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MLRI Advocates Ruth Bourquin and Iris Gomez Receive Women of Justice Award

Iris Gomez and Ruth Bourquin - Women of Justice Award 2009BOSTON – Massachusetts Law Reform Institute is proud to recognize two staff attorneys, Ruth Bourquin and Iris Gomez, each of whom received the 2009 Women of Justice Award at a ceremony on December 4.  

The Women of Justice Award, presented by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in partnership with the Women’s Bar Association and Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers, is bestowed upon women who have made meaningful and inspiring contributions in the fields of social justice and advocacy.

Ruth joined MLRI in 1998. She specializes in public benefits, including cash assistance and family shelter, and has engaged in legislative and administrative advocacy, as well as litigation, that has expanded access to income supports for needy families. Her recent efforts include successfully advocating that the state withdraw or substantially modify proposed regulations which would have restricted emergency access to shelter for homeless children and their families, and offering detailed recommendations adopted by the state’s Asset Development Commission to eliminate policies that penalize or discourage families reliant on public assistance from accumulating the assets they need to help break the cycle of poverty. 

Iris joined MLRI in March 1992. She directs MLRI’s Immigrants Protection Project and is a nationally recognized expert on asylum and immigration law. Her recent accomplishments include a series of federal court victories, in collaboration with pro bono counsel and other legal services groups, that stopped the government from imposing mandatory detention without bond on long time residents of the U.S. because of decades-old convictions, successful advocacy to the state Board of Higher Education for policies ensuring that all lawfully present immigrants would be eligible for in-state tuition, and contesting discriminatory practices by the Registry of Motor Vehicles which unfairly deny lawfully present immigrants access to licenses, permits and state identification cards.

About MLRI

Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is a non-profit legal services organization committed to promoting social and economic justice across Massachusetts through advocacy, education and legal action. Its mission is to ensure the fundamental needs of traditionally underserved, low-income populations are met, and to advocate for systemic reforms to policies and practices that harm people living in poverty. MLRI’s staff work in a variety of fields, including housing, health care, public benefits, immigration law, court reform, employment law, racial equity, elder law, education and family law.

MLRI also provides support to client-based legal services organizations so they may best serve their constituencies. A 2008 assessment of MLRI conducted by three experienced, national peer reviewers affirmed that MLRI “is one of the premier state support centers in the country” and “remains the backbone of the Massachusetts civil legal aid delivery system.”

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 1:36 pm