Monthly Archives: December 2017

VLP Announces September – November Lawyer for the Day Honor Roll

Every Wednesday and Thursday volunteer attorneys assist landlords and tenants through the BBA Lawyer for a Day at the Boston Housing Court Program.

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association* thanks the following attorneys who accepted cases or provided consultation in September, October, and November through Lawyer for the Day at the Boston Housing Court:

Samuel Ames
Thomas Beauvais
Stephanie Berdik
Stephanie Biggs
Sean Boulger
Edward Burns
Peter Chi
Reuven Dashevsky
Kellie Desrochers
Jenelle DeVits
Mirna Diaz
Patrick Diaz
Raymond Dougan
Matthew Fisher
James Franchek
Joel Gardener
Roger Geller
Dave Gold
David Goldman
Ben Greene
Steven Greenzang
Bonnie Heiple
Karen Hoffman
Katherine Hughes
Katherine Insogna
Jared Iverson
Paul Jakubowski
Sharon V. Jones
Kevin Kirby
Emily J. Koruda
Donald R. Lassman
Helen Lee
Michael MacDonald
Rachel McCarthy
Caryn Mitchell-Munevar
Madelyn Morris
Greg Moscatel
Full Name
Yavor Nechev
Kate E. Nicholson
Judy O’Neil
Stephen Provazza
Stephanie Ragland
Lou D. Saban
Kelly Schwartz
Katerina Sheerin
Sharyn T. Sooho
Julia Sternman
Harel Talasazan
Sharon L. Toffler
Al Uluatam
Arianna Vasquez
Neil Warrenbrand
Emily Whelan
Lawrence A. Wind
Jacob Wolk
Yilu Zhang
April Zhou

*The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association is a 2017 Boston Bar Foundation grant recipient.

Financial Literacy Volunteer Registration Open

Since 2005, the BBA’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program has been providing high school students in Massachusetts with the tools to make informed financial decisions. Through classroom presentations and a visit to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, over 5,800 students have been reached by our volunteers. Topics include Finance & Budgeting, Using Credit & Credit Cards, Financing a Large Purchase, and the final session, Consequences of Poor Financial Management.

If you’re looking for a new volunteer opportunity, this may be the perfect fit for you. After participating in a training, you’ll be equipped to educate high school students about the importance of making smart financial decisions. As a volunteer, you’ll work in pairs to lead a one-hour session in the classroom. Participating high schools are located in the Greater Boston, Worcester, and Springfield areas.  This volunteer opportunity is available to lawyers and law students.

Click here to sign up for a volunteer slot and click here to register for the program training on Wednesday, January 17th at 5:00 PM at the Boston Bar Association (16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108). If you cannot attend the training in person, a video recording will be sent to each volunteer.

A Year in Photos – Public Service in 2017

From teaching a record 1,700 students through Law Day in the Schools to releasing a compelling report on criminal justice reform, 2017 was a successful year at the BBA. For highlights and our favorite photos from the year, read on to see how you and your colleagues contributed to our public service initiatives over the past year.

The 2017 Public Service Award presented at the Boston Bar Foundation’s annual John & Abigail Adams Benefit Ball honored Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall in January. Chief Justice Marshall addresses the crowd at the Museum of Fine Arts, reminding every one of the importance of being good and just in their work.

MIT Bhangra, an award-winning dance group, entertained the crowd at the Adams Benefit. 2017’s Ball raised over $650,000 in support for local legal services organizations providing civil legal services to those in need. In June, the Foundation granted $960,000 to 20 such organizations.

Each January, hundreds of attorneys travel to the State House to Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. The Equal Justice Coalition coordinates this annual event to call on our legislators to adequately fund the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation through the state budget. Carol Starkey, 2016-2017 BBA President, highlights the importance of civil legal aid as noted in the BBA’s Investing in Justice report, which details that 2 out of 3 income eligible clients are turned away from legal services due to a lack of resources.

In response to President Trump’s Executive Order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, then BBA President Carol Starkey reaffirmed the BBA’s aim to “support the rule of law, as well as the core values of access to justice and diversity and inclusion, which help keep the fundamental promise that all of us will enjoy due process and equal protection under the law.” Over the course of the year, the BBA worked with many legal services organizations to connect attorneys to volunteer opportunities. Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project presented a number of Know Your Rights trainings for attorneys wishing to present to community groups about their immigration rights. Here, attorneys William Graves (Graves & Doyle) and Seth Purcell (PAIR Project) welcome over 60 attorneys to the first training at the BBA.

Paulette Brown (left, Locke Lord) accepts the Beacon Award for Diversity and Inclusion for her work as president of the American Bar Association convening the Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission. One result of the Commission’s work was the passage at the ABA of Resolution 113, an initiative designed to increase diversity in the legal profession. In November of 2016, the BBA announced its strong support for the Resolution and is working with other partners in Boston on its implementation.

Raquel Webster (right, National Grid) introduces presenter Brian McLaughlin (McLaughlin Law) to a group of probationers at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The BBA’s Reentry Education Program, which was developed by the Public Interest Leadership Program, engages with dozens of probationers annually on useful topics related to community reentry, including family law, reinstating a driver’s license, public benefits, and more.

Secretary Francisco A. Ureña (Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services) addresses the crowd at a Memorial Day reception hosted by the BBA’s Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum. The reception was held after the annual pro bono training for attorneys representing veterans in discharge upgrade cases. Since 2015, the BBA has worked with the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School to hose these trainings to support their Veterans Legal Clinic.

One night a year, the BBA is transformed from a meeting space to a casino floor. Seventeen organizations sponsored this year’s Casino Night for Summer Jobs, the proceeds of which support the Summer Jobs Program and support internships for high school students at legal services organizations, government agencies, and courts. Attendees at Casino Night celebrate beating the house and eagerly await the mystifying reveal of a magic trick.

Law Day in the Schools, one of the BBA’s most popular volunteer opportunities, introduces Boston Public School students to the legal profession and particular areas of the law. This year, volunteers including Jill Brenner Meixel (left) and Allison Belanger (right) of Krokidas & Bluestein introduced students to due process and the importance of having fair rules and laws for all. There were a record 15 schools and over 1700 students in the program this year.

Throughout the year, the New Lawyers Section’s Public Service Committee coordinates volunteer events with organizations throughout the city. In addition to serving food at the Pine Street Inn, attorneys also helped sort donations at Cradles to Crayons, keep the esplanade clear at the Charles River Clean-up, and other important volunteer initiatives in the area.

High school students convene with Chief Justice Melvin S. Hoffman (U.S. Bankruptcy Court) after listing to a mock hearing in bankruptcy court. This session, which teaches students about the consequences of filing for bankruptcy is part of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, which began in 2005. Since it began, over 5800 students statewide have been introduced to the importance of budgeting, understanding credit, and financing a large purchase.

Over 1,000 attorneys came together for this year’s Law Day Dinner in Back Bay. Congressman Seth Moulton provided keynote remarks and highlighted the importance of lawyers and upholding the rule of law now more than ever.

This year’s Thurgood Marshall Award, honoring an attorney in private practice in Greater Boston for their extraordinary efforts in enhancing the human dignity of others by providing legal services to Massachusetts’ low income population, went to Elaine Blais (Goodwin). Blais volunteers with both the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) representing both children and adults in various immigration cases.

Anne Mackin (Greater Boston Legal Services) accepts the John G. Brooks Legal Services Award, an award presented to professional legal services attorneys for their outstanding work on behalf of indigent people in the Boston area. Mackin has worked in legal services for nearly 30 years, and joined GBLS’s Immigration Unit in 2013. Since then, she has helped people from all over the world who have witnessed or experienced unspeakable tragedies and faced severe persecutions. Her efforts have ensured that many who are fleeing extreme discrimination and danger are able to seek justice and safe harbor.

Members of the Society of Fellows experience a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts’ summer exhibit, Matisse in the Studio. Each Fellows pledge supports the work of the Boston Bar Foundation’s many public service initiatives. The growing number of Fellows, now over 400, learn about the work their gifts support, including programs supporting Boston’s youth and grants to legal services organizations, at events throughout the year.

Boston Public High School students stand with Natashia Tidwell (center left, Collora) and Mark Smith (center right, BBA President, Laredo & Smith) on the morning of the first day of work with the Summer Jobs Program. The program, a partnership with the City of Boston and the Boston Private Industry Council, employs students in internships at legal offices across the city. In 2017, 52 students gained valuable office experience and were given insight into the legal profession.

Attorneys network surrounding the chocolate fountain, a staple at this year’s Boston Bar Foundation Summer Fundraiser. Guests at the event are treated to delicious dishes from area restaurants while learning about the public service programs their contribution supports.

The Public Interest Leadership Program’s class of 2016-2017 hosted their symposium, Constitutional Battlegrounds: Civil Rights in a Changing Landscape, earlier this year. The event’s speakers addressed a number of issues recently in the national spotlight, both in the media and the courts. Nearly 100 attorneys and interested members of the community packed the BBA to hear insights from the panels of experts.

This fall, the 14th Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) started their term. Twenty attorneys were selected for the program based on their experience and dedication to public service and civic engagement. The program now includes nearly 200 alumni who’ve gone on to serve the BBA in other capacities and carry their passion for serving the public interest into the community.

Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black, addressed the audience at the BBA’s Annual Meeting. Kerman, a former prisoner, discussed her work bringing prison issues to the forefront of national conversation. She also acknowledged the BBA’s report No Time to Wait: Recommendations for a Fair and Effective Criminal Justice System, which was released this fall. The report commends the reforms proposed earlier this year by Massachusetts leaders based on research by the Council of State Governments (CSG), but strongly urges lawmakers to enact broader reforms designed to further reduce recidivism, and make the criminal justice system fairer and more cost-efficient.

Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women to introduce the public to the services it offers. Thousands of requests come through each year and referrals are made out to experienced attorneys practicing nearly 350 areas of law. The LRS also houses a dedicated Military Legal Help Line, which connects veterans, military personnel, and their families with lawyers and other legal resources appropriate to their needs.

The three award recipients at November’s Beacon Award for Diversity & Inclusion stand with members of the Beacon Award Selection Committee. Brent Henry received the Voice of Change Award for his work recruiting and retaining diverse legal talent while at Partners Healthcare. The Empowerment Award went to Iván Espinoza-Madrigal for his work on civil rights issues, including racial justice, immigrant rights, and LGBT/HIV equality, as the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. Susan Alexander accepted the Corporate Champion Award on behalf of Biogen. Biogen’s legal department has developed a system of diversity metrics which the legal team uses when choosing outside counsel.
Above, left to right: Brent Henry (Mintz Levin), Iván Espinoza-Madrigal (Lawyers’ Committee), Susan Alexander (Biogen), Sarah Kim (Treasurer and Receiver General of Massachusetts), Kate Cook (Sugarman Rogers), Stephen Hall (Holland & Knight), and Damon Hart (Liberty Mutual).

Hosted at Suffolk University Law School, the annual Pro Bono Recruitment Fair and Open House connects law students and attorneys to volunteer opportunities across the state. Over 25 organizations recruited at the fair this year.

BBA President Mark Smith (right) met with Principal Danladi Bobbitt of the John D. Philbrick Elementary School in Roslindale. As a participant in the Principal Partners event, hosted by Boston Public Schools, Boston Plan for Excellence, and Bank of America, the BBA President has the opportunity to visit a school and engage in meaningful conversations about the role of education in our society.

BBA President Mark Smith Visits Philbrick School in Roslindale

BBA President Mark Smith, founding partner of Laredo & Smith, shared the below reflection on his recent visit to the John D. Philbrick School in Roslindale as part of the Principal Partners Program:

The John D. Philbrick School in Roslindale is one of the smallest in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) system, but its staff and student body provided a big welcome when I visited the Monday after Thanksgiving as part of the Boston Plan for Excellence Principal Partners program.

I knew that the BBA president has the good fortune to shadow a BPS principal every year, and as a former teacher myself, I was excited to learn more about elementary education at the Philbrick and what makes the school tick. The answer, it turns out, is the same as when I taught: a dedicated and openhearted staff working extremely hard to ensure the best possible learning experience for each student all year long.

Principal Danladi Bobbitt, who stepped into the role just this year, leads this staff gracefully. During a tour of each classroom, Bobbitt shared as much as he could about each teacher’s background, demonstrating an appreciation of each instructor’s unique talents and expertise. I was especially impressed by the way these teachers commanded the attention of their students, who were sharply focused and on-task during the entirety of my visit. For students in kindergarten through fifth grade, that is no small feat.

I was impressed to learn that students in each grade level take specialty classes in science, music, physical education and art, giving them opportunities to engage in a variety of hands-on activities throughout the day and become well-rounded learners. A music class made up of kindergarteners rehearsed “Jingle Bells” in preparation for the Philbrick’s holiday pageant for us, which was one of the highlights of the day.

Once the tour concluded, alongside Discovering Justice Executive Director Jon Spack, Bobbitt told us more about the ins and outs of running a school. He said one of the best parts of helming the Philbrick is the high level engagement from the school community, including parents. A constant challenge, he said, is finding meaningful ways to talk to students about bullying. Their approach at the Philbrick focuses on encouraging students to express themselves in productive ways, rather than lashing out at classmates.

The Principal Partners event, a collaboration between Bank of America, BPS and Boston Plan for Excellence, is intended to foster a meaningful conversation about the critical role education plays in the quality of our society and the future of our economy. I am grateful to have had this experience, deepening my understanding of the great people in our schools and the incredible work they do.

Inspiration and Encouragement at the Bar Exam Coaching Kickoff Reception

On November 29th, over 20 bar applicants and volunteer coaches gathered to kick off the Bar Exam Coaching Program ahead of the February Massachusetts bar exam. The BBA’s Coaching Program matches volunteer coaches with bar applicants to provide encouragement and accountability in the weeks leading up to the exam. Over 90% of the bar applicants participating in the program this winter are repeat applicants. At the Kickoff, applicants heard from two successful lawyers who provided their advice for tackling the exam again. Chief Justice Angela Ordoñez (Massachusetts Probate & Family Court), who was instrumental in starting this program and who has been dedicated to mentorship initiatives throughout her career, shared her insight into the bar exam and urged the applicants to stay positive and diligent over the next few months. The Kickoff attendees also heard from Eunice Aikins-Afful, a recent bar admittee who participated in the program with her coach, Kate Cook (BBA Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Section Co-Chair). Eunice described her experience studying while also working full-time and the steps she took to successfully prepare for the July exam. We wish all of the February bar applicants good luck as they begin to prepare for the exam.

For anyone taking the February 2018 bar exam who wishes to sign up for the program, please complete this online information form.