Annual Pro Bono Fair Draws Large Crowd

Executive Director Barbara Mitchell (Community Legal Services and Counseling Center) introduced herself to attendees and shared volunteer opportunities for law students and new attorneys at her office.

Executive Director Barbara Mitchell (Community Legal Services and Counseling Center) introduced herself to attendees and shared volunteer opportunities for law students and new attorneys at her office.

Law students and New Lawyers lined up on Monday evening to attend the annual Pro Bono Fair, co-hosted by the BBA and Suffolk Law School. Twenty-nine legal service agencies and local nonprofits showed up to recruit new volunteers and to meet the next generation of attorneys.

New Lawyers Public Service Committee Co-Chair Kate Swartz (Torres, Scammon & Day, LLP), who helped recruit legal service organizations to participate in the Fair and assisted with check in, explained that the Fair is a great opportunity “to network with experienced attorneys and learn about ways to give back to their community.”

Bummed you missed the event? Don’t worry, the BBA snagged a copy of the Pro Bono Fair Guide. Click here to find your next pro bono opportunity.

Take look below for more images from the Fair:

Joanna Allison (Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association) welcome attendees and encouraged them to get involved in VLP’s pro bono efforts.

Joanna Allison (Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association) welcomed attendees and encouraged them to get involved in VLP’s pro bono efforts.

Steve Russo (LARC) told attendees about volunteer opportunities at his office.

Steve Russo (LARC) told attendees about volunteer opportunities at his office.

Lawyers Lend a Hand to Local Nonprofits

Last spring, nonprofit employers gathered at 16 Beacon to learn about the new Employment Law Pro Bono Project, a partnership between Lawyers Clearinghouse and the BBA’s Labor & Employment section

Last spring, nonprofit employers gathered at 16 Beacon to learn about the new Employment Law Pro Bono Project, a partnership between Lawyers Clearinghouse and the BBA’s Labor & Employment section

 

Our dedicated readers may remember this post about the launch of the Lawyers Clearinghouse and BBA Labor and Employment Section’s Employment Law Pro Bono Project last spring. If you happened to miss it, here’s the deal. This new project pairs pro bono attorneys with local nonprofits who need help with employment related issues, such as compliance, wage and hour law, and more. The program is officially underway and volunteers have been helping local nonprofits on a range of issues.

mbWhile we can’t share the specifics of the cases, we can find out more from our lawyer volunteers.  Mike Birch (Lurie, Lent & Friedman, LLP), for example, recently assisted a local nonprofit with a complicated employment termination. We asked him why other attorneys should get involved in this initiative. Here’s what he had to say:

“I believe there are many reasons to get involved with the program and assist nonprofits with employment issues.

From a professional development standpoint, it provides the opportunity to gain additional experience with employment law issues.  The employment law issues that arise in an employment lawyer’s practice and the factual settings in which they arise are almost innumerable.  The more I am able to think through employment law issues in different factual contexts, the better able I am to address them as they arise in my practice, for all of our employer clients.

Also, nonprofits often operate on limited financial resources.  Nonprofits are often spread thin and the time of the people who run them (such as Executive Directors) is limited.  These people often wear multiple hats, juggling the administration of the nonprofit and provision of the nonprofit’s valuable services to the community.  Dealing with unfamiliar employment law issues can be overwhelming, worrisome, and time consuming.  With us assisting, the nonprofit can devote its limited resources and time to doing what it does best—providing the services that are at the core of its mission.  By assisting nonprofits with their employment law issues, we are playing a meaningful part by assisting them to focus on their provision of those services.”

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.

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.