The Boston Bar Association (BBA) today announced that Robert A. Sable, Executive Director of Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), has won the BBA’s prestigious John G. Brooks Legal Services Award. The award was presented at the Boston Bar Association Annual Meeting Luncheon – with more than 1,100 lawyers and judges on hand to applaud his exemplary leadership in making legal aid available to poor people throughout the Greater Boston area with the most pressing legal problems imaginable.
“Bob Sable is a giant in a city known for the talent, dedication and commitment of its legal services lawyers,” said BBA President Don Frederico. “His contributions to providing legal aid to low-income people go far beyond what he does at GBLS. Generous with his time and creativity, Bob has labored for decades as an effective advocate for people in need of legal services throughout Massachusetts, and has gained the respect and admiration of all who know him in the legal community and in government.”
GBLS work that has been accomplished under Bob Sable’s leadership includes the following:
– Defended the 350 immigrant women seized in the immigration raid on the Michael Bianco Factory in New Bedford, preventing many of them being flown away from their families to Texas and gave them the ability to have a full hearing on their right to stay in the US. Today many have been granted legal residency.
– Brought a class action on behalf of all the workers in the Michael Bianco factory which resulted in recovery of more than $600,000 in wage claims based illegal exploitative condition including denial of overtime.
– Brought a class action against the MBTA on behalf of people with disabilities which has resulted in more than $300 million in improvement making the T subways and buses more accessible to all and giving people with disabilities a say in the improvements
– Brought about numerous administrative changes in the state unemployment system which improved access and benefits to victims of domestic violence, part time workers and works with limited English proficiency.
– Brought an ongoing case to improve the state welfare system for people with disabilities who are frequently denied benefits or terminated from benefits because the very disabilities which should make them eligible for benefits or services make it impossible for them to navigate the Byzantine welfare system.
Some would say that Bob Sable’s proudest moment occurred in 1994, when with the help of the Boston Bar Association and the Volunteer Lawyers Project, he gave up more than $2.1 million in federal funding for GBLS funding rather than accept new Legal Services Corporation rules that would have restricted the types of representation and people who could be represented by GBLS. Had GBLS accepted the funding, none of the above-mentioned cases could have been handled by GBLS.
After giving up the LSC funding, GBLS grew from a budget of $6 million to $14 million expanding its base of support to include everyone from individuals, corporations, law firms foundations, state and federal government to the United Nations enabling GBLS to serve more than 15,000 individuals and families as well as continuing to bring major cases.
A graduate of Harvard College, Bob Sable served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia before going on to Yale Law School, where he was Chair of the Student Legal Services Corporation. Executive Director of GBLS since 1991, he has spent more than 40 years as a legal services lawyer.
He lives in Brookline with his wife, Sloan.