Blizzards and slow public transportation didn’t stop our volunteers from getting out in the community and giving back during 2015. Take a look below for highlights from the BBA’s 2015 public service efforts:
Posts Categorized: Boston Bar Foundation
If you’re looking to give back this holiday season, look no further! The BBA and BBF have a number of ways for you to support our community:
- Sign up for a pro bono training: Don’t miss the Representing a Pro Bono Debtor in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Pro Bono Training on January 21st with the Volunteer Lawyers Project or CORI Matters— Learn How to Help Low Income Clients Seal Criminal Records Pro Bono Training with Greater Boston Legal Services on February 2nd.
- Donate to the BBF Annual Campaign: Generous community members like you make our essential work in the community possible. Each year, thousands of children, adults and families in Greater Boston are thankful for the access to justice and unique educational opportunities that they receive because of generous donors to the BBF. Contribute today to make an impact.
- Mark your calendars for Walk to the Hill: Join hundreds of private attorneys and civil legal aid advocates at the Massachusetts State House on January 28th to demonstrate your support for state funding of civil legal aid. Be sure to stop by the BBA at 10 am to meet up with other attorneys before heading over to the event. Click here to learn more.
- Use AmazonSmile: AmazonSmile is a way for you to give back to the BBF in a small way as you finish up your holiday shopping. Just go to smile.amazon.com and log in using your normal Amazon account name and password. Then select the Boston Bar Foundation as your charity and shop as you normally would. The BBF will receive a small percentage of the proceeds from your purchase.
- Buy a ticket to Adams Benefit: Join the BBF for the John & Abigail Adams Benefit on January 30th at the Museum of Fine Arts for an unforgettable night of live entertainment, gourmet food and beverages and beautiful galleries and exhibits. 100% of the proceeds from the Adams Benefit will be used for direct grants to organizations that serve thousands of individuals and families struggling with issues such as homelessness, domestic violence and various forms of injustice. Learn more about the event and how you can purchase tickets here.
- Join the BBF’s Society of Fellows: When you join the BBF’s Society of Fellows, you join a community of more than 400 of Boston’s leading attorneys who are committed to investing in our city’s future. Fellows pledge to make contributions to the BBF’s permanent endowment so that the BBF can continue its work in our community. Fellows receive exclusive invitations throughout the year to attend networking events and receptions, and come together to hear from representatives of BBF grantee organizations, public service volunteers and other inspirational speakers. Contact Tara Trask at [email protected].
Last Thursday, the Boston Bar Foundation’s Society of Fellows held an Open House that brought together current Fellows as well those interested in learning more about joining the Society. As our Beyond the Billable fans may remember, the Society is a group of more than 400 lawyers dedicated to supporting the BBF’s work of improving our community through public service and expanding access to justice for underserved populations.
In honor of Pro Bono Month, Anna Schleelein Richardson, Co-Executive Director of Veterans Legal Services (VLS), spoke about the positive impact of the BBF’s funding to support VLS’s work providing comprehensive legal services to veterans and military families and the prevailing unmet need amongst veterans for high-quality legal services.
“I have been continually impressed by this organization’s commitment to making sure veterans get the legal help that they need,” Anna told the crowd, noting that the BBA’s Military and Veterans Legal Help Line served more than 350 veterans and their families in the last year alone. “The BBF has supported VLS for over a decade.”
VLS is just one of the many community organizations that the BBF will support this year. In total, the BBF is granting $950,000 to 23 community organizations, helping thousands of individuals and families struggling with issues such as homelessness, domestic violence and other forms of injustice. This is in addition to the BBF funding the entire year’s portfolio of BBA Public Service Programs, including Law Day in the Schools and trainings to equip hundreds of attorneys to take on pro bono cases.
Anna noted that without the crucial funding provided by the BBF, the veterans she serves at VLS “are at risk of losing their homes, families or basic subsistence if they do not have access to representation.”
Thanks to the support of the BBF’s funding, VLS was able to assist nearly 450 veterans and their family members last year. The BBF’s work is made possible because of the continued commitment of the Society of Fellows. Click here to learn more about the work that the Society supports or click here to join the Society of Fellows today!
As you may remember, the Boston Bar Foundation funds positions for Boston public high school students in government and legal service agencies each summer through the BBA Summer Jobs Program. This year, the BBF will be funding 15 positions—the highest number yet thanks to the help of a number of Boston-based law offices:
- Arrowood Peters LLP*
- Donoghue Barrett & Singal, P.C.
- Hemenway & Barnes LLP
- Peabody & Arnold LLP
- Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP*
* Partial sponsorship
In addition to supporting Boston public high school students, these sponsored positions will also support legal service organizations and government agencies by providing additional help in a busy office environment.
So where will these student be working this summer? Take a look below at some of the placement organizations:
- Committee for Public Counsel Services**
- Legal Advocacy and Resource Center**
- Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards
- Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services
- Massachusetts Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts
- Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
- Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court
- U.S. District Court**
- Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association**
**Hosting two students
Stay tuned throughout the summer as we update you on the students’ experiences.
Last Thursday night, the BBA replaced its meeting room tables with craps, roulette, blackjack, and poker tables for the Boston Bar Foundation’s 6th Annual Casino Night for Summer Jobs. As we mentioned in this post, 100 percent of the proceeds from the event support the M. Ellen Carpenter Fund to pay for summer jobs for Boston teens in government and nonprofit organizations each summer.
Thanks to our sponsors, ticket holders and our silent auction winners the BBF raised nearly $35,000 last night to support the BBA Summer Jobs Program, and put 13 students to work this summer! Click here to see a full list of the 2015 Casino Night sponsors.
This year’s event featured a raffle, snacks and drinks, and authentic casino games that gave the 200 attendees a chance to test out their gambling skills. As always, the famed silent auction table got heated as bidding wars broke out over prize packages including luxury box seats to the Celtics, hotel stays on the cape, and various Boston adventures. The most sought after package included a private butchering lesson at The Butcher Shop, a hand crafted cutting board from Birch Barn Designs and a gift certificate to the South End Formaggio that went for a winning bid of $450.
So who were the big winners of the evening? Rob Lashway (Floyd Advisory, LLC), Andy Caffrey (Birnbaum & Godkin, LLP), and Jen Lynn (Strang, Scott, Giroux & Young, LLP) “cashed in” the most chips at the end of the evening. However, the real winners are the Boston teens who get the opportunity to earn money and gain professional experience by interning in a legal office this summer.
Click here to view photos from the event.
With less than 30 days until April 15th, most people have taxes on our mind. They’re pulling out our W2s, firing up their e-filing software and booking time with their accountants. But what happens when tax complications arise that are beyond your resources to manage?
Low-income taxpayer clinics have been described as a “life preserver,” often keeping households afloat when faced with tax issues that could devastate them financially. The Boston Bar Foundation is proud to support the new Low Income Tax Clinic (LITC) of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.
“Low-income taxpayers face tax problems as frequently as wealthier taxpayers,” said Daniel Nagin, Faculty Director of the Legal Services Center. “However, low-income taxpayers frequently lack information and resources to respond effectively to tax problems.”
Adding to this is the fact that, given the specialized nature of tax practice, there are too few pro bono tax law programs to meet the enormous need for representation in low-income communities.
The result, says Nagin, is that too often taxpayers must fend for themselves. In doing so, they may fail to raise available defenses to IRS claims, and can feel overwhelmed by a complex and intimidating system.
Nagin also noted that while tax problems affect many low-income populations, certain subgroups are particularly in need.
“Since opening our Veterans Legal Clinic in 2012, we have been contacted by significant numbers of low-income veterans who face tax problems, and we have been encouraged by veterans’ service providers to expand resources in this area. Veterans who need legal representation on tax matters will continue to be a population we prioritize in the LITC.”
Once fully staffed with a director on board this summer, the LITC will help fill these critical access to justice gaps, providing direct representation to low-income taxpayers in IRS controversies at the agency level and before the Tax Court. Representing taxpayers in such cases will not only provide much-needed financial relief, but also provide peace of mind to those who would otherwise have the daunting task of responding to the IRS pro se.
The Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) has released its application for the 2015 grants cycle. As you probably know, the BBF grants support programs and organizations that advance access to legal services, improve fair administration of justice, and help expand public understanding of the law. Combined with money raised from events such as the John & Abigail Adams Benefit, the BBF grants its portion of Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) funds to legal service organizations. However, in response to the decline in IOLTA funding, the BBF has stepped up and increased its commitment to funding legal services by granting a greater portion of its own fundraising. Last year the BBF’s contributions were almost half of the total funds granted.
So how does the grant making process work? Beyond the Billable is bringing you a firsthand look at how the grant decisions are made. Take a look below:
The members of the BBF Grants Committee spend countless hours reviewing each application, discussing the current needs within legal services and the Greater Boston area, and examining emerging issues affecting low-income individuals in our community. While reviewing applications, the BBF Grants Committee looks for organizations that:
- Provide civil legal services to low-income people and/or underserved populations, especially organizations and programs that address an unmet legal need.
- Develop or strengthen pro bono programs through which the private bar delivers substantial voluntary legal services to low-income and underserved populations.
- Demonstrably enhance the administration of justice in Massachusetts (i.e. improve the courts’ effectiveness, address systemic problems in the court system or provide information to low-income, underserved or special needs populations regarding their legal rights and/or accessibility to the courts).
Last year, the BBF granted $825,500 to 23 community legal service providers. Among the grantees are organizations working to assist low-income families and individuals who face problems relating to immigration, domestic violence, and homelessness, as well as increasingly prevalent issues such as human trafficking and environmental justice. To learn more about last year’s grantees, please check out our website.
Please contact the BBA/BBF Public Service Manager Sonia Shah at [email protected] if you have any questions about the BBF grant process.
Don’t miss the chance to show off your poker skills and support a good cause at the Boston Bar Foundation’s Casino Night on March 12th. The offices of the BBA will be transformed into a two-story casino, complete with real game tables, professional dealers, a silent auction, live entertainment, and complimentary refreshments. More importantly, the proceeds from the event will fund internships for Boston public high school students working at legal service and government agencies through the BBA Summer Jobs Program. In addition to providing Boston teens with professional experience and a paycheck, the BBF funded students offer office assistance to organizations that need extra help but can’t afford to hire a student on their own. To get a first-hand account of our BBF funded students’ experiences, click here.
We hope to see you on March 12th!
If you were one of the 1,000 attorneys who got dressed up and came out to the Museum of Fine Arts on Saturday night for the John and Abigail Adam’s Benefit, you probably saw John Hancock receive the 2015 Boston Bar Foundation Public Service Award. The award, which was accepted by Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer James Gallagher, honored John Hancock’s commitment to the Boston community. This year will mark the 30th year of John Hancock’s well known and landmark sponsorship of the Boston Marathon. As part of that sponsorship, they donate hundreds of entries to area non-profits to help them raise money for causes ranging from state of the art medical care to homelessness. Perhaps not as well-known are the company’s efforts to support and empower Boston youth through the MLK Summer Scholars Program– a cause shared by the Boston Bar Association and Foundation.
Every year, the BBA and our participating employers join hundreds of other employers throughout the city who are committed to Boston future by providing summer jobs to Boston teens through the Mayor Walsh’s Summer Jobs Program. John Hancock is another all-star employer. Through the MLK Summer Scholars Program, John Hancock provides grants to local non-profits to hire over 650 Boston teens every summer!
If you’re feeling inspired by John Hancock’s generosity, don’t forget that your legal office has an opportunity to support Boston teens through the BBA Summer Jobs Program. Click here to learn more and to view the 29 employers who have already committed to hiring 43 Boston teens this summer.
The BBA had another year full of public service. For a look back at our members’ work in the community, take a look at the photos below: