CORI Training Kicks Off Pro Bono Month at the BBA

Pauline Quirion (Greater Boston Legal Services), Stephen Russo (Legal Advocacy and Resource Center), Christina Miller (Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office), and Susan Malouin (Greater Boston Legal Services) taught the audience about CORI sealing last Thursday.

Pauline Quirion (Greater Boston Legal Services), Stephen Russo (Legal Advocacy and Resource Center), Christina Miller (Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office), and Susan Malouin (Greater Boston Legal Services) taught the audience about CORI sealing last Thursday.

Pauline Quirion (Greater Boston Legal Services), Stephen Russo (Legal Advocacy and Resource Center), Christina Miller (Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office), and Susan Malouin (Greater Boston Legal Services) taught the audience about criminal record sealing at the annual CORI Training last Thursday.

Pro Bono Month officially kicked off at the BBA last Thursday with the annual CORI Training—the first of many pro bono trainings to be held at 16 Beacon this month. Our longtime readers may remember our write-up of last year’s CORI Training, but for those of you who are new to Beyond the Billable, here’s the breakdown. The BBA teams up with long-time partner Greater Boston Legal Services each year to train attorneys to seal criminal records in an effort to combat unemployment and break the cycle of poverty. This year’s panel featured Pauline Quirion (Greater Boston Legal Services), Stephen Russo (Legal Advocacy and Resource Center), Christina Miller (Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office), and Susan Malouin (Greater Boston Legal Services). Beyond the Billable checked in with Pauline to hear what guests took away from the training. Here’s what she had to say:

What do you hope attendees learned from the training?
“Hopefully, attendees left with a basic understanding of how to seal records as well as an understanding of the devastating consequences of having a criminal record. Work is the pathway to a better life and out of poverty. CORI traps people in a cycle of unemployment, poverty and often hopelessness.”

Why should attorneys volunteer for GBLS’ CORI Program?
“CORI sealing work is racial justice work. Mass incarceration and disproportionate involvement of people of color in the criminal justice system are the new Jim Crow. The stigma related to having a criminal record has caused an epidemic of joblessness and underemployment in Boston’s predominately black communities. The destruction of life opportunities through criminal records means not only that individuals suffer, but that communities of color are pushed toward a permanent underclass in Boston. Sealing a criminal record can put an end to a person’s chronic unemployment, homelessness and inability to provide for his or her children.”

BBA Schools Mayor’s Youth Council on the Ins and Outs of Policy

Mike

Last week, BBA Director of Government Relations & Public Affairs Mike Avitzur headed across the street to Boston City Hall to discuss key policy issues. However, this time he was meeting with a different group of representatives—Boston teens from the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC). As you may know, the BBA is a longstanding partner of the MYC, teaming up with the City of Boston and Northeastern University. Mike was invited to lend his policy expertise to help the 85 teens who represent their Boston neighborhoods refine their policy recommendations to the Mayor. Here’s what he had to say about the experience:

“It was great to have a chance to talk with young people who are so interested in public policy and so engaged with trying to make a positive difference in the world around them.”

So what types of policy ideas are on the table? Here are a few of the representatives’ ideas:

  • Tax incentives for small businesses that employ young people;
  • Community policing training for MBTA police;
  • Tax incentives for organizations that provide advertising for non-profits; and
  • Banning alcohol advertising on city and state owned property.

Mike presented key questions to think about before their meetings with officials, such as how much will this policy cost and who are the key stakeholders who will support or oppose it? The representatives then worked to outline answers to each question and identify areas for additional research. So what’s up next? The MYC will continue to research and hone their ideas before making formal recommendations to the Mayor.

BBA Celebrates 15 Year Partnership with GBLS

Each year, the BBA teams up with GBLS to host a CORI Training. This training represents one of the many ways the BBA and GBLS partner each year.

Each year, the BBA teams up with GBLS to host a CORI Training. This training represents one of the many ways the BBA and GBLS partner.

This year marks Greater Boston Legal Services’ 15th year as a BBA sponsor organization.  The BBA and GBLS have teamed up for years to train attorneys to take pro bono cases and recruit volunteers. Case in point – today the BBA and GBLS are joining forces to host a CORI training to help clients from Roxbury, Dorchester, and other low-income Boston communities to seal their records and break the cycle of poverty. Later this month, we will host a training for the BBA Lawyer for the Day in the Housing Court Program, and GBLS is one of the legal services organizations whose partnership makes the program possible.

However, the BBA GBLS relationship goes far beyond programs and trainings. GBLS staff members are active members of the BBA leadership and we often call upon GBLS to weigh in on challenging policy recommendations. Furthermore, the Boston Bar Foundation supports GBLS through grant funding.

But you’ve probably heard enough about our partnership from us, so we reached out to Jacquelynne Bowman, the Executive Director of GBLS, to hear more about the relationship from GBLS’ point of view. Here’s what she has to say:

“GBLS’ longstanding partnership with the BBA has had some major impacts on the delivery of legal services in the community!  First, you go back to 1900 when a significant percentage of BBA council members created the Boston Legal Aid Society, GBLS’ predecessor, then journey through the years of significant support in favor of legal aid against federal funding cuts to the leadership today in supporting increased funding for legal aid all resulting in thousands of clients who would not otherwise have access to justice, getting it.  BBA membership for our staff has resulted in:

  • increased professional educational opportunities  = improves client services
  • leadership opportunities = become future leaders in legal service community
  • increased connections with BBA members leads to pro bono commitments.”

We look forward to many more years of collaboration with GBLS.

Identifying the Impact – The Summer 2014 Program by the Numbers

The BBA's  Judicial Internship Program allows Boston area law students to gain access to internships in the Boston Municipal Courts, Massachusetts State District Courts, the Probate and Family Court, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The BBA’s Judicial Internship Program allows Boston area law students to gain access to internships in the Boston Municipal Courts, Massachusetts State District Courts, the Probate and Family Court, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts.

If you read Beyond the Billable at the beginning of the summer, you had a chance to learn about the BBA Summer Judicial Interns (see here and here). This program offers law students an opportunity to work closely with judges and enhance their legal research and writing skills. That’s why we wanted to bring an article in last week’s BBA Week to your attention, which did a great job of displaying the scope and impact of the program with some pretty cool statistics. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, click here, and be sure to keep an eye out for the most recent case summaries from the 2014 Summer Judicial Interns here.

Gearing Up for Pro Bono Month with Housing Court GAL Training

Joe Ann Smith (Boston Housing Court), Hon. Jeffrey Winik (Boston Housing Court), and Catherine Downing (Law Office of Catherine F. Downing and Associates) walked attendees through everything they need to know to become a GAL in the Boston Housing Court.

Joe Ann Smith (Boston Housing Court), Hon. Jeffrey Winik (Boston Housing Court), and Catherine Downing (Law Office of Catherine F. Downing and Associates) walked attendees through everything they need to know to become a GAL in the Boston Housing Court.

You’re probably familiar with the BBA’s work with the Boston Housing Court (see this post and this post), but we hosted a new training on Monday evening on what you need to know to become a Guardian-ad-Litem (GAL) in the Housing Court. If you’re wondering what a GAL does, we have you covered. As a certified GAL for the Housing Court, judges appoint you to assist clients who have cognitive or mental health issues that make it difficult for them to navigate the court system.

Beyond the Billable checked in with one of the panelists, Catherine Downing (Law Office of Catherine F. Downing and Associates), to learn more about the training. Here’s what she had to say:

What do you hope attendees learned at the training

“The real human perspective of the value of serving in this role, including the fact that you have the awesome power and responsibility of making decisions that will impact another’s life, including the decision whether they can remain in their homes.  I hoped that I encouraged prospective Guardians to try to think creatively in order to help persons in desperate straits, helping them to locate resources and reconnect with their formal and informal support network, including family members and friends who may have become estranged.  By suggesting best practices for them, I wanted to give them a structure in which to do this good work. “

Why should attorneys volunteer as GALs in the Housing Court? 

When I am asked why I take appointments as a GAL, I always return to what I was taught when I was younger: for those to whom much has been given, much is expected to be returned.  Serving as a Guardian ad Litem allows attorneys to take the skills that we would normally use to litigate and allows us to use them to benefit those most in need: the people with mental challenges that are easily overwhelmed by the court system.  Knowing that I have helped some of these people reconnect with their estranged families, helped them to obtain resources to address their sometimes multi-layered issues so that they can either stay in their current home or they can find better alternative housing.  At the end of the day, having done this work, those attorneys who serve in this role will learn, from the heart, that they have served justice, and that they have served it well.”

Welcome to Pro Bono Month!

The annual Pro Bono Fair at Suffolk University is one of many exciting trainings and events during Pro Bono Month

The annual Pro Bono Fair at Suffolk University is one of many exciting trainings and events during Pro Bono Month

October 1st means one thing—Pro Bono Month has officially kicked off! If you’re not familiar with Pro Bono Month, here’s the deal: Each year Governor Deval Patrick issues a proclamation naming October Pro Bono Month (you can read last year’s version here). With the help of the Courts and our Boston Bar Foundation Grantees, we’ve put together a calendar packed full of pro bono trainings to prepare you to get involved in the community.

Don’t waste any time—the events begin this week! Take a look below for some highlights:

CORI Training
October 9th 3:00 to 6:00 pm
The BBA is teaming up with Greater Boston Legal Services to train attorneys to help clients from Roxbury, Dorchester and other low-income Boston communities to seal their records and break the cycle of poverty and unemployment.

Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House at Suffolk University
October 20th 4:30 to 6:30 pm
This event, sponsored by the Boston Bar Association and Suffolk University Law School, allows attorneys and law students to meet representatives from local legal services organizations and to learn more about the pro bono opportunities in our community.

Responding to Military Sexual Trauma: What You Can Do
October 22nd 4:00 to 6:00 pm
This is the second event in a two part series to raise awareness of the issue of military sexual trauma. In this second installment, learn about the military and community response to this issue and how you can help.

Landlord Tenant Law and Practice Training
October 28th 3:00 to 6:00 pm
This training will prepare attorneys to work with pro se landlords and tenants through the BBA Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program.

Representing Survivors of Human Trafficking: An Introduction for Attorneys
October 29th 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Join an expert panel who will walk you through two human trafficking case studies, highlighting common challenges and identifying helpful resources to keep in mind when representing clients.

There are many more events and trainings planned this October. See the full Pro Bono Month calendar here.

Click here to view the full list of events.

Making Sense of the New NY Bar Pro Bono Requirement

The BBA Judicial Internship provides law students with an opportunity to work directly with a judge and hone legal skills, while working towards the 50 hours pro bono requirement for the New York Bar.

The BBA Judicial Internship provides law students with an opportunity to work directly with a judge and hone legal skills, while working towards the 50 hours pro bono requirement for the New York Bar.

If you’re a law student or recent law school graduate who is looking to practice in New York, you’ve probably  heard of the new pro bono requirement for bar applicants. If you haven’t, here’s the deal: the new requirement mandates that attorneys admitted to the New York Bar after January 1, 2015 must complete 50 hours of law-related pro bono work before filing their application (this includes those of you who took the July 2014 bar exam). Worried? Don’t be, the BBA is here to help. We’ve got two programs that could help you get closer to the 50 hour requirement.

Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court: If you’re 3:03 certified, you can volunteer to provide legal assistance to landlords and tenants on Thursday mornings at the Boston Housing Court. If you’re looking to get involved soon, you’re in luck! We have a training scheduled for Tuesday, October 28th at the BBA. Click here for more information.

Judicial Internship Program: Law students looking to work directly with a judge, observe courtroom proceedings and enhance their legal research and writing skills should check out the BBA’s Judicial Internship Program. The program runs year-round and the next round of applications for Spring 2015 are due on December 13th. Click here for more information about this opportunity.

Are you looking for additional opportunities? Stop by the Suffolk Pro Bono Fair on October 20th to learn about pro bono opportunities in Massachusetts for law students and new lawyers. Click here for more information.

If you have questions about what is eligible, be sure to contact the New York State Court of Appeals at [email protected].

If you have any questions about BBA programs, you can contact Katie D’Angelo @ [email protected].

Rep. Tsongas Speaks at 16 Beacon

U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas spoke with a group at the BBA about her work to combat military sexual trauma.

U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas spoke with a group at the BBA about her work to combat military sexual trauma.

Attorneys gathered in the Claflin Center last night for an intimate discussion with Congresswoman Niki Tsongas on her work and commitment to combating military sexual trauma. Just in case you missed it, Beyond the Billable has the highlights for you.  Rep. Tsongas serves as the top Democrat on the subcommittee for Oversight and Investigations on the House Armed Services Subcommittee. As the daughter of an Air Force Colonel, issues affecting military personnel are close to Rep. Tsongas’s heart. She has been a champion in the fight against military sexual trauma—drafting legislation to combat the issue and to respond to the needs of victims.

Beyond the Billable checked in with Anna Richardson, the co-chair of the BBA Active Duty Military, Family Members & Veterans Committee and co-executive director of Veterans Legal Services, to hear her thoughts about the program. Here’s what she had to say:

What should people who did not attend last night know about Rep. Tsongas’s work on this important topic?

“Before Congresswoman Tsongas began tackling this issue, sexual assault in the military was often not viewed as the crime that it is. The Congresswoman’s bipartisan efforts over the last seven years have helped to change that culture, create accountability, and hold our military to the high standard our service men and women are entitled to expect as they serve our country.”

 Why should attorneys come to the follow up panel in October?

“While Congresswoman Tsongas is working to address this issue at the national level, our panelists in October are facing it head-on to ensure individual veterans receive justice. They are working to meaningfully implement the systemic reforms Congresswoman Tsongas has spearheaded, and to create a culture of accountability by prosecuting perpetrators and advocating for survivors. Join us to learn about their impressive efforts and how you can help.”

Do you want to learn what you can do to help combat sexual military trauma? Don’t miss the upcoming program on October 22nd from 2-6 pm called “Responding to Military Sexual Trauma: What You Can Do.” Click here to register.

PILP 10 Teams Up with the Courts on Court Service Pilot Project

Panelist Tony Doniger outlines the role of the Court Service Center with fellow speakers Judge Dina Fein and Sheriece Perry (right) and moderator Katherine Schulte (left).

Panelist Tony Doniger outlines the role of the Court Service Center with fellow speakers Judge Dina Fein and Sheriece Perry (right) and moderator Katherine Schulte (left).

Each year, the BBA Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) crafts a year-long project to address needs in our community. Last week, attorneys crowded into the BBA’s Adams Room to learn about PILP 10’s project with the new Edward W. Brooke Courthouse Court Service Center (CSC), which opened in June. The Brooke Courthouse CSC is one of two pilot service centers; the other is located in Greenfield, MA. The Trial Court, the Access to Justice Commission, and Rosie’s Place teamed up to make the CSC a reality, and now it’s our job to showcase all that’s happening in Boston and in our Commonwealth.

If you missed the program last week, Beyond the Billable has you covered.  Take a look below for all the details on the program:

Who were the panelists?

  1. Judge Dina Fein – Housing Court, Western Division
  2. Anthony Doniger – Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.
  3. Sheriece Perry – Manager, Court Service Center

What happens at the CSC?

The CSC provides invaluable resources for visitors to the courthouse. Staff and volunteers help pro se litigants prepare pleadings, court forms and documents, access existing social services, public computers, workstations, and interpreters. While CSC staff and volunteers provide legal information, not legal advice, they meet unaddressed needs among community members.

How many people have visited the CSC?

Since the CSC opened on June 2, 2014, more than 1,530 individuals have visited the CSC for legal information!

How can you get involved?

Attorneys, law students hoping to get acquainted with the Boston legal community, and new lawyers are all welcome to volunteer. If interested, please send your resume and cover letter to the Manager of the CSC Sheriece Perry at [email protected].

What’s next?

More Court Service Centers! The impact that the CSC has at the Brooke Courthouse and in Greenfield – both for pro se litigants and court staff – has illustrated their importance for all court visitors. The goal is to open four more service centers within the next year at the busiest courts in the Commonwealth.

The CSC is open Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To learn more information, please click here.

The BBA and Busing in Boston

Ed Barshak and Julia Huston

Ed Barshak (Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.) received the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award at last week’s Annual Meeting Luncheon for his leadership on issues, such as the desegregation of the Boston schools through busing.

Our dedicated readers know about our partnership with the Boston Public Schools through a number of our public service initiatives, including the BBA Summer Jobs Program, Law Day in the Schools, and the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. However, you may not know that our support for Boston youth precedes these longstanding initiatives. If you were one of the 1,200 attorneys who attended our Annual Meeting Luncheon on Friday, you know BBA President Julia Huston referenced the BBA’s involvement in the City of Boston’s efforts to desegregate schools through busing in the 1970’s in her remarks about the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Honoree, Ed Barshak.  Here’s what happened: under then President Ed Barshak’s leadership, the BBA worked to educate the public about desegregation and the busing movement—a movement which fundamentally changed the structure and makeup of the Boston public schools we work with today. If you want more specifics about the BBA’s role in this issue, our friends at Issue Spot, the BBA’s Public Policy blog, offer a full rundown of events in their post, A Retrospective – The BBA and Busing, 40 Years Later.