BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Bar Association will honor Harvard resident James Breslauer of Neighborhood Legal Services in Lynn and Lawrence with the Legal Services Award.

Breslauer is one of five attorneys and one law firm to receive the Access to Justice Awards at the MBA Annual Dinner May 9. The awards recognize the efforts of attorneys and law firms who have made significant strides in enhancing access to justice. The event will be held at the Westin Boston Waterfront.

"These honorees are true legal heroes. They have dedicated themselves to making sure all Massachusetts residents get the legal help they need," MBA President Robert L. Holloway Jr. said. "All attorneys should emulate their commitment."

Breslauer has dedicated his entire career to helping the underrepresented as a legal-aid attorney. The desire to change the inequities he saw in the treatment of people with low income and people of color motivated him to attend law school in the 1960s. He began working at Neighborhood Legal Services in 1996 and is currently their advocacy coordinator. Breslauer also serves as a hearing officer for the Board of Bar Overseers, and as a judge for the MBA Mock Trial Program.

MBA Access to Justice Section Chair Isabel Raskin and Vice Chair Susan Anderson presented the report of the Access to Justice Award nominees at the March meeting of the MBA's House of Delegates, which unanimously approved the honorees.

"Our system of justice is the heart of our democracy. The work these attorneys do protects the fundamental rights of their clients and our communities; more importantly, it ensures the legal system continues to serve us all," Anderson said.

"Honoring their contributions acknowledges the important and great work that they and so many lawyers have accomplished, and serves as an inspiration to members of the bar to ask a little more of themselves in securing the ability of all to access justice," Raskin said.

The Access to Justice Awards are part of the MBA's Annual Dinner, which will include a keynote address by Gov. Deval Patrick and the presentation of the Legislator of the Year Award to state Rep. Brian S. Dempsey.