MBA Fetes Legal Aid Lawyers with Access to Justice Awards

Photo of Judith Liben
Photo credit: Jeff Thiebauth/Courtesy of MBA

Three legal aid lawyers will receive Access to Justice Awards from the Massachusetts Bar Association at its annual dinner on May 9.

Luz Arévalo of Greater Boston Legal Services will receive the Legal Services Award. Gina Plata-Nino of the Central West Justice Center will receive the Rising Star award. And Judith Liben of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Luz Arévalo oversees the Low-Income Tax Clinic at Greater Boston Legal Services. In addition to her work with individual clients, she has been involved in legislative efforts to reform state tax policies. She was instrumental in the recent passage of legislation extending innocent-spouse relief to joint tax filers and in a first-of-its kind measure allowing domestic violence victims to safely have access to the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Gina Plata-Nino, a staff attorney at the Central West Justice Center, a subsidiary of Community Legal Aid in Worcester, represents food insecure clients with disabilities, language differences, or other difficulties who are applying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. She has also helped residents of Puerto Rico displaced by Hurricane Maria. Plata-Nino is co-founder and president of the Oon Jai Foundation, which seeks to alleviate poverty in Southeast Asia.

Judith Liben will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for her more than 30-year career in tenants’ rights and housing access advocacy. Working at MLRI since 1989, Liben has testified on Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill, successfully urging lawmakers to pass the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act and similar legislation in Massachusetts. She also lobbied state housing officials to institute a lottery system for low-income applicants to the Section 8 program.

“One of the most gratifying things about working at Mass. Law Reform is how it allows me the chance to work in a variety of ways with clients, colleagues and community groups.” Liben told the MassBar eJournal.

Read more about all the Access to Justice Award honorees in the MassBar eJournal.
Listen to more about the winners on the MassBar Beat podcast.