Local Law Firms Raise Their Hand to Help Boston Public Schools During COVID-19 Crisis

On Monday, March 16th, Jeff Mullan, partner at Foley Hoag, received a text from a City of Boston Policy Advisor asking if his firm could assist the Boston Public Schools (BPS) with a copying project. The usual vendors were unable to complete the project of printing take-home packets for students, which were needed urgently – the schools were preparing to close in accordance with the Governor’s COVID-19 recommendations. Mullan’s initial reaction was to tell the advisor no problem – how many packets did they need?  “Twelve thousand packets of seventy-five pages each,” was the response he received. And they needed it the following day. The schools were set to close on Tuesday, March 17th, and they needed these packets printed and delivered in less than a day so that the students could take them home.

Mullan knew that even if Foley Hoag had the paper, they couldn’t turn this project around that quickly. So, he reached out to the Managing Partners at his firm, Jeff Collins and Ken Leonetti, to see if they had thoughts on how to scale up their efforts. Collins suggested that they increase their capacity for the project by reaching out to a leadership group of the twenty largest law firms in Boston for assistance.

Over a year ago, leaders at the twenty largest law firms in Boston started meeting to discuss how they could pool their efforts and collaborate on projects in the Boston area. Despite the fact that they are direct competitors, these twenty law firms also saw the opportunity inherent in their combined forces and began meeting quarterly to discuss shared initiatives. Jane Goldstein, co-managing partner of Ropes & Gray’s Boston office and a member of the coalition, helped lead the collaboration between the law firms and BPS to get take-home materials printed for the students of Boston.  

Goldstein explained that once the call was sent out to the group, multiple firms jumped in and offered to help with the project. Six firms which had crews on site and responded first – Ropes & Gray, Foley Hoag, Mintz Levin, Seyfarth Shaw, WilmerHale, and Wolf Greenfield – were recruited to help with printing and packaging the twelve thousand packets and sending them on to the schools. Several others among the group offered to help as well.

When asked about the actual process of preparing the packets, Goldstein noted that it was truly gratifying work for the people at her firm. Even though they had just transitioned most of the office to remote work, the skeleton crew left at the office was more than happy to help.

“The community of lawyers in this city care deeply about the well-being of families and their children. We immediately realized how important these packets would be to the continuation of structured learning at home,” Goldstein told the BBA. “I’m proud to see firms work together in partnership with public institutions. This presented an opportunity for our staff to give back to others in a meaningful way,” said Goldstein.  

The partnership between these law firms and the Boston Public Schools to prepare materials for students during the COVID-19 closure is a clear example of how the private sector stands ready and willing to assist the government and the community during times of crisis. Both Goldstein and Mullan stated that they’d be happy to help the city again. “On behalf of the Foley Hoag team, I am glad that the Mayor’s office reached out to us and equally pleased that we were able to make this small contribution to the challenges the City is facing at this time,” Mullan affirmed.  “We look forward to finding additional ways that we can be of assistance.”

Thank you to our 2020 M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program Volunteers

We are proud to report that 50 classroom sessions were held in 8 different schools as part of the BBA’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program! This could not have been possible without the dedication of our 109 volunteers, who traveled to classrooms across the Commonwealth to impart critical financial wisdom upon 476 students. We also thank the 15 teachers who opened up their classrooms for our volunteers, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future! 

We also want to extend a special thank-you to the federal bankruptcy judges who took time out of their busy schedules to help with this program. Our gratitude goes out to Chief Judge Christopher J. Panos, Judge Melvin S. Hoffman, Judge Frank J. Bailey, Judge Elizabeth D. Katz, and Judge Janet E. Bostwick. Additional thanks to our Western, MA partners – Hampden County Bar Association & Hampshire Country Bar Association for helping to make this program a statewide initiative.  

The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund. This fund provides critical support for the bankruptcy-related pro bono, public service, and civic programs of the Boston Bar Association. For more information on the BBF or this fund, please click here.

If you have any questions on the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, please reach out to Doug Newton at 617-778-1918 or dnewton@bostonbar.org. Please see our list of incredible volunteers: 

  • Jessica Drew, Greater Boston Legal Services

 

  • Jessica Galimberti, Accion

 

  • Beatrice Steinberg, Accion

 

  • William Walsh, Sugarman

 

  • Crystal Talley, Boston University

 

  • Aly Madan, Northeastern University

 

  • Christina Simpson, Christina Simpson Law

 

  • Molly Sharon, United States Bankruptcy Court

 

  • Michelle Fahey, Volunteer Lawyers Project

 

  • Jacob Simon, Simon Law

 

  • Kristen Kearney, U.S. Attorney’s Office

 

  • Michael Avitzur, Boston Bar Association

 

  • Lane Goldberg, Goldberg Law

 

  • Steffani Pelton, Madoff & Khoury LLP

 

  • Greg Pakhladzhyan, American Student Assistance

 

  • Steven Pohl, Brown Rudnick

 

  • Rosa Sierra, Brown Rudnick

 

  • Maura Martinelli, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Barry Smith, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Maureen Pachucki, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Eden Huang, Liberty Mutual 

 

  • Robert Courson, Liberty Mutual 

 

  • Julie Evrard, Liberty Mutual 

 

  • Lisa Fassberg Weller, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Joshua Beiser, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Sharika Stanford, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Kiran Mallavarapu, Liberty Mutual 

 

 

  • Catherine Neijstrom, Gilmore Rees & Carlson PC

 

  • Lauren Reznick, Administrative Office of the Land Court

 

  • Rene Moniz, Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP

 

  • Alex Rodolakis, Fletcher Tilton PC

 

  • Keri Wintle, Duane Morris LLP

 

  • Christopher Candon, Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green

 

  • Bridget Somogie, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Securities Division

 

  • Carlos Badiola, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Securities Division

 

  • Amy Lipman-White, Law Office of Lipman & White

 

  • A.J. Santaniello, Nutter, McClennen, & Fish

 

  • Mark DiOrio, Bulfinch

 

  • Katiuscia Potier, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts 

 

  • Susanna Jones, Foundation Medicine Inc. 

 

  • Sigalit Israel, Boston University

 

  • Danielle Panos, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Jennifer Tracy, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Mary-Pat Cormier, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Meg Rehrauer, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Anna Kordan, Liberty Mutual 

 

  • Tim Fallon, Liberty Mutual 

 

  • William Cupelo, Liberty Mutual 

 

  • Vivian Liu-Somers, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Cynthia Flowers, Liberty Mutual

 

 

  • Stephen Kerr, Boston University

 

  • Gary Cruickshank, Law Offices of Gary W. Cruickshank

 

  • Liza Hadley, Nutter, McClennen, & Fish

 

  • Laura Martin, Laura Martin Law

 

  • Cory Lamz, Buoy Health

 

  • Leslie Ann Lopez, Buoy Health

 

  • Rachel Hershfang, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

 

 

  • Chip Harper, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

 

  • Marcus Pratt, Korde & Associates

 

  • Julie Ranieri, Korde & Associates

 

  • Adam Ruttenberg, Arent Fox LLP 

 

  • Dustin Hecker, Arent Fox LLP

 

  • Dragica Mijailovic, SLC Management

 

  • Christiana Deily 

 

  • John Loughnane, Nutter, McClennen, & Fish 

 

  • Mike Cavoto, Nutter McClennen & Fish

 

  • Walter Oney 

 

  • Marty Oney 

 

  • AnDre Summers, Summers LeBleu Law 

 

  • Mark Powers, Bowditch

 

  • Kevin McGee 

 

  • Demetrios Skritakis, Bowditch

 

  • David Mawhinney, Bowditch 

 

  • Lasaunna Powell, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Isaac Johnson, Liberty Mutual 

 

  • Donald Liskov, Liberty Mutual 

 

  • Scott Bell, Liberty Mutual 
  • Dianne Winslow, Liberty Mutual 

 

  • Nora Marantz, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Helen O’Rourke, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Anna Kordan, Liberty Mutual

 

  • Nicholas Chaves 

 

  • Mark Tanner

 

  • Lisa Lippiello, Western Massachusetts Legal Services

 

  • Matt Thomas

 

  • Mike Hooker

 

  • Everald Henry

 

  • Jeff Trapani

 

  • John Davis, Cooley Shrair

 

  • David Ostrander, Ostrander Law Office

 

  • Louis Robin, Law Offices of Louis S. Robin

 

  • Eric Kornblum, Law Office of Eric D. Kornblum

 

  • Robert Girvan, Weiner Law Firm

 

  • Rebecca Thibault

 

  • Catherine Kay

 

  • Maren Law

 

  • Robert Opsitnick

 

  • Joy Piper

 

·         Michelle Cruz

 

  • Michael Katz, Bacon & Wilson

 

  • Rebecca Mercieri Rivaux

 

  • Andrea O’Connor, Hendel, Collins & O’Connor, P.C.

 

  • Denise Shear, U.S. Bankruptcy Court

 

  • Stephen Reynolds, U.S. Bankruptcy Court

 

  • Joe Baldiga, Mirick O’Connell

 

  • Janice Marsh, Janice G. Marsh, LLC

 

  • James Erhard

 

  • Mark Powers

 

  • Paul Carey

Massachusetts Access To Justice Commission Forms COVID-19 Task Force

The Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission (ATJ) has convened a COVID-19 Task Force to identify the emergent legal needs of the community and to address newly arising barriers to justice as the result of the ongoing health crisis. The Task Force is working rapidly to tackle Chief Justice Gants’ call for coordination in addressing evolving challenges to court access and relief in a time when being physically present in court is impossible. To that end, the Commission is also focused on disseminating clear and accurate court information while ensuring that there is equal access to the court while it operates remotely.

Former BBA President J.D. Smeallie is serving as the BBA’s liaison to the Task Force, and is identifying ways the BBA can further support the ATJ Commission’s goals of strengthening the civil legal services community and increasing the number of attorneys providing pro bono representation. Last week, the Task Force partnered with the BBA to distribute a survey to all Boston Bar Foundation grantees to help understand the needs of these legal service organizations, and how the private bar can help. This was part of a larger coordinated effort between the BBA, MBA, and MLAC. 

Once this data is collected, the BBA will be able to offer ways for its members to best connect with available opportunities that assist the community during this time.

Look out for future updates on the important work of the ATJ COVID-19 Task Force. 

Law Day in the Schools – Classroom Sign Up Now Available

The Boston Bar Association is excited to kick off our 2020 Law Day in the Schools program! We are now signing up classrooms for this Spring. This year’s timely theme is entitled: “Your Vote. Your Voice. Our Democracy: The 19th Amendment at 100” and will introduce students to the topic of voting rights, and will demonstrate the importance of exercising those rights to effect change.  Elementary students will learn about women’s suffrage in the United States, while middle school and high school students will participate in an interactive debate on the topic of lowering the voting age.

This program will take place from May 1st – May 31st across the city and is open to all Boston public schools, grades kindergarten through 12th. If you know a Boston public school teacher who may be interested in participating, or would like to get your child’s school involved, please have them complete the Teacher Request Form and return it to Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org. Stay tuned for volunteer slot openings, which we will open in April.

Any questions? Reach out to Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org.

Carolyn Marcotte (Barclay Damon) and Leanne Scott (Baker Newman Noyes) volunteer at the Hurley School

Thank you to our February 2020 Bar Exam Coaches!

Ahead of the February 2020 Uniform Bar Exam in Massachusetts, 35 attorneys provided coaching and guidance to individuals taking the bar exam. The BBA’s Bar Exam Coaching Program matches coaches with bar applicants to support them throughout the preparation process. Coaches keep applicants on track with a study schedule and provide tips for managing time and stress.

The program also consists of workshops for both coaches and applicants. The BBA thanks Kandace Kukas of Northeastern University School of Law for her instructional workshop for coaches, as well as Jonny Schreiber of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors and Adrian Velazquez of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for their workshop on the essay writing portions of the bar exam.

This program focuses particularly on assisting applicants who are retaking the bar exam in Massachusetts.  Through this program, we hope to provide support and community during the stressful and sometimes isolating experience of studying for the bar exam. Thank you to all the coaches who provided support:

Eunice Aikins-Afful, Alliance Foundation Trials

Robert Friedman, Burns & Levinson LLP

Thomas Barry, Fidelity Investments

Manisha Bhatt, Greater Boston Legal Services

Luke Blackadar, Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston

Elizabeth Broderick, Committee for Public Counsel Services

Laura Brown, Laura Brown Law Office

Emma Days, Ropes & Gray LLP

Chantal Choi, Catalant Technologies

James Coffey, Polsinelli

Susan Corcoran, De Novo

Brook Kellerman, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

Caryn Mitchell-Munevar, New England Law Boston

Szeman Lam, Proskauer Rose LLP

Kristy Lavigne, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

Yakov Malkiel, White & Case LLP

Elizabeth Olien, Todd & Weld LLP

Patrick Niebauer, Nolan Sheehan Patten LLP

Julius Halstead, Goulston & Storrs PC

Nicole Phe, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Amy Pimental, McDermott Will & Emery

Andreia Ribas Precoma, MetroWest Legal Services

Alyssa Pratt, Foley Hoag LLP

Claire Sakurada, Hologic, Inc.

Stevie Leahy, Northeastern University School of Law

Katherine Stock, Miyares and Harrington LLP

Ben Towbin, Fresenius Medical Care North America

Sarah Washington, Peabody & Arnold

Emily Notini, Goodwin Procter

Michael Xavier, Prince Lobel Tye LLP

Elmira Zenger, WGBH

Tess Foley, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

Tiffany Albanese, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

Rebekah Glickman-Simon, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Sheba Treworgy, Greater Boston Legal Services

PILP Program Explores What Makes for an Effective Diversity & Inclusion Organizational Strategy

On Feb. 6, the current Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) class discussed the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I) for organizations and how to support successful D&I programs in the workplace with two guest experts, Audrey Grace (Northeastern University) and Patricia Hennessy (Burns & Levinson).

Effective D&I strategies start at the individual level, Attorney Grace and Attorney Hennessy told the PILP class. To help propel D&I strategies, you have to “walk the walk.”

During the session, the experts and PILP class engaged in a meaningful discussion about the importance of D&I (“when individuals are lifted up and celebrated, their workplace is also elevated”) and how to operationalize an effective D&I strategy (“buy-in from leadership is key”).

Although the scope and substance of what organizations consider to be included in D&I efforts has evolved over time, Attorney Grace and Attorney Hennessy agreed that institutional change takes time, and being intentional and thoughtful about D&I strategies is a must from the start.

When implementing a D&I strategy, you must consider your communities, your stakeholders, and of course your own biases, Attorney Grace said.  

It’s also important to remember your positions of power and privilege in your own organization and your community, Attorney Hennessy said.

These insights greatly resonated with the PILP class, as class members asked thoughtful and engaging questions about how to implement effective D&I strategies in their own organizations and with their own stakeholders.

Meeting recap provided by PILP members Cory Lamz (Buoy Health) and Jessica Powell (The Davis Companies).

BBA’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program Now Seeking “Consequences” Volunteers!

The BBA’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program concludes with a “Consequences” session at the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts. This consists of a mock trial portion in which the students participate as well as a discussion and Q&A portion between the volunteers and the students.

This session serves to expose students to the ultimate consequences of misusing or abusing credit, as well as to introduce them to the legal profession via interactions with lawyers and a bankruptcy judge. Attorneys with prior or current experience related to bankruptcy law are encouraged to sign up for one of our three confirmed sessions. We are seeking five volunteers for each session, and it is possible that additional sessions may be added in the coming weeks. We are currently seeking volunteers from 9:30 to 11:30 AM at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Boston for the following three dates:

  • April 1, 2020
  • April 29, 2020
  • May 7, 2020

Please contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org or 617-778-1918 with any questions. If you are interested in volunteering for any of the above sessions, please sign up here.

The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund. This fund provides critical support for the bankruptcy-related pro bono, public service, and civic programs of the Boston Bar Association. For more information on the BBF or this fund, please click here.

BBA Seeking Applicants for PILP 2020-21 Class!

The BBA is excited to announce that applications are now open for our 2020-21 class of the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP)!

In 2002, Chief Judge Mark Wolf and then-BBA President Michael Keating began discussing the need for younger lawyers to become more engaged as community leaders earlier in their careers. One year later, PILP was launched to help new lawyers understand the meaning of community leadership and develop lasting connections beyond their existing legal networks.

This selective program attracts a diverse group of talented, motivated attorneys who have:

  • Graduated law school within the last 10 years
  • Demonstrated a commitment to pro bono and public service
  • Have a history of organizing bar action

The 2020-21 PILP class will meet roughly twice per month, typically on the first Thursday and third Wednesday of each month. PILP participants connect with prominent community leaders at meetings and events, learn about the challenges confronting local organizations and take part in efforts to address specific community needs. PILP participants work together to create and execute a public service project focused on advancing the BBA’s goals related to access to justice, diversity & inclusion, and serving the community at large.

If you have any questions about PILP, please contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org or 617-778-1918. To apply for the PILP 2020-2021 program, please download the application here and return it to Doug Newton by Friday, March 27, 2020.

PILP Class Discusses Housing Crisis

On January 15th, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) learned from experts about the housing crisis in Massachusetts. As part of this program, PILP heard from Eric Shupin, the Director of Public Policy for the Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), and Brad Kramer, the Director of Public Policy for One Family. CHAPA is a public policy oriented organization whose goal is to encourage the production and preservation of housing that is affordable to low and moderate income families and individuals and to foster diverse and sustainable communities through planning and community development. One Family is a service provider aiming to prevent family homelessness by promoting pathways to economic independence through advocacy, education, and innovation.

Eric gave an overview of the state of the housing crisis in Massachusetts and explained the dire need for action to counteract it. CHAPA focuses on solving the housing crisis through production of more homes that are affordable, preserving existing affordable housing and the ability of residents to stay in their communities, planning for more diversity in the state’s housing stock, and policies that provide everyone with opportunities to prosper. Eric also discussed emerging housing policy issues in the state, including zoning reform, new revenue for housing, and anti-displacement and tenant protections.

Brad discussed One Family’s approach to preventing family homelessness, which includes the One Family Scholars program as well as career coaching. One Family Scholars receive coaching and financial assistance to help them earn a higher education degree, which in turn makes it possible for them to become financially independent and more likely to be able to afford housing. 91% of the program’s alumni are stably housed. One Family also engages in public policy work to further the goal of preventing family homelessness through economic opportunity.

For more information on CHAPA’s public policy work, please click here. For more information on One Family’s programs, please click here.

Meeting recap provided by PILP member Charlie Ahern (Massachusetts State Senate)

Eric Shupin and Brad Kramer present to the 2019-20 PILP Class

Want to Try Being a Lawyer-for-the-Day? It’s Easier Than You Think

On Wednesday of last week, the BBA was proud to host a training for prospective volunteers for the Eastern Housing Court’s Lawyer for the Day program. The training was conducted by Geraldine Gruvis-Pizarro, Colin Harnsgate, and Sarah Lee, who coordinate the program as staff attorneys from the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). The Hon. MaryLou Muirhead, 1st Justice of the Eastern Housing Court, gave the opening remarks.

Her words of advice for future volunteers? Try not to end up in front of her. In fact, most tenant-landlord disputes are settled by mediation. She also urged the audience to take advantage of the Eastern court’s extra “amenities.” From the experienced housing specialists in the clerk’s office, to Rosie’s Place advocates, to the RAFT and TPP homelessness prevention programs, there is a range of in-house resources available to help volunteers help their clients.

During the comprehensive training, VLP lawyers explained the major legal and procedural issues surrounding summary process for evictions. They discussed the defenses available to tenants, requirements for landlords initiating evictions, the acceptable forms of prima facie evidence, important filing deadlines, and much more.

VLP hosts free Landlord/Tenant Law trainings regularly, and both law students and attorneys with minimal housing case experience are encouraged to attend. The Eastern Housing Court sees up to 200 cases on the docket per week. With many low-income tenants and landlords going without representation, volunteer lawyers play a vital role.

To register for their next training on January 15th, click here. For more information on how to volunteer, visit the VLP website. And for more volunteer opportunities at the Cambridge session of Eastern Housing court on Fridays, contact Susan Corcoran at De Novo.

The VLP and De Novo are grantees of the Boston Bar Foundation.

January 8th Landlord/Tenant Law Training