Pro Bono

Jean Crowe Pro Bono Award

Prior to the Section's Spring Conference, the Section of Family Law Jean Crowe Pro Bono Award Committee selects an attorney to receive the Section's Jean Crowe Pro Bono Award.

This award honors the legacy of former ABA Family Law Section Council member, Jean Crowe, a founder of the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and longtime attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

The recipient of the Family Law Section Jean Crowe Pro Bono Award shall be a person who has made a difference by offering services on a pro bono basis, or promotes organization(s) that provide legal services to low income and/or underrepresented populations. The recipient shall be a person who goes "above and beyond." The recipient does not have to work for a legal services entity, but must show commitment and dedication to the above. If a potential recipient works for a legal services entity, that person must rise above the normal call of employment.

The award is presented during the Section’s Spring Conference. A $1,500 cash prize will be given to the pro bono or public service organization of the recipient’s choice.

For more information on the Section of Family Law Jean Crowe Pro Bono Award, contact the ABA Section of Family Law.

2021 Nomination Information

Nomination information for the 2021 Award will be available in September 2020.

Potential recipients shall be nominated by others or can be self-nominated. Criteria for selection includes the following:

  • The total number of pro bono hours spent (yearly) and complexity of cases handled by a nominee;
  •  The impact of the nominee's pro bono work and/or benefit to low income or underrepresented populations;
  • Particular expertise provided or particular need satisfied by the nominee;
  • Successful recruitment by the nominee of other attorneys for pro bono representation (if applicable); and
  • Proven commitment by the nominee to the delivery of quality legal services to low income and/or underrepresented populations, and commitment to equal access to legal services.

2020 Winner: 
Michael “Mike” Boulette

Family means a lot to Michael Boulette. Not just because he is the father to three young children, or because he’s spent his entire 10-year career litigating complex family law matters, but because for Mike, family extends to the law students he teaches, the legal community he serves, and children and parents in need across Minnesota.

During 2019 alone, Mike Boulette dedicated 388 hours to pro bono work. And 2019 wasn’t unique; he consistently goes above and beyond for those who are unrepresented or underrepresented – to help ease the challenges they’ve encountered.

Everything that Mike Boulette does – through direct advocacy, public service, professional leadership, and teaching – allows him to have an impact on improving the lives of families. And this passion for service is why Mike Boulette keeps devoting his time, intelligence and passion to a variety of clients, causes, and organizations throughout his community.

The best way to explain Mike Boulette’s impact is by example. In 2019, Mike spearheaded two pro bono appeals for the Indian Child Welfare Center, serving as an advocate for Native American parents and caregivers caught in the child protection system.

As pro bono counsel for the Minnesota State Bar Association, he also volunteered his time in two other family law appellate matters before the Minnesota Supreme Court: In re J.M.M, addressing an unmarried fathers’ rights to receive notice of a name change, and Thornton v. Bosquez, regarding the application of Minnesota’s presumption against joint custody in cases of domestic violence.

2019 also found Mike Boulette working as a pro bono advocate representing the interests of a refugee child caught in a contested parentage action; prevailing in litigation on behalf of a domestic abuse survivor and her children; and mentoring a Barnes & Thornburg associate in representing a needy client in a contested adoption now on appeal.

Beyond his direct advocacy, Mike Boulette also worked for broader change: serving on Minnesota’s statewide Guardian Ad Litem board and pursuing systemic advocacy on children’s behalf, as well as sitting on the boards of both the Minnesota State and Hennepin County Bar Associations.

Michael Boulette’s dedication to serving others also extends to mentoring and educating law students and younger attorneys as they grow in the profession. He is an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, teaching the core family law course as well as a seminar on international and comparative family law.

Mike Boulette’s teaching has had a direct and lasting impact on his students – he was honored with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Mike also serves as a mentor through the University of St. Thomas School of Law and is a past alumni board member.