Posts Categorized: Lawyer Referral Service

Veterans Face Challenges Navigating the System – How You Can Help

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This Veterans Day, we remember the past and ongoing sacrifices of the men, women and their families who have served our nation.

That’s why we wanted to share this Boston Globe article that sheds light on just how difficult navigating the VA system can be not only for clients, but for lawyers as well.

The article tells the story of a 59-year old Vietnam Veteran, and his difficulty communicating with the VA about his benefits.  Despite serving his country bravely and honorably during a time of war, the veteran has encountered hurdles that would leave many too frustrated to overcome.  Along the way, he has been helped by a pro bono attorney Steve Veenema, who now works at Murphy & King.  Despite being proactive and communicating to the VA that he was receiving Social Security benefits for an automobile accident, the veteran was penalized for a VA error that was not his fault.  Even his lawyer had difficulty being acknowledged by the VA in several instances, and found that the way that his client was treated by the VA system caused needless frustration and suffering.   For the full story, we encourage you to read the whole article.

So what can you do to help?  We receive calls daily though the BBA Military & Veterans Legal Help Line though the Lawyer Referral Service.   If you or your firm is interested in receiving referrals from this line, please contact Solana Goss at (617) 778-1978 or [email protected].    You may have seen last week that 4 BBA sponsor firms have volunteered to accept pro bono referrals through the Help Line – hear from them why they stepped up to help military members, veterans and their families.

To read about the BBA’s impact with the military & veterans community over this past year, click here.

 

One Year Later: The BBA Military & Veterans Legal Help Line

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Solana Goss – Lawyer Referral Service Intake Coordinator

For the past year, I have had the opportunity to work firsthand expanding the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service’s reach to service members, veterans and their families through the Military & Veterans Legal Help Line. September marks the one year anniversary that the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) has housed the help line, which was developed in 2011 to connect this underserved population with the legal resources they need.  As the Intake Coordinator of the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service, I connect hundreds of callers per week with attorneys, legal services, and community organizations. Whenever I pick up the phone and the caller identifies as a disabled veteran struggling to pay their mortgage, or an active duty military member facing family law disputes, I am reminded of the strength, courage, and dedication that these individuals put forth to serve our country.  That this need exists so prevalently in our society helps motivate me to do what I can to improve access to legal services for the individuals and their families who served our nation.  I leave each call remembering that there is more than we can do for veterans. Instead of just thanking veterans for their service, I am fortunate enough to show my thanks by offering and connecting them with assistance. The legal community has the opportunity to show their thanks and appreciation for the sacrifices of service members in another way – by agreeing to take cases on their behalf.

Goss_Solana2The BBA and the Lawyer Referral Service has made considerable progress through the Legal Help Line this year. Since September 2013, we have connected 340 active-duty military, veterans, and their families to lawyers and legal services, a 161% increase in the amount of individuals that we were able to serve than the year prior. The LRS maintains a panel of attorneys who are trained to understand the nuances of representing this population, and our Active Duty, Family Members and Veterans Committee is ready to address new challenges in the year ahead.  Despite this great success, we still need more attorneys to take cases. If you are an attorney who wants to help support the BBA’s Military & Veterans Legal Help Line, contact me at [email protected], or the BBA’s Public Service Manager Sonia Shah at [email protected].

The BBA has an ongoing commitment to support service members and their families…so what’s next? On September 23rd the BBA will host the first part of a two-part series to raise awareness about the critical issue of military sexual assault.  U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas will be lending her expertise on the issue and her highlighting her work fighting against sexual assault in Congress.  For more information and to register, click here.

BBA LRS Joins the Party – Celebrates Diversity at Cambridge Carnival

BBA staff set up shop in Kendall Square along with other non-profits and vendors.

BBA staff set up shop in Kendall Square along with other non-profits and vendors.

This past Sunday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) joined in the festivities at the 21st annual Cambridge Carnival International, a celebration rooted in African traditions that brings together the area’s diverse community. This year’s festival drew an estimated 150,000 people, making it the largest festival in Cambridge.

Carnival attendees who stopped by the BBA’s booth learned about the BBA and how to receive a referral from the BBA LRS, only ABA-approved lawyer referral service in the greater Boston area.  This is the 4th year that the BBA staff had a booth at this event.  Attending events around greater Boston is one way that the LRS reaches out to the public about services available to them, including reduced-fee referrals, attorneys who practice Limited Assistance Representation, and the Military Legal Help Line.

Take a look below for more images from the day:

The colorful parade is a highlight of the annual Cambridge Carnival International.

The colorful parade is a highlight of the annual Cambridge Carnival International.

 

Parade participants draw from African & Caribbean roots with their costumes.

Parade participants draw from African & Caribbean roots with their costumes.

To refer clients to the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, please have them call (617)742-0625 or (800)552-7046 Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.  Clients can also visit us on our bilingual English/Spanish website at www.bostonbarlawyer.org to submit a request online.

 

BBA LRS Expands Reach to Hispanic Community

LRS ESPANOL Last week, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) launched a new Spanish-language website.   The website provides all of the same features found on the main site, and has a fully responsive design to mobile and tablet technologies. The BBA LRS has been committed to connecting historically underserved populations with lawyers and legal resources for over 50 years.  The LRS has a bilingual staff member and developed the site in response to the increase of Spanish callers over the years.

Beyond the Billable reached out to Solana Goss, the coordinator of the Lawyer Referral Service, to learn more about the website expansion. Here’s what she had to say: “We have recognized the language barrier gap for many Spanish speaking callers seeking legal assistance.  Ensuring the Spanish-speaking population has access to our information on how to connect with legal resources is vital to our goal of increasing access to justice.  I think it is important that we empower people from the public to stick up for their legal rights by making them aware of their options and how to access help.”

Check out the Lawyer Referral Service’s new Spanish site directly at www.bostonbarlawyer.org/es or through the language toggle option located at the top of www.bostonbarlawyer.org.

If you are a bilingual attorney interested in joining the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, please email LRS Intake Coordinator, Solana Goss at [email protected].   Members from the public can call the LRS at 617-742-0625 or request an attorney online at any time through the website.

BBA LRS in the Community: Boston Pride Parade

A record setting 25,000 people in 200 groups marched in the annual parade, which was led by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Marty Walsh and ended with a festival on City Hall Plaza.

A record setting 25,000 people in 200 groups marched in the annual parade, which was led by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Marty Walsh and ended with a festival on City Hall Plaza.

This past Saturday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) joined thousands of participants and spectators at the 44th Annual Boston Pride Parade to support the LGBT community.

As the BBA’s largest public service program, the LRS was present at City Hall to reach out to the community at large and share information with the public on how to protect their rights. Staff members provided general information about the LRS and details about how those in need can connected to the right attorney or legal service.

The BBA's Liz Vincensi and Ian Mitnick displayed materials on how to get in touch with the BBA Lawyer Referral Service and answered questions about the benefits of LRS.

The BBA’s Liz Vincensi and Ian Mitnick displayed materials on how to get in touch with the BBA Lawyer Referral Service.

Beyond the Billable checked in with LRS intern Samantha Odreman (who recently authored this post) to get her impressions on the event. Here’s what she had to say:

“It was amazing to watch so many people come together and stand up for love and respect. It was great seeing how many people were present from different schools, colleges and parts of the city. This was a great opportunity to join reach out to the public and spend the day surrounded by wonderful people!”

Do you need legal help? Contact a referral specialist at 617-742-0625 Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and Fridays from 8:30pm to 5:00pm; or by filling an online request here: http://www.bostonbarlawyer.org/

BBA LRS Intern Shares Co-Op Experience

Every six months, the Boston Bar Association hires a co-op student from Northereastern University to work with the BBA Lawyer Referral Service. We asked Samantha Odreman, who is currently five months in to her co-op, to share her experiences with our readers.

 

My Co-op Experience
Samantha Odreman – LRS Intern
Northeastern University, Sophomore
International Affairs with French, Psychology and Social Entrepreneurship Minors
From: Venezuela

 Five months ago I began my first Cooperative Education (Co-op) experience working as an LRS Intern at the Boston Bar Association. When I started working for a bar association, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure what exactly I would be doing, or what the role of a bar association was in the community. As I near the end of my internship, I realize what an opportunity I have been given to explore and analyze different career paths and make informed decisions about my future.

From the theoretical world of school and books, I have come face to face with the legal profession and its many different facets, and have decided that someday, after much more preparation and experience, perhaps I could become a part of that world as a successful attorney. As an LRS Intern I have learned how important it is to carefully listen to issues and how equally important it is to analyze them in order to help people get to the appropriate legal assessments and resources. The LRS is a dedicated public service that works to reduce the gap between the underserved communities and the legal world. Each year, the Lawyer Referral Service helps thousands of people by connecting them to attorneys and other legal services that can assist with their needs. As the largest public service initiative of the Boston Bar Association, the LRS has attorneys that practice in more than 350 areas of law who also offer a variety of fee structures. In addition, the LRS also works with other community organizations to make sure everyone has the chance of getting legal assistance no matter what their financial situation might be.

During my experience at the BBA, I have learned to work hard by following the example of a wonderful group of people who give their best each and every day to achieve their goal and help the BBA increase the number of people that it can help each year.* This opportunity gave me the confidence to pursue my own goal as I continue my studies. I want to do productive and meaningful work that will contribute to alleviate the many needs of society. The Boston Bar Association is a leader in serving the community and I am so grateful to have been a part of it for a little while. I really don’t think I could have had a better first experience in a better place than here at the BBA where people are committed and ready to serve and who want to improve access to justice for all.

*We promise we didn’t force Samantha to say this!

BBA LRS Honors Victim Rights Month at MOVA Conference

Liam Lowney, MOVA’s Executive Director opens the conference with remarks about the 30th Anniversary of the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights and the federal Victim of Crime Act.

Liam Lowney, MOVA’s Executive Director opens the conference with remarks about the 30th Anniversary of the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights and the federal Victim of Crime Act.

 

The BBA Lawyer Referral Service (BBA LRS) kicked off a the season of community outreach at the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance’s (MOVA) 2014 Victim Rights Conference in honor of Victim Rights Month in Massachusetts and National Crime Victim Rights Week.  Last Friday’s conference brought survivors and victim service providers together at Seaport World Trade Center for a day of learning and networking via multiple workshops and exhibits. As an exhibitor, the BBA LRS spread the word about the services of the program to the conference attendees.  In addition to highlighting the LRS and its reduced-fee panels, the LRS table had information about special projects for those affected by the Marathon Bombings, and the Military Legal Helpline.

If you would like more information about the Lawyer Referral Service please contact Solana Goss at [email protected]g.

BBA LRS Joins 8,000 at Quincy Lunar Festival

Attorney Mary Lee (Mary K.Y. Lee P.C.) speaks to an attendee about the BBA LRS, the only lawyer referral service in greater Boston approved by the American Bar Association.

Attorney Mary Lee (Mary K.Y. Lee P.C.) speaks to an attendee about the BBA LRS, the only lawyer referral service in greater Boston approved by the American Bar Association.

This past Sunday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff joined 8,000 guests at North Quincy High School to celebrate the Quincy Lunar Festival as part of its ongoing community outreach. This marked the 26th year for the event hosted by the Quincy Asian Resources, Inc, and the 4th year the BBA LRS attended.

Joining LRS staff was bilingual LRS panel member Attorney Mary Lee (Mary K.Y. Lee, P.C), who answered questions and explained to attendees how to they could obtain legal representation from the BBA Lawyer Referral Service.

The dance troupe that performed the lion dance also paid the LRS table a visit.

The dance troupe that performed the lion dance also paid the LRS table a visit.

In addition to speaking with individuals, the LRS staff enjoyed the festivities, including cultural performances and vendors selling Asian foods and goods to celebrate the year of the Horse.

Many attendees visited the LRS booth, including Massachusetts State Representative for the 1st Norfolk District, Bruce Ayers, and Quincy City Councilman, Joseph Ginn.

Many attendees visited the LRS booth, including Massachusetts State Representative for the 1st Norfolk District, Bruce Ayers, and Quincy City Councilman, Joseph Ginn.

 

To access the BBA Lawyer Referral Service please call (617)742-0625 or (800)552-7046 Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. You can also email us at [email protected] or visit us on our newly re-designed website at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.

 

BBA Lawyer Referral Service Launches New Website

A look at the new Lawyer Referral Service Website

A look at the new Lawyer Referral Service website

The BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS), which has been connecting members of the community with lawyers and legal resources for 50 years, has announced a website redesign to better serve those seeking legal representation in Massachusetts.The LRS screens approximately 10,000 requests from the public every year, and now that the new website is fully compatible and responsive with all mobile and tablet device technologies, the BBA hopes to increase access to legal services.

The redesigned website will allow visitors to easily request an attorney online, find updates on news related to the Referral Service and the BBA, and quickly access information about the services offered by the LRS — all from a computer, phone, or tablet. For those who contact the Lawyer Referral Service and cannot afford to pay for full fee representation, LRS staff and resources are able to help these people access options suited to their needs, like limited assistance, reduced fee representation, or place them in contact with a legal service agency that deals with their specific legal problem.

The Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service is the only lawyer referral service in the Greater Boston area to be accredited by the American Bar Association. Take a look at the new website, where you can find out more about LRS Services, and special BBA Projects such as the Military Legal Help Line, and the Marathon Monday Project.

The Lawyer Referral Service website can be found here at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.

A Year in Photos

The BBA has had a quite a year of public service. For a look back at our members’ commitment to the community, take a look at the photos below:

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In January 2013, the John & Abigail Adams Benefit raised over $560,000. That amount helped to fund grants to 24 Massachusetts community organizations providing legal services in areas such as immigration, domestic violence and homelessness.

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The BBA held two free Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) trainings during the winter to certify nearly 100 lawyers to accept cases for limited representation. LAR provides an opportunity for attorneys to gain valuable courtroom experience, and most importantly, more people with unresolved legal issues that require representation receive the help they need. Attorneys received certification in the Probate and Family Court, Land Court, Housing Court, and Boston Municipal Court.

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In 2013, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program more than doubled in size, reaching nearly 1,300 students across Massachusetts with the help of 158 volunteers.

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Lisa Menelly (Raytheon Company) traveled to Mozart Elementary School in Roslindale to teach Ms. Pearl-Haynes’s 4th grade class about the 2013 Law Day in the Schools theme “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” From May 1st-3rd, 41 volunteer attorneys traveled to seven Boston public schools to teach 782 students about the topic.

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Members of the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) leveraged the resources of the bar to launch the Community Reentry Readiness Program through the Federal Court to provide information to federal probationers on key civil-legal issues that they will face when re-entering society.

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After the tragic events on Marathon Monday, the BBA offered pro bono legal assistance to small business and victims affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. The BBA recruited over 200 attorneys, firms, and law schools who were eager to help. The BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service received 70 calls and through collaboration with the Mayor’s Office and Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance, the BBA volunteer attorneys assisted 63 small business owners and victims with legal matters in the wake of the Boston Marathon events.  In addition, the BBF demonstrated its commitment to Boston by donating $25,000 to the One Fund to further assist victims.

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On June 6th, members of the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) hosted a groundbreaking symposium addressing the emerging legal and community-based issues associated with human trafficking. The event drew in over 125 attendees and national press coverage.

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This year, 32 diverse law students participated in the Diversity & Inclusion Section’s Judicial Internship Program which places students in local courts including the Boston Municipal Court, Probate & Family Courts and US Bankruptcy Court.

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In its 20th year, the BBA Summer Jobs Program placed a record-breaking 58 Boston public high school students in paid positions at Boston law firms, legal departments, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. This year, the BBF increased its commitment to the program by funding paid positions for 13 students at non-profit community organizations, government offices and courts.

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Pro Bono Month, which happens every October, was jam-packed with trainings and volunteer opportunities to encourage attorneys to give back to our community. The BBA held five pro bono trainings that prepared 206 attorneys and law students to engage in pro bono work and connected 250 new attorneys and law students with 28 Boston-area legal service agencies through a Pro Bono Fair.

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On September 1, 2013, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service became the new home of the Military Legal Help Line, which was established to connect veterans, military personnel, and their families with lawyers and other legal resources appropriate to their needs. The service refers callers to qualified attorneys offering reduced fee and pro bono legal assistance or the appropriate government or non-profit agency. In an effort to prepare attorneys to help with these reduced fee and pro bono cases, the BBA held a four-part CLE series this fall on topics including, family law, labor and employment, Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, trusts and estates, and education benefits.

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On November 20th, BBA President Paul T. Dacier joined over 150 of Boston’s leaders in visiting Boston Public Schools (BPS) to gain a firsthand look at the successes and challenges of the city’s school system as part of the BPS Principal for a Day Program. Paul shadowed William Thomas, the headmaster of Charlestown High School, for the morning. Charlestown High School is one of the largest high schools in Boston with 954, 39% of its student body is Limited English Proficient, and 46% of students qualify for free or reduced-priced school meals.

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The BBA President Paul Dacier and BBA Executive Director Rich Page joined Mayor Thomas Menino along with the current representatives and alumni of the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC) at the 20th Anniversary Celebration on November 29th. As you may know, the BBA is a longstanding partner of the MYC, combining efforts with the City of Boston and Northeastern University.