Daily Archives: Thursday, October 13, 2016

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Honors Pro Bono Work

On Thursday, October 6th, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts held its Fourth Annual Pro Bono Awards Ceremony. The Bankruptcy Judges presented the Pro Bono Publico Awards, which are given for exceptional devotion to pro bono work in each of the state’s regions. The Boston Bar Association congratulates all of the awardees and distinguishes Janet Bostwick for receiving the District of Massachusetts Award.

While presenting the award to Bostwick, Judge Joan Feeney noted that the District of Massachusetts Award is not given every year, but Bostwick’s dedication to pro bono and the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program are deserving of the award. Bostwick was also recently honored at the Boston Bar Association for her work on the Financial Literacy program after she stepped down as Co-Chair of the Financial Literacy Committee after 12 years of service. You can read more on that honor here.

Following the Pro Bono Publico Awards, the 2016 Pro Bono Honor Roll certificates were presented to attorneys meeting the Honor Roll criteria outlined by the Court’s Pro Bono Legal Services Advisory Committee. The Boston Bar Association congratulates those awardees and thanks them for their service to the community.

Pro Bono Publico Awards:

Western Division Award – Henry E. Geberth, Jr.

Central Division Award – Judith Vassilovski

South Coast/Cape & Islands Division Award – David B. Madoff

Eastern Division Award – Neil D. Warrenbrand

District of Massachusetts Award – Janet E. Bostwick

Honor Roll:

Warren Agin

Kermine S. Akoglu

William R. Baldiga

Joseph H. Baldiga

Elaine M. Benkoski

Janet E. Bostwick

Christopher M. Candon

Nadine Champagne

David R. Chenelle

Michelle L. Cote

N. Lee Darst

John W. Davis

Michael P. Dube

Kellie W. Fisher

Jesse N. Garfinkle

Henry E. Geberth, Jr.

Jonathan R. Goldsmith

Maegan L. Hurley

Jeffrey L. Jonas

Elizabeth D. Katz

Gazion Kotoni

Donald Lassman

Sarah J. Long

John G. Loughnane

Carolyn Lynch

Heather J. Lynham

David Madoff

Jonathan D. Marshall

Wendy M. Mead

Richard E. Mikels

Kate E. Nicholson

Andrea M. O’Connor

Gina Barbieri O’Neil

William J. O’Neil

David W. Ostrander

Nina M. Parker

Carmenelisa Pérez‐Kudzma

Steven D. Pohl

David G. Prentiss

Richard S. Ravosa

Alex M. Rodolakis

Deborah G. Roher

Adam J. Ruttenberg

Mary Sharon

Denise M. Shear

Mary Jeanne Stone

Andrew P. Strehle

Leslie Su

Christina M. Turgeon

Adrienne K. Walker

Kevin J. Walsh

Neil D. Warrenbrand

Thomas N. Wilson

Keri L. Wintle

Pro Bono Spotlight: Nixon Peabody Associates Volunteer with PAIR Project

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Nixon Peabody’s website boasts impressive pro bono numbers. In 2015, 84% of attorneys firm-wide participated in pro bono projects.  The firm logged 34,001 total pro bono hours in 2015 with participation from attorneys, paralegals, professional specialists and staff members.

But behind the numbers are the people. In recognition of Pro Bono Month, we spoke to two associates in Nixon Peabody’s Boston office who have devoted a considerable amount of their time and energy to the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) project in Boston.

The staff at PAIR match attorneys with immigrants who are seeking asylum or have been unjustly detained in Massachusetts. PAIR offers training and

mentorship, particularly to attorneys who may not regularly practice immigration law. That describes Hannah Bornstein and Troy Lieberman, who concentrate on white collar criminal defense and intellectual property litigation, respectively.

Some of their clients have survived horrors like abuse and torture, and are forced to leave family members behind when they flee their home country. Many do not speak English and do not have the funds to hire an attorney to help them navigate the complex process of applying for asylum.

“I have bornstein_hannahtwo little kids. Imagine having to leave overnight and go to a country where you don’t know anyone, you don’t speak the language, and the only reason you do it is because if you stay where you are, you’ll be killed,” Bornstein said. “You hear these stories, and everyone is in tears, and it’s really heartbreaking.”

Bornstein began volunteering with PAIR when she was in law school, and has stuck with it for the last 10 years. Her enthusiasm inspired Lieberman to get involved, and he said the work has been appealing and inspiring on many levels.

Attorneys who take part in Nixon Peabody’s various pro bono projects are not only improving the lives of their clients, they are sharpening their professional skills in practice areas that might differ significantly from their own. In these types of immigration and asylum cases, where clients have been through trauma, becoming extremely familiar with documents is important, Bornstein said. Sometimes building their case revolves around telling a story that moves from point A to point B coherently.

Lieberman echoed these comments, and also said working with PAIR clients helps him to gain perspective on his work.
“Clients come in so upbeat and optimistic in spite of everything, and it makes you realize how fortunate we are,” he said.

 

Volunteering with PAIR does not require expertise in a specific practice area. Bornstein and Lieberman both praised the staff at PAIR for their seemingly endless capacity to work through issues and make themselves available to help. But it does require patience and immense sensitivity.

“The level of trust it takes for these clients to confide in you and talk about these things they’ve been through is what really stays with me. It doesn’t happen in the first, second,
or even third meeting, usually. It takes a high level of trust and a lot of listening. There’s a huge human element to the process,” he said.

Bornstein said working with PAIR clients inspires her to be grateful, particularly for the freedoms Americans have that people in other parts of the world are denied.

“My clients show up with a smile on their face and they are happy and grateful for our help. It speaks to resiliency and how people can overcome a lot. I think it’s the clients that are the heroes of these stories,” she said.

The Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) project is a grantee organization of the Boston Bar Foundation. To find out more about their work, please visit http://pairproject.org/.

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New BBA Veterans Committee Co-Chair Appointed          

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The BBA is excited to welcome Jonathan Hayden, a veteran who served for four years as a Captain in the U.S. Army JAG Corps, to his new post as a co-chair of the BBA’s Active Duty Military, Family Members, and Veterans Committee.

Hayden joined Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster as an associate last year. He concentrates his practice in real estate law, representing commercial mortgage lenders and assisting clients with development and permitting matters. He will serve alongside Harvard Law School Professor Daniel Nagin, who serves as Vice Dean for Experiential and Clinical Education and Faculty Director of the Veterans Legal Clinic of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center.

The committee’s charge is of personal importance to Hayden based on his military experience and his work as board member at Veterans Legal Services in Boston.  As a co-chair, he hopes to expand the BBA’s existing work to connect veterans with legal assistance and support veterans in the legal profession.

“There are so many veterans in the legal community, and many have vastly different military experiences,” he said. “There are attorneys who enlisted in the military before they went to college and law school. We also have people more like me, who finished school, spent time in the military, and then moved to Boston for the next phase of their legal careers.  Regardless of the differences in our military experiences, one thing I think we all share is a desire to help other veterans who have not been as fortunate.  Studies show unmet legal needs are one of the root causes of veteran homelessness, and the committee’s work can do a lot for the local veteran population.”

From February of 2010 to March of 2014, Hayden served first on the staff at West Point and then as a prosecutor at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. By taking this unique path, Hayden said he was able to gain a lot of experience handling criminal cases straight out of school, an opportunity most attorneys don’t get.

“In my first four years as an attorney, I did a lot of things that my friends from law school did not get to do,” he said. “I’ve lost count of the number of jury trials I handled as a prosecutor. I advised high-ranking military officers. The confidence and attention to detail necessary for my work as a JAG attorney were great preparation for my legal career in Boston.  I am lucky that I got to do it.”

Two years ago, Hayden discovered the BBA’s Active Duty Military, Family Members and Veterans Committee and was pleased to have the chance to network with other attorneys with military backgrounds.  Hayden said for attorneys entering the legal field after serving in the military, the chance to speak with other veterans about how to best transition to a career in Boston can be a significant asset.  At BBA luncheons veterans have the opportunity to reminisce about their military experiences, discuss challenges in the legal field, and learn about opportunities to serve the local veteran population.

“For those of us who are now settled into our careers in Boston, the opportunity to network with fellow veterans can be incredibly helpful as we move forward in our careers,” he said.

The BBA’s next Veterans Meet & Greet Luncheon is this Friday, and will feature remarks from guest speaker William Ferguson, Academic and Career Advisor for Suffolk University’s Veterans Upward Bound program.