right: Kitt Sawitsky ’71, David Abromowitz ’78,
Andrew Zelermyer ’85, and seated: Michael Haroz ’67.
June 6, 2004:
in Boston’s service Boston firm’s Princeton alumni work for pro bono
and paying clients
As an idealistic young lawyer fresh out of Harvard Law School
in the early 1970s, Michael Haroz ’67 worked in the inner-city
neighborhood of Field’s Corner, in Dorchester, Massachusetts,
for Greater Boston Legal Services, which provides free civil legal
assistance to low-income people in Boston. Thirty years later, the
view over Boston Harbor from his gleaming, high-rise offices at
the firm Goulston & Storrs, couldn’t be more different.
Yet, even though he’s served as the firm’s managing
director, his work still takes him back to the same neighborhood
— he recently developed a community center for the more than
10,000 Vietnamese immigrants who live in Field’s Corner.
His paycheck may be a bit fatter now, but for Haroz and three
other Princeton alums working at Goulston & Storrs, the opportunity
to do pro bono work as a major part of their daily legal work drew
them to — and keeps them at — the firm, which has won
several American Bar Association awards for its service to the community.
“For most people there’s a choice to be either in
the business world or being involved with the community,”
says David Abromowitz ’78. “In this atmosphere, we can
Along with Haroz and Abromowitz, Kitt Sawitsky ’71 and Andrew
Zelermyer ’85 say their jobs allow them to treat pro bono
clients like any other, devoting the same amount of time and firm
resources they might to a paying client. Sawitsky, for example (who
is the firm’s current managing partner), is the chairman of
the board of directors of STRIVE, an organization that recruits
and trains workers from low-income neighborhoods, and uses his contacts
and experience as a corporate lawyer to facilitate the organization’s
access to the Boston business community. Zelermyer, who specializes
in real estate law, got the firm’s blessing to spend some
of his billable hours as a member of a panel of business and community
leaders who addressed social justice issues affecting the Greater
Boston area, and has also helped a local community-development company
create affordable housing.
“By bringing business skills to these nonprofit organizations,
you’re empowering them to do their work on a larger scale,
and you can have a broader affect than as a public defender,”
says Haroz. “I don’t think I could have developed the
community center without the experience of working at a corporate
business law firm.”
The lawyers’ theory is that pro-bono work does not have
to be separate from a firm or business’s existing strengths.
“You can learn a craft and practice it at a high level, but
it doesn’t mean you don’t have a role to play in the
larger world,” says Sawitsky.
By Kathryn Beaumont ’96
Kathryn Beaumont is assistant director of development planning