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All Maine lawyers are expected to “render unpaid public interest legal service of a type and amount reasonable in all the circumstances” as part of their professional responsibilities. For more than thirty years, Bob Hirshon has rendered extraordinary public service as an advocate, cheerleader, and spokesperson for justice concerns. We honor him tonight for his leadership in assuring that lawyers everywhere meet their professional commitment to support access to our legal system by the people least able to afford it, both through pro bono services and through the work of legal aid providers.
Bob is a native of Portland, ME who received his bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of Michigan in 1970 and his Juris Doctor degree from that same institution in 1973. He joined the law firm known today as Drummond Woodsum & MacMahon upon graduation from law school and has spent his entire professional career at that firm developing its Financial Services Group and concentrating his practice on commercial litigation and legislative and regulatory advocacy. Like many lawyers, Bob has used personal time to support local civic and philanthropic needs within his community, but, from the outset, Bob has also committed significant personal effort and energy to address justice concerns and to promote public service by lawyers on a broader basis, especially working within voluntary membership organizations such as the local Cumberland Bar Association, the Maine State Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. Bob served as President of the Maine State Bar Association (1986) and the Maine Bar Foundation (1990). On a national level, Bob founded and served as the first chair of the ABA Steering Committee for the Center for Pro Bono (1990-1996), and served as a member and chair of the Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Public Service Responsibility (1987-1993). In 2001, Bob was elected President of the American Bar Association, only the second lawyer from Maine to ever serve in that role for an organization founded in 1878 with over 400,000 members. During a year marked by the 9-11 attacks and other challenges to domestic and international laws, Bob’s calm forceful voice reminded the public of the important work done by lawyers in times of crisis. His presidency championed pro bono service to the poor, expanded legal assistance to military personnel through the LAMP project, and launched a new initiative to address the barriers posed by student loan debt for law school graduates interested in public service. He has received numerous awards and honors for his many contributions to public service, including the Howard Dana Pro Bono Award from the Maine Bar Foundation, and the W. Reece Smith Jr. Special Service Award from the National Association of Pro Bono Coordinators.