Pro Bono Opportunity: Assist Veterans Seeking Discharge Upgrades

Established in 2015, the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership at the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School assists veterans seeking discharge upgrades. The partnership connects veterans to private attorneys and provides ongoing support and expert resources to those attorneys throughout the case. For the past four years, the BBA has hosted an annual training to introduce interested attorneys to this opportunity and bolster the skillset and knowledge of existing pro bono volunteers. The next training will provide attendees the chance to hear perspectives from the military board of directors for the Air Force, Army, and Navy. They will discuss how the boards operate and how pro bono attorneys can best advocate for their veteran clients. The pro bono training will also include an update about recent changes in the law. You’re invited to attend on Thursday, April 25th from 2:30 – 5:00 PM at the BBA. A networking reception with the Active Duty Military and Veterans Forum will immediately follow the training. Read more and register to attend here.

Note that this training will build on those from 2015-2018. Convenient videos and materials from past trainings are available through our Learn Online library’s dedicated pro bono and public interest page. Easily watch the videos and review the materials whenever your schedule permits and wherever works for you, whether at your office or on the go!

Public Interest Leadership Program Alumni Mingle with Prospective Applicants

Earlier this week, the BBA hosted an information session and alumni reception for its Public Interest Leadership Program. The program, which now includes nearly 200 alumni, is currently seeking applicants for its 16th class. At the information session, Rich Baldwin (PILP 2016-2017, Foley Hoag) described his experience in the program as both inwardly and outwardly fulfilling. Participants in the program meet twice a month and hear from guest speakers across a variety of public interest issue areas. These presentations and conversations enrich the PILP members’ understanding of their community and introduce them to new ways to volunteer and engage with service providers in the Greater Boston area. Additionally, PILP members are each responsible for planning and executing two meetings for the class, as well as working together toward a culminating project for the year. Baldwin spoke about how this project is a significant outward facing element of the program. Each class has the opportunity to dive into a public interest issue area and educate and support their peers and the public through the project. During Baldwin’s PILP year, his class organized and held a symposium at the Boston Bar Association focusing on Constitutional Battlegrounds: Civil Rights in a Changing Landscape. After hearing from Baldwin and BBA Staff, prospective applicants were able to mingle with PILP alumni and hear their perspectives on the program.

The application for the 2019-2020 class is available to download here and is due on March 29th. Applicants must be attorneys within their first 10 years of practice, public interest minded, and able to commit to the 14-month program, beginning in June 2019. Questions about the program or application can be directed to Cassandra Shavney at [email protected]

Members of the first PILP class in 2003-2004 pose in front of the Boston Bar Association’s historic building, the Chester Harding House.

Need an Extra Hand around the Office this Summer?

We’re already looking to summer here at the BBA and are gearing up for our much loved Summer Jobs Program. The program is an integral part of Mayor Walsh’s Summer Jobs Initiative to hire over 10,000 Boston teens each summer. With the help of 24 law offices to secure jobs for nearly 40 teens last year, our program is one of the top eight largest private sector employers in the city. The program is a long-time partnership between the BBA, the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), and provides students who attend public high schools in the city of Boston the chance to gain professional experience and earn a paycheck.

We’re seeking legal offices that have the capacity to hire and support a youth intern for seven weeks over the summer. Our Summer Jobs students have had a successful record helping with many tasks in a busy professional environment, including data-entry, filing, research, receptionist duties, and more. Many of the students selected for the program have prior work experience and all are invested in learning more about the legal profession. We encourage you to contact us to find out how hiring a student can make a difference, for them and for your office!

For more information on the program, please click here. If your office is interested in providing a Boston public high school student with a meaningful professional experience in 2019, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected] for additional information.

Thank you to the firms and law offices that have already pledged to hire a student intern this summer. We’re grateful for your support and dedication to youth employment:

Chu, Ring and Hazel LLP
Conn Kavanaugh
LPL Financial
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
Mintz
Nixon Peabody
Nutter
Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of Boston*
Proskauer
Ropes & Gray*
Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.
Sunstein Kann Murphy Timbers LLP
Verrill Dana LLP
WilmerHale*

*Hiring more than one student intern

Last year’s interns posed together after their orientation in July. The BBA works with the Boston Private Industry Council to recruit applicants who reside in and attend school across Boston’s 23 neighborhoods.

Public Interest Leadership Program Application Available Now

The Boston Bar Association is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for its 2019-2020 class of Public Interest Leaders. The BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) is a unique leadership program for new lawyers that promotes civic engagement and public service by advancing the leadership role of lawyers in service to their community, the profession, and the Commonwealth.

If you’re interested in learning more the program, we invite you to join us on Tuesday, March 12th from 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM at the BBA. The information session will feature PILP alumni who will provide insight into the program, discuss the application process, reflect on their experiences, and answer questions. If you’d like to attend, please register here.

Eligible applicants are BBA Members who have graduated law school within the past 10 years and demonstrate a commitment to public service and their community. The Program has four specific purposes:

  • To identify and recognize present and future leaders in the BBA and the Boston legal community.
  • To contribute to the professional and leadership development of promising young attorneys.
  • To integrate young leaders into the BBA and its public service landscape — at the same time significantly contributing to the public interest.
  • To build a powerful alumni network of lawyer leaders who, by their actions, demonstrate that part of being a successful lawyer is giving back to the community.

To download the application, please click here. Applications are due March 29, 2019  to Francine Alexandre at [email protected]

The current PILP class consists of 23 accomplished attorneys selected due to their commitment to pro bono and community service. Each accomplished in their field, they’re joining a network of nearly 200 PILP alumni who’ve gone on to serve the BBA in other capacities and carry their passion for serving the public interest into the community.

CORI Experts Train Over 50 Potential Volunteers

Ahead of the Boston Bar Association’s first CORI Sealing Clinic over 50 attorneys and law students attended a training to learn about the sealing process. As many of the potential volunteers were new to this topic, Agapi Koulouris (Department of Criminal Justice Information Services) opened by reviewing precisely what information is kept on a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) and the visibility of that information to potential employers or housing providers. Following Koulouris, Sarah Joss (Office of the Commissioner of Probation) reviewed the administrative sealing process, which individuals can pursue when they have met the sealing waiting periods. These waiting periods were recently decreased (from 5 years to 3 years for a misdemeanor and from 10 years to 7 years for a felony) with the passage of the Criminal Justice Reform Bill last year. To start, the BBA’s clinic will primarily assist clients with obtaining their CORI and administrative sealing, and then it will transition into assisting clients with sealing prior to hitting their waiting period benchmark. Pauline Quirion and Vanessa Dennis (Greater Boston Legal Services) reviewed that process and also touched on the new expungement laws related to juvenile and certain adult criminal records. David Siegel (New England Law | Boston) moderated the panel and encouraged attendees to volunteer for the clinic.

At the first clinic on February 6th, five clients were assisted by our volunteers. These individuals were seeking help requesting their CORI and navigating the administrative sealing process. We anticipate that a few of those individuals will return to the clinic for follow-up and that we’ll see more clients visit in the coming months.

The clinic will take place every first Wednesday of the month from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Edward Brooke Courthouse. If you or your firm is interested in becoming involved, contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected]

VLP Announces October – December Lawyer for the Day in the Housing Court Honor Roll

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association* thanks the following attorneys who accepted cases or provided consultation in October, November, and December through Lawyer for the Day at the Eastern Housing Court:

Gary Allen
Jessica Bergin
Rachel Bier
James Bor-Zale
Gerard Cedrone
Matt Costello
Sarah Frazier
Steven Garza
Sharon V. Jones
Kim Karon
Jeanette Leopold
George Manley
Rachel McCarthy
Madelyn Morris
Kevin C. Mortimer
Yavor Nechev
Vanessa O’Connor
Amy Pearlman
Tim Perla
Julia Prochazka
Stephen Provazza
Joel M. Reck
Rian Rosetti
Greg Schmidt
David Soutter
Lu Wang
Emily Whelan
Lawrence A. Wind
Angela Yoon

*The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association is a 2018 Boston Bar Foundation grant recipient.

PILP Hears from ACLU’s Racial Justice Program Director

Guest Post: Janette Ekanem (Greater Boston Legal Services) is a member of the BBA’s 2018-2019 Public Interest Leadership Program.

This past fall, Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, spoke to the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) about the history of the criminal legal system, (a term he prefers to criminal justice system) and efforts to reform the system within Massachusetts. 

In Massachusetts last year, five out of eleven races for district attorney were contested and as a result, reform of the criminal legal system has been at the forefront of voters’ minds.  Attorney Hall noted that although police have power, district attorneys are the most powerful people in the criminal legal system because they decide who gets charged with a crime, and they determine how most criminal cases are resolved.  

Attorney Hall’s remarks challenged PILP participants to deeply examine the historical roots of the criminal legal system and how the history of the system has continued to further racial disparities.  PILP members learned that despite being branded as a liberal state, Massachusetts has some of the worst racial disparities in the criminal legal system when compared to other states in the country.     

The need to address these troubling disparities guided the Boston Bar’s own report on criminal justice reform released in the lead-up to the reforms made last session. You can learn more about that report, titled, No Time to Wait, here.  

Due to the renewed attention on criminal justice reform in Massachusetts, Attorney Hall urges voters to reframe how they think about the criminal legal system and use their voice for the change that they want to see within the system.

For more information on the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, visit https://www.aclum.org/en/rahsaan-d-hall-director-racial-justice-program.

Teach Teens Lifelong Financial Skills

The Boston Bar Association’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, in partnership with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, has been introducing high school students to essential financial concepts for 13 years. Sign-up is now open for the 2019 Financial Literacy sessions in high schools throughout the state. Attorneys and law students from all practice area backgrounds are welcome to participate and make an impact.

Through the program, volunteers sign-up for at least one 1-hour presentation in a classroom in the area. Presentation topics include Personal Finance & Budgeting, Using Credit & Credit Cards, and Financing a Large Purchase. As a volunteer, you’ll be provided with all of the training and materials needed to present to the students and guide them through lesson activities. Join us to educate high school students on the importance of making smart, informed financial decisions.

To view available volunteer slots and sign-up, please visit this website: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0b4daeac28a1fa7-2019

If you have any questions or are interested in volunteer opportunities in the Springfield area, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

The Role of the Executive Branch in Setting Immigration Policy

Last month, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from Stephen Roth of Project Citizenship, concluding the month-long examination of immigration policies today. Stephen has extensive experience representing detained and non-detained immigrants undergoing removal proceedings and in family-based petitions in both New England and greater New York City.  Project Citizenship* is a nonprofit agency that seeks to increase the naturalization rate in Massachusetts and beyond through free workshops and legal counseling.

Stephen offered a first-hand look at how immigration policy has changed from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration. Specifically, under a regulation rarely invoked in the past, the U.S. Attorney General has the singular authority to refer immigration cases to himself and to then re-adjudicate them autonomously.

Upon becoming Attorney General, Jeff Sessions self-referred several cases involving previously settled law, Stephen explained. The most notorious of his decisions was Matter of A-B-, in which Sessions overturned Board of Immigration Appeals precedent, finding that “being a victim of private criminal activity” did not constitute a cognizable “particular social group” for purposes of asylum, though domestic-violence-based claims had been recognized as grounds for asylum for decades.

Stephen encouraged the PILP class to volunteer with Project Citizenship and other nonprofit organizations providing free or low-cost legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees.  Stephen further encouraged everyone to participate in notice-and-comment procedures on proposed changes to federal regulations governing asylum and other immigration procedures.

Meeting recap provided by PILP Member Genevieve Aguilar (Choate).

*Project Citizenship is a 2018 Boston Bar Foundation Grant Recipient.

PILP Learns About Employment-Based Immigration Policy and Recent Legislative Reform

In October, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from George Lester, Partner at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewry, LLP.  George has 25 years of experience practicing in the field of U.S. immigration and nationality law, and he advises diverse U.S. and multinational companies seeking to hire foreign professionals, scientists, business persons, and artists and represents them in all procedures to obtain temporary or permanent immigration status before relevant U.S. government agencies.

With immigration playing a major role in the 2016 presidential campaign and 2018 mid-term elections, changes to U.S. immigration law and policy impact not only refugee admissions and humanitarian issues, but have significant business consequences as well.  George focused his remarks on how the federal government’s changing immigration priorities have had immediate effects on corporations dependent on high-skilled immigrant labor.

George discussed various legislative proposals to overhaul the current immigration system, their projected efficacy in addressing the current system’s shortcomings, as well as obstacles to their implementation. George also examined executive actions and reform initiatives that the Trump administration has taken or is expected to take, which do not require action from Congress.

The PILP class welcomed the opportunity to learn about an often overlooked piece of the immigration system and the impacts of recent policy changes on businesses in the U.S. George encouraged lawyers to submit public comments to proposed regulation changes which, he said, would likely have an overall detrimental effect on the U.S. economy.

Meeting recap provided by PILP Member Genevieve Aguilar (Choate).