Daily Archives: Thursday, May 30, 2019

Lawyer for the Day in the Eastern Housing Program Celebrates 20 Years of Helping Pro Se Litigants

Hon. MaryLou Muirhead, Hon. Jeffrey Winik, and Hon. Wilbur P. Edwards, Jr., (Ret.) of the Housing Court with Court staff at the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Lawyer for the Day in Eastern Housing Court Program. Click here for the full photo album.

Yesterday, volunteers, court employees, and program leadership gathered at 16 Beacon to celebrate the continued success of the Lawyer for the Day Program in the Eastern Housing Court.  Since 1999, dedicated volunteers have helped more than 18,000 tenants and landlords navigate through the Eastern Housing Court – making all the difference for individuals and families who would otherwise have to go to court alone. This is a significant milestone for the BBA and all of the dedicated volunteers who make this program possible, and we had a lot to celebrate : just this year alone, over 160 volunteer attorneys have been able to provide representation to over 400 tenants and landlords.

Remarks were given by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and Eastern Housing Court Justices MaryLou Muirhead and Jeffrey Winik. The Justices recognized the importance of the Lawyer for the Day program in the operations of the court, and expressed gratitude that volunteers improve unrepresented litigants’ chance to prevail every day.

Volunteer Lawyers Project Staff Attorney Geraldine Gruvis-Pizarro and Executive Director Joanna Allison also presented. They honored longtime volunteers and firm partners who are essential to the program’s longevity, remarking “it takes a village to assist our clients.”  WilmerHale, Ropes & Gray, and retired WilmerHale partner Andy Cohn were recognized for their dedication to the program since its start.

If you are interested in getting involved – help is still needed.  There were close to 30,000 eviction cases in Massachusetts last year, and 92% of tenants and 30% of landlords are unrepresented statewide. Interested volunteers can find out more here.

The program is a collaboration between the Eastern Housing Court, Boston Bar Association, Volunteer Lawyers Project, Greater Boston Legal Services and Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, and Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, and is supported by the Herbert Wiley Vaughan Fund of the Boston Bar Foundation.  The Vaughan Fund is used to support the volunteers that are the lifeblood of this program by providing supplies, equipment and training.

CORI Sealing Clinic

The BBA’s CORI Sealing Clinic, which launched in January 2019, will have its fifth clinic date next Wednesday, June 5, at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse. This project, which engages volunteer attorneys in helping low-income clients seal their criminal records through the courts, has assisted close to 40 people over the past four months. We are excited to have volunteers from BBA Sponsor Firm Pepper Hamilton staff the clinic next week!

Such assistance is critical, as prior criminal records can create barriers to obtaining housing, employment, and educational opportunities. Massachusetts law permits people with a criminal record to have their records “sealed” from public view after a waiting period by meeting certain legal requirements. The CORI Sealing Clinic helps those who may not be able to undertake this process without the assistance of an attorney, but cannot afford to pay for counsel.

To learn more about the program, click here. If you are interested in volunteering with the clinic, please email Hannah Poor at [email protected]

Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program

Two law students who were selected for the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program began working at their respective offices this month. Anna Cardoso, a rising 2L at Boston University School of Law, is working at the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, and Emaan Syed, a rising 3L at Suffolk Law School, is working at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts, under Justice Melvin S. Hoffman. Both of these students have outstanding records of academic and professional accomplishments, and have demonstrated a strong commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. To learn more about the 2019 Fellows and the program, please click here.

BBF to Fund Positions for Six High School Students in Legal Offices this Summer

Each year, thanks to generous donations to the Boston Bar Foundation’s M. Ellen Carpenter Fund, high school students are provided with the opportunity to work in local legal services organizations, courts, and government offices through the BBA’s Summer Jobs Program. This summer, six Boston Public School students will have the opportunity to earn a paycheck through Boston Bar Foundation funding while developing critical professional skills and providing support to a legal office in the city. The following organizations will be hosting BBF-sponsored interns:

• Executive Office of Health and Human Services
• Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation
• Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
• U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts, Clerk’s Office
• U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, Ward Fellowship
• Volunteer Lawyers Project

We’re also grateful to the 22 law firms and government agencies that are directly hiring students this summer.

The Summer Jobs Program will kick off its 26th year on July 8. In addition to working at the employer offices, the students will participate in special enrichment programming at the BBA each week to learn about the legal field and gain professional skills. Stay tuned for updates on the students’ activities throughout the summer!