April 11, 2008
Gina Walcott-Torres (’93) is the nation's first black individual to run a lawyer assistance program
For Gina Walcott-Torres (’93), taking the position as executive director of Massachusetts’ only lawyer assistance program, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, Inc. (LCL), was the obvious step in her career, which has always revolved around public service. For the country, this was a groundbreaking step in history, making Walcott-Torres the first person of color to ever run a United States lawyer assistance program.
LCL offers confidential, free support to law students, lawyers, judges and their families who face personal and professional issues, including career concerns, family problems and substance abuse. Every state has at least one such lawyer assistance program, and LCL is supported by a portion of every lawyer’s bar registration fees.
“I think members of the bar are affected by the public perception of lawyers as superhuman, as people who exist to fix others' problems but don't, or shouldn't, have problems of their own,” said Walcott-Torres. “I want to continue to humanize the legal profession in a way that marries professional excellence, high ethical standards, job satisfaction and realistic expectations in order to support lawyers in achieving a healthy work-life balance.”
Walcott-Torres’ calling for public duty led her to work as an assistant attorney general in the Commonwealth’s AG office for nearly 6 years, where she became acting chief of the Unemployment Fraud Division, and later she worked for 8 years as a litigator in the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office.
She said her latest position at LCL falls in line with many of her past efforts, such as her initiative with the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association—where she has served as president—to create a mentoring program with the Black Law Students Association.
"This job (LCL) represented the marriage of several of my personal and professional interests: lawyer and law student assistance, community and awareness building, mentoring, serving the public interest, helping others overcome adversity, and running a non-profit," she said.
As the first black individual in her position, Walcott-Torres said she hopes her presence will bring awareness of LCL to underserved segments of the bar, such as the Women’s Bar Association, the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys and the Massachusetts Lesbian & Gay Bar Association.
Among her many roles, Walcott-Torres has taught as an adjunct lecturer in law for BU Law’s Civil Practice Clinic and has coached the law school’s ATLA Trial Teams for regional competitions.
She has received many honors, including being named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Leaders by the Boston Junior Chamber of Commerce in its 50th year celebration. She was invited to become a member of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation’s Society of Fellows, which is extended to only half of 1% the Commonwealth’s practicing Bar. And she has been featured in the Boston Business Journal.
>>View the Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, Inc. Web site