Women's Bar Association Announces Lelia J. Robinson Award Recipients and Emerging Women Leaders in the Law Honorees
The Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts (WBA) proudly announces its 2023 Lelia J. Robinson Award recipients and its Emerging Women Leaders in the Law Honorees.
Justice Judith Cowin, Taramattie Doucette and Joan Lukey
The Lelia J. Robinson Award honors women attorneys who have captured the spirit of Lelia J. Robinson, the first woman admitted to practice in Massachusetts. The award recognizes women who, like Robinson, are pioneers in the legal profession and who have made a difference in the community. In 2023, the WBA is proud to recognize three women who have excelled in their fields and made an impact: Justice Judith Cowin, Taramattie Doucette and Joan Lukey. Justice Cowin and Attorneys Doucette and Lukey will be honored at the WBA’s annual Gala on Monday, October 16, 2023 at Boston Marriott Copley Place in Boston, MA. The Gala, the WBA’s largest event of the year, is attended by hundreds of attorneys, judges, legislators, and business professionals.
“We are delighted to honor Justice Cowin and Attorneys Doucette and Lukey as this year’s Lelia J. Robinson award winners,” said WBA President Jessica Babine. “All three awardees exemplify the spirit of this award and its namesake – breaking barriers with skill and dedication to the law. Each is a remarkable role model for women seeking to join and participate in the legal profession. I am in awe of their accomplishments and look forward to publicly honoring them for their tremendous work.”
JUSTICE JUDITH COWIN
Justice Cowin is a retired Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), who was the third women ever to be appointed to that Court. Prior to her serving for 11 years on the SJC, Justice Cowin was a Justice on the Superior Court. In all, she served for 18 years on the bench. As a judge, she advanced opportunities for women by hiring many female clerks and encouraging women to apply to the judiciary. For the women that she knew as clerks and in the judiciary, she held annual professional one-on-one check-ins so that she could obtain career updates and offer encouragement.
Her public service on behalf of women has been significant. In the late 1970s, when Massachusetts Domestic Violence legislation was passed, she trained mostly white, male judges about the new law and urged them to apply it in their courtrooms. When the SJC affirmed marriage equality in 2004 on a 4-3 vote, she historically voted with the majority making marriage equality the law in Massachusetts. This momentous decision set the stage for the US Supreme Court to affirm marriage equality in the United States.
Prior to her time on the bench, Justice Cowin’s exemplary work in the public sector extended through her practice as an attorney in the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and the Office of the Chief Justice of the District Court Department, as an Assistant District Attorney in the Norfolk District Attorney's Office, and as a clinical field supervisor at Harvard Law School.
Attorney Taramattie Doucette is a senior attorney and project director of the Children’s Disability Project (CDP) at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS). She began her career at GBLS in 1988 and became a leader in the field of disability advocacy. In 2002, Attorney Doucette recognized the need for safe and reliable transportation for residents living with disabilities and served as lead counsel in a class action against the MBTA brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This case changed how the MBTA operated and pressed the system to accommodate those with disabilities, opening many doors for disabled residents that had previously been closed.
Attorney Doucette has dedicated her career to advancing the rights of the disabled, with a particular focus on children with disabilities. She co-founded the Children’s Disability Project in 2007 in order to represent GBLS’s most vulnerable clients – low-income children with disabilities. She not only has worked tirelessly for these children but has positively impacted the mothers of these children empowering them to act as advocates for their children. Because of Attorney Doucette’s work, hundreds of children with disabilities and their parents have managed to surmount the hurdles that had previously thwarted them in accessing benefits to which they are legally entitled.
Perhaps the most striking proof of Attorney Doucette’s extraordinary talents is her ability to bring so many talented women together to work on behalf of children with disabilities. Attorney Doucette’s commitment to her work is demonstrated through the hours of time she spends mentoring younger women lawyers, law students, and staff who work at CDP and GBLS.
Attorney Joan Lukey is a leading woman in Massachusetts and national civil litigation. For over three decades, Attorney Lukey has tried complex business litigation, employment, and other matters in state and federal courts nationwide. During her career has tried over 100 jury trials to verdict, and scores of bench trials and arbitrations in all aspects of business disputes. Attorney Lukey is an accomplished appellate lawyer, having argued over 60 federal and state appeals. Her victory for Patricia Cornwell before a jury in 2013, with a $50.9 million judgment against the firm that managed the author’s finances, was one of the most high-profile trials in 2013. Her impact as a woman in litigation is extraordinary.
In addition to her litigation practice, Attorney Lukey has served as a leader in the legal community. Attorney Lukey is a past President of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, the first woman ever to hold this position, in this invitation-only organization. Attorney Lukey has served as a past president of the Boston Bar Association. Attorney Lukey was also elected to fellowship in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. She has been active in the community for decades with numerous awards and recognitions.
Attorney Lukey has practiced in the largest firms in Boston. She recently joined Manatt, Phelps & Phillip’s Trial, White Collar and Investigations Practice. Previously, she was a partner at both Choate Hall & Stewart LLP, Ropes & Gray LLP, and prior to that, she practiced for nearly thirty years at WilmerHale. Attorney Lukey has served twice as a Special Assistant Attorney General and has written extensively on issues of Gubernatorial and Presidential Executive Privilege.
Emerging Women Leaders in the Law Honorees
The WBA’s Emerging Women Leaders in the Law Award honors women attorneys who have demonstrated professional excellence or had a significant professional achievement in approximately their first 12 years in the legal profession, and either promote the status of women in the legal profession or contribute meaningfully to the equal participation of women in a just society. The 2023 awardees will also be celebrated and honored at the WBA’s annual Gala on October 16, 2023 at the Marriot Copley Place in Boston. They are:
Julie Dick, Buckley Richardson and Gelinas LLP
Avana Epperson-Temple, Peabody & Arnold LLP
Tram Nguyen, State Representative, 18th Essex
Whitney Williams, Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office
“This year’s group of Emerging Women Leaders is an exceptional group of women attorneys whose talent and accomplishments thus far in their careers are commendable. I look forward to their continued good work and celebrating their contributions to the legal profession into the future.” said President Babine.