On a quarterly basis, we share the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association‘s* Honor Roll of attorneys who have stepped up to take a pro bono case through its Lawyer for the Day at the Eastern Housing Court program. With the need to volunteer as important as ever, with this installment of the VLP Honor Roll, we wanted to do something a little different.
Three of the attorneys appearing on the Honor Roll this year, Rachael McCarthy, Lillian Maguire and Madelyn Morris, checked in with us to tell us why volunteering in the Housing Court is so important to them.
“Participating as a Lawyer for the Day in Boston Housing Court is important to me because it helps me keep perspective on what is important in life,” McCarthy said. “It gives me the opportunity to use my training to help people navigate a confusing legal process in order to avoid eviction and stay in their homes.”
“I participate in the Lawyer for a Day program at Boston Housing Court because such little time on our part can make a tremendous difference in the lives of the people we serve. Navigating the legal system is incredibly complicated. Our clients may have significant defenses or options for remaining in their current housing that they would not discover on their own. Even lawyers who don’t specialize in landlord/tenant law can make a difference with their knowledge of basic civil procedure,” Maguire said.
She went on to emphasize how crucial this program is.
“Without a lawyer’s help, clients may not know what their best legal options are, but more importantly, they are left without an advocate. The simple act of listening to a client’s story and advocating on their behalf can make a huge difference when something as vital as housing is at stake.”
For Morris, the program meant using her skills as a lawyer in a new way to benefit the public good when she retired in 2015. During her 34 years of practice, she practiced environmental law first at the Environmental Law Division of the Office of the Attorney General and then at the Department of Environmental Protection.
“After volunteering for almost 3 years, I have gained so much from this experience. I have met many exceptional people who are working hard under difficult circumstances to provide a home for their family. I have been inspired by the staff of the VLP and the Housing Court who are devoted to making the Edward Brook Courthouse a place where disputes between landlords and tenants can be resolved promptly and fairly. I encourage other retirees to join this effort,” Morris said.
To get more information on volunteering, please contact attorney Milton Wong.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association thanks the following attorneys who accepted cases January, February, and March through Lawyer for the Day at the Eastern Housing Court:
Christopher John Freeland
Evelyn Venables Moreno
Gail Jones Klopfer
Maureen Jones Devine
Peter A. Biagetti
Tamara Lauterbach Sturges
Teresa Jeanne Walsh
Vanessa A. O’Connor
Victor Rivera Colon
*The Volunteer Lawyers Project is a 2018 Grant Recipient of the Boston Bar Foundation.