BOSTON (October 5, 2009) – McDermott Will & Emery provided extraordinary pro bono support and resources in assisting The Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts complete an in-depth study released on the impact of sentencing to life without parole Massachusetts juveniles between the ages 14 and 17 convicted of murder.
The study – entitled “Until They Die A Natural Death: Youth Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Massachusetts” – is the culmination of a two year collaboration among McDermott, the Children’s Law Center, and Equal Justice Works fellow, Lia Monahon, whom McDermott sponsored in this initiative. The Equal Justice Works Fellowships program places new lawyers in two-year assignments at non-profit public interest organizations.
The life without parole project focused on assessing the appropriateness of Massachusetts’ practice of trying youth charged with first degree murder in adult court and, if convicted, imposing on them mandatory life sentences without the possibility for parole.
Over the past two years, more than 40 attorneys, paralegals, summer associates and staff from four offices of the Firm devoted more than 2,300 hours to the project, including interviewing more than 30 prisoners who received life without parole sentences for crimes committed as juveniles.
Earlier this year, McDermott received the Access to Justice Award from the Massachusetts Bar Association, in part related to its substantial pro bono work on the juvenile sentencing study. The MBA’s Access to Justice Award is given annually in recognition of exemplary efforts in providing pro bono services to the public.
McDermott’s collaboration with the Children’s Law Center on this project also received a 2008 Leadership Award from Citizens for Juvenile Justice.
“I found this project to be very inspiring,” said Melissa Nott Davis, co-chair of the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee in the Firm’s Boston office. “It brought together many McDermott personnel behind a single project that was very moving. Every person involved in the project – particularly those who interviewed prisoners serving life without parole sentences – was touched by the experience. Many had never been to a prison, and most had not realized that Massachusetts sentences juveniles to life without parole. Lia was an incredible leader, and the report reflects her hard work and dedication.”
The Firm, according to Ms. Davis, will remain involved as the project moves forward. Ms. Davis, a partner in the Firm’s Trial Department, serves as counsel for the Executive Committee leading the work on the project.
McDermott annually sponsors two Equal Justice Works fellows who work on projects related to children's issues to further support the Firm’s ongoing Kids First initiative.
McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice. Numbering more than 1,000 lawyers, we have offices in Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Dusseldorf, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Milan, Munich, New York, Orange County, Rome, San Diego, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Extending our reach to Asia, we have a strategic alliance with MWE China Law Offices in Shanghai.