The Honorable Geraldine S. Hines Civil Rights Award seeks to support the development of students who, like Justice Hines, have used their outstanding academic ability and passion for equality, equity and justice to advance civil rights causes in their communities.

Geraldine S. Hines was born in Scott, Mississippi, and grew up in the Mississippi Delta. She graduated from Tougaloo College in 1968 and the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1971. Upon graduating she became a staff attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, engaging in prisoner’s rights litigation, and then, from 1973 to 1977 practiced criminal law with the Roxbury Defenders’ Committee eventually becoming Director of the Committee.

After an MIT fellowship researching policy initiatives to address the issue of police misconduct in communities of color, she served as co-counsel in Commonwealth v. Willie Sanders. From 1979-1982 she litigated civil rights cases relating to discrimination in education and advised on special education law while a staff attorney at the Harvard University Center for Law and Education.

Justice Hines entered private practice in 1982, appearing in state and federal courts on criminal, administrative, labor and family law matters. She continued to litigate civil rights cases, including employment discrimination and police misconduct claims, as a founding partner in the first law firm of women of color in the New England region. Governor Paul Cellucci appointed Justice Hines as Associate Justice of the Superior Court in 2001. Governor Deval Patrick appointed her as an Associate Justice of the Appeals Court in 2013, and she was appointed to the MA Supreme Judicial Court a year later becoming the first African American woman to serve on the SJC.

In her honor, this award is aimed at law school students of color who have demonstrated a commitment to civil rights. Nominees should exhibit academic ability and should possess the very qualities that made Justice Hines such an asset to the legal profession: compassion, perspective and honor. This 50th year of the MBLA we will award the inaugural Justice Hines Award, but it will be given annually by the MBLA in the amount of $2,000.00.

Eligibility Criteria and Application Process

Each student may apply for each of the four MBLA scholarships offered: The Honorable Justice Roderick L. Ireland Leadership and Juvenile Advocacy Award ($2,000), The Honorable Reginald Lindsay Public Service Award ($1,000), and the Fletcher “Flash” Wiley MBLA Legacy Award (two (2) students, up to $5,000) and the Inaugural Justice Geraldine Hinds Civil Rights Award ($2000). Although students may apply for more than one scholarship, no student will be awarded more than one scholarship in any given year.

Applicants for the Honorable Geraldine S. Hines Civil Rights Scholarship Award must:

  • Demonstrate exceptional compassion and commitment to civil rights;
  • Enrolled and in good standing at your law school at the time of nomination;
  • Exhibit strong academic achievement;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to practicing law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and
  • Be an MBLA member.

To be apply for this award, the applicant must submit the following: *

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • Law School Transcript
  • One (1) Letter of Recommendation (Must be from an Employer or Professor)

Recommendation Letter should include:

  • How long and in what capacity the recommender knows the applicant
  • Evaluation of the applicant’s commitment to public service
  • Evaluation of the applicant’s ability to serve the interests of groups that lack access to legal services
  • Any other relevant, special skills possessed by the applicant

*All scholarship application materials should be emailed to as a single PDF document. In the title of your PDF document, please indicate your name and the scholarship for which you are applying.

If you would like to support our scholarships you can do so by making a contribution to the MBLA Building The Legacy Scholarship Fund. This fund was created through a partnership with the Boston Bar Foundation. As the BBF is a 501(c)(3) organization, all contributions to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.