Posts Categorized: Diversity

BBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship: End of Summer Reflections

Over this summer, the BBA was excited to grow its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, providing essential work experience for six outstanding law students through paid summer internships in public interest offices. This year, we partnered with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, Committee for Public Counsel Services, Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General, and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. The stipends for these positions was made possible with the support of individual donors and funding from the BBF Beacon Fund, the Charles P. Normandin Fund and generous firm sponsors Foley Hoag Foundation, Nutter, and Pierce Atwood.

Our third year of this program proved to be successful, with law students Kajahna Matos (UMass Law – Dartmouth), Dhairya Bhatia (Boston College Law School), Alfred Spencer (Suffolk University Law School), Jessie Baek (Boston College Law School), Catherine Garcia Summa (UMass Law – Dartmouth), and Travis Salters (Boston College Law School) providing support for these offices, developing relationships with attorney mentors, and participating in BBA professional development programs. See what they had to say about their experiences below!

If your office is interested in supporting or participating in this program, please reach out to Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

End of Summer Reflection: Kajahna Matos

2L, UMass Law – Dartmouth

Summer Fellow, Committee for Public Counsel Services

Through the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, I had the honor of interning for the Committee of Public Counsel Services (“CPCS”). I was an intern for the Public Defender Division at the Boston Trial Office this summer along with six other interns, and we were each assigned to various attorneys who gave us assignments throughout the summer.

This summer was certainly an interesting one, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as we have had to face the unique difficulties of working remotely. Navigating this current unprecedented time has been challenging, but CPCS did an excellent job of making interns still feel like they were part of the office family. The Office hosted weekly intern events that were well-executed remotely. First, The Intern Speaker series were given every Wednesday and Friday, which is when guest speakers and/or presentations were offered to address issues about diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Next, we had the Coffee Break series where we met different attorneys in the office and got to have fluid conversations about their work at CPCPS every Tuesday. Then, we each had Case Crunches on different days of the week-mine was on Thursdays- and this is where we were in a group with other attorneys discussing a complicated case and brainstorming different legal strategies and best advocating avenues for our clients. Last, we had criminal defense trainings on different topics randomly every month where we were taught how to approach certain situations and how to prepare the best arguments on those topics.

Through my internship, I was able to enhance my confidence in my legal research, writing skills, and client relationships. I was lucky to have been assigned many different assignments on a variety of topics. Some of the topics that I did legal research on consisted of the Attenuation Doctrine and a Fugitive from Justice charge. I also wrote different motions to suppress, one on a Show-up ID and the other based on statements. At the same time, I continued to enhance my writing skills by being tasked with providing a memorandum based on an armed robbery. This was a personal goal of mine as I wanted to feel more confident in my legal work products, and I was able to accomplish this through my first real-life legal memorandum. Luckily, COVID-19 restrictions were lifting throughout the summer, so I was also able to watch in on different court proceedings. Whenever I could not attend an in-court proceeding, I was able to remotely join and watch how judges navigated their courtrooms.

The highlights of my summer were being a part of a homicide case and working on a community project to help eliminate jail and prison phone call costs. I have always wanted to work on high crime or serious cases, and I was given the chance to this summer alongside an incredible attorney who kept me very involved throughout the case. I also worked on a community project where I was doing my research in figuring out how to end jail and prison phone call costs throughout Boston. I was able to connect with individuals who had loved ones that were affected by the financial burden of phone call costs. Therefore, I was trying to do my part to advocate for jail and prison phone call justice.

I am extremely grateful for the personal relationships I was able to develop in such a short period of time and remotely in this internship. I connected with two attorneys at CPCS who came from the same background as me and/or shared the same interests as me. These attorneys cared very much for my success and always pushed me on my assignments by giving me helpful feedback to apply to my future legal career. These attorneys heightened my interest in working for CPCS upon my graduation because the CPCS office runs more as a family rather than just colleagues. 

Summer of 2021 is one to remember, and I am grateful that I spent this summer at CPCS. Thank you to the Boston Bar Association for making this summer experience possible.

End of Summer Reflection: Dhairya Bhatia

2L, Boston College Law School

Summer Fellow, United States Bankruptcy Court

Through the 2021 Boston Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fellowship, I had the opportunity to intern with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts in Chief Judge Christopher Panos’s chambers. Remotely, I observed hearings for consumer and commercial bankruptcy cases and was able to research a couple of novel issues and provide recommendations for those issues.

This summer provided me an opportunity to learn more about the issues that arise in bankruptcy from discrete technical questions to the broader policy considerations that underlie the Bankruptcy Code. For example, I researched issues surrounding the dismissal process of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy for abuse of its provisions and the controversial undue hardship standard that a student loan debtor is required to meet in order to discharge their student loan debt in bankruptcy.

While researching dismissal of a Chapter 7 for abuse of its provisions, I learned about the development of the process, which culminated into the codification of a means test that would determine whether abuse of the Chapter 7 provisions shall be presumed. This topic introduced me to the recurring theme of the competing interests between creditors recovering payments and fresh starts afforded to honest debtors. I also was able to learn about arguments that drive statutory construction and why a means test to determine abuse was implemented.

The more interesting topic I had a chance to research during my internship was how student loan debt was handled in bankruptcy. As students, we are particularly sensitive to this topic, especially with news of the student loan industry increasing along with American households’ level of student loan indebtedness, and the Administration’s efforts to cancel student loan debt or provide other types of relief during the pandemic. Having been able to spend so much time researching the student loan debt discharge jurisprudence, I was able to learn about the two tests that courts consider when determining whether or not student loan debt created undue hardship on a debtor and the debtor’s dependents.

To better understand why the undue hardship standard exists, I tracked the history of the student loan debt exception in the Bankruptcy Code. By tracking its history through researching the development of the provision and reading Congressional reports, I learned that ultimately Congress was weary of a hypothetical student who would take out student loan debt to pay for a college education, receive a high-paying job, and then discharge that debt in bankruptcy upon graduation. It is unclear to me as to whether students actually committed such acts, but the result was that student loan debt would be treated the same way as judgments that people received for committing fraud, driving under the influence, or domestic support obligations. Regardless of the validity of Congress’s concerns, the reality is that the viability of the student loan industry takes precedence over the student loan debtor.

Though I concluded my internship by researching what other avenues are available to student loan debtors who are unable to meet the undue hardship finding through the court’s equitable powers, I still find myself thinking about student loan debt exception and the policy implications of it. In the United States, Black people often have more student loan debt than their white counterparts. Women hold more of the student loan debt than men. Notwithstanding these disparities, student loan debt is treated differently than other unsecured debts. Thus, this internship gave me insight about how the American legal system continues to exacerbate racial and gender disparities. As I continue my path to becoming a lawyer who wants to combat the deeply engrained white supremacist patriarchal attitudes in the American legal system, I have no choice but to be cognizant of this reality.

End of Summer Reflection: Alfred Spencer

2L, Suffolk University School of Law

Summer Fellow, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

My summer spent working with the Chelsea District Court trial team and the Integrity Review Bureau (IRB) has helped me to better understand what it means to be an attorney. Not only has it opened my eyes as to what it takes to be a good attorney, it has helped me to think about what it means to pursue justice.

Working with the Chelsea District Court trial team has fostered my interest in victim advocacy and alternative solutions to incarceration. When thinking about the legal process and what it means to be a prosecutor, people quickly associate it with the prosecutor fighting zealously with the defense and that “winning” is all that matters. I learned that this assumption is an oversimplification of the complex job that a prosecutor needs to do. Prosecutors must consider whether incarceration will be best for the community, the defendant, and also needs to consider the victim. I am grateful that I was able to witness Drug Court firsthand and learn about the many ways that both sides can work together towards that common goal. The many discussions we had about victim advocacy is also something that will stick with me and continue to color my approach moving forward. Hearing about the difficulties that victims face has also inspired me to try and find ways to advocate for them and to find creative solutions to issues that they face.

Working with the IRB has helped me to appreciate the amount of trust that prisoners and their families put into the system when requesting that their case or sentence be reviewed. Many of them have been incarcerated for over a decade and often this is their last chance for release. It has also made clear to me the tough choices that the attorneys working in the IRB must make. When reviewing someone’s case and sentence all the details matter, regardless of how small they seem. It’s a balancing act of wanting to help people who may have had an unfair trial and/or been sentenced unfairly and needing to protect the community. Having witnessed the work that is done and the care that is given to each case has been eye opening.

Overall, this summer has solidified my interest in and my determination to pursue a career in criminal law. I will take what I have learned at the courts and with the IRB into my legal clinic this upcoming 3L year and it will continue to color what I do in the future. Everyone I have worked with has helped me to better understand my goals and what I can do to help make the legal profession more equitable for everyone. I am definitely looking forward to getting back into the court room in the near future.

End of Summer Reflection: Jessie Baek

2L, Boston College Law School

Summer Fellow, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Through the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, I interned at the General Counsel’s Office for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), sponsored by the Pierce Atwood Law firm. I had a fully remote, but extremely rewarding, internship this summer and had the opportunity to regularly meet with the different Commissioners at the MCAD to learn about their practice.

One of the most important things I learned this summer was about the MCAD’s role in adjudicating discrimination complaints. In the state of Massachusetts, all discrimination complaints must first be filed with the MCAD. From that point, after the Complainant has submitted his/her complaint and the Respondent(s) has filed his/her position statement, the MCAD works through its investigative process to determine whether probable cause exists. If probable cause is found, the Commission Counsel assists the Complainant through a conciliation and a public hearing where they hear their final order. Understanding this process put into perspective a lot of the work that I did at the MCAD, from observing conciliations with Complainants and Respondents, to writing a legal memo on the privilege that attaches between the Commission Counsel and a Complainant. Some of my other assignments consisted of writing a disposition on an employment case, completing discovery requests (interrogatories and a request for production of documents), researching case law that supported Counsel’s argument in motions to the court, and compiling a database of laws evoking the MCAD’s jurisdiction.

Throughout my remote internship, what I appreciated the most about my experience was the openness and willingness of the MCAD’s Commission Counsels in meeting with me to answer questions, inviting me to attend their upcoming conciliations and appeals, and making time to debrief with me after each observational opportunity. This made the remote internship extremely personal and allowed me to build strong, interpersonal relationships with the different attorneys.

I also want to thank my mentor, Acting General Counsel Deirdre Hosler, who always went out of her way to make sure that I was meeting all of my goals through the internship. We met regularly over Zoom on a weekly basis to discuss my progress on assignments and have ongoing conversations about how we see anti-discrimination work being furthered through the MCAD’s mission. Her commitment to eradicating discrimination in the state of Massachusetts inspired me to stay true to my passions and remember what led me to law school in the first place.

End of Summer Reflection: Catherine Garcia Summa

2L, UMass Law – Dartmouth

Summer Fellow, Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General

I first knew that my internship with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was going to be a phenomenal legal experience during the interview process.  I was taken aback with how my interviewers – who would later be my supervisor and mentor – took the time to learn about my military service and were genuinely interested in what I could bring to the Office as an intern.  When we started the internship, we were remote and I was nervous about not having any interactions with my fellow interns and other members of the legal division.  It was especially nerve-wracking as a 1L with zero experience in legal work aside from school.  My anxiety was quelled over the first few days when Jenny, our supervisor, reached out to the interns daily, scheduled video conferences to discuss concerns or assignments, and included us on every legal division meeting.  I instantly felt like part of the team. 

My first assignment was to write an internal memo on the Inspector General’s role on a particular board.  I dove into the research and quickly learned that Massachusetts has many, many General Laws.  I also learned that I love researching.  It was exciting to learn new things during my research for the memo that I would have otherwise never come across.  I also enjoyed picking apart statutes and analyzing how they applied to the OIG, if at all.  With my mentor’s help, I learned about other methods of obtaining information when I got stuck like asking a Social Law librarian for references.  I received positive feedback on the memo as well as constructive criticism that has helped me become a better legal writer and that I will carry with me throughout my career.  After discussing the project with Jenny and how I wanted to continue sharpening my legal research skills, she assigned me numerous research assignments that ranged from civil procedure questions to finding precedent cases and information to assist with the Office’s current investigations.  My favorite research assignment involved investigating how other jurisdictions have changed their hiring criteria involving applicants with past criminal history.  In working on this assignment, I discovered that many states are revising their hiring policies to take a more holistic approach in hiring applicants with past criminal history.  This assignment was important to me because I know first-hand how certain hiring criteria disproportionately affects people of color.  The assignment also reaffirmed what I already knew about the Office’s commitment to increasing diversity within the legal profession, and I was proud to take part in it.

Leaving the Office and the relationships I developed is difficult, but I am leaving with quite a bit: a greater sense of confidence in myself; a group of mentors who were instrumental in my success this summer and who I will continue to reach out to throughout my career; contacts in numerous government organizations, including the SJC, and friends within the legal community who I am excited to watch do great things.

End of Summer Reflection: Travis Salters

2L, Boston College Law School

Summer Fellow, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General

My experience working in the Constitution and Administrative Law Division of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General exceeded all my expectations. Heading into the summer, I hoped to practice legal research and writing, while also shadowing attorneys as they moved through their cases. I assumed I would work steadily on one or two cases, receive some feedback from my supervisor, and start preparing for my next academic year. Yet, on my first day, I received three assignments from three different attorneys. The first assignment required me to participate in a moot court with an attorney as she prepared for an upcoming oral argument. Another attorney requested a brief on a legal question regarding a recent Supreme Judicial Court decision, while another attorney asked me to draft a motion for an approaching court deadline. After receiving these assignments on the first day, I initially thought they mistakenly sent these to the wrong person because surely a first-year law student can’t be expected to conduct this meaningful work. However, I quickly realized that these challenges were opportunities to grow as I received tremendous support from a host of attorneys.

Throughout these two months, I worked on six different cases ranging in topics including retirement law, health law, and family law. I wrote memos on questions of statutory construction, drafted motions, participated as a judge in a moot court, and assisted with a multi-state amicus brief.

In addition to these meaningful work experiences, I received mentorship, guidance, and teaching from some of the brightest people I’ve ever met including Amy Spector, LaRonica Lightfoot, David Marks, Kim Parr, Elizabeth Kaplan, Doug Martland, Julie Kobick, Adam Cambier, and many others. Throughout my time working with them, everyone demonstrated their commitment to justice and the truth. During one of my first assignments, I recall pointing out the fact that the Commonwealth could lose a case if a particular argument was raised. I’ll never forget the attorney responding, “if that is the truth, then we must lose.” In an ever-polarizing, divisive, and adversarial world, that moment of vulnerability for the truth encouraged me to remain optimistic. If someone with decades of legal experience is optimistic, how can I not? 

I was also encouraged by the Office’s genuine, intentional conversations and strategy about viewing their work through a lens of racial equity. Again, this demonstrated commitment to justice stood out throughout my short time in the Office and will leave a lasting impression of how I view my own work.

I’m thankful for this incredible opportunity granted by the Boston Bar Association, I’m proud of my capabilities developed by Boston College Law School, and I’m grateful for the amazing relationships that I’ve established, which I intend to carry on throughout my legal career in Boston.

Funding for the position with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) Beacon Fund. The position at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General has been sponsored by the Foley Hoag Foundation. The position at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund, the position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is made possible through the law firm Pierce Atwood, and the position at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is sponsored by the law firm Nutter. For more information about how to support the BBF, please contact Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

2021 DEI Summer Fellows Finishing the first Month of Internships

The 6 BBA DEI Summer Fellows are now finishing their first month at their Fellowships. We checked in and asked, “Which work task or experience this week did you find most interesting or enjoyable?” See their responses below!

Kajahna Matos, UMass Law – Dartmouth
Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS)

I found my task in helping to create a homicide timeline for one of the attorney’s I work with to be the most interesting this week! I have always wanted to work on high crime cases and see what the experience is like for an attorney. Through this task, I have received a ton of exposure in how to do pretrial preparation for a murder charge. 

Catherine Garcia Summa, UMass Law – Dartmouth
Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General (OIG)

This past week, I was afforded the opportunity to research how to properly serve a foreign limited liability company without a registered agent in Massachusetts.  We learned about proper service of process during Civil Procedure, but actually taking part in the proceeding gave me a deeper understanding of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.  What was most enjoyable is seeing how what I learned during class is applied in the field, and how my research and the write ups of my findings help the legal team.  Getting the hands on experience has been invaluable.

Dhairya Bhatia, Boston College Law School
United States Bankruptcy Court

This week, I began research on the dischargeability of student loan debt in bankruptcy. This research is interesting because I’ve heard about how difficult it was to discharge student loan debt because a debtor has to show that repaying student loan debt would impose an undue hardship on them. Now, I’ve learned about the competing standards to assess undue hardship, the history and policies of student loan debt, and a little about the role the courts play in fashioning equitable remedies. This research is shedding light on how a student can discharge their student loan debt in bankruptcy.

Alfred Spencer, Suffolk University School of Law
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

The most interesting experience I had in this past week was being able to carry out certain legal duties under Rule 3:03. Although it was a nerve-racking experience at first, it was a very educational experience and I enjoyed being able to apply what I have learned in law school. I look forward to presenting more cases and learning more in the coming weeks and being able to apply the feedback given to me by the Assistant District Attorneys.

Jessie Baek, Boston College Law School
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)

This week I have been making progress on my research memo on the privilege that attaches between the MCAD’s Commission Counsel and a Complainant. It’s a challenging topic to explore, but this week I narrowed my research and have been looking closely at how pro se litigants are treated by the court. It was interesting to read how different courts view pro se litigants, and it helped a lot in figuring out how to close the conceptual gap that I was facing.

Travis Salters, Boston College Law School
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General (AGO)

My time at the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has been filled with several incredible experiences and opportunities for growth. Throughout all the meaningful assignments, I’ve constantly received constructive feedback to strengthen my research and writing. The most enjoyable experience was participating in a moot court prior to an attorney arguing before the Appeals Court the following day. The task entailed reading all the briefs and documents associated with the case, preparing potential questions that may challenge the Office’s argument, and posing those questions in a live session while acting as a judge. Asking the questions was terrific, but simply listening in on the strategic planning by several attorneys across different departments was particularly fascinating. I feel strongly that I learn just as much from “listening” as “doing” when I’m surrounded by such brilliant attorneys.

Funding for the position with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) Beacon Fund. The position at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General has been sponsored by the Foley Hoag Foundation. The position at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund, the position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is made possible through the law firm Pierce Atwood, and the position at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is sponsored by the law firm Nutter. For more information about how to support the BBF, please contact Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Fellows Begin Summer Internships

The 6 BBA DEI Summer Fellows all started work in in early June. We checked in and asked “What are you most looking forward to this summer over the course of your Fellowship?”

Catherine Garcia

I am most excited to apply my legal research and writing skills to real world scenarios and see how what I have learned this past year translates into actual practice.  I am also very excited to network with the other fellowship recipients as well as BBA members and learn more about the various practice areas of law.  Because most law schools have been fully remote this past year, I feel like I have been in a bit of a bubble and am eager to meet people and talk about our experiences in school and in practice.

Jessie Baek

I am most excited to work with my attorney supervisor to gain a better understanding of how the MCAD resolves discrimination complaints. By engaging in legal research and writing, I hope to become a stronger advocate for future clients. 

Alfred Spencer

This summer over the course of my Fellowship placement I am looking forward to being able to witness progressive prosecution firsthand while I work with the Chelsea District Court Division. I am also excited to finally be able to work on something that I am truly passionate about, criminal justice reform. Being able to work in such a progressive legal environment where I can see firsthand how these new policies directly impact individuals and communities is an experience that I know will help me hone the skills needed to [SN1] contribute to ongoing conversations that can truly bring about criminal justice reform. I know that what I learn and what I experience will stay with me for the rest of my legal career.

Kajahna Matos

I am most excited about meeting attorneys in the Boston CPCS office and engaging in their community efforts by providing great defense to indigent people. I am looking forward to the diverse environment that Boston brings and seeing it fill the Boston CPCS office. I am ready to learn new things and how to become the best public defender I can be by being mentored from those in CPCS. 

Dhairya Bhatia

I am most interested in learning more about issues consumers are facing, since bankruptcy covers such a diverse set of consumer issues! I am also excited to get to write about some of these topics and attend hearings!

Travis Salters

I am one week into my Fellowship at the Massachusetts’s Office of the Attorney General, and I have already had an amazing experience! The meaningful and substantive work of the office has challenged me to employ the knowledge and skills that I have developed during my first year of law school. Particularly, my Law Practice class at Boston College, where Professor Mary Ann Chirba was exceptional at teaching me how to draft memos and briefs, has been critical in my ability to perform in this role. In my first week, I participated in a moot court to help an attorney prepare for an Appeals Court argument, and I have met with several attorneys to receive feedback and direction. I look forward to building mentor relationships with attorneys throughout the office that will hopefully last beyond this Fellowship. I am also excited to expand my personal community by getting to know other Fellows and Interns.

Funding for the position with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) Beacon Fund. The position at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General has been sponsored by the Foley Hoag Foundation. The position at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund, the position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is made possible through the law firm Pierce Atwood, and the position at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is sponsored by the law firm Nutter. For more information about how to support the BBF, please contact Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.


BBA Now Accepting Applications for the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program

Applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Summer Fellowship Program. This program will provide three outstanding law students with critical work experience through paid summer internships in the public interest. We are seeking applicants who have demonstrated their commitment to advancing diversity, equity & inclusion within the legal profession. The BBA will partner with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) to provide these opportunities for law students to gain practical experience, develop legal research and writing skills, expand their professional networks, and access tailored programming at the BBA.

Each Fellow will receive a $5,000 stipend for the summer. Funding for the position with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) Beacon Fund. Funding for the position with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts has been provided by the Charles P. Normandin Fund of the BBF, and the position with the MCAD has been sponsored by the law firm Pierce Atwood LLP.

We’re proud to bolster our existing DEI initiatives, and to further support the passion and commitment of law students dedicated to the public interest. Please see written reflections from last year’s participants in the program here.

For information about the program and to download the applications, please click here.

BBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship: End of Summer Reflections

Over this summer, the BBA was excited to continue our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, producing essential work experiences for outstanding law students through paid summer internships in public offices. This year, we partnered with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, to provide enriching work opportunities for our participants.

Our second year of this program proved to be successful, with law students Rosa Kim (Boston College Law School), Farnaz Daneshvaran (New England Law), and Donald Slater (Suffolk University Law School) providing support for these offices, developing relationships with attorney mentors, and participating in BBA professional development programs. See what they had to say about their experiences below!

If your office is interested in supporting or participating in this program, please reach out to Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

End of Summer Reflection: Rosa Kim    

2L, Boston College Law School

Summer Fellow, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

Through the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, I had the honor of interning at the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office this summer. I was an intern for the Trial Division of the Government Bureau along with five other interns, and we were each assigned to some attorneys who gave us assignments throughout the summer.

This summer was certainly an interesting one—amid a global pandemic and one of the largest Civil Rights movements our country has ever seen, we have had to face the unique difficulties of remote working. Navigating these current unprecedented events has been challenging, but the Attorney General’s Office did an excellent job of making interns still feel like they were part of the office family. The Office hosted weekly intern events that were well-executed remotely, such as presentations on the different Bureaus of the Office and guest speakers who addressed issues pertaining to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

Through my internship, I was able to develop my legal research and writing skills—a personal goal of mine this summer. I did a lot of research regarding Massachusetts Civil Procedure and writing memorandums, specifically for motions to amend a Complaint or assert a cross-claim. One memorable project I worked on allowed me to gain more insight to the defenses that are available for corrections officers. Although COVID-19 largely affected court operations, I learned a lot about the trial process through meetings with my supervisor and attorneys within the Trial Division. I was able to attend a remote hearing and listen in on how a judge might navigate court proceedings. 

I had fantastic mentors whom I had the pleasure of meeting this summer. My mentor through the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Program, Jameel Moore, spoke to me about her experiences in law school and upon graduation. She taught me that there is merit to exploring different career paths and being flexible with my interests. My mentor at the Attorney General’s Office, April English, inspired and motivated me to use my voice and never settle for less.

Perhaps the highlight of my summer was engaging in necessary conversations around race and allyship. The AGO’s Chief of Organization Development & Diversity—my mentor April English—hosted guest speaker events, office-wide Open & Honest Conversations, and webinars dedicated to getting the Office involved in furthering diversity and inclusion in our communities. I was impressed by the receptiveness shown by the Office, even featuring an article in its weekly newsletter that I wrote for my law school on being actively anti-racist. Diversity and Inclusion is a lifelong commitment—I will always promote and strive for diversity and inclusion in all spaces for all people in and beyond my legal career. I appreciated the commitment that the Office displayed in ensuring a space in which marginalized individuals felt heard, seen, and supported. Summer of 2020 is definitely one for the books, and I am grateful that I could spend this summer at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.  Thank you to the Boston Bar Association for making this summer experience possible.

End of Summer Reflection: Farnaz Daneshvaran  

2L, New England Law

Summer Fellow, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Through the BBA Diversity and Inclusion Summer Fellowship, I was one of the General Counsel’s Office interns for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”) sponsored by the Pierce Atwood Law firm. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 created, the MCAD provided me with a fulfilling remote 10-week internship.

This summer, I obtained firsthand experience learning about the MCAD’s investigative process. During intern training, we were taught about the intake process, drafting dispositions, and Massachusetts laws regarding public accommodation, workplace, and housing discrimination. While interning, the large portion of my work revolved around analyzing workplace discrimination complaints and then drafting a disposition. I completed a law-collection database project which required compiling a list of the laws that evoked the MCAD’s jurisdiction. I also had the opportunity to observe intake calls such as an investigator’s initial intake call with a complainant. Prior to and after the intake calls, the leading investigator would brief me on the conversation and what steps need to occur after the conversation.

During the weekly intern Zoom meetings, the interns were sometimes given the opportunity to expand their knowledge on professional development skills such as salary negotiation and resume writing. Also, during my internship, the MCAD held a virtual book club meeting to discuss “Stamped from the Beginning” for the purpose of discrimination education. The MCAD is special to me because not only is it a state agency working against discrimination but also the employees reflected today’s society-a wide range of race, age, and gender diversity. As an Iranian American woman, it is my life’s purpose to promote the benefit of racial and religious diversity in the legal field. I am fortunate enough to be a part of the increase in diversity in Boston’s legal community.

During my summer internship, I had the pleasure of speaking with Attorney Courtney Scrubbs who was my mentor this summer. Attorney Scrubbs is a Corporate Counsel and is also on the Advisory Board of the MCAD. During our conversation, we discussed the importance of keeping my reason for attending law school in the forefront of my mind at all times. We also discussed that the definition of success is being truly inspired by the work that I do. 

The biggest lesson that my summer internship with the MCAD taught me was the importance of investigating all minor details. Most importantly, my summer internship showed me that I can see myself doing anti-discrimination work in the future.

I would like to thank everyone at the MCAD, Pierce Atwood Firm, the Boston Bar Association, and the Boston Bar Foundation for granting me the opportunity to work in the anti-discrimination field this summer.

End of Summer Reflection: Donald Slater    

2L, Suffolk University Law School

Summer Fellow, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts.

This summer I spent eight weeks with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts in Judge Frank J. Bailey’s chambers. During this time, I participated in things such as compiling hearing notes, issue research, and discussions about ongoing case matters. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic my summer experience was entirely remote which enabled me to attend a variety of hearings, status conferences, and other events with different Judges of the court that I may not have been able to otherwise.

The summer of 2020 will be an unforgettable experience for many reasons other than the ongoing pandemic. Going into this summer I did not expect to have the level of responsibility or input on matters that I was afforded. Judge Bailey’s chamber operates as a very efficient team where everyone is just as important as the next person and this applied to the interns from the onset. I knew very little of Bankruptcy law initially but being tasked to review motions, conduct research, and having discussions with Judge Bailey after each set of hearings, I was able to learn about Bankruptcy in a very hands-on and unique way beyond just reading a textbook.

Aside from learning about the law itself, my summer in Judge Bailey’s chambers allowed me to gain invaluable insight and knowledge on practical etiquette for attorneys. Through attending hearings and status conferences, I was able to witness attorneys in action for the first time since being in law school. Judge Bailey and his chambers were constantly reviewing how attorneys performed and alerting the interns to when a very competent attorney would be present or even when a below average attorney would make an appearance. By the end of the summer I was able to discern a very experienced and technically sound attorney from a less prepared attorney which is an information advantage I will be able to use for the rest of my legal career.

One of the highlights of my experience with Judge Bailey was undoubtedly all the professional development tools him and his chambers were able to offer myself and my fellow interns. Judge Bailey, with the help of his colleagues from around the country, put together a series of seminars for law students to be able to see different areas of the legal realm and discuss different career paths with panels of professionals from all over the nation. This was an eye-opening experience as I was exposed to a few new career ideas that I either never considered or simply did not know about.

Lastly, through this BBA fellowship, I was assigned a mentor who is currently a practicing attorney. Admittedly I threw a lot of questions at him and ran ideas by him to the point where I thought I was annoying, but he happily answered every question I had. He even offered to put me in contact with other professionals that could provide me information on various careers that interested me. With the “Transactional vs. Litigation” debate that many law students deal with, I found this to be particularly helpful. Having different sets of eyes and mindsets willing to review resumes or discuss academic or professional decisions makes me more confident in myself as a first-generation law student.

All in all, even though nothing could ever truly replace the experience of being in-person during an internship and court sessions, this summer did not disappoint on a professional or academic level. I feel more confident and knowledgeable going into my second year of school now that I have a better understanding of how professional attorneys and even judges approach legal issues.

Funding for these three positions has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF). A generous donation provided to the BBF provided a $5,000 stipend to the intern at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Funding for a second $5,000 stipend for the intern working in the judges’ chambers of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has been provided by the BBF’s Charles P. Normandin Fund. Funding for the third position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination was made possible by the law firm Pierce Atwood.

BBA Hosts “How to be an Effective Ally” Webinar

On Tuesday, June 30th, the BBA was honored to host a webinar on allyship in the workplace sponsored by the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section. The program focused on the importance of allies to marginalized groups, as well as on practical tips for those who seek to be allies and what they can do to be more impactful and considerate. 300 individuals registered to attend the program, moderated by Bill Gabovitch, In-house Counsel at Primark US Corporation. Our four distinguished panelists were as follows:

  • Laura Rees Acosta: Managing Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Goodwin
  • Ben Sigel: Candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District and President of the Hispanic National Bar Association – Region 1
  • Nahomi Carlisle: Director of Diversity & Inclusion & ADA Compliance at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Jamie Whitney: Senior Vice President and Head of Legal at State Street Corporation.

Some topics covered included the importance of tact when seeking to be an ally. Allies need to be mindful of how marginalized communities have felt the pain that comes with the subject matter, and avoid the contention “I’ve read all the books, therefore I understand.” It was also noted that the action of allyship must be shared by all, not simply by one department in a company or exclusively by marginalized groups.

A list of additional resources on the topic of allyship compiled by Jameel Moore of the U.S. Department of the Interior can be found at this link. This includes suggested readings, books, podcasts, films and other resources on the topic.

If you missed the program, don’t worry – it can be viewed in full for no charge at this link. You can also listen to the program as a podcast here. If you have any questions about this program, please contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org.

BBA & SJC Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being Collaborate on Affinity Bar Town Halls

The Boston Bar Association is pleased to collaborate with the SJC Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being to support a series of Affinity Bar Town Halls engaging with members of the legal community in candid discussions on well-being challenges.

The SJC Committee’s July 2019 Report identified the need for “[a] strong and on-going commitment to enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in all our practices to improve our individual and collective well-being.” As a way to foster conversation on that topic, the SJC Committee is hosting a series of Town Hall style meetings with individual Affinity Bar Associations to discuss specific well-being challenges for their communities and ideas for change. We want to thank the Affinity Bar Associations – listed below – that have already hosted Town Halls in the pursuit of greater well-being for lawyers and legal professionals throughout the Commonwealth. We encourage interested members to reach out to Heidi Alexander at heidi@lawyerwellbeingma.org for more information.

Students Selected for the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship Program

Last year, the Boston Bar Association announced its new Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, which gave two outstanding law students access to critical work experience through paid summer internships. This year, three fellowship positions were made available through generous support of the Boston Bar Foundation.

These internships provide practical experience in developing legal research and writing skills, expanding professional networks, and access to programming at the BBA. In addition, the three fellows will be paired with a mentor from the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section.

This year’s summer interns are Rosa Kim, a second-year student from Boston College Law School, who will be interning at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Farnaz Daneshvaran, a second-year student from New England Law | Boston, who will be interning at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and Donald Slater, a second-year student from Suffolk University Law School, who will be interning at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts.

During Rosa Kim’s undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, she championed the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women as the Philanthropy Chair. This helped fuel her desire for public advocacy and to bring awareness to this underground crime. Her philanthropic nature is also demonstrated by her volunteer work for the Lawyer’s Clearinghouse Clinic where she interviewed clients to assist them with finding the legal help they need for a variety of topics, including public benefits and access to subsidized housing. In her application, Rosa notes, “It is my goal to use my voice on behalf of those who do not have one. As a woman of color, in the legal field, I hope to be a fierce advocate of those who might not have the resources, the means, or the education to advocate for themselves”.

During her undergraduate studies at George Mason University, Farnaz Daneshvaran pursued a degree in Criminology and Psychology with a concentration in Law and Society. Prior to law school, Farnaz worked at a wellness clinic where she assisted in group therapy for children, refugees & asylum seekers. In addition, volunteers with New England Law’s Boston CORI initiative. She notes in her application, “With a legal degree, I can create lasting change in my clients’ lives. The invaluable experience I would obtain at MCAD would propel me to advance in this field”. Farnaz speaks four languages, and further notes, “all of my life experiences introduced me to differing perspectives that increased my awareness. They have encouraged me to lead a life that promotes inclusivity and fairness.”

During his undergrad at University of Connecticut, Donald was initially a computer science major, but transitioned to Political Science to further develop his analysis, research, and writing skills. During this, he grew drawn to finance and started an internship at Trinity College as an operations and logistics manager where he became further interested in business, contracts, and negotiations. His skills and experience in these areas has led him to be interested in bankruptcy law. In his application, Donald notes, “This is the perfect opportunity for me to gain valuable experience and exposure in fields I am interested in as well as fields completely foreign to me. This fellowship will undoubtedly develop me into a more versatile legal scholar and professional.”  Donald also notes about the opportunity to work in the courtroom in Judge Frank J. Bailey’s Chambers, “I aim to learn the intricacies of the legal process from within the courtroom and experience the critical thinking skills of a judge to understand what it takes to represent either side of a legal dispute in my field.”

These fellowships advance the mission of the BBA’s longstanding summer internship program, which has previously provided unpaid legal internships for law students from diverse backgrounds to work in courts and government offices across the Commonwealth for nearly a decade. More than 130 promising law students have participated in the program, gaining critical work experience through this unique opportunity.

Funding for these three positions has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF). A generous donation provided to the BBF will provide a $5,000 stipend to the intern at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Funding for a second $5,000 stipend for the intern working in the judges’ chambers of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has been provided by the BBF’s Charles P. Normandin Fund. Funding for the third position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination was made possible by the law firm Pierce Atwood.

Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, all three fellows will be trained and working remotely.

Applications for the BBA Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship are Now Open!

The BBA is thrilled to announce that applications are now open for our 2020 Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship. We are seeking law students who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion within the legal profession, and who will have completed their 1L or 2L year by the summer of 2020. Fellowships offer an opportunity for substantive work in a public interest law office, including supervision, skill development, and building one’s professional network. In addition to gaining work experience, Fellows attend professional development programming at the BBA and receive a mentor through the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion section. The program aims to ensure that law students from all backgrounds can gain experience in public interest law. Those interested in applying for the program can do so at this link.

In Summer 2020, three Fellowship positions will be available: The Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Applications to this program will be due back to the BBA on January 16, 2020. Each host office will select a fellow to participate. All Fellows will receive a stipend of $5,000 for the summer. Please see each application for more details. You can read about the experiences of last year’s Fellows here.

Funding for this program is made possible by the Boston Bar Foundation. Thank you to Pierce Atwood for their sponsorship of the Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program.

BBA Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship: End of Summer Reflections

This summer, the BBA was proud to launch a new Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, aimed at providing outstanding law students with critical work experience through paid summer internships in public interest offices. In the pilot year, we were proud to partner with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts, to provide this opportunity. Funding for these positions was provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF), with the position at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office funded by a generous private donation, and the position at the Bankruptcy Court funded by the BBF’s Charles P. Normandin Fund.

The Fellowship saw a successful first year, with law students Anna Cardoso (Boston University School of Law) and Emaan Syed (Suffolk University Law School) contributing to the work of these offices, participating in BBA professional development programs, and meeting with attorney mentors.  Read on to learn about their experiences this summer in their own words!

If your office is in interested in supporting or participating in this program, please reach out to Hannah Poor at hpoor@bostonbar.org.

End of Summer Reflection: Anna Cardoso
Rising 2L, Boston University School of Law
Summer Fellow, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

This summer, I had the pleasure of interning in the Medicaid Fraud Division at Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office. My division focuses exclusively on holding providers accountable for defrauding our Medicaid system. I completed many research assignments and attended hearings, depositions, and relator interviews focusing on evidentiary, constitutional, and broader health law-related issues. Unique to my division, I was asked to pick a topic to present to my bureau, which was certainly nerve-wracking, but ended up being one of my favorite parts of the internship. I consider my presentation to be a highlight of my summer and am particularly proud of how many of the attorneys in my bureau emphasized that it was an extremely difficult topic and that I had done an excellent job. The learning curve here has been steep and challenging in the most rewarding way possible. It is difficult to put into words how much I have learned. There has not been a dull moment at this office or a day where I have not learned something new. I knew I wanted to practice in the health care space, making access to care more affordable, and my summer has affirmed my convictions. The office also had programming for interns almost every day, and I particularly enjoyed our visit to the Supreme Judicial Court.

This summer I attended the BBA’s public interest summer kickoff breakfast, a program on what it is like to practice in life sciences, and “Let’s Get Real,” a program about what it is like to be a diverse attorney in Boston. These events have helped to set realistic expectations and get to know attorneys and law students in Boston.

I cannot say enough good things about either of my mentors. I was lucky enough to have one of them, Amanda Morejon, on the same floor in a neighboring division and she has been a constant source of support and guidance this summer. Amanda has encouraged me all summer to exceed my own expectations and to trust in my intelligence and capabilities as a future attorney. My other mentor, Gina Kwon, is one of the prosecutors working on the largest opioid trafficking takedown in our office and has taught me that there are no dumb questions, and all questions are worth asking. Both my mentors are women lawyers whom I look up to and will maintain a relationship with even after this summer.

Diversity and inclusion will always be a goal that I am looking for ways to advance. Being a Latina in the legal field means that when I become an attorney, my presence as a female Latinx attorney will account for less than two percent of attorneys in the United States, according to the Hispanic National Bar Association, a number that can be disheartening at best, and frustratingly lonely at worst. Having positions like this fellowship that I was fortunate enough to receive means that Boston cares and wants to change this statistic. The sense of community and the network that I have built in this office makes me confident that Boston is changing into a better, more welcoming, and increasingly diverse place. I know that I will soon be stepping into the role of mentoring first-year law students and that doing my best work here has given me the knowledge and the credibility to help other students get where I am, and to continue to pull them up with me wherever I go next. I would like to thank everyone at the AGO, the Boston Bar Association, and the Boston Bar Foundation for making this summer possible—it has been amazing.

End of Summer Reflection: Emaan Syed
Rising 3L, Suffolk University Law School
Summer Fellow, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts

Through the BBA Diversity and Inclusion Summer Fellowship, I interned for Judge Melvin S. Hoffman at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Boston this summer. I was a judicial intern and conducted legal research and analyzed diverse issues arising under the bankruptcy code. I also drafted memoranda and observed Bankruptcy Court hearings, trials, and proceedings that occurred multiple times a week.

I was able to learn a lot about bankruptcy law, and from my courses, was able to see much of what I learned in class, in real time in court hearings. I learned that bankruptcy law ties many other aspects of law together, such as family law, real estate law, IP law, and every other possible field of law that exists. Each case heard is unique; I especially enjoyed seeing and conducting research for cases on matters that do not have much ruling or background, that require further research and understanding of bankruptcy law.

I met with my BBA mentor and discussed succeeding in my internships and my law career. I was able to learn from my mentor on how to search and narrow in on what field of law I want to ultimately work in. It was valuable to me to have a helpful mentor giving me the tools to succeed in my career and understanding my challenges as a student navigating through the legal field.

Throughout my internship, I was able to ask the judge and his clerks about questions I had about bankruptcy law or about the hearings I attended. I appreciated the insight of the judge and the clerks on all matters of bankruptcy law and litigating as an attorney.

During my internship, I attended brown bag luncheon events at the Moakley Courthouse, where all the summer interns for the federal courts were invited to discussions on several topics. It was great to mingle with other federal court interns and learn of their experiences as well.

I attended Boston Bar Association events concerning bankruptcy law due to my interest in the subject. My first event was the 29th annual Bench Meets Bar Conference. The event included many of the Bankruptcy Court judges and members of the bankruptcy bar to learn about the current and recent cases the judges were working on and analyze key issues in bankruptcy law. I got to see many attorneys that practiced bankruptcy law, along with many attorneys of the Bankruptcy Court. The event allowed me to hear the other judges’ observations on key issues in bankruptcy law.

In addition, I attended another BBA event at the Bankruptcy Court where I got to meet and talk to bankruptcy attorneys about their careers. A common experience that most bankruptcy attorneys shared was how they came to ultimately work in bankruptcy law. Most of the attorneys did not start their careers planning to go into bankruptcy law, but on their journey, found bankruptcy law and developed a passion for the subject matter.

Through my summer internship at the Bankruptcy Court, I learned there is an underlying human aspect to the law. I gained an appreciation for litigation, learning the qualities of a successful litigator and the etiquette of the court, in a fulfilling internship at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.