Monthly Archives: March 2013

Innovative Re-Entry Means Investing in the Individual

Last week the BBA hosted “Cutting Edge Approaches to Re-Entry Innovation” which highlighted three different court re-entry programs with the same goal – reducing recidivism rates. The panelists included US District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin, representing the CARE program, Judge Robert N. Tochka representing the CHOICE program, and former Commissioner of Probation Ron Corbett representing the HOPE program.

Each of the programs are a collaboration of probation officers, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges who work together to provide participants the life skills they need in order to take control of their lives. The courts agree — the key to success for the participants is having someone who consistently believes and invests in them as people. They might be subject tough love or hard sanctions, but many participants who successfully complete the programs often credit the person who was toughest on them with saving their life.

The BBA Public Interest Leaders (PILP) has experienced the courts commitment to participants first hand through the CARE and RESTART programs of the US District Court. After a series of discussions with Judge Sorokin, Judge Hillman and the other stakeholders, the 2012-2013 PILP class is currently in the process of developing and delivering a series of workshops for federal probationers called Community Reentry Readiness.

Eric Haskell discusses Step 1 of getting back a revoked license, "Identifying the Issue"

Eric Haskell discusses Step 1 of getting back a revoked license, “Identifying the Issue”

On March 6th, Eric Haskell of Foley Hoag, LLP delivered the first of these workshops on how to handle common drivers license issues. The workshop was a hit with the probationers and the court:

sorokin,-l_130x151I was very excited to see the BBA Public Interest Leaders (PILP) begin their modules for our CARE/RESTART participants. The PILP class did an excellent job in their first presentation and written materials. After the module, many of the CARE/RESTART participants indicated they found the session helpful. I’m really pleased to see this program start with such enthusiasm and success. On behalf of the Court, I thank the PILP Fellows and the Boston Bar Association. – Judge Leo T. Sorokin

Next week, the Emily Hodge of Choate, Hall & Stewart, LLP, will deliver the second workshop on how participants can manage issues with their CORI.

For more information about the workshops or PILP, please contact Susan Helm,

A Glimpse into the Classroom: Financial Literacy Classroom Sessions Wrap Up

The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program is in the homestretch and volunteers have just completed the classroom sessions. So far this year, the program has reached more than 1,000 students in the Greater Boston area. In the coming weeks, schools will gear up for trips to the Boston and Worcester Bankruptcy Courts for the “Consequences Module”— a mock hearing, presided over by a judge, where students will get a firsthand glimpse of the repercussions of poor financial decision making. Beyond the Billable stopped into a few schools to see the volunteers in action.

Here is a glimpse into the classroom sessions at East Boston High School and Boston Latin School:

Volunteers Susan Curtin (U.S. SEC) and Jose Gonzalez (City of Boston, Office of the Corporation Counsel) teach students about using credit and credit cards.

Volunteers Susan Curtin (U.S. SEC) and Jose Gonzalez (City of Boston, Office of the Corporation Counsel) teach students about using credit and credit cards.

Students in Heidi DeRosa's 12th grade class at East Boston answer questions during a lesson on credit cards.

Students in Heidi DeRosa’s 12th grade class at East Boston answer questions during a lesson on credit cards.

Ed Kearn’s 11th and 12th grade Economics Class at Boston Latin learn about the true costs of buying a car.

Ed Kearn’s 11th and 12th grade Economics Class at Boston Latin learn about the actual and hidden costs of buying a car.

Rick Levine (Nelson Kinder + Mosseau PC) teaches the students the basics of  financing a car.

Rick Levine (Nelson Kinder + Mosseau PC) teaches the students the basics of financing a car.

Please look for photos from the Consequences Module in the coming weeks. For more information on the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at

This program is funded in part by the Boston Bar Foundation Charles P. Normandin Fund.

Ode to Judge Winik

Judge Jeffrey Winik, first judge of the Boston Housing Court, is a true champion of justice. On May 13th BBA President J.D. Smeallie will present Judge Winik with the Citation of Judicial Excellence at Law Day Dinner. We at Beyond the Billable know Judge Winik for his dedication to the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court program.


We touched base with people who work with Judge Winik every week to see what they had to say about him:

Saccardi, ChrisChristopher Saccardi, The Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi 

My first court appearances as a new lawyer were in front of Judge Winik on pro bono matters, I was incredibly nervous, and I remember him being very patient as I stumbled through my arguments. While I certainly do not always prevail, I always get the sense that he appreciates that I am there trying to help someone who would otherwise be unrepresented. Judge Winik’s appreciation of the role volunteer attorneys’ play is clear in his willingness to speak regularly at BBA panels on housing law and to help new attorneys gain the confidence necessary to effectively represent low-income litigants at the Housing Court.

Cohn, AndrewAndrew Cohn, WilmerHale

When asked to reflect on Judge Winik’s contributions to the Lawyer for a Day program, a few things stood out to me:

◊  Judge Winik has continued to help the Lawyer for a Day program increase available resources for pro se litigants, with the aim of achieving greater balance and fairness in judicial process even in a time of diminished resources.

◊  He has played a lead role in fostering the use of Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) in the Housing Court, in keeping with the SJC’s guidance.

◊  His example reminds all Lawyer for a Day program volunteers that JUSTICE is about PROCESS not about OUTCOMES. 

◊  While being a staunch advocate for the program, Judge Winik has made clear that no ex parte communications of any kind relating to pending cases can be discussed in his presence; showing us all once again his commitment to fairness.

When thinking of Judge Winik’s contributions to the program, Virgil’s quote “None but himself can be his parallel.” comes to mind. The Lawyer for a Day program, the Boston Bar Association and the citizens of the Commonwealth owe Judge Winik a large debt of gratitude.

Foster, RobertHon. Robert B. Foster, Land Court Department of the Trial Court

Judge Winik’s support for the Lawyer for the Day program has been unwavering, and its success is due in no small part to his efforts. When we served together on the Real Estate Pro Bono committee, he was always the calming voice, with the usually sensible suggestion that would lead us out of whatever argument we might be having with each other. After I was appointed to the Land Court, I had the great pleasure of getting to know Judge Winik as a colleague. He is still the calm voice of reason, with the same thoughtful outlook on issues, but with just maybe a bit more leeway to crack jokes! He’s been a great help to me in my first year on the bench. I’m so glad the BBA is honoring him for all his work to support access to justice.

Allison, Joanna

Joanna Allison, Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association.

I call Judge Winik’s courtroom the humiliation free zone. Knowing volunteers will not be “made to seem a fool” not only gives them comfort but also empowers litigants who will be appearing pro se. I suggest that new lawyers sit in on Judge Winik’s session to see what goes on there on Thursday eviction days. If Judge Winik notices that he has an audience, he will find them later or call them up to the bench and ask if they have any questions about what they have seen. This is no less than a thrill for the new attorneys, to be noticed and treated respectfully by a member of the judiciary.

I have taken to comparing Judge Winik to Bruce Springsteen for his rock star status among the Lawyer for the Day volunteers. When asked about the comparison, most volunteers have said they would prefer to have Judge Winik come to the Lawyer for the Day table with his advice, gratitude and humility. After all, they opine, Bruce can only sing. Judge Winik is truly THE BOSS.

March is a Big Month for Boston Debate League

As you’ve no doubt noticed, Beyond the Billable is always posting about our public service partnerships across Greater Boston. One of our newest partnerships is the Boston Debate League (BDL)—which works to develop academic debate skill among Boston Public High School students. As we learned when we sat down with two BDL representatives recently, March is a particularly busy month for the program, for both potential and past volunteers.

Making a Point 2

A Boston Community Leadership Academy student and a New Mission High School student debate during a Boston Debate League round.

Here’s what’s happening this month:

(1) Are you looking to volunteer? Serve as a judge at the Fish & Richards City Debate Championships on March 15th or 16th at English High School and Trinity Middle School. Volunteers judge for about 4 hours and a short training is provided. Please contact Sarah Amaral, BDL Volunteer Coordinator, at to sign up.

(2) Want to sit in on a debate session before volunteering? On March 19th you will have a chance to see the top debaters in action at the City Council Debate 2013 hosted by Councillor Charles Yancey. , where students will debate current Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority policies for an esteemed panel of judges. The event will take place from 5:30-7:30 pm at Boston City Hall.

(3) Have you volunteered as a judge or mentor? Don’t miss the chance to join the Boston Debate League in honoring the hard work of the debaters on March 22nd at the Annual Spring Awards Ceremony from 6-7:30pm. The event is hosted by the Boston University School of Education, the Boston University Black Law Student Association, and the Boston Debate League and will take place at the Boston University Law School Alumni Auditorium.

Did anything above catch your eye? Contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at for more information. To learn more about the impact BDL has on urban youth, click here.