Retired Partner Elected President of Greater Boston Legal Services

In The News
August 7, 2017

Ken Felter, of counsel to the firm, has been elected president and chairman of the board of Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), a nonprofit legal services organization that started as the Boston Legal Aid Society in 1900. GBLS provides free legal services and representation in civil matters (including issues related to housing, immigration, income maintenance and employment, among others) to over 10,000 low-income residents in the greater Boston area.

Mr. Felter, a retired partner who practiced in the firm’s IP litigation group, maintains an active pro bono practice and has worked with GBLS for over 30 years to broaden access to justice for low-income Massachusetts residents. He has served for many years on the GBLS board of directors, and most recently as vice president of the organization, among other positions. Mr. Felter was named as a 2016-2017 Fellow by the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission. The fellowship program pairs experienced lawyers and retired judges with nonprofit and legal services organizations to provide pro bono legal assistance to underserved client populations. During his fellowship, Mr. Felter has partnered with GBLS on several projects to make its delivery of free legal services more efficient and effective.

Ropes & Gray maintains a close relationship with GBLS. Lawyers in the firm frequently collaborate with GBLS attorneys to represent low-income individuals and families on a pro bono basis. The firm also contributes financial support and participates in the annual Associates’ Drive supporting the GBLS Family Law Unit. The Unit represents victims of domestic violence in obtaining restraining orders, finding housing and retaining custody of their children. 

“Over one million Massachusetts residents are eligible to receive free legal aid; but two-thirds of those who seek help are turned away because legal services organizations such as GBLS are overwhelmed by the demand,” said Mr. Felter. “I’m honored to serve as president of the oldest and one of the largest legal services organizations in the country. One of my major goals, and challenges, is to expand collaboration between GBLS and Ropes & Gray and other law firms in the greater Boston area to respond to the tremendous unmet need for civil legal services for our poor.”

In 2013, Mr. Felter received Ropes & Gray’s Award for Outstanding Partner Pro Bono Service, and The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice Civil Rights Pro Bono Recognition Award, for his work as lead counsel in litigation that resulted in a comprehensive overhaul of voter registration services for more than 1.3 million low-income Massachusetts residents. He is currently a senior fellow at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative.