Maine Justice Foundation Recognizes the Champions of Access to Justice

13 July 2020 , Posted in: Press Release

The Board of the Maine Justice Foundation is pleased to honor three outstanding Maine lawyers who are champions of civil legal aid: Jamie Kilbreth of Drummond Woodsum, Prof. Anna Welch of the University of Maine School of Law, and Daniel Keenan of McCloskey, Mina, Cunniff & Frawley.

Board President Bill Harwood recognized their efforts to ensure that all Mainers have access to the courts and to legal representation: “In their professional work, each of these awardees have upheld the highest goal of the Foundation: justice for all. They have demonstrated a commitment to access to justice for the least fortunate members of our society. In doing so, they inspire all Maine lawyers to do more.”

“These distinguished professionals have positively impacted the lives of many vulnerable Mainers in their pursuit of justice,” Executive Director Michelle G. Draeger said. “Their dedication and hard work representing so many in need will forever be part of the Foundation’s legacy. We are proud to honor Jamie, Anna and Dan.”

Howard H. Dana, Jr. Award to James T. Kilbreth III, Esq.

The Foundation has presented this award annually since 1984 to a Maine lawyer to recognize contributions that enhance access to civil legal assistance for poor and vulnerable Mainers. The award honors Justice Howard H. Dana, Jr., a Foundation leader and dedicated advocate for equal justice.

Jamie Kilbreth, a partner at the firm of Drummond Woodsum, has been a champion for access to justice and legal aid for many years. Serving on the Board of the Justice Action Group, Jamie is the Chair of the Advisory Committee of Providers. He served on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s working group on the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts program. Jamie recently dedicated substantial pro bono work to Maine Equal Justice to secure the expansion of MaineCare, in a case before Maine’s Supreme Court. He is a Bar Fellow and a past Board member of the Foundation. Jamie focuses his practice on complex commercial, regulatory, and constitutional litigation and higher education issues. Jamie previously served as Chief Deputy Attorney General of the State of Maine, where he supervised all major civil and criminal actions.

Thomas P. Downing, Jr. Award to Prof. Anna R. Welch

A graduate of Cheverus High School, Brown University, and Georgetown Law, Thomas P. Downing, Jr. was one of the first attorneys hired by Pine Tree Legal Assistance in the late 1960s. Tom then worked at the Maine Legislature, where he met and married his co-worker Diana Scully. Their son James was born in 1984. In the summer of 1985, Tom was diagnosed with brain cancer, and he died that November. Tom’s family created the Downing Fund and Award to recognize legal aid staff dedicated to access to civil justice for vulnerable Mainers.

In memory of Tom, the Foundation recognizes Prof. Anna R. Welch of the University of Maine School of Law. As the Sam L. Cohen Refugee and Human Rights Clinical Professor, Anna Welch oversees Maine Law’s Refugee and Human Rights Clinic and teaches the Immigration Law seminar. She serves as a clinical professor and supervising attorney, as a classroom teacher, and as an advisor to students who are interested in immigration law and human rights. Anna proposed, designed, and launched the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic. She adapted the clinic to address the most urgent needs of immigrants and refugees resulting from recent anti-immigration rules. She started and led (with Prof. Chris Northrop) the Immigrant Youth Working Group, a cross-disciplinary coalition to address the needs of immigrant youth in Maine.

New Lawyer Award to Daniel P. Keenan, Esq.

Since 2011, the Foundation has recognized outstanding lawyers, licensed to practice in Maine for fewer than ten years, who exemplify the ideals of increasing access to justice and make outstanding contributions to the legal profession and public good through pro bono service.

Daniel Keenan is a Maine Law ’16 graduate and former Refugee and Human Rights Clinic student attorney. He is now is a litigation attorney at McCloskey, Mina, Cunniff & Frawley. Since graduating magna cum laude from Maine Law, Daniel has handled many pro bono matters, including hundreds of hours defending asylum seekers before the Boston Immigration Court. He is a member of Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project’s pro bono panel. He is a corporator at the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine, and is a member of Rippleffect’s Young Professionals Committee.

The Maine Justice Foundation, founded in 1983 as the Maine Bar Foundation, is the state’s leading funder of civil legal aid for poor and vulnerable Mainers.