Lawyer Referral Service Visits Cambridge Carnival

The BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service had a great afternoon tabling during the 26th Annual Cambridge Carnival International last Sunday!  It was a lively event full of dancing, music, great food, and fun times to celebrate Caribbean cultures rooted in African tradition.  Over 100,000 people come out each year making this the largest festival in Cambridge.

Sitting alongside other community organizations and vendors, we spread the word about our newly redesigned bostonbarlawyer.org, which anyone can use 24/7 to easily find an attorney who works in their needed area of law.  We also still have trained Lawyer Referral Specialists who can be reached at 617-742-0625 weekdays from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM who are ready to quickly connect callers with an attorney.

The LRS attends events like Cambridge Carnival every year to make the public more aware that our service is an available resource to help people find the legal representation they need, including at a reduced rate. We’re thankful for the Cambridge Carnival organizers for a fantastic afternoon.

If you’re an attorney interested in joining the Lawyer Referral Service, contact Solana Goss at [email protected] to find out more information.

LRS Co-op Intern, Jack Caplan, greets individuals interested in learning more about LRS.

PILP Hears from Women’s Rights Experts

In July, the PILP class heard from speakers about issues concerning women’s rights.

First, PILP met with Lauren Stiller Rikleen, founder and president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership.  Ms. Rikleen spoke to the PILP class about the Survey of Workplace Conduct and Behavior in Law Firms, which the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership developed and distributed this year in partnership with the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts.  Ms. Rikleen discussed the results of the survey and trends identified in participants’ responses, and the manner in which the data collected from the survey will be used to increase awareness of the range of behaviors that have negatively impacted the workplace experience of individuals working in Massachusetts law firms.  Ms. Rikleen also discussed recommendations for addressing inappropriate conduct in the workplace, and strategies for engaging people in positions of leadership and developing systems of accountability within law firms.

Next, Jamie Sabino spoke to the PILP class about reproductive justice and access to abortion for women. As an active member of Planned Parenthood since 1981, serving as Board Chair for both PPLM and the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, and chair for the Judicial Consent for Minors Lawyer Referral Panel, representing minors forced to seek judicial authorization for abortion, Ms. Sabino brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the discussion around reproductive justice.  In particular, Ms. Sabino explained the legal and social history of abortion issues in Massachusetts, looking through both state and federal lenses. Ms. Sabino also discussed the current battles being fought in the reproductive justice sphere, including the threat of defunding planned parenthood through Title X and Medicaid cut-backs. Ms. Sabino encouraged PILP members to learn about and support current legislation such as the Healthy Youth Act, which would ensure that public schools in Massachusetts provide medically-accurate, age-appropriate, and LGBTQ-inclusive sex education curriculum to students.

Summer Jobs Students Learn About the Importance of Money Management

Over the course of two seminars, our Summer Jobs interns rounded out the real-world experience from work with a financial literacy program designed to provide guidance as they begin to make impactful financial decisions.

Molly Sharon (U.S. Bankruptcy Court) and Leslie Storm (Bankruptcy Appellate Panel) guided the students through financial basics, such as the differences between checking and savings accounts, what to look for in a bank/credit union, and how to read credit card statements. They emphasized the importance of making your money work for you by researching the benefits and fees associated with certain accounts and credit cards. The students also learned about creating a budget that takes all their expenses into account and ensures they can meet their obligations. The students were able to ask questions they had about the taxes withheld from their paychecks and learned how to understand their pay stubs.

The lesson served as a foundation for the following week’s seminar, in which students witnessed a simulated meeting of creditors that explained the consequences debtors face when they can no longer keep up with their expenses. While the lesson itself illustrates someone filing for bankruptcy in part because of irresponsible money management, the bankruptcy attorneys who conducted the presentation emphasized that most of their clients are forced to file for bankruptcy due to circumstances beyond their control.

Alex Mattera, a partner at Demeo LLP, played the role of the debtor during the faux bankruptcy hearing the students observed.

“In this case, I (the debtor) didn’t have to get into this situation, but most people have no choice. For example, many people file for bankruptcy because of mounting medical bills due to something like a catastrophic injury,” he said.

Co-chair of the BBA’s Financial Literacy Committee Douglas Rosner (Goulston & Storrs) and attorneys Jessica Youngberg (Veterans Legal Services), Gary Cruickshank (Law Office of Gary W. Cruickshank) and Kathleen Cruickshank (Murphy & King) also participated in the mock hearing.

After the meeting of the creditors, students watched a mock court hearing play out over the debtor’s continued failure to pay his car payments. Judge Joan N. Feeney presided over the matter, and students had the opportunity to volunteer to play the role of counsel on either side and as volunteer law clerks. Afterwards, Judge Feeney answered their questions about how she got into bankruptcy law and the interesting and challenging aspects of being a judge. She and the bankruptcy attorneys in the room described pursuing bankruptcy law because they wanted to help people and businesses with their chance to start over financially after facing a hard time.

Holland & Knight intern, Lily Kelly, confers with Mary Murray (Courtroom Deputy) with Judge Joan N. Feeney presiding.

Summer Jobs Goes to City Hall

We often ask Summer Jobs students about their favorite enrichment seminars, and they usually respond that they enjoy the mock City Council hearing the most. It’s not surprising, as they get to visit the real City Council Chamber at City Hall in Boston, hear from a past City Council President about his experiences, and debate and vote on a hypothetical proposed ordinance.

Attorney Lawrence DiCara opened the morning by highlighting the importance of City Council and how the Council’s decisions directly impact the lives of those living, working, and visiting Boston. DiCara knows firsthand what tough decisions the Council faces, as he was a member of Boston’s City Council for 9 years and served as the President in 1978.

He then led the students through a mock hearing where they separated into interest groups in support/opposition to a faux ordinance regarding a teen curfew. The interest groups included “Pediatrician’s for Peace,” an elder’s council, a teen council, and a business alliance. After hearing from both sides, the four students acting as City Councilors decided not to pass the proposed curfew.

Afterwards, the students spoke to DiCara about a range of subjects, from the highlights of his career in City Hall and as a practicing attorney, to his opinion on some issues in the city today. Many students commented they came away from the day with a more sophisticated understanding of city government, and the power that all Boston residents have to make their voices heard on an issue of importance.

Summer Jobs students participate in a mock City Council hearing.

An Introduction to the Profession

For their second enrichment seminar, our Summer Jobs Students met with five individuals working in different legal settings. This seminar is designed to acquaint them with the wide array of jobs attorneys can do and practice settings they can work in.

Genevieve Aguilar (Choate Hall & Stewart) explained what working for a large, corporate law firm is like, noting the fast-paced environment and rewarding pro bono opportunities that come her way. Some students noted that her job was the most like a “traditional lawyer” as they had envisioned the job prior to listening to all the seminar’s speakers.

Boston Latin School graduate Ying Wang (State Street) spoke about how working in-house varies from firm work in that you have one “client.” Many of the students currently attend Boston Latin School (BLS) and were curious about how her experiences at BLS prepared her for her legal career.  She noted that the rigor of BLS classes readied her for the focus and diligence she needed in law school. Wang is also a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the U.S. Army Reserves, and she spoke about her experience offering legal assistance to soldiers in the region. She discussed the military as an option to fund a college education, though she did not personally pursue that route.

Janette Ekanem (Greater Boston Legal Services) highlighted the rewarding nature of legal services work and the complex, life-altering challenges her clients face. The students were interested in the difference she found when she switched from practicing real estate law in a firm to a legal services organization that helps the underserved.

Mark Zglobicki (Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General) discussed how important making and keeping professional connections can be for one’s career and that the students should start by staying in touch with those they’re working with this summer. Many students asked about the everyday work of the Inspector General’s Office, as it was an agency they had never heard of prior to speaking with Mark.

Finally, Solana Goss (Boston Bar Association) shared how her work with the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service engages her in a legal career without having obtained a J.D. She fielded many questions about preparing for life in college and later in the professional world and spoke about what she learns from interacting with attorneys and clients on a regular basis.

Summer Jobs students hear from Ying Wang (State Street Corporation) during an Enrichment Seminar on Exploring Legal Careers

High School Interns Meet Financial Aid Expert

The Summer Jobs interns met with Daniel Forster, the VP of Enrollment Management at Westfield State University earlier in the month. Forster is a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and he described the types of financial aid available, guided the interns through determining the actual cost of attending different universities, and provided important tips for completing the FAFSA.

With approximately half of the interns headed to college this fall and the other half considering their options as they apply in the next few months, the presentation was peppered with questions. From scholarships for left-handed people or those with the last name Zolp to corporate grants and federal and private loan options, there are many ways for students to obtain funds for tuition. Forster reminded the interns that all of these sources have different applications and terms & conditions. It’s important to apply to as many scholarships as possible and to seek out scholarship and grant sources before turning to loans.

At the start of the seminar, Forster described the various higher ed institutions he’s worked for over the past 28 years, including Simmons College and Wheelock College. After hearing about the many components of financial aid and the steps students can take to ensure they’re covered for college, one intern asked Forster what he felt was the biggest takeaway from his presentation. “Do not borrow more than you need,” he responded. Forster explained that many fall into the trap of borrowing more from a private loan institution than they really need to while attending college. Instead, he recommended searching and applying to scholarship programs and saving as much as possible from summer employment. Any amount paid up front is going to be better than paying that amount back later, with interest.

Law 101: A Crash Course on the Legal Field for High School Interns

For their first enrichment seminar of the year, the Summer Jobs student interns participated in Law 101. The morning is partly a crash course on being a lawyer and partly a Q & A session with the attorneys who present the topics. The grand finale is a “Jeopardy!”-style game where the students test the knowledge they just picked up. Attorneys Michael Licker (Foley Hoag) and Kimberly Parr (Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General) led the discussion and activity.

While many high school students may have learned about the legal system in social studies or civics classes, it’s rare that they have the opportunity to speak directly with attorneys about these topics. During Law 101, they receive a broad overview of the paths to law school and the many different areas of law in which attorneys practice. They also learn about the difference between criminal and civil cases and the structure of the court system on the state and federal levels.

Some students had questions about the path from high school to law school, and how their academic performance and choice of undergraduate university could influence their future options. Other students wondered about being a law student, whether courses they take are difficult and how a law school can keep the curriculum up-to-date when laws are changing in real time. Speaker Kim Parr highlighted her own transition from a large law firm to a government agency and the differences between various types of legal offices and environments.

After a high-energy round of “Jeopardy!”, it was time for the students to return to their offices for the rest of their work day. In the coming weeks, we will be covering their experiences learning about municipal government, touring courthouse buildings, and more.

To see photos from the summer, view our online album here.

Student interns deliberate over the correct answer

Summer Jobs Kickoff 2018: Welcome, Students!

Adriana Jean-Louis (former intern at WilmerHale, current UMass Dartmouth student) speaks at the Summer Jobs Kickoff. For more photos of the event, please click here.

For the 25th year, the Boston Bar Association welcomed students this week for the Kickoff of our Summer Jobs Program, which gives Boston Public Schools students the opportunity to work at a law firm, legal services organization or government office for the summer. Over the course of 25 years, the Boston Bar has connected more than 1,000 students with a meaningful seven-week internship. This year’s group of 36 students will work at 31 offices all over the city.

At the Kickoff event, student interns sat with their supervisors and learned about the importance of making connections with others and how to cultivate impactful relationships.

Adriana Jean-Louis, a summer jobs alumnus who is now a senior at UMass Dartmouth, spoke about her experience interning at WilmerHale, a firm that has been hiring youth interns for over two decades. In the days leading up to her summer job, she was nervous and intimidated, unsure of what to wear or what her responsibilities at work would be. By the time the internship ended, she had developed a rapport with her supervisor and the attorneys in her office. Today, as a successful student and representative in the student government at UMass Dartmouth, Jean-Louis says the program helped her understand the “power and importance of relationships.” She also learned to present herself with confidence and embrace taking positive risks necessary to achieve her goals.

“My advice would just be to work toward being the best you can,” she said.

Lily Kelly, a recent graduate of Boston Latin School headed to Boston University in the Fall, will participate in her second internship through the Summer Jobs Program with Holland & Knight this summer. She also spoke at the Kickoff, emphasizing the importance of good communication as a stepping stone to creating meaningful connections with colleagues and building trust.

“To get the most out of your job, you have to make an effort to put yourself out there and build relationships, and in order to do that, you have to learn to communicate well,” she said.

As her team began to see her abilities and put faith in her work product, Kelly began to receive engaging research projects from the attorneys she worked with at Holland & Knight. She is looking forward to returning to the office and working with her supervisor, Sparkle Calhoun and mentor, Meredeth Beers.

Anne Bowie, WilmerHale’s Public Service Manager, reminded students that they are all capable of success, and that everyone – no matter their age or experience level – relies on others for help. When she asked everyone in the room, including lawyers and law firm professionals, to raise their hand if they had achieved professional success without any assistance, there were no hands in the air.

With that, Bowie introduced Daniel Horgan from MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. Horgan led the students and supervisors through a series of hands-on activities. Each one zeroed in on a specific component of meeting and getting to know another person. Horgan frequently turned back to the metaphor of people as “icebergs.” Limited information is available at face value, but the real heart of a person lies in the experiences that are under the surface.

Some students acknowledged the awkwardness of sharing personal information with new acquaintances, and many of Horgan’s practical tips focused on the best ways to naturally draw people out over the course of a conversation.

“You’ll notice the questions you feel comfortable asking, and the information you’re sharing, get progressively deeper. You get more comfortable opening up with practice and opportunities,” he said.

Horgan intended the exercises to demonstrate to the student interns that their existing drive and passion will be amplified if they reach out to their colleagues and use them for support. Likewise, the students’ supervisors for the summer will grow as mentors and will provide the best support through compassion and listening. Horgan stressed that everyone has their own talents and strengths that are best utilized in conjunction with others’ differing strengths. The employee-supervisor relationship is constantly evolving and Horgan’s training left the crowd more aware of how deeply impactful their interactions over the next seven weeks can be and the knowledge that they each have something unique they bring to their relationships.

The Boston Bar would like to thank WilmerHale for their sponsorship of the Kickoff and all of the wonderful speakers for their time. We look forward to another enriching year for our students.

Stay updated throughout the summer by visiting us here at Beyond the Billable and reading about the students’ weekly enrichment seminars and what they’ve been up to at work.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Summer Jobs Program or the work of MENTOR and their local affiliate, Mass Mentoring Partnership, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

Public Interest Leadership Program Learns about Trauma-Informed Legal Advocacy

In March, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from Erin Miller, Manager of the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Erin Miller presented on understanding the dynamics of trauma and trauma-informed legal advocacy.

Miller addressed the neurobiology of trauma and how trauma and particularly long-term chronic trauma, can affect the brain and subsequently our clients’ behavior and presentation in court and meetings. Although Miller works specifically with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, her presentation was relevant to working with survivors of trauma in many different contexts.

Below are some tips and tricks Miller shared for working with clients experiencing trauma:

  • Let the client know up front how you are going to approach the meeting. Explain why you are going to ask him or her certain questions and how long the meeting will be. This way, your client can prepare for what is ahead and any triggering or personal questions you may have to ask.
  • Let the client have control of the meeting as much as possible. Let him or her decide where to sit, whether you can take notes, how the temperature in the room is, etc. Letting the client know that he or she has agency in the attorney-client relationship can go a long way in building trust.
  • Validate the client’s feelings and experiences and make sure his or she knows you are listening. Thank your client for sharing his or her experience and acknowledge that it is not an easy thing to do. Make sure that your client feels heard and understood.

Miller also addressed secondary trauma and vicarious trauma and the emotional toll that working with survivors of trauma can have on attorneys. She stressed how important it is for attorneys to practice the same self-care that they would encourage their clients to practice.

For more information on Erin Miller’s program, visit: https://www.nwh.org/classes-and-resources/community-services/domestic-sexual-violence/domestic-and-sexual-violence-services

Meeting recap provided by PILP Member Anne Sheldon (DOVE, Inc.)

Massachusetts’ Housing Trends and Needs Presented to PILP

Last month, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard a presentation from Judith Jacobson, Calandra Clark, and Tom Hopper of Massachusetts Housing Partnership (“MHP”), where Jacobson is the Deputy Director and General Counsel, and Clark and Hopper are the Co-Directors of MHP’s Center for Housing Data. MHP is a statewide public non-profit that works in concert with the Governor and the state Department of Housing and Community Development to increase the supply of affordable housing in Massachusetts.

Jacobson began by providing an overview of MHP, its history, and the reach of its projects. MHP was established in 1985 to increase the Commonwealth’s overall rate of housing production and to work with municipalities to meet the growing need for affordable housing. In 1990, the Massachusetts legislature passed legislation that requires companies acquiring Massachusetts banks to make funds available to MHP for affordable housing. Since its creation, MHP has provided assistance for affordable housing in over 330 Massachusetts communities. That includes more than $1.1 billion in loans and commitments for the financing of over 23,000 units of rental housing. Those financial resources have gone toward new construction as well as renovations of existing properties.

Clark and Hopper then discussed the affordable housing problem in Massachusetts in more detail, noting that annual production of housing has been in decline in Massachusetts since the 1960s. Housing prices have surged, resulting in Massachusetts having the 7th highest rents in the country and the Metro Boston area having the 4th highest rents after San Francisco, San Jose, and New York. Vacancy rates are incredibly low statewide, not just in the more densely populated counties like Suffolk and Middlesex, but also in western counties with smaller populations, like Hampshire and Franklin, both of which have rental vacancies below 2% and homeownership vacancies of less than 1%. MHP estimates that Massachusetts needs 38,000 housing units to meet current statewide demand.

One of the issues preventing the construction of that housing is restrictive zoning laws, according to Clark and Hooper. Many communities in Massachusetts have enacted zoning laws that make it difficult if not impossible for developers to build affordable housing. On a related topic, many zoning ordinances require new housing that looks little like the current housing in those municipalities. For example, only 22 residential buildings in Somerville meet the current zoning code. The others are too dense, too close to the road, too tall, etc. The meeting ended with a question and answer session, as Jacobson, Clark, and Hooper discussed how to get involved locally and what statewide measures were under consideration within the legislature to address affordable housing.

More information on Massachusetts Housing Partnership may be found at https://www.mhp.net/about-us. More information on the Center for Housing Data may be found at https://www.mhp.net/about-us/data.

Meeting recap provided by PILP Member John Weaver (McLane Middleton).