32 episodes

Interviews of lawyers and others dedicated to serving the common good. The host of Higher Callings® is Donald Frederico. A Boston lawyer with several decades of experience representing clients and leading nonprofit organizations, Don has encountered a host of people who have found ways to serve their communities and the broader public and help people in need. We hope that, by shining a light on their good works, Higher Callings will inspire others to find their own paths towards making the world a better place.

Higher Callings Frederico Media, LLC

    • Society & Culture
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Interviews of lawyers and others dedicated to serving the common good. The host of Higher Callings® is Donald Frederico. A Boston lawyer with several decades of experience representing clients and leading nonprofit organizations, Don has encountered a host of people who have found ways to serve their communities and the broader public and help people in need. We hope that, by shining a light on their good works, Higher Callings will inspire others to find their own paths towards making the world a better place.

    Supreme Court Roundup, Featuring Law Professor Renee Landers

    Supreme Court Roundup, Featuring Law Professor Renee Landers

    Renee Landers is a Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. She teaches Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Health Law, and Privacy Law, among other academic pursuits. She also has served in a number of other impressive positions, including a term as President of the Boston Bar Association and another as Chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. Among her many volunteer activities, Professor Landers has played and continues to play a significant role in the area of judicial ethics in her home state of Massachusetts. And, perhaps most important, she happens to be a great role model for aspiring lawyers. 
    I’ve known Professor Landers for a number of years and could think of no one I’d rather talk with about some of the most significant decisions issued by the United States Supreme Court in the final weeks before its summer recess, and about the current controversy over whether the Justices should be bound by Congressionally-imposed rules of judicial conduct, as are all other federal judges. I learned a lot from the conversation and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. 

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Promoting Diversity and Defending Democracy: A Conversation with Lauren Stiller Rikleen

    Promoting Diversity and Defending Democracy: A Conversation with Lauren Stiller Rikleen

    Lauren Stiller Rikleen is a force of nature. An accomplished lawyer and author, past President of the Boston Bar Association, and holder of several leadership positions in the American Bar Association, she now has her own leadership institute and serves as Executive Director of an organization of lawyers devoted to defending American democracy. Lauren also recently served as editor of an inspiring book, presenting the stories of 25 women judges, all of whom, like her, have received the ABA's prestigious Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. 
    In this episode of Higher Callings, I talk with Lauren about some of her recent work, including the work of Lawyers Defending American Democracy and the publication of her new book.

    You can find the Rikleen Institute website here.

    You can find the website for Lawyers Defending American Democracy here.

    You can learn more about, and order a copy of, Lauren's latest book, Her Honor: Stories of Challenge and Triumph from Women Judges, here.

    • 46 min
    Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts: An Update From CPCS Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti

    Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts: An Update From CPCS Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti

    I recently had the privilege of interviewing retired Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Margot Botsford and Boston attorney Denise Murphy about the important work they and others have been doing to promote lawyer well-being in Massachusetts. During that interview, we talked briefly about an organization called the Committee for Public Counsel Services, or CPCS. According to its website, CPCS provides “legal representation in Massachusetts for those unable to afford an attorney in all matters in which the law requires appointment of counsel.” Those areas include criminal defense, children and family law, youth advocacy, and mental health litigation.  
    Our conversation inspired me to reach out to Anthony Benedetti, the Chief Counsel of CPCS, and ask him to provide an update on the work of CPCS, including its efforts to recruit and retain attorneys to perform the indispensable work with which it is charged.  Anthony had appeared on the podcast in November 2021, and I encourage anyone who is interested in an overview of CPCS to listen to that earlier episode. At my request, Anthony has now returned to the podcast to address some of the questions that came up in the lawyer well-being episode, and to discuss some of the ongoing initiatives of CPCS to support its lawyers and non-lawyer staff, and the many attorneys who handle CPCS cases as independent contractors.   


    The work of CPCS is vital to the Massachusetts legal system and the ability of indigent persons to secure meaningful access to justice. Whether you are a student or a lawyer who thinks they may be interested in taking on some of this important work, or simply a concerned citizen who would like to learn more about it, this episode of Higher Callings is for you.

    You can learn more about CPCS at its website: https://www.publiccounsel.net/

    • 41 min
    Bonus Episode: Chinh Pham Recounts His Family's Rescue from Vietnam

    Bonus Episode: Chinh Pham Recounts His Family's Rescue from Vietnam

    In February, I interviewed Boston IP attorney Chinh Pham, a former colleague of mine and current President of the Boston Bar Association. At the beginning of the interview, Chinh told me the remarkable story of his family’s rescue from Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in 1975 in the final days of the Vietnam War, and his recent renewed contact with the American naval personnel from the U.S.S. Duluth who rescued them. The February episode began in Chinh's adult years and explored his career as a lawyer and his work with the Boston Bar Association. I now present this bonus episode, in which Chinh recounts the story of how a 10-year-old boy and his family were rescued from a war-torn country in the South China Sea and their happy reunion 44 years later with some of the Americans who rescued them.

    • 20 min
    Lawyer Well-Being in Massachusetts: A Conversation with Retired Justice Margot Botsford and Attorney Denise Murphy

    Lawyer Well-Being in Massachusetts: A Conversation with Retired Justice Margot Botsford and Attorney Denise Murphy

    The American legal system is only as healthy as the lawyers and judges who populate it. Yet, the system as it’s structured places enormous stress on many of them, which not only affects their personal happiness and career satisfaction, but also can diminish the level of service they provide to their clients and the public who depend on them. 
    In 2017, a National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being issued a groundbreaking report. The report found that the legal profession was falling short when it comes to lawyer well-being; that too many lawyers experience chronic stress and high rates of depression and substance abuse; and that those conditions could not support a profession dedicated to client service and dependent on public trust. That National Task Force recommended that the Chief Justices of the fifty states each undertake a review of lawyer well-being in their jurisdictions. In response, the late Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court convened a Steering Committee in 2018 to begin that review and make recommendations to the Court. He appointed Margot Botsford, a recently retired Associate Justice of the Court, to chair the Steering Committee, and included Boston attorney Denise Murphy, who at the time was Vice President of the Massachusetts Bar Association, as one of its members. 


    The 2019 report of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being confirmed that an unacceptably high number of Massachusetts lawyers in a variety of practice settings experience debilitating levels of stress and anxiety from their work, and identified several root causes. Higher Callings is pleased to present this recent interview of Margot Botsford and Denise Murphy, who initially chaired, and today continue to serve on, the Standing Committee which emerged from the Steering Committee's work and which continues to monitor and address the well-being of Massachusetts lawyers.

    You can find the website for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being here: https://lawyerwellbeingma.org/

    You can find the website for Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers/Massachusetts here: https://www.lclma.org/

    You can find Margot Botsford's Wikipedia page here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margot_Botsford

    You can find Denise Murphy's law firm biography here: https://www.rubinrudman.com/attorneys/denise-i-murphy/

    • 1 hr 5 min
    A Champion for the Rule of Law at Home and Abroad: Massachusetts Lawyer and Retired Justice Robert J. Cordy

    A Champion for the Rule of Law at Home and Abroad: Massachusetts Lawyer and Retired Justice Robert J. Cordy

    Democracies are fragile things. Many of us who pay attention have watched democracies rise and fall. So far, American democracy has survived attempts to weaken it, but no one can guarantee its continued survival.
    Two of the pillars of democracy are a free press and an independent judiciary. Those pillars often are the first targets of world leaders who want to weaken their countries’ democracies and establish autocratic rule. It takes people with vision and courage to push back against anti-democratic forces and shore up the freedoms that "we the people" too often take for granted.  


    Bob Cordy is one such person. A former public defender, turned federal prosecutor, turned a Republican governor’s chief legal counsel, turned an associate justice of his state’s highest court, Bob has become a go-to lawyer for foreign countries seeking to root-out corruption in their court systems and keep their courts independent from the other branches of government. In the early 2000s, he was part of extensive but ultimately failed efforts at establishing judicial independence in Russia and Turkey, then helped lead a successful anti-corruption effort in the courts of Uzbekistan, and for the past few years has worked with an international team making great inroads at eliminating corruption in the courts of Ukraine.  


    In the first half of this episode of Higher Callings, I ask Bob about how he advanced from his humble beginnings as a public defender ultimately to become a respected member of his state’s highest court. In the second half of the episode, we talk about Bob’s work overseas, the weakening of democracies around the world, the importance of preserving a strong, independent judiciary in our own United States, and the crucial role of lawyers in accomplishing that indispensable goal.

    You can find Bob's law firm biography here.

    You can find a story about Bob's 2018 lecture at Boston College Law School here.

    You can find Bob's published article about the interdependent relationship between the free press and an independent judiciary here.

    • 1 hr 15 min

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