Dozens of law students and area attorneys were plugged into pro bono this week at the Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House. This annual event, sponsored by the Boston Bar Association and Suffolk University Law School, brings together legal services organizations, non-profits, and government agencies with potential volunteers looking for legal opportunities during Pro Bono Month. Check out our pictures from the event below.
Representatives from MetroWest Legal Services discuss their volunteer opportunities.
Jessica Youngberg (Veterans Legal Services, and BBA Military & Veterans Committee Co-Chair) and Emily Tabor (Health Law Advocates) wait for the event to begin.
Suffolk University Law School staff pose with event attendees.
If you’d like to be connected with organizations represented at the Fair or are looking for pro bono opportunities, please contact Cassandra Shavney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kicking off the 2017-2018 Public Leadership Interest Program (“PILP”), the PILP class dedicated the month of October to discuss current issues in access to education. On October 11, Matt Cregor, the Director of the Education Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice*, visited the PILP class to discuss the work of the Education Project and two hot topics affecting access to education in the Commonwealth: charter schools and school discipline.
Cregor described the ongoing efforts related to charter school reform, beginning with the failed legislative efforts in the early 2010s, 2016’s Ballot Question 2, and the currently-pending case of Doe v. Peyser, argued in early October at the Supreme Judicial Court. Through all three avenues, reformers have sought to lift the statutory cap on charter schools, arguing that it “arbitrarily and unconstitutionally deprives [students not granted entry into charter schools] of the opportunity to receive an adequate public education.” Proponents of the cap, however, argue that the cap protects funding to traditional public schools, which serve more students of color, students with disabilities, and English language learners.
Cregor also described The Education Project’s focus on school discipline and its impact on access to education. The effects of school discipline are acute: just one out-of-school suspension has been found to double a student’s likelihood of dropping out of school. The Education Project is concerned by the high rates of suspensions — particularly out-of-school suspensions — used in Massachusetts public and charter schools, and the disparate use of these practices on students of color and students with disabilities. Cregor and the PILP class also discussed the state of school discipline in the Commonwealth both before and after the passage of Chapter 222, a new law effective as of 2014 to reduce reliance on out-of-school suspensions. The PILP classed also learned of ways to volunteer with The Education Project’s efforts in working to see that the law is implemented faithfully by Massachusetts schools. Attorneys can volunteer through the Lawyers’ Committee to take pro bono cases, as well as present School Discipline Know Your Rights presentations to students, parents, and community organizations.
The BBA invites those taking the Massachusetts Bar Exam in February 2018 to sign-up for our Bar Exam Coaching Program. We know you’ve got the academic part of your bar prep under control, but let us help out with the mental, emotional, and practical preparation. We are ready to connect you with attorney-coaches from diverse personal and professional backgrounds to offer guidance on time management, effective study techniques, and stress management. Our program is designed for those retaking the bar exam in February 2018. However, if you are a first-time exam taker and believe this program will benefit you, you can let us know on the sign-up form.
The BBA’s Council has officially recognized October as Pro Bono Month, joining the American Bar Association and Governor Charlie Baker in promoting service and access to justice. We hope you can explore one of these opportunities to connect with a new organization in the month ahead and serve the community in the year beyond.
This event is offered to attorneys of all levels, as well as law students. Attendees are encouraged to drop in and meet representatives from local legal services organizations and to learn more about the pro bono opportunities in our community.
This program will help practitioners identify cases in which the innocent spouse defense can be claimed to relieve the client from joint tax liability. This defense is available to taxpayers under the Tax Code and Massachusetts law. Attorneys handling restraining orders and/or divorce cases, as well as advocates of survivors of domestic violence, are most likely to encounter these issues and will benefit from knowing how to identify them.
Sharpen your pro bono skills and attend this training addressing the effects of trauma and its impact on communication with your client, cultivating cultural competency, working with interpreters during court proceedings, and more.
This training will create alert advocates who will know how to spot tax issues and related tax benefits for their immigrant clients, and may be able to prevent clients from missing deadlines for those benefits.
Law Students and attorneys meet with numerous organizations and hear about their work and pro bono opportunities at the 2016 Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House.
On September 27th, the BBA hosted a second training for attorneys and law students to learn how to present to immigrant communities about their rights. Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project’s Anita Sharma (Executive Director) and Courtney Snegroff (Community Engagement Manager) led the training, which provided an overview of the immigration executive orders from the past year, information on resources available to assist immigrants, and an update on DACA. PAIR first started holding Know Your Rights trainings around the community after the 2016 election. Since then, they have coordinated over 400 presentations and they continue to train lawyers to carry out these efforts. Thirty attorneys attended the training at the BBA and are now equipped to sign-up for a presentation through PAIR.
If you are an attorney or law student and would like access to a video recording of the training and to be connected with PAIR for this volunteer opportunity, please email Cassandra Shavney at email@example.com.
Anita Sharma and Courtney Snegroff (PAIR Project) train attorneys to lead Know Your Rights presentations.