Daily Archives: Thursday, February 8, 2018

Provide a Valuable Internship Opportunity for a BPS Student

While it may still be snowing outside, the BBA is gearing up for next summer and our much loved Summer Jobs Program. The program is an integral part of Mayor Walsh’s Summer Jobs Initiative to hire over 10,000 Boston teens each summer. With the help of over 40 law offices to secure jobs for nearly 55 teens last summer, our program is one of the top six largest private sector employers in the city. The program is a long-time partnership between the BBA, the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), and provides students who attend public high schools in the city of Boston the chance to gain professional experience and earn a paycheck.

Earlier this month, Ozy highlighted that summer jobs for teens are more important now than ever. They cited a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report that notes the skyrocketing demand for prospective employees to have a postsecondary degree, 65% of jobs in 2025 versus 28% in the 1970s. By obtaining a professional skill-building internship in high school, students are better prepared for the job market they face after graduation. However, while summer jobs can be key to future success, there are fewer open positions than only a few years ago.

Last year, The Boston Globe reported that a study completed by the UMass Donahue Institute for the Boston PIC found that while the unemployment rate in Massachusetts is at a 15-year low, these numbers do not reflect the unemployment levels of the Commonwealth’s youth.  Compared to 2008 when over 50% of 16-24 year olds were employed, just over 46% of the same population was employed in 2015. The Mayor’s Summer Jobs Initiative is working to raise youth employment rates in Boston and recognizes the importance of gaining work experience early in life in order to maintain gainful employment in adulthood. The Boston Bar Association is proud to support these efforts and thanks all of our employer partners that have hired a student in the past.

Our Summer Jobs students have had a successful record helping with many tasks in a busy professional environment, including data-entry, filing, research, receptionist duties, and more. We encourage you to contact us to find out how hiring a student can make a difference, for them and for your office! For more information on the program, please click here. If your office is interested in providing a Boston public high school student with a meaningful professional experience in 2018, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected] for additional information.

We’re thankful for the below organizations that have already committed to hiring a student in 2018!

Chu, Ring & Hazel LLP
Foley Hoag LLP
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.
Nixon Peabody LLP
Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Proskauer Rose LLP
Verrill Dana LLP

BBA Kicks Off Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum

Last month, the BBA’s Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum hosted a lunch for service members and veterans in the legal community, as well as attorneys currently working and volunteering with this population, to socialize, network and learn about the unique aspects of life for veterans and active duty military personnel who are college students.

Guest speaker Andy McCarty, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers (CAVS) at Northeastern University, spoke candidly about the path from the center’s inception to its actual opening on campus. McCarty is a Northeastern alumnus and a veteran himself, having served in the United States Air Force in Egypt and Qatar. Along with other staff members, McCarty sought to open CAVS to fulfill an unmet need on campus. Prior to CAVS, students with military involvement had to visit various offices and departments on campus to speak to staff about financial aid, housing benefits and other government programs designed to assist veteran students.

McCarty described CAVS as a “one stop shop” where students who have served or are serving in the military can access the resources they need. The CAVS staff is trained to understand the benefits available to these students from the government, and how best to apply them. They also help students navigate class registration and scheduling, balancing each student’s academic commitments with their commitment to the armed services. Their services are available to students pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees, including at Northeastern University’s School of Law.

By serving individual students and empowering them to get the most out of higher education, CAVS is designed to fulfill a broader mission. McCarty said the center’s ultimate purpose is to address the disproportionate unemployment rate among veterans.

“Our guiding philosophy is this: If we’re not preparing veteran students for a career after graduation, then what are we really giving them?” McCarty said.

To that end, CAVS also assists students with articulating their military experience in a resume, in a manner that relates to civilian jobs. From job interview coaching to emotional support, McCarty said CAVS offers a diverse array of services to veteran students and students on active duty, who may be having a hard time breaking into the job market or adapting to an office job once they are hired.

“It’s definitely a big adjustment to work in a civilian job,” McCarty said. “One thing we are always trying to do is open the lines of communication between veterans and non-veterans.”

At work, that means coaching employers on ways to bring up a veteran employee’s military service without putting the employee on the spot or making them feel uncomfortable. On campus, CAVS also works to integrate veterans into the overall community of Northeastern students.

After McCarty’s remarks, attendees had the chance to ask him questions and learn more about Northeastern’s work.

 

This luncheon was the first event for the Active Duty Military and Veterans Forum, which had previously organized as a committee within the BBA. Through its work, the Forum will spotlight the needs of active duty military personnel, reservists, and veterans within and outside of the legal profession.

To become involved in the Forum’s efforts, you’re invited to attend an upcoming pro bono training on Tuesday, May 22nd to learn the basics of representing veterans in discharge upgrade cases. If you’d like to receive more information on the training when it becomes available, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

Pro Bono Spotlight: Barclay Damon Achieves 100% Attorney Participation in Pro Bono Program

In 2016, associates across each of Barclay Damon’s 11 offices reached an admirable goal – every one of them participated in the firm’s robust pro bono program, which treats every pro bono hour as a billable hour, the same as if these associates were doing business with the firm’s top clients.

In 2017, Barclay Damon Pro Bono Partner Heather Sunser set her sights on the next public service milestone: If all of the firm’s associates could participate in pro bono work, why not the partners? The challenge was on for Barclay Damon’s nearly 300 attorneys.

Several weeks ago, the firm announced they had done just that. Every single one of Barclay Damon’s full-time attorneys participated in the firm’s pro bono program in 2017.

“Every year I was charting progress and watching how much our hours increased,” Sunser said. “From looking at the time people put in, I have an idea of what kinds of projects people enjoy participating in, but I started to see patterns and I realized it was important to try to offer something for everyone.”

Sunser, who works out of Barclay Damon’s Syracuse office, said full participation became feasible with pro bono opportunities that could be done remotely, to accommodate attorneys who are constantly out of town. Answering legal questions online or on the phone was a piece of the puzzle, and attorneys participated in the American Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers program, including Boston attorneys taking questions through Massachusetts Legal Answers Online.

Another key to raising participation was finding specific projects for attorneys who are highly specialized in their fields. For example, Sunser said, participating in a small business incubator on a pro bono basis has helped several partners with an intellectual property practice find a way to use their skill set in public service.

Tony Scibelli, a partner in the Boston office and memberof the Boston Bar Association’s Amicus Committee, said his office participates in a wide variety of public service projects through the BBA. Joseph Stanganelli, another partner in the office, was successful in helping a veteran suffering from PTSD to upgrade his discharge status and access benefits. Stanganelli took the client on through the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service.

Outside of the BBA, Scibelli has found his pro bono niche handling mediation cases in small claims court in Salem, Peabody and Gloucester. Scibelli’s background is in business and commercial litigation, not mediation, but working with the North Shore Community Mediation Center, he completed the required training and began to help litigants settle outside a courtroom.

“It has been a fascinating experience and a great, meaningful experience,” Scibelli said. “Many of these litigantsare low-income folks who are on various forms of public assistance. A few thousand, or even a few hundred, dollars means quite a lot to them, and in many cases it is money they really can’t afford to pay.”

So, where does Barclay Damon go when they’ve already reached 100 percent?

Sunser said she is hoping to see the overall number of pro bono hours go up, hopefully by engaging attorneys who had relatively small totals in the past. She said the firm is also always looking to partner with local organizations – whether they are bar associations, legal services organizations, or nonprofits – to try to meet needs in the community.

“When we find an opportunity to start a partnership in a place where there is currently no legal help available, we can really see the difference our effort makes,” Sunser said. “It was so exciting to see the successes and things we’ve been able to help people with over the course of this year.”

To learn more about Barclay Damon’s pro bono program, please click here.

Section 35 Explained to Public Interest Leadership Program

Last month, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from Professor Leo Beletsky (Northeastern University School of Law and Bouvé College of Health Sciences) on the public health and civil rights implications of Massachusetts’ involuntary commitment law for individuals with substance use disorder (M.G.L. ch. 123 § 35, or more commonly “Section 35”).

Dealing with the Opioid Crisis, one way that Massachusetts has looked to handle the epidemic is to expand Section 35, which allows blood relatives, court officers, spouses, and medical professionals to petition a judge to “section” an individual into involuntary commitment for 30 to 90 days. But Beletsky offered another perspective, calling into question the efficacy of forced treatment, and especially the Massachusetts system. Beletsky explained that the current evidence-based medical practice to treat individuals with substance use disorder is by using “medication-assisted treatment” (a category of drugs that includes buprenorphine or methadone) which scientific studies show as the “gold standard” for treatment. He explained that multiple scientific studies show that treating substance use with medication improves outcomes, and reduces overdoses by 50 to 80 percent. But he countered that, despite these scientific studies, most individuals who are involuntary committed in Massachusetts are treated with abstinence-based methods, which, not only have less effective outcomes, and in some situations could increase the likelihood of future overdose. He then went on to discuss how studies show that forced-treatment like Section 35 does not work for everyone.

Beletsky highlighted that for some families, Section 35 is being billed as the only option, and that a desperate parent or spouse will rely on it, hoping that their child or partner will finally receive treatment. But he painted a stark picture of what that treatment actually entails, as he discussed the need for reform.

For a deeper look into Section 35, read the BBA’s Issue Spot Blog post regarding the issue here.

Meeting recap provided by PILP Member Gregory Dorchak (United States Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts).