Last Wednesday morning, nearly 100 members of the Society of Fellows and representatives from the Boston Bar Foundation’s grantee organizations gathered for a breakfast at the Taj Boston hotel downtown. The group came together to celebrate the positive impact of their support of the BBF in the community and look ahead to the important work that remains to be done in the coming months. Check out the photos from the event here.
Lisa Goodheart (Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen), Patricia Comfort (Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts) and Taci Darnell (Fidelity)
This year, in addition to funding all of the public service programs of the BBA, the BBF granted $1 million to more than 20 local legal services organizations, all of which are working on the front lines to improve access to justice for those most in need. Representatives from many of these essential community organizations attended the breakfast, with four of them participating on a panel that the BBF convened to discuss the current challenges to expanding access to justice and serving those in need. Moderated by the Honorable Nonnie Burnes, retired Superior Court judge, the panel engaged Jacqui Bowman of Greater Boston Legal Services, Betsy Soule of MetroWest Legal Services, Ronnie Millar of the Irish International Immigrant Center, and Samantha Morton of Medical-Legal Partnership Boston in a substantive panel discussion of emerging trends in Boston’s legal services field given recently enacted and proposed public policy shifts at the federal level.
Betsy Soule (MetroWest Legal Services), Samantha Morton (Medical-Legal Partnership Boston), Ronnie Millar (Irish International Immigrant Center) and Jacquelynne Bowman (Greater Boston Legal Services) speak on a panel at the Society of Fellows Appreciation Breakfast, moderated by Hon. Nonnie Burnes (Ret.).
Despite serious concerns about the future of access to justice in the areas of immigration, healthcare, housing and more, the panelists were encouraged by the outpouring of support for their work by the Massachusetts private bar. They hope that this momentum will continue and leave them better equipped to address the community’s increased needs during this difficult time.
The Society of Fellows is a vibrant community of more than 400 Boston leaders who are the backbone of the BBF’s efforts to expand access to justice and leverage the power of lawyers to improve our community in many different ways. Interested in learning more about how the Society provides the foundation for all of the BBF’s work and how you might get involved? Contact Tara Trask at [email protected] or (617) 778-1984.
As discussions around criminal justice reform continue, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) recently heard from Segun Idowu, the Co-Organizer of the Boston Police Camera Action Team (BPCAT). In addition to his role with BPCAT, Idowu works at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate where he is currently the Visitor Services Manager, and is the 3rd Vice-President for the Boston chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He helped organize BPCAT after the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 and in September 2016, the Boston Police Commissioner announced the start of the body camera pilot program and in March, the program was extended to allow more time for data collection. BPCAT worked with community partners such as the ACLU of Massachusetts to help develop the pilot program’s policy that was adopted by the City of Boston and they continue to follow the results of the program.
You can read more about the work of BPCAT on their website.
On Wednesday, BBA Lawyer Referral Service (BBA LRS) staff attended the 2017 Victim Rights Conference hosted by the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance (MOVA) in honor of April’s Victim Rights Awareness Month. This annual conference brings together survivors and victim service providers for a day of learning and networking through exhibitors and workshops. The BBA LRS emphasized its mission to connect individuals with legal assistance, highlighting its ability to connect callers with lawyers and resources in a wide range of areas.
Conference attendees were welcomed by Attorney General Maura Healey and the Executive Director of MOVA, Liam Lowney. The conference recognized and celebrated both advocates and survivors of crime throughout the Commonwealth, highlighting the importance of empowering the voices and stories of victims and to bring attention to some of the racial and social justice issues facing the city.
Community outreach events like these are opportunities for the BBA to raise awareness about the LRS and the resources it has to both members of the public and other non-profits. If you would like more information about the LRS, please contact Solana Goss, LRS Operations Manager, at [email protected] or 617-778-1978.
The Boston Bar Association’s Environmental Public Service and New Lawyers Public Service Committees have planned three outdoor volunteer events in the coming weeks. Click the links below to reserve your spot at these events and enjoy the sun while helping beautify your community.
Annual Charles River Clean Up
Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Charles River Esplanade, Boston, MA
The Charles River Cleanup aims to provide Bostonians with a cleaner, healthier and more beautiful Charles River. Come join members of the New Lawyers Section and the Environmental Law Section as we partner with over 3,000 volunteers from various neighborhood, school and professional organizations to help clear trash, debris and other harmful items from the banks of the Charles River.
Volunteer on the Farm: The Food Project Serve & Grow
Saturday, May 6, 2017 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Lynn Farm – 1 Collins Terrace, Lynn, MA
The Food Project is a non-profit devoted to promoting sustainable food systems. The Food Project Serve & Grow Program is focused on growing food for hunger relief organizations and local distribution. Volunteers will participate in discussions about the food system as you cultivate and maintain the land – all while making a difference for those who lack healthy, affordable food in the Greater Boston area.
Spring Woodland Restoration Event at Allandale Woods Urban Wild
Friday, May 19, 2017 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Allandale Woods Urban Wild, Roslindale, MA
In partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department’s Urban Wilds Initiative, we will perform trail maintenance, invasive plant control, and pruning of plantings at the Allandale Woods Urban Wild.
We are seeking attorneys to serve as coaches to bar exam applicants sitting for the Massachusetts Bar Exam this July. This is a short term commitment with a big impact. Coaches are not expected to answer substantive law questions, but will be trained to offer guidance on mental preparation, confidence, study tips, time & stress management, and dealing with anxiety. Coaches will communicate with their applicant by e-mail, by phone, or in person.
A training video and coaching guidelines will be provided. You will also have the option of attending our in-person training on May 1.
If you would like to volunteer as a coach, please fill out this online information form.
If you have any questions, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected] or at 617-778-1918.
With less than a month to go before Casino Night, we can’t hold in our excitement for another round of the Summer Jobs Program. Law firms, government agencies, and in-house legal departments will be hiring students for seven weeks over the summer, with the proceeds from the Boston Bar Foundation’s Casino Night helping to hire students to work at legal services organizations. We’re so thankful to the organizations that have already signed up to hire a student and for those pledging to support the program through Casino Night.
To truly understand the impact of the program, we’re revisiting the experience of Sherley Muscade. Sherley was the first student the Boston Planning and Development Agency (known as the Boston Redevelopment Authority last summer) hired and was a wonderful resource for their office. When we visited her office last August, Sherley’s enthusiasm for the work was obvious. Check out her story here.
There’s still time to sign-up to hire for 2017, so please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected] for more information.
The Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR)* has been leading a number of trainings at the BBA in response to national immigration concerns; most recently, they educated over 50 attorneys on how to assist clients in gaining release from immigration detention. The training presenters, Amanda Ekey and Elena Noureddine, told attendees that they estimate there are 500-600 non-citizens currently detained across four detention centers in the Commonwealth. Those detained are both from Massachusetts and also southern states that do not have the capacity in their own detention centers to hold an increased number non-citizens. Detainees are held prior to their court hearing and potential removal from the United States. They are also not appointed counsel before appearing in immigration court, which makes pro bono assistance even more crucial for adequate representation. The training’s attendees are able to volunteer with PAIR and begin providing pro bono services to detainees.
PAIR’s next training at the BBA is scheduled for Monday, April 24th from 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM and will prepare attorneys to lead immigration Know Your Rights workshops in the community. These workshops instruct community members what rights non-citizens have under the constitution and what to do if questioned by ICE or other law enforcement authorities. To sign-up to attend, please click here.
*The PAIR Project is a 2016 Grantee of the Boston Bar Foundation.
Many Americans may take the right to vote, or run for a seat in local government, for granted. But one organization in Boston has dedicated its resources to ensuring that Americans are truly on equal footing when it comes to voter registration, representation in government and other disparities in politics stemming from socioeconomic issues.
Demos began as a think tank in 2000, and has since evolved to include a litigation component in addition to its focus on federal and state policy work. Vice President of Policy & Legal Strategies Barbara Wright said one of Demos’s priorities is to expand the options available to people looking to register to vote. Voter registration, they argue, is a responsibility that should be shared by the government and not entirely assumed by the individual voter. The importance Demos’ places on voter registration is backed by the U.S. Census Bureau’s data on the 2008 presidential election voter turnout. Many have heard that 64% of eligible voters turned up at the polls; however, nearly 90% of registered voters voted, demonstrating that once registered, citizens will exercise their right to vote.
In recent months, Demos has released publications on a wide variety of subjects related to economic inequality, including the racial wealth gap in the U.S. and the danger of being a student debtor in today’s economy. Earlier this month, Demos released a report detailing the effects of Supreme Court rulings that have altered the regulations governing election spending.
To learn more about Demos’s, work, please click here.
At the last Veterans Meet & Greet Luncheon, two dozen active duty military and veteran attorneys and law students, members of the BBA’s Military & Veterans Committee, and fellow BBA members mingled over lunch at the BBA. Attendees also met with two guests from the Veteran Entrepreneurial Training & Resource Network (VETRN).
Leland Goldberg, Founder, and Marie Shirley, Program Manager, of VETRN were invited to provide information on their organization. Goldberg shared that after he returned from duty in Vietnam, he was hired by a veteran to work at John Hancock. Since then, Goldberg has been the CEO of numerous companies and started VETRN’s StreetWise ‘MBA’ program to help veteran small business owners grow their business. Program participants participate in a 26-week program that includes educational sessions and mentorship.
VETRN is currently recruiting for their next program year and is accepting applications. Goldberg encouraged the group to share the program application with anyone that may be interested. Additionally, the program is always looking for mentors. As a mentor, you’ll be matched with a veteran in the program to help guide them as they work on implementing the lessons learned in their business.
Please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected] if you’d like to connect with VETRN on mentorship opportunities.
Since 1999, volunteers at Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court have helped landlords and tenants by providing advice, mediation, and even case litigation. The program is a partnership between the BBA, Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association, Greater Boston Legal Services, the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, and the Boston Housing Court. Attorneys and 3:03 certified law students are able to volunteer with Lawyer for the Day through a variety of opportunities:
- Staff an advice and information table (one-day commitment).
- Accompany parties into mediation sessions (time commitments vary).
- Provide full representation to individuals during eviction trials (time commitments vary; the Court aims to process matters quickly when possible).
The Volunteer Lawyers Project frequently hosts trainings for those unfamiliar with Housing Court to prepare to volunteer at Lawyer for the Day. We encourage anyone interested in volunteering to attend VLP’s next Landlord-Tenant Law 101 Training on Tuesday, April 11th from 4:30 – 6:00 PM. You can sign-up here.
Lawyer for the Day occurs each Wednesday from 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM (public housing cases) and Thursday from 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM (private housing cases) in front of Courtroom 15 at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse, 24 New Chardon Street, Boston, MA. If you have questions about volunteering or would like to learn more, please contact Milton Wong at [email protected].