spent his days working with children with mental health challenges at the Franciscan Children’s Hospital. Following his graduation from law school, he worked as staff counsel to the state’s Department of Children & Families and as Assistant General Counsel to AFSCME Council 93, a public employee labor union. Between 1991 and 2007, he also directed the Massachusetts chapter of the IPPCH-“Because of the Children Program,” a not-for-profit that provided relief to children of Irish political prisoners and to families affected by the conflict in Northern Ireland. This volunteer effort required almost as much time as a full-time job.

Jay’s commitment to representing children extends beyond his working hours. He has donated his time to mentor and assist other attorneys in the most effective ways to represent children. Additionally, he has championed legal initiatives like bills supporting forms of alternative education for high-risk youth, various benefits for low-income children, assistance to parentless immigrant children, and efforts to ensure that high-risk youth receive an education. At the BBA, Jay was a member of the Task Force on Expanding the Civil Right to Counsel, providing valuable insight as the Co-Chair of the Juvenile Committee from 2008-2011. He also helped to develop the third edition of the Parents’ How-To Guide to Children’s Mental Health Services in Massachusetts.