Daily Archives: Thursday, April 21, 2016

VLP & Area Firms, Legal Services Groups and Courts Launch Pro Bono Appellate Pilot Program

Clinic Volunteers

We’ve talked about the over-abundance of pro se litigants in housing court, probate and family court. What happens when those cases go on appeal?

Unsurprisingly, many litigants continue to represent their own interests on appeal, contributing to further backup of the court system. That’s why the Volunteer Lawyer’s Project, in partnership with the Appeals Court, nine different law firms and six different legal services organizations, has launched the Pro Bono Appellate Pilot Program in Massachusetts.

The program hosts a weekly Clinic at which volunteer attorneys are available to provide legal assistance to eligible litigants, with the potential for further representation on appeal.  The Clinic is currently housed at the Appeals Court Clerk’s Office and operates every Wednesday from 12:30p.m. to 4 p.m.

At a recent training, a panel made up of attorneys, court personnel and Appeals Court Chief Justice Scott Kafker spoke about the benefits of the program.

“As all of you know, there’s nothing more frightening and confusing than being a party in a lawsuit. That fear and confusion is compounded many times when you are without counsel,” Kafker said. “You are going to make the appeals court more fair, more accessible and more efficient. We are incredibly grateful for that.”

Panelists also shared best practices for helping low-income clients and some basic tips for navigating the appeals process.

If you are interested in Pro Bono opportunities, don’t miss out on these upcoming trainings:

Representing Veterans in Discharge Upgrades (Advanced Training)
Wednesday, May 18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Trying a Case in Housing Court
Tuesday, June 14 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel and Executive Director of JNC Speak to Public Interest Leadership Program


On April 13th, Lon Povich, Governor Baker’s Chief Legal Counsel, and Sharon Shelfer Casey, Executive Director and Deputy Legal Counsel of the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) addressed the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program. The JNC is a non-partisan, non-political Commission composed of volunteers from across the Massachusetts that have been appointed by the Governor. Historically, the JNC established through executive order, and the present JNC was established though Governor Baker’s Executive Order No. 558.

Mr. Povich and Ms. Shelfer Casey provided an in-depth description of the history of the JNC though various administrations, the minimum qualifications for various judgeships, and the application process for a judgeship. A key point that Mr. Povich made throughout the meeting was that of the immense amount of time and effort it takes on the part of the JNC to review applications. While nominated by the Governor, the JNC is a volunteer commission, and Ms. Shelfer Casey noted it is not unusual for the time commitment to be upward of ten hours per week. They ended the discussion with some insights to the nominating process in the upcoming months with the unprecedented number of vacancies expected in the Supreme Judicial Court.

The BBA would like to sincerely thank Lon Povich and Sharon Shelfer Casey for taking the time to speak to our PILP class!

When Justice Has Not Been Done: Post-Conviction Relief for Noncitizens

To best serve clients that are noncitizens seeking post-conviction relief, lawyers need to combine skills typically associated with different kinds of practice. There’s dealing with evidence – a skill crafted by going to trial – as well as an in-depth knowledge of the appeals process and how it might work in a client’s favor.

At a recent program, CPCS’s Benjamin Selman and Laura Mannion, from Banwarth & Associates, spoke to a room full of attorneys about common issues faced by noncitizens with criminal convictions, and the unique paths lawyers take to post-conviction relief in such cases. They focused on seeking a new trial for the convicted individual. Mannion cited lack of knowledge about the American judicial system and inadequate access to legal counsel as factors that work against noncitizens in court.

Mannion and Selman spoke about proving that “justice may not have been done” during the original trial, which is the language used in Massachusetts Criminal Procedure Rule 30(b). They  went over strategies to prove that the client did not receive justice, such as arguing that certain pieces of evidence should not have been admitted, or that the outcome of the trial would almost certainly have been different if the attorneys involved had not made errors.

Are you interested in other programs related to immigration? Check out these upcoming programs below:

The Treacherous Road to a Global Workforce: The Intersection of Export Controls, Employment, Immigration and Data Privacy Laws (CLE)
Wednesday, May 18 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Family-Based Immigration Basics
Friday, June 3 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Society of Fellows Celebrates Its Recent Accomplishments at the MFA


Last Thursday evening the Boston Bar Foundation’s Society of Fellows came together for their spring reception at the Museum of Fine Arts to celebrate the extraordinary work in the community that they make possible through their generous contributions to the BBF’s endowment.

The Fellows enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while catching up with friends and colleagues in the MFA’s Bravo restaurant and then had the opportunity to go on exclusive tours of the MFA’s latest exhibition, Megacities Asia, which the Boston Globe’s art critic Sebastian Smee calls “poignant” and “spectacular.” You can see the photo gallery of the event here.

Like a sprawling megacity itself, the exhibition extends to all corners of the museum. Because of the BBF’s close relationship to the MFA, the tours were led by two extremely knowledgeable guides: Barbara Martin, the Alfond Curator of Education, and Adam Tessier, the Head of Interpretation.


Lisa Wood (Foley Hoag LLP), Lisa Goodheart (Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen), Martin Murphy (Foley Hoag LLP), and Jill Reilly

BBF President and Sustaining Fellow Lisa Goodheart said a few inspiring words about the crucial role that the Society plays in allowing the Foundation to continue its work to make our city a better place to live and work.

“You are the ones who make possible all of the extraordinary work that the BBF is able to do in the community,” Lisa said. “Because of your pledges, we are able to fund all of the pro bono and public service initiatives of the BBA, support essential legal services for those in need, and provide unique educational and professional opportunities for Greater Boston’s youth. It wouldn’t be possible without the Society of Fellows’ support.”

The Society is what allows the BBF to work towards its mission to make impactful grants to local legal services organizations, promote the public service and pro bono initiatives of the bar and strive to create exceptional opportunities for urban youth. Because of the Society of Fellows, the $45,000 raised from the recent BBF’s Casino Night fundraiser – a record high – will be dedicated 100% to the Boston public school students of the BBA’s Summer Jobs program, enabling them to have summer jobs at nonprofits, in the courts and at government agencies.

A community of more than 400 leaders in the Greater Boston legal profession, the Society of Fellows comes together throughout the year to hear from legal services organizations, public service volunteers and others that are involved in the BBF’s work. To learn more about how you can become a part of this enthusiastic group of BBF supporters, please contact Tara Trask at ttrask@bostonbar.org or (617) 778-1984.