Blizzards and slow public transportation didn’t stop our volunteers from getting out in the community and giving back during 2015. Take a look below for highlights from the BBA’s 2015 public service efforts:
Monthly Archives: December 2015
Along with a crowd of nearly 10,000 individuals, staff from the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) exhibited at the 11th Annual Massachusetts Conference for Women last week at the Boston Convention Center.
The Massachusetts Conference for Women is the largest community outreach and marketing event of the year for the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service. For the LRS staff, this day is a rare opportunity to meet with members of the public face-to-face, rather than on the other end of a phone call, and a great opportunity to raise awareness about the LRS and the resources it has to both members of the public and other lawyers
“This conference is an event I look forward to each year,” said Solana Goss, LRS Intake Coordinator. “The LRS program speaks to nearly 8,000 individuals per year, entirely on the phone or through our online request function. It’s nice to meet people directly who end up calling a day or two later. Throughout the conference we also met BBA members, new lawyers, law students, and members of the legal community we hope will come through the doors at 16 Beacon!”
The issue of admitting refugees into the United States has been publicly discussed with increasing frequency as tensions in Syria have escalated and life there has become more dangerous. This week at the BBA, Immigration Section Co-Chair Iris Gomez and Asylum Committee Co-Chair Ani Ajemian sought to shed some light on the long, complicated process of entering the United States as a refugee, and the role that state governments play in that process.
They hosted three speakers who were able to bring diverse perspectives to a brown bag program. Marjean Perhot, Director of Refugee and Immigration Services for the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston, spoke about the many hurdles a person must clear in order to be granted admission to the country as a refugee.
Lisa Brennan, Program Manager at Ascentria Health Care Alliance, spoke about the steps her staff members take to help refugees adjust to life in America once they’re here, such as offering employment assistance and help applying for necessary documents.
Vivie Hengst, General Counsel for the State Office of Refugees and Immigrants, spoke about the process by which the federal government assigns a location to a refugee for resettlement.
In a PowerPoint presentation, the trio explained that refugees are just a “drop in the bucket” compared to the total number of immigrants in the United States. Marjean explained that only about one percent of the applicants make it through the federal government’s rigorous screening procedures, which begin long before a potential refugee leaves his or her home country.
Relocating refugees to another country is actually the least preferred option for both individual refugees and the agencies who help them, Marjean said. But sometimes there is no other option.
“Wouldn’t we love everybody to go back to their homes, to their familiar places? But that just is not the case for so many people,” Marjean said.
Vivie said about 10,000 refugees are expected to enter the country from Syria this year, and it is the federal government’s job to decide where they go. They are assigned a location based on a variety of factors, including the existing population of refugees in a given area, the cost of housing, and more.
The program offered those unfamiliar with the refugee immigration process a step-by-step overview. Participants were interested in learning more from the panelists after the program’s conclusion.
If you’re looking to give back this holiday season, look no further! The BBA and BBF have a number of ways for you to support our community:
- Sign up for a pro bono training: Don’t miss the Representing a Pro Bono Debtor in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Pro Bono Training on January 21st with the Volunteer Lawyers Project or CORI Matters— Learn How to Help Low Income Clients Seal Criminal Records Pro Bono Training with Greater Boston Legal Services on February 2nd.
- Donate to the BBF Annual Campaign: Generous community members like you make our essential work in the community possible. Each year, thousands of children, adults and families in Greater Boston are thankful for the access to justice and unique educational opportunities that they receive because of generous donors to the BBF. Contribute today to make an impact.
- Mark your calendars for Walk to the Hill: Join hundreds of private attorneys and civil legal aid advocates at the Massachusetts State House on January 28th to demonstrate your support for state funding of civil legal aid. Be sure to stop by the BBA at 10 am to meet up with other attorneys before heading over to the event. Click here to learn more.
- Use AmazonSmile: AmazonSmile is a way for you to give back to the BBF in a small way as you finish up your holiday shopping. Just go to smile.amazon.com and log in using your normal Amazon account name and password. Then select the Boston Bar Foundation as your charity and shop as you normally would. The BBF will receive a small percentage of the proceeds from your purchase.
- Buy a ticket to Adams Benefit: Join the BBF for the John & Abigail Adams Benefit on January 30th at the Museum of Fine Arts for an unforgettable night of live entertainment, gourmet food and beverages and beautiful galleries and exhibits. 100% of the proceeds from the Adams Benefit will be used for direct grants to organizations that serve thousands of individuals and families struggling with issues such as homelessness, domestic violence and various forms of injustice. Learn more about the event and how you can purchase tickets here.
- Join the BBF’s Society of Fellows: When you join the BBF’s Society of Fellows, you join a community of more than 400 of Boston’s leading attorneys who are committed to investing in our city’s future. Fellows pledge to make contributions to the BBF’s permanent endowment so that the BBF can continue its work in our community. Fellows receive exclusive invitations throughout the year to attend networking events and receptions, and come together to hear from representatives of BBF grantee organizations, public service volunteers and other inspirational speakers. Contact Tara Trask at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association thanks the following attorneys who accepted cases or provided consultation during October and November:
Mark E. Archer
Stephen T. Connolly
Milton D. D’Andrea
Anna R. DiMaria
Kellie W. Fisher
Celia J. Harrison
Sharon V. Jones
Peter V. Lawlor
Jennifer L. Manning-Zoll
Evelyn Venables Moreno
Patrick G.H. Mott
Kristofer C. Munroe
Oren N. Nimni
Donald R. O’Clair
Steven D. Pohl
Margaret A. Reilly
Ryan Takeo Sakoda
Sharyn T. Sooho
The 2015/16 Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) class has demonstrated an interest in learning more about alternative sentencing, diversion, and the impact the juvenile justice system has on the development of the nation’s youth. On Wednesday, December 2, 2015, they continued their exploration into these issues when the City of Boston’s Legal Advisor to Boston Public Schools, Alissa Ocasio, came to speak to the group.
Ms. Ocasio discussed the capacities in which she advises Boston Public Schools including school discipline and the BPS Code of Conduct. Originally called the Code of Discipline, the BPS Code of Conduct is a malleable document, one which is reviewed, evaluated, and amended on an ongoing basis. Ocasio gave an overview of the multi-stakeholder team of parents, teachers, administrators, school safety personnel, and others who work to ensure that this living document can respond more effectively to address individual events in the lives of today’s youth.
Throughout the discussion, it was evident that the new Code of Conduct is aimed at empowering school administrators to focus on youth rehabilitation and education, a departure from previous Codes of Conduct, which were framed in the context of discipline and punishment.
The PILP class had several questions for Ms. Ocasio, and it was clear that they took a lot away from their discussion. As PILP-er Erika Reis, also an attorney for the City of Boston, noted, “The presentation was extremely informative and insightful. I have a better understanding of BPS discipline policy and how it has evolved over the years.”
Many thanks to Ms. Ocasio for taking the time to speak with our Public Interest Leaders.
Yesterday, an all-star panel presented on the ethical considerations attorneys must make when practicing Limited Assistance Representation (LAR). The panel, which included Debra A. Squires-Lee (Sherin and Lodgen LLP), Christopher Saccardi (The Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi), and Paul Rezendes (Board of Bar Overseers), discussed the ethical cautions or concerns an attorney may face, as well as the steps attorneys can take to protect him/herself.
This program is the second in a seven-part series to help attorneys better utilize LAR in their practice. Be sure to check out one (or more!) of the upcoming programs:
LAR Practical Skills: Drafting a Fee Agreement
January 26th 4:30- 6pm
LAR Practical Skills: Housing Court
February 29th 12-1:30 pm
LAR Practical Skills: Probate & Family Court
March 22nd 12-1:30 pm
LAR Practical Skills: Boston Municipal Court & District Court
April 28th 12-1:30 pm
LAR Practical Skills: Land Court
May 24th 12-1:30 pm