This month, the BBA’s Reentry Education Program held a workshop at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts for probationers looking for guidance on reinstating their driver’s license. Benjamin Richard (Law Office of Benjamin Richard) led the presentation and reviewed the basic guidelines to reinstate one’s license. In many cases, there may be unresolved child support or parking tickets that need to be paid before it’s possible to apply for reinstatement. By outlining a three-step plan to reinstate one’s license, Richard was able to help the attendees figure out their next steps and priorities. Obtaining a driver’s license is a critical step for returning citizens who may need a car or license for employment.
The next Reentry Education workshop will focus on managing one’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI).
If you’re interested in volunteering to lead a Reentry Education workshop, please contact Cassandra Shavney at email@example.com.
With temperatures hitting 60 degrees this week, we can’t help but dream of the warmer weather to come. Looking ahead to spring, the BBA has a number of one-time volunteer opportunities working with various community and environmental organizations. We hope you’ll sign-up for one (or more!) of the below events to give back to your community while meeting other BBA members!
Every Wednesday and Thursday volunteer attorneys assist landlords and tenants through the BBA Lawyer for a Day at the Boston Housing Court Program. VLP relies on volunteers to deliver pro bono services to those in need.
Natalia V. Bukhanova
Daniel J. Carragher
Jinanne S. Elder
Joel F Gardiner
Michael G. Giarrusso
Gabriel Martin Gillmeyer
Philip R. Gindi
David P. Hunt
Sharon V. Jones
Ilene S. Klein
Donald R. Lassman
Matt Jason Lawlor
Kevin R. Mulcahy
Kristofer C. Munroe
Jessica L. Nagle
Fernanda H. Naspolini
Kate E. Nicholson
Vanessa A. O’Connor
Lou D. Saban
Ryan Takeo Sakoda
Sharon L. Toffler
James M. Tourkistas
Anthony T. Visconti
Heather M. Ward
Richard Harris Wheeler
Lawrence A. Wind
Anita Sharma, executive director of the PAIR Project.
At a recent well-attended training at 16 Beacon Street, the Boston Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project brought experts in the legal and medical fields to talk about best practices for representing asylum seekers.
The training was geared toward those who have never taken on an asylum case before, and introduced attendees to PAIR’s method of assigning teams of attorneys to tackle these multifaceted, challenging cases. PAIR’s executive director, Anita Sharma, stressed the importance of teamwork, creative thinking and empathy in asylum cases, which require a mix of legal prowess and sensitivity from attorneys.
“It’s one thing to read the language of this law, but when you are dealing with an actual human being who has been through terrible trauma, and you’re trying to … check off all the boxes (to make sure they meet the qualifications to obtain asylum), it becomes very difficult,” she said.
Even a phrase as seemingly straightforward as a “well-founded fear of persecution,” which one must demonstrate to qualify for asylum, is subject to multiple interpretations. The panel of experts walked attendees through each piece of the legal requirements for asylum. They also discussed the distinction between asylum status and refugee status, gave tips on working with interpreters, and offered advice on coaxing clients to talk about what they have endured.
“It’s human instinct: you go through something horrible and you want to forget it. But we (as attorneys) are in this terrible position where we have to ask for every single detail” in order to strengthen the client’s case, Sharma said.
Sonda Crosby, a physician at Boston Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, spoke about the importance of a forensic medical examination in proving a client’s claims in a situation where they have been physically harmed.
Ilana Greenstein (Law Office of Macias & Greenstein) and David McHaffey (McHaffey & Associates) also lent their expertise to the training.
Check out our calendar page for more public service programs and pro bono trainings and if you’re interested in volunteer opportunities related to immigration issues, please complete this online survey.
The Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project is a 2016 Grantee of the Boston Bar Foundation.
Throughout the winter, many Boston area legal offices have been signing up for the Boston Bar Association’s Summer Jobs Program. We’re grateful to the organizations that have signed up so far and encourage your office to hire a student and make an impact!
Each summer, law firms, courts, and government agencies hire high school students from Boston Public Schools to work in their offices. Past student interns have worked across a variety of departments, from accounting to records and IT to litigation. Students are eager to learn and gain professional experience and can offer assistance on many projects during the course of the summer. We encourage you learn more about the program here and if you’d like to hire a student, please let us know by filling out this form.
Thank you to the below offices that have already committed to hire a student in 2017!
Boston Planning & Development Agency
Brown Rudnick LLP
Burns & Levinson LLP
Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Foley Hoag LLP
Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP
Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
McCarter & English LLP
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.
Nixon Peabody LLP
Nutter, McClennen & Fish LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP
Shaevel and Krems, LLP
Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.
Verrill Dana LLP
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Students participating in Summer Jobs 2016 hear from Larry DiCara (Nixon Peabody) during their Enrichment Seminar field trip to Boston City Hall.
Last week, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from Mithra Merryman (Greater Boston Legal Services) and Margo Lindauer (Northeastern University School of Law) on how the legal system works to help victims of domestic violence (DV) . After reviewing the legal definitions of violence and abuse, the presenters moved to cover more specific components faced when assisting a victim of domestic violence.
Victims may request a restraining order against their abuser, which can be applied either where the victim is living or where the majority of abuse occurred. Merryman and Lindauer shared the benefits and drawbacks of both jurisdictions and discussed instances when a restraining order may not benefit the victim. Additionally, PILP heard how domestic violence cases are impacted when the victim is an immigrant. The speakers described that many DV victims are less likely to come forward if they fear deportation and that abusers will use the threat of deportation against their victims. While the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 allows married Green Card holders to file immigrant visa petitions, unmarried immigrants are not covered by the act. The co-presenters also stressed throughout the meeting that the prevalence of domestic violence is the same across all demographics: race, age, socioeconomic status, sexual & gender orientation, etc.
If you’re interested in pro bono projects related to domestic violence, the presenters suggest looking into the below organizations*:
Are you – or do you know – a law student looking to spend their 1L or 2L summer gaining professional legal experience? The BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section’s Summer Judicial Internship Program is an unpaid, non-credit internship in which students work directly with a judge during their 1L or 2L summer. The program provides law students with the valuable mentoring and professional experience needed to succeed after graduation. The program also has a long-term goal: to bolster efforts to retain a diverse and inclusive population of young lawyers here in Boston. Throughout the course of the summer, interns observe courtroom proceedings and enhance their legal research and writing skills. In addition to their work, they engage with BBA Members and one another at professional development seminars and career exploration programs held at the BBA.
The Diversity & Inclusion Section launched the Judicial Internship Program in 2010, and for six years has facilitated this unique opportunity for Boston area law students to gain access to internships in the Boston Municipal Courts, Massachusetts State District Courts, the Massachusetts Superior Court, the Probate and Family Court, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit. More than 100 law students have participated in this program since 2010.
To apply, students must have completed the 1L or 2L year (or the equivalent) and must be able to work a minimum of 15 hours per week for a total of 8 weeks for most placements. There are specific guidelines and requirements for each placement. Students are encouraged to carefully read the application requirements and specifications for each position sought before submitting your application.
Details about the following internship placements for these internships are available on our program website along with instructions for how to apply. We also suggest visiting our internship FAQ page for more details and tips for your application.
Thank you to these courts for their ongoing participation: The Boston Municipal Courts, the Massachusetts State District Courts, the Massachusetts Superior Court, the Probate and Family Court, the Massachusetts Land Court, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit.
Law students may contact the program administrator, Cassandra Shavney, firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns.
Our 2016 Summer Interns worked over 3, 500 hours while sharpening their professional legal expertise.
In small claims court, there is a tremendous unmet need for counsel to help vulnerable clients argue their cases against collection agencies. With the launch of the Lawyer for the Day Fair Debt Collection Clinic in Small Claims Court, the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP) and its volunteer partners are hoping to change all that.
Hsindy Chen, a staff attorney at VLP, gave us some details on an upcoming training that will ready attorneys for participation in the clinic.
“This training is for the lawyer for the day clinic in small claims court which aims to level the playing field between debt collectors and pro se debtors. The debt collection industry has notoriously targeted the most vulnerable consumers, often without providing adequate proof that they own the debt. Approximately 75% of all small claims cases in Massachusetts are brought by debt collectors seeking to enforce debts against consumers. Nearly all of these consumers appear for trial without counsel. However these cases often have significant defenses, of which these consumers are unaware or unable to effectively argue. Attorneys will learn the substantive law for debt collection, as well as practical skills for client interview, negotiations, and making arguments before a clerk magistrate. After the training, attorneys will be ready to take their own pro bono cases at the lawyer for the day clinic in small claims court. The lawyer for the day clinic is a great opportunity to volunteer on a limited basis as the cases are typically resolved that same day through trial or settlement. Attorneys will get hands-on experience in court and develop litigation skills in a fast-paced but manageable environment.”
Last week, representatives from Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation (CEASE) – Boston spoke to attorneys on the prevalence of human trafficking in Boston. As a topic not widely discussed, it’s easy to assume human trafficking does not happen in our city. However, 14 is the average age of young women in Boston entering the sex trade and over 20,000 ads for paid sex are posted monthly in Boston alone. Lieutenant Donna Gavin (Boston Police Department) and Dhakir Warren (Demand Abolition) belong to the CEASE Network and presented these statistics along with their approach to combat demand. Through “buyer beware” campaigns, they hope to dissuade buyers, primarily older, married men with expendable income, from searching for and purchasing sex online. Warren noted that when one sex trafficker is arrested, four more will pop up to take over the lucrative business. By curbing demand, CEASE hopes to halt the business altogether.
A recent Boston Globe article quotes Lieutenant Gavin and features a young woman whose story is like so many of those who are swept into the sex trade. For a glimpse of what’s happening in Boston, read the article here.
If you were unable to attend the program at the BBA and would like to view a video recording, please email Cassandra Shavney at email@example.com.
Rounding out the Public Interest Leadership Program’s month discussing juvenile justice, the class heard from Michael Gilraine, a juvenile probation officer at Suffolk Juvenile Court. Gilraine opened by describing the basic difference between child delinquency cases, when a juvenile is charged with a crime, and Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) cases, ones in which a child’s guardian or school files with the court on behalf of a child requiring assistance. A child may be referred to the court for a number of reasons (stubbornness, truancy, etc.) which are outlined in the Suffolk Juvenile Court’s Handbook. The Handbook also describes the various courses of action a juvenile may take after their initial meeting with a probation officer. The severity of a child’s situation generally determines the child’s plan.
Gilraine’s work is rewarding, he says. Friday is his favorite day of the week, when he visits area schools to check in with students and their teachers. He said it’s great to see when students are in school and are proud of the work they’re accomplishing.
If you’d like to work on family law issues, the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association* hosts both a Family Law Clinic and Guardianship Clinics. You can find more information on their website.
*The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association is a 2016 grantee of the Boston Bar Foundation.