Monthly Archives: June 2017

Pro Bono Training: Tools for Immigrant Families to Insure Emergency Preparedness

For immigrant families living in a time of increased enforcement, deportation can be a pervasive fear. While planning for an unanticipated emergency is challenging, there are tools that immigrant families can use to protect their children from an uncertain outcome if a parent or guardian were to be detained or deported.

This week at the BBA, Nancy J. Kelly (GBLS), Emily Leung (Massachusetts Law Reform Institute), William C. Newman (ACLU) and Jamie Sabino (Massachusetts Law Reform Institute) came to speak to attorneys about helping their clients prepare.

The first step, they said, is for families to have conversations that include their children about what would happen in the event of an immigration-related emergency. It helps to get families and alternative caregivers on the same page about a childcare plan in advance, either informally or through a written legal agreement. They also advised families to prepare important documents ahead of time and keep them in a safe location known to all members of the family.

“Know Your Rights” trainings are also a good resource for families, they said. The attorneys also provided a list of free legal services providers that might be able to help families in a dire situation.

Pizza and Pro Bono: A Bite-Size Pro Bono Opportunity for Busy Lawyers

Join us at the BBA for a pro bono pizza party while we work with volunteer attorneys from Mass Legal Answers Online (MLAO) and the Volunteer Lawyers Project to answer legal questions for low-income Massachusetts residents through Mass Legal Answers Online. You can make an immediate difference to someone struggling to resolve their legal problem.

This event, Mass Legal Answers Online Blitz, will take place on Wednesday, July 19th from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at the Boston Bar Association, 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108.

What is MLAO?  MLAO is a secure and confidential website where low-income Massachusetts residents can ask a lawyer for help with a legal issue. Qualified users post questions about civil legal problems. When a volunteer lawyer logs in to the site, there is a list of questions that the volunteer can pick from to answer. It’s like a virtual walk-in legal clinic!  MLAO is a limited scope service — all help is provided through the website, and there is no expectation of long-term representation. There is no fee for the use of the system or for the advice and information provided by the attorney.

To learn more about MLAO, watch this short video, or visit Mass Pro Bono, or these FAQs.

What’s a Q and A Blitz?  It is an in-person session where attorneys and law students gather to research and brainstorm answers to questions that have been posted to MLAO.  Experienced attorneys and MLAO staff will be on hand to guide you in answering questions.  It’s a great way to get started using MLAO, an opportunity to provide pro bono service from your desk!  The most common question topics are family law, housing, and consumer law, but help with all civil issue areas is needed.

Both attorneys and law students are invited to participate in this Blitz – those who are not yet licensed will work with an attorney volunteer who is registered with Mass Legal Answers Online.

Please bring a laptop if you have one!  Attorneys who have not yet registered with MLAO directly are encouraged to do so in advance of this event; register at this link. It only takes a minute.

To RSVP for the event, please visit the event’s webpage and log in to register: 

Thank You to Reentry Committee Members and Volunteers

Last month, the BBA Reentry Education Program wrapped up their final community presentation of the spring. Since 2013, following the formation of this program by the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP), volunteers have been educating probationers and those recently incarcerated on issues faced while reentering society: driver’s license reinstatement, obtaining affordable housing and public benefits, finding employment, and more. This year, the program reached 68 individuals through workshops held at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, Coolidge House, and Hope House. We value our partnership with the Court Assisted Recovery Effort (CARE) and Reentry: Empowering Successful Todays and Responsible Tomorrows (RESTART) programs of the U.S. District Court and with Coolidge and Hope House.

We’re also thankful for the dedication of the Reentry Committee for all their efforts in coordinating each workshop and working with the volunteer presenters to update the materials as necessary. The volunteers are experts in their field and provided workshop participants with invaluable information.

2016-2017 Committee Members

  • Julia Devanthéry, Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, Committee Co-Chair
  • Sarah Schendel, Irish International Immigrant Center, Committee Co-Chair
  • Brendan St. Amant, Donnelly, Conroy & Gelhaar, LLP
  • Raquel Webster, National Grid USA
  • Anuj Khetarpal, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
  • Emily Hodge, Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
  • Julie Heinzelman, Prince Lobel Tye LLP

2016-2017 Volunteers

  • D’Andre Fernandez, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
  • Renay Frankel, Harvard Law School
  • Lizbeth Ginsburg, Greater Boston Legal Services
  • Brian McLaughlin, McLaughlin Law, LLC
  • Benjamin Richard, Law Office of Benjamin Richard
  • Ryan Sakoda, Committee for Public Counsel Services

Pro Bono Spotlight: Ropes & Gray

A name means a lot.

Generally, a name is the first piece of information we give another person when we meet them. An untold number of records and documents are attached to our names, in addition to less tangible things like our identity and our sense of self.

So when a transgender person wishes to legally change their name, and the corresponding gender marker on all of their legal documents, getting it done means a lot. That’s why attorneys at Ropes & Gray have partnered with GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) to start a clinic to help transgender clients navigate the process of transitioning on paper.

Over 300 transgender individuals and parents of transgender children have been served by the clinic since its founding in November. Attorneys help these clients fill out the appropriate paperwork to change names and gender markers on documents like a driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, birth certificate, mortgage title, insurance records, voter registration and more.

This change is significant for many reasons, both symbolic and practical. Emily Oldshue, an associate in Ropes & Gray’s capital markets group, has been involved with the clinic since its inception, and was recently named one of the National LGBT Bar Association’s Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40. She said many clients, or parents on behalf of their children, are looking for a name and gender marker change on paper to facilitate other processes. An application to summer camp, a school, or a job could be held up pending the applicant’s documentation updates.

“The way I think of it is, ‘What it would be like to go out and have to present an ID that’s totally out of step with who you are, fundamentally?” Oldshue said. “Being out of step with one’s identity affects your life in various ways. Every day, you open up your mailbox, and it’s like getting mail for a totally different person. That creates a lot of dissonance for people.”

Oldshue said Ropes & Gray attorneys have worked with many minors and their parents, and many students who are transitioning during college. But the overall group who has come to the clinic is extremely socioeconomically diverse.

“My clients have ranged from 60-year-old veterans, to children, to artists, to programmers, and to people born in many different states and different countries. It has been eye-opening to see how people from such disparate backgrounds still face many of the same problems in their experience as transgender people, and it has been rewarding to be of service to them,” Gabriel Gillmeyer, a corporate associate at Ropes, said.

Oldshue said the firm was “inundated” with referrals from GLAD when the program started up in the fall, but now the attorneys who work at the clinic have developed a good workflow and are looking at ways to expand the initiative beyond New England.

“The great thing about it from a staffing perspective is that it’s just walking people through a process, which is very quick, especially compared to a lot of the other things that attorneys are doing. It’s something you can help a lot of people within four to six hours on average,” she said.

But even in that sort of time, the difference an attorney can make lasts a lifetime. Kristi Jobson, a  business & securities litigation associate, shared the following story:

“A minor client born in Oklahoma and adopted at birth by a New England couple sought to change her birth certificate. Oklahoma does not have a set process for amending the gender marker on an individual’s birth certificate. Initially, the client’s mother and I were each told that Oklahoma would not change a birth certificate gender marker for a minor (and typically declined applications from adults seeking amended birth certificates). After many, many calls to the Division of Vital Records, the client’s mom finally got a sympathetic administrator on the phone. We secured a court order recognizing a change in gender, and directing the Oklahoma Division of Vital Records from the child’s state of residence. We presented that court order and the child’s change of name order to the Division and received an amended birth certificate. The Division informed us that the client is the first minor to receive an amended Oklahoma birth certificate of this type.”

Oldshue said attorneys across various offices at the firm have set up a network for sharing resources pertaining to best practices in handling these types of cases. She said she and other volunteers who have been with the program from the beginning are grateful for the institutional support they have received from every corner of Ropes & Gray.

“I spend a lot of time on (the Transgender ID Project), but there’s no way I can respond to the 200 emails a day that we get. The organic leadership from the associates and the response and support we’ve gotten from the firm as a whole has been really incredible to see. It’s a neat moment to be at Ropes,” Oldshue said.

Join Us for Pro Bono for the In-House Lawyer

When a respected colleague at my in-house legal department told me he was unaware there was a professional conduct rule that said lawyers should either do pro bono work or donate to a legal services organization, I thought, “This rule needs a press agent!”

Massachusetts Professional Conduct Rule 6.1 doesn’t really ask a lot of lawyers – it says we must either do 25 hours per year of volunteer work for people who cannot afford a lawyer, or contribute from $250 to 1% of your professional income to organizations that provide free legal services to people of limited means.

Maybe my colleague wasn’t aware of Rule 6.1 because he has been a lawyer a long time, and so hasn’t been through Massachusetts’ new lawyer orientation that emphasizes this professional obligation.  Maybe he’s not aware of the annual Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards for outstanding pro bono effort or the Pro Bono Honor Roll that is maintained by the SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono to recognize lawyers and law students who help the poor.  Maybe some of us who work in-house don’t see as many opportunities to do pro bono work as lawyers who work at large firms.

The BBA In-House Forum is determined to change that! Next Wednesday, June 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the BBA is a panel discussion and then a reception titled “Pro Bono for the In-House Lawyer.”  The panel will feature representatives of four pro bono organizations who will describe the many ways in-house lawyers can get involved in pro bono work. Each organization has invited an in-house lawyer who has volunteered, and can attest that it is possible to find meaningful and manageable opportunities, get the training and mentoring you need, still keep your day job, and make a difference to someone who would not otherwise get legal help.

Following the panel will be a reception where other organizations will be available for in-house lawyers to meet and make connections for future pro bono work.  Still think you’re too busy to fit in volunteering but want to fulfill your professional obligation under Rule 6.1? That’s okay – because there is a Plan B under Rule 6.1 — donating to legal services organizations.  We’ll have a handout that tells you how.  Hope to see you Wednesday night.

To register for the event, please click here.

Kathleen McGrath
Member, BBA In-House Forum

Thank You to Our Law Day in the Schools Volunteers


Tomorrow, the Boston Bar Association’s Law Day in the Schools program will wrap up for this year. BBA volunteers spent time in 15 different Boston Public Schools teaching over 1,700 students about due process and the importance of fair and equal rules. Engaging with volunteers through a game, elementary students experienced firsthand the injustice created by unequal rules. By then creating their own rules that applied to everyone, students understood how implementing the rules equally gives everyone the same chance. At the middle and high school level, students were introduced to the requirements for due process as outlined by Judge Henry Friendly in 1975 and then examined real-world scenarios through that lens.

This program would not be possible without the dedication and participation of our volunteers. We’d like to extend our sincerest thanks to the 113 BBA members who volunteered this year.

Jeffrey Adams, PIB Law
Delal Aktas, Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green PA
Priya Amar, Goulston & Storrs PC
Nieve Anjomi, Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of Boston
Azure Aronsson, Collora LLP
Amara Azubuike, Boston Children’s Hospital
Paula Bagger, Cooke Clancy & Gruenthal LLP
Wendy Ballard, Jones Day
Diane Barry, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Courtney Batliner, Holland & Knight LLP
Kevin Batt, Anderson & Kreiger LLP
Allison Belanger, Krokidas & Bluestein LLP
Jordan Bowne, Burns & Levinson LLP
Jill Brenner Meixel, Krokidas & Bluestein LLP
Jean-Phillip Brigno,l Holland & Knight LLP
Ann Hether Cahill, Burns & Levinson LLP
Erica Carroll, Boston Children’s Hospital
Brendan Carter, Navigant Consulting
Kate Carter, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Patrick Cento, Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of Boston
Kabrina Chang
Smriti Choudhury
Ian Coghill, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Jessica Conklin, Laredo & Smith, LLP
Meghan Cooper, Peabody & Arnold LLP
Kelly Cruz, Dell EMC
Bernardo Cuadra, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Allen David, Peabody & Arnold LLP
Emma Days, Ropes & Gray LLP
Joan Densberger, Boston University School of Law
Mirna Diaz Diaz, Law Group
Jennifer Durand, Schmidt & Federico, P.C.
Andrea Eichman, Holland & Knight LLP
Natalie Feigenbaum, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates
John Fiske, Healy, Fiske, Richmond & Matthew, LLP
Joseph Flynn Molina, Flynn Law Offices/Latino Law Center
David Fried, David J. Fried & Associates
James Gallagher, Davis, Malm & D’Agostine, P.C.
Patrick Gallagher, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Katherine Galle, Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of Boston
Heather Gamache, Prince Lobel Tye LLP
Ezra Geggel, Ropes & Gray LLP
Sheila Gholkar, United States Department of Labor – Office of the Solicitor
Lindsey Gil, Peabody & Arnold LLP
Cortney Godin, Peabody & Arnold LLP
Lauren Graber, Collora LLP
Maria Granik, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Leigh Ellen, Gray Peabody & Arnold LLP
Anna Gurevich, Archstone Law Group P.C.
Adam Hamel, McLane Middleton, Professional Association
David Hansen, Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green PA
Richard Harper, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
Kelly Haynes, Boston Children’s Hospital
Deirdre Heatwole, University of Massachusetts Boston – Office of General Counsel
Bryce Helfer, Burns & Levinson LLP
Jennifer Henricks, Gesmer Updegrove LLP
Rachel Hershfang, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
Hannah Joseph, Beck Reed Riden LLP
Melissa Juarez, Department of Correction – Massachusetts Treatment Center
Dara Kesselheim, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Anna Klimas, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
D. Paul Koch, Jr., Finard Properties LLC
Michael Koehler, Keegan Werlin, LLP
Nathaniel Koslof, Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Eric Labbe, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Kathryn Leary, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Marissa Leonce, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates
Ann Lowery, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Laury Lucien, Holland & Knight LLP
Brian MacDonough, Sherin and Lodgen LLP
Carolyn Marcotte, Barclay Damon, LLP
Stephanie Mariani, Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Justin Masterman, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Michael McDermott, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Peter McElhinney
Lisa Menelly, Raytheon Company
Laura Mittelman, Burns & Levinson LLP
Sammy Nabulsi, Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of Boston
Migdalia Nalls, Committee for Public Counsel Services – Roxbury
Sean Nehill, Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA)
Mary Kaitlin O’Connor, Boston Children’s Hospital
Wadner Oge, Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners
Sean O’Neill, Ropes & Gray LLP
Susanne Reardon, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Carla Reeves, Goulston & Storrs PC
Stephen Riden, Beck Reed Riden LLP
Michael Riley, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Michael Rossi, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Payal Salsburg, Laredo & Smith, LLP
Anthony Santoriello, PIB Law
Glenn Schley Schmidt, & Federico, P.C.
Christopher Schmitt, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Nora Schmitt, Verrill,Dana LLP
Anthony Scibelli Barclay Damon, LLP
Catherine Scott, Peabody & Arnold LLP
Leanne Scott, John Hancock Financial Services
Courtney Scrubbs, Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association
Priya Selvam, Jones Day
Bethany Serota, Committee for Public Counsel Services – Children and Family Law Division
Jared Shwartz, McLane Middleton, Professional Association
Julianna Smith, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Jared Spinelli, Schmidt & Federico, P.C.
Carol Starkey, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Alex Sugerman-Brozan, Segal Roitman LLP
Glen Tagliamonte, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Nigel Tamton, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates
Alexis Theriault, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Erika Todd, Arrowood Peters LLP
Joseph Wang, Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Brian Whiteley, Barclay Damon, LLP
Christopher York, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates
Kristin Youkana, Schmidt & Federico, P.C.