Awards and Rankings
April 9, 2024

The Boston Bar Foundation’s Richard A. Soden Public Service Award Honors Paul Lee


The Boston Bar Foundation announced that its Public Service Award has been renamed the Richard A. Soden Public Service Award in honor of the late Richard Soden, a former Goodwin partner. The award honors civic leaders who have shown exemplary leadership in community service and philanthropy, and this year’s recipient is retired Goodwin partner Paul Lee.

“Not only was Richard a champion for access to justice for the underserved, he was also deeply committed to the betterment of the profession as a whole,” said Boston Bar Foundation President Stephen P. Hall. “So many in our community looked to Richard as a mentor and a role model, and we hope that his spirit and his determination continue to live on for the next generation of attorneys as we remember him for years to come through the Richard A. Soden Public Service Award.”

Soden was a trailblazing lawyer, community leader, and civil rights champion, who became one of the first African Americans elected to partnership at a large Boston law firm when he was named a Goodwin partner in 1979. Among his many accomplishments, he served as the President of the Boston Bar Association, Boston Bar Foundation and the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, and as Chairman of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Bar Services and Activities and its Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs.

Lee’s unwavering commitment to justice has left an indelible impact on his community that continues to this day. One of the first Asian partners at a major Boston law firm, it was forty years ago that Lee – encouraged by his longtime mentor Soden – helped found the Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts (AALAM).

“I think for most Asian American attorneys in Boston, he’s basically been like the godfather for all of us throughout our careers,” said Peggy Ho, Co-Chair of the 2024 Adams Benefit. “He’s ever-present for our community and he’s been such an inspiration to all of us. Though I’ve never worked with him in a legal capacity, from a community perspective he’s been kind of the North Star for so many of us, for all these years.”

Lee is the founder and past president of several local and national foundations and organizations, including the Asian Community Fund of the Boston Foundation, which focuses on increasing the visibility of the Asian American community and expanding resources for nonprofits that serve disadvantaged Asian Americans.

The remarkable contributions of Soden and Lee were celebrated at the John & Abigail Adams Benefit on April 6 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.