BBA Launches Virtual CORI Sealing Clinic

Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) often traps people in a cycle of poverty and unemployment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this cycle is more prevalent than ever. However, a CORI record may contain charges that can be “sealed” or expunged so that employers or housing providers cannot see those charges. Our CORI Sealing Clinic connects low-income clients who have questions about their criminal records with volunteer attorneys who can help. The clinic has now been adapted to a remote format via Zoom. Clients can receive assistance with obtaining, reviewing, and, if advised, sealing or expunging their records.  

 On October 1st, in partnership with GBLS, the BBA hosted a training geared toward attorneys interested in volunteering for the clinic. This training covered topics such as: 

• CORI and the various levels of access to CORI by employers and others 
• The waiting periods to seal records 
• How to seal criminal and juvenile records through the administrative process 
• How to seal criminal records in court 
• How to expunge records and how expungement differs from sealing 
• New FBI provisions in the law related to CORI 
• How to effectively assist clients at the clinic, fill out forms properly, and offer clients good legal advice 

On October 14, 2020, the BBA and GBLS hosted our first virtual CORI Sealing Clinic! With the help of GBLS Staff attorneys, we were able to get the virtual clinic up and running and assist several clients with filling out the proper CORI request forms. As part of the clinic we will refer clients volunteer attorneys to assist with sealing and/or expungement. The virtual clinic will take place every other Wednesday and we look forward to continuing to assist the community remotely!

If you have any questions, or would like to volunteer, please contact Chane Vanes at cvanes@bostonbar.org.  

Virtual Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House: 

The annual Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House for attorneys and law students with Suffolk University Law School is still on! Join us via Zoom for this annual program that connects legal service organizations and those interested in giving back. 

This event, sponsored by the Boston Bar Association and Suffolk University Law School, provides attorneys and law students with a range of pro bono opportunities. The fair is held as part of the National Pro Bono Celebration sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. 

Attendees are encouraged to drop in and e-meet representatives from local legal services organizations and to learn more about the pro bono opportunities in our community. This event is offered to attorneys of all levels, as well as law students. 

Please see below for a list of participating organizations. More organizations will be added in advance of the program. For legal services providers interested in tabling at the event, please contact Sarah Bookbinder at sbookbinder@suffolk.edu.  

Participating Programs:  

  • Boston Tax Coalition 
  •  Conservation Law Foundation
  •  DOVE, Inc.
  •  Political Asylum/Immigrant Representation Project
  •  Project Citizenship
  •  Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
  •  Women’s Bar Association
  •  Casa Myrna
  •  Committee for Public Counsel Services
  •  Greater Boston Legal Services
  •  Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
  •  Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office
  •  Victim Rights Law Center

BBA Launches Virtual CORI Sealing Clinic

Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) often traps people in a cycle of poverty and unemployment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this cycle is more prevalent than ever. However, a CORI record may contain charges that can be “sealed” or expunged so that employers or housing providers cannot see those charges. Our CORI Sealing Clinic connects low-income clients who have questions about their criminal records with volunteer attorneys who can help. The clinic has now been adapted to a remote format via Zoom. Clients can receive assistance with obtaining, reviewing, and, if advised, sealing or expunging their records.  

 On October 1st, in partnership with GBLS, the BBA hosted a training geared toward attorneys interested in volunteering for the clinic. This training covered topics such as: 

• CORI and the various levels of access to CORI by employers and others 
• The waiting periods to seal records 
• How to seal criminal and juvenile records through the administrative process 
• How to seal criminal records in court 
• How to expunge records and how expungement differs from sealing 
• New FBI provisions in the law related to CORI 
• How to effectively assist clients at the clinic, fill out forms properly, and offer clients good legal advice 

On October 14, 2020, the BBA and GBLS hosted our first virtual CORI Sealing Clinic! With the help of GBLS Staff attorneys, we were able to get the virtual clinic up and running and assist several clients with filling out the proper CORI request forms. As part of the clinic we will refer clients volunteer attorneys to assist with sealing and/or expungement. The virtual clinic will take place every other Wednesday and we look forward to continuing to assist the community remotely!  

If you are an attorney who would like to volunteer with this clinic, please contact Chane Vanes at cvanes@bostonbar.org.  If you are a client interested in meeting with a volunteer attorney as part of the clinic, please sign up here.

BBA Announces the New Veterans and Servicemembers Law Forum

The Boston Bar Association is pleased to announce our “Active Duty Military and Veterans Forum” has changed to the “Veterans and Servicemembers Law Forum”. We believe this name change more accurately describes its membership. 

The co-chairs highlighted the need to replace “active duty military” with “servicemembers” because the term servicemembers is both more inclusive and accurate for the forum. Servicemembers was selected because it is defined in the Servicemember Civil Release Act (SCRA) as including, but not limited to, all Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard forces. This includes reservists and national guard who are often active but may not have been recalled to full-time duty.  

The Forum was formed in 2014 in order to, “further pro bono and public service initiatives that support [servicemembers]…, spotlight legal needs, serve as a network for current and former servicemembers in the legal profession and their families, and advise the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service on its Military & Veterans Legal Help Line.” There are currently over two hundred active members of the Forum and the group annually hosts networking lunches and trainings on legal issues specific to Veterans and Servicemembers. The proposed name change would help clarify the inclusion of all servicemembers and those that support them, which upholds the goals and practices of the Forum. 

If you are interested in learning more about this forum, please contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org. 

BBA Announces the Establishment of the Committee for New Lawyer Employment

The Boston Bar Association is pleased to announce the establishment of a Committee for New Lawyer Employment. This committee was formed to bring together diverse perspectives and leverage the knowledge and experience of seasoned practitioners to help 2020 law school graduates enter the legal profession in this challenging time. The committee is chaired by Chris Strang, founding Partner at Strang, Scott, Giroux, & Young. Attorney Strang articulated the goals of the committee as such: “[G]iven the unique challenges during the global health crisis, our goal is to help 2020 graduates launch their careers in a virtual world and difficult job market.” By focusing on the unique needs of this year’s graduates, the committee will help plan extensive programming with the BBA to help those entering the legal job market attain their first post-graduate positions and succeed once they start their legal careers.

The first in this series of programming will be a Virtual Happy Hour Kickoff Event on Wednesday, September 9th from 4:00 to 5:00 PM. Attendees will join committee members and other recent graduates for a conversation about what the needs of recent graduates are moving forward and learn about the programs currently being planned. Whether you are job seeking, or just got your first job offer, this program is for you! Committee Chair Chris Strang will give a keynote address followed by mixing and mingling in randomized breakout rooms. Participants will also have an opportunity to ask the committee their questions about the program and make suggestions on the types of programming they would like to see. This program is part of the BBA’s 2020 Law School Graduate Mentoring Program, but is open to all. If you would like to learn more about the mentoring program, or become a mentor/mentee, you can do so here. You can register to attend this happy hour here.

 If you are interested in learning more about this committee, as well as mentoring and other opportunities for new lawyers, please contact Ariana Gebauer at agebauer@bostonbar.org.

BBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship: End of Summer Reflections

Over this summer, the BBA was excited to continue our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, producing essential work experiences for outstanding law students through paid summer internships in public offices. This year, we partnered with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, to provide enriching work opportunities for our participants.

Our second year of this program proved to be successful, with law students Rosa Kim (Boston College Law School), Farnaz Daneshvaran (New England Law), and Donald Slater (Suffolk University Law School) providing support for these offices, developing relationships with attorney mentors, and participating in BBA professional development programs. See what they had to say about their experiences below!

If your office is interested in supporting or participating in this program, please reach out to Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

End of Summer Reflection: Rosa Kim    

2L, Boston College Law School

Summer Fellow, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

Through the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, I had the honor of interning at the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office this summer. I was an intern for the Trial Division of the Government Bureau along with five other interns, and we were each assigned to some attorneys who gave us assignments throughout the summer.

This summer was certainly an interesting one—amid a global pandemic and one of the largest Civil Rights movements our country has ever seen, we have had to face the unique difficulties of remote working. Navigating these current unprecedented events has been challenging, but the Attorney General’s Office did an excellent job of making interns still feel like they were part of the office family. The Office hosted weekly intern events that were well-executed remotely, such as presentations on the different Bureaus of the Office and guest speakers who addressed issues pertaining to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

Through my internship, I was able to develop my legal research and writing skills—a personal goal of mine this summer. I did a lot of research regarding Massachusetts Civil Procedure and writing memorandums, specifically for motions to amend a Complaint or assert a cross-claim. One memorable project I worked on allowed me to gain more insight to the defenses that are available for corrections officers. Although COVID-19 largely affected court operations, I learned a lot about the trial process through meetings with my supervisor and attorneys within the Trial Division. I was able to attend a remote hearing and listen in on how a judge might navigate court proceedings. 

I had fantastic mentors whom I had the pleasure of meeting this summer. My mentor through the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Program, Jameel Moore, spoke to me about her experiences in law school and upon graduation. She taught me that there is merit to exploring different career paths and being flexible with my interests. My mentor at the Attorney General’s Office, April English, inspired and motivated me to use my voice and never settle for less.

Perhaps the highlight of my summer was engaging in necessary conversations around race and allyship. The AGO’s Chief of Organization Development & Diversity—my mentor April English—hosted guest speaker events, office-wide Open & Honest Conversations, and webinars dedicated to getting the Office involved in furthering diversity and inclusion in our communities. I was impressed by the receptiveness shown by the Office, even featuring an article in its weekly newsletter that I wrote for my law school on being actively anti-racist. Diversity and Inclusion is a lifelong commitment—I will always promote and strive for diversity and inclusion in all spaces for all people in and beyond my legal career. I appreciated the commitment that the Office displayed in ensuring a space in which marginalized individuals felt heard, seen, and supported. Summer of 2020 is definitely one for the books, and I am grateful that I could spend this summer at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.  Thank you to the Boston Bar Association for making this summer experience possible.

End of Summer Reflection: Farnaz Daneshvaran  

2L, New England Law

Summer Fellow, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Through the BBA Diversity and Inclusion Summer Fellowship, I was one of the General Counsel’s Office interns for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”) sponsored by the Pierce Atwood Law firm. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 created, the MCAD provided me with a fulfilling remote 10-week internship.

This summer, I obtained firsthand experience learning about the MCAD’s investigative process. During intern training, we were taught about the intake process, drafting dispositions, and Massachusetts laws regarding public accommodation, workplace, and housing discrimination. While interning, the large portion of my work revolved around analyzing workplace discrimination complaints and then drafting a disposition. I completed a law-collection database project which required compiling a list of the laws that evoked the MCAD’s jurisdiction. I also had the opportunity to observe intake calls such as an investigator’s initial intake call with a complainant. Prior to and after the intake calls, the leading investigator would brief me on the conversation and what steps need to occur after the conversation.

During the weekly intern Zoom meetings, the interns were sometimes given the opportunity to expand their knowledge on professional development skills such as salary negotiation and resume writing. Also, during my internship, the MCAD held a virtual book club meeting to discuss “Stamped from the Beginning” for the purpose of discrimination education. The MCAD is special to me because not only is it a state agency working against discrimination but also the employees reflected today’s society-a wide range of race, age, and gender diversity. As an Iranian American woman, it is my life’s purpose to promote the benefit of racial and religious diversity in the legal field. I am fortunate enough to be a part of the increase in diversity in Boston’s legal community.

During my summer internship, I had the pleasure of speaking with Attorney Courtney Scrubbs who was my mentor this summer. Attorney Scrubbs is a Corporate Counsel and is also on the Advisory Board of the MCAD. During our conversation, we discussed the importance of keeping my reason for attending law school in the forefront of my mind at all times. We also discussed that the definition of success is being truly inspired by the work that I do. 

The biggest lesson that my summer internship with the MCAD taught me was the importance of investigating all minor details. Most importantly, my summer internship showed me that I can see myself doing anti-discrimination work in the future.

I would like to thank everyone at the MCAD, Pierce Atwood Firm, the Boston Bar Association, and the Boston Bar Foundation for granting me the opportunity to work in the anti-discrimination field this summer.

End of Summer Reflection: Donald Slater    

2L, Suffolk University Law School

Summer Fellow, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts.

This summer I spent eight weeks with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts in Judge Frank J. Bailey’s chambers. During this time, I participated in things such as compiling hearing notes, issue research, and discussions about ongoing case matters. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic my summer experience was entirely remote which enabled me to attend a variety of hearings, status conferences, and other events with different Judges of the court that I may not have been able to otherwise.

The summer of 2020 will be an unforgettable experience for many reasons other than the ongoing pandemic. Going into this summer I did not expect to have the level of responsibility or input on matters that I was afforded. Judge Bailey’s chamber operates as a very efficient team where everyone is just as important as the next person and this applied to the interns from the onset. I knew very little of Bankruptcy law initially but being tasked to review motions, conduct research, and having discussions with Judge Bailey after each set of hearings, I was able to learn about Bankruptcy in a very hands-on and unique way beyond just reading a textbook.

Aside from learning about the law itself, my summer in Judge Bailey’s chambers allowed me to gain invaluable insight and knowledge on practical etiquette for attorneys. Through attending hearings and status conferences, I was able to witness attorneys in action for the first time since being in law school. Judge Bailey and his chambers were constantly reviewing how attorneys performed and alerting the interns to when a very competent attorney would be present or even when a below average attorney would make an appearance. By the end of the summer I was able to discern a very experienced and technically sound attorney from a less prepared attorney which is an information advantage I will be able to use for the rest of my legal career.

One of the highlights of my experience with Judge Bailey was undoubtedly all the professional development tools him and his chambers were able to offer myself and my fellow interns. Judge Bailey, with the help of his colleagues from around the country, put together a series of seminars for law students to be able to see different areas of the legal realm and discuss different career paths with panels of professionals from all over the nation. This was an eye-opening experience as I was exposed to a few new career ideas that I either never considered or simply did not know about.

Lastly, through this BBA fellowship, I was assigned a mentor who is currently a practicing attorney. Admittedly I threw a lot of questions at him and ran ideas by him to the point where I thought I was annoying, but he happily answered every question I had. He even offered to put me in contact with other professionals that could provide me information on various careers that interested me. With the “Transactional vs. Litigation” debate that many law students deal with, I found this to be particularly helpful. Having different sets of eyes and mindsets willing to review resumes or discuss academic or professional decisions makes me more confident in myself as a first-generation law student.

All in all, even though nothing could ever truly replace the experience of being in-person during an internship and court sessions, this summer did not disappoint on a professional or academic level. I feel more confident and knowledgeable going into my second year of school now that I have a better understanding of how professional attorneys and even judges approach legal issues.

Funding for these three positions has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF). A generous donation provided to the BBF provided a $5,000 stipend to the intern at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Funding for a second $5,000 stipend for the intern working in the judges’ chambers of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has been provided by the BBF’s Charles P. Normandin Fund. Funding for the third position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination was made possible by the law firm Pierce Atwood.

BBA Steps up Mentoring Programs in the Face of Uncertainty in the Profession

Law School Graduate Mentoring:

The 2020 Law School Graduates face unprecedented barriers to entering the legal profession and the BBA rolled out an expanded mentoring program to help in this time of transition. The expanded mentoring program consists of two forms of mentorship: Bar Coaching and Career Transition Coaching. You can learn more about the programs here.

We have already successfully matched nearly 40 pairs of mentors and mentees who are meeting regularly (virtually, of course). Mentors and mentees alike are benefiting from the program. Some early feedback we have received on the program so far includes: “The conversation [with my mentor] was very helpful and motivating. She helped me think through some important study habits and offered some guidance and insight that was very productive.” Another participant remarked, “I found [my mentor] exceptionally kind and willing to help, which was very nice and very welcome. I am grateful for this program this year, since the future seems so uncertain. Thank you so much for administering it!”

If you are interested in signing up to receive a mentor, you can do so by completing this sign-up form. Those seeking to participate as a mentor can sign up here.

Family Law Mentoring:

This year, the Family Law Section launched a new pilot mentoring program that matched experienced family law practitioners willing to offer guidance to new lawyers practicing, or considering practicing, family law. Mentors offer newer lawyers guidance on topics like: networking and business development skills, resume writing or interview prep, professionalism, general information regarding the Boston legal community and what it’s like to practice family law here. To date we have matched 16 pairs of mentors and mentees who are connecting regularly.

If you are interested in signing up to receive a mentor, you can do so by completing this sign-up form. Those seeking to participate as a mentor can sign up here.

Active Duty Military and Veterans Forum Mentoring:

The BBA remains committed to service members, and those that support them, in the legal community. The BBA’s Military & Veterans Mentoring Program connects students, or those new to the Boston area or legal practice, with more senior members that share their unique perspective: they are, were, or advocate for, our service men and women. Over the last few years of the program we have supported as many as 55 matched pairs of mentors and mentees, we currently support 22 pairs of mentors and mentees that meet regularly, and we are always looking to make additional matches for this one of a kind program.  

Mentees of this program benefit from guidance on resume writing, interview prep, learning about Boston’s legal community, as well as the aspects of mentoring that can only be found in this forum: transitioning from the military to a legal career or how to balance both military and civilian lives.

If you are interested in signing up to receive a mentor, you can do so by completing this sign-up form. Those seeking to participate as a mentor can sign up here.

Lawyers for Civil Rights – Pro Bono Housing Opportunity

Lawyers for Civil Rights (“LCR”) is seeking volunteer attorneys, paralegals, and law students to help low-income families at risk of housing insecurity to apply for rental relief through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (“RAFT”) program, a one-time grant administered by MetroHousing Boston that provides financial support to families experiencing housing crisis. The concurrent and overlapping public health and economic crises have devastated low-income communities of color and exacerbated housing instability. For many, RAFT is the only way to weather this storm and gain life-saving rental assistance. 

LCR is recruiting volunteers to work with families applying for RAFT assistance. Volunteering will provide opportunities to work one-on-one with clients, collecting and analyzing documentation, liaising with property owners, and completing RAFT application materials. In addition to a one-time 2 hour training, all volunteers will be asked to devote at least 15 hours to supporting RAFT applicants. This time can be committed in a 1 week period or across multiple weeks. RAFT is not adversarial, but we will provide information for conflict checks or due diligence to volunteers to help them make the appropriate determinations before accepting a particular case.

No background knowledge of housing issues or the RAFT program is required.

Volunteers proficient in Spanish are particularly encouraged to apply!

For inquiries, please contact jlebovic@lawyersforcivilrights.org

BBA Hosts “How to be an Effective Ally” Webinar

On Tuesday, June 30th, the BBA was honored to host a webinar on allyship in the workplace sponsored by the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section. The program focused on the importance of allies to marginalized groups, as well as on practical tips for those who seek to be allies and what they can do to be more impactful and considerate. 300 individuals registered to attend the program, moderated by Bill Gabovitch, In-house Counsel at Primark US Corporation. Our four distinguished panelists were as follows:

  • Laura Rees Acosta: Managing Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Goodwin
  • Ben Sigel: Candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District and President of the Hispanic National Bar Association – Region 1
  • Nahomi Carlisle: Director of Diversity & Inclusion & ADA Compliance at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Jamie Whitney: Senior Vice President and Head of Legal at State Street Corporation.

Some topics covered included the importance of tact when seeking to be an ally. Allies need to be mindful of how marginalized communities have felt the pain that comes with the subject matter, and avoid the contention “I’ve read all the books, therefore I understand.” It was also noted that the action of allyship must be shared by all, not simply by one department in a company or exclusively by marginalized groups.

A list of additional resources on the topic of allyship compiled by Jameel Moore of the U.S. Department of the Interior can be found at this link. This includes suggested readings, books, podcasts, films and other resources on the topic.

If you missed the program, don’t worry – it can be viewed in full for no charge at this link. You can also listen to the program as a podcast here. If you have any questions about this program, please contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org.

BBA & SJC Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being Collaborate on Affinity Bar Town Halls

The Boston Bar Association is pleased to collaborate with the SJC Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being to support a series of Affinity Bar Town Halls engaging with members of the legal community in candid discussions on well-being challenges.

The SJC Committee’s July 2019 Report identified the need for “[a] strong and on-going commitment to enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in all our practices to improve our individual and collective well-being.” As a way to foster conversation on that topic, the SJC Committee is hosting a series of Town Hall style meetings with individual Affinity Bar Associations to discuss specific well-being challenges for their communities and ideas for change. We want to thank the Affinity Bar Associations – listed below – that have already hosted Town Halls in the pursuit of greater well-being for lawyers and legal professionals throughout the Commonwealth. We encourage interested members to reach out to Heidi Alexander at heidi@lawyerwellbeingma.org for more information.

BBA Announcing 2020 Law School Graduate Mentoring Program!

The BBA is thrilled to announce our new mentoring program that will provide mentorship to recent law school graduates! Our program consists of two forms of mentorship: Bar Coaching and Career Transition Coaching.

Bar Coaching will assist new graduates as they prepare to sit for the most unique bar exam in recent history. There will be additional hurdles and stressors unique to this bar exam season. This year’s Bar Coaching Program will address these unique concerns and offer support to exam takers. Coaches will assist graduates with study schedules, stress management, and other non-substantive aspects of preparing for the exam. Graduates can also expect supplemental programming from the BBA such as essay writing and attacking the multiple choice.

Career Transition Coaching takes graduates beyond the Bar Exam and helps prepare them for entering the practice of law. Graduates can expect help with their resumes, networking, interview preparation as well as general guidance on practicing in the Boston area. The program will also be supported by regular roundtable events in which participants can network and learn from each other’s experiences.

Graduates and Mentors can sign up to participate in one or both programs!

If you are a recent graduate that would like to participate in one or both programs, please complete this online information form

Interested in volunteering as a mentor?:

We are seeking lawyers who are interested in coaching recent graduates as they study for the bar and prepare to enter the profession of law. Mentors can volunteer to coach graduates for the bar, transitioning into the profession, or both. Training resources and guidance are provided by the BBA. Meeting schedules are determined by the mentor-mentee pair, though roughly once every 1-2 weeks is typical.

If you would like to volunteer as a coach, please complete this online information form.

For more information on the Bar Exam and Transition Coaching Program, please contact Doug Newton, Community Programs Assistant, at dnewton@bostonbar.org or 617-778-1918.