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Attorney, Bacon Wilson, P.C., age 39
Kevin Maltby remembers being in a courtroom watching a judge trying to give some advice to a pro-se litigant in a debt-collection matter — someone representing herself because she couldn’t afford to hire an attorney — and deciding that there was something definitely wrong with that picture.
“The judge isn’t supposed to give advice,” said Maltby, a litigator and employment-law specialist with Springfield-based Bacon Wilson, P.C. “And I knew she would wind up in the clerk’s office. The clerks aren’t supposed to give advice either, but they do, and that’s nice, but I sat there and said, ‘there should be somewhere for this person to go to get the answers they need in a relatively short period of time, for free, to get them on course.’”
That’s essentially how the District Court Lawyer for a Day Program was launched. It took some doing, and there are many parties and volunteers involved, but it was Maltby who got the ball rolling and kept it rolling. At last count, more than 250 individuals had received assistance from the initiative, which, as the name suggests, places volunteer lawyers in the District Court to assist pro-se litigants in non-criminal matters.
The program has been so successful that, in 2012, the Hampden County Bar Assoc. presented Maltby with its Access to Justice Pro Bono Publico Award for its efforts. That’s just one of many accomplishments inside and outside the courtroom for Maltby, an accomplished litigator who is a five-time recipient of the Super Lawyers Rising Star award from Boston magazine, and has also been honored by the Mass. Bar Assoc. as the 2013 recipient of its Community Service Award.
He earned that designation through a long list of contributions within the community. At the top of that list is work he and his wife, Eliza, undertook to create the Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Support Group of Western Mass. and take part in other initiatives to raise awareness of pediatric strokes.
“They happen right when children are born or right after, and they often go undiagnosed,” Maltby said. “Work in these areas has opened my eyes to a lot of things, and made me realize that we can make a difference if we just try.”
Suffice it to say that he does more than try.
— George O’Brien