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.
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.
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 LRS@bostonbar.org or visit us on our newly re-designed website at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This year’s conference, held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center featured keynote addresses and breakout sessions led by more than one hundred experts in the fields of business, philanthropy, finance, media and professional development. The theme the conference was “The Power of Us,” and gave conference attendees many opportunities for business networking, professional development and personal growth.
Hundreds of attendees stopped by the BBA’s booth, inquiring as to how they could receive referrals through the Lawyer Referral Service, and about the BBA’s Mission and role in the community.
The Massachusetts Conference for Women is the largest outreach and marketing event of the year for the BBA LRS, who participates in approximately 10 outreach events yearly. Next on the calendar is the 26th Annual Quincy Lunar New Year Festival in February. Stay tuned for more details!
The panel discussed some of the challenges that veterans face veterans when they return from the service.
Last Thursday, the BBA hosted the final training in the CLE series on Representing Military Personnel and Families. Even though this training series has concluded, the BBA’s commitment to helping veterans and military personnel with the legal challenges that they face is far from over. With the adoption of the Military Legal Help Line and the BBA’s involvement in the Yellow Ribbon Project and the Massachusetts “Stand Down” event, the BBA’s support of this initiative will continue.
To encapsulate why it is important for the BBA and lawyers as a community to give back to veterans, military personnel and their families, check last week’s responses to Voices of the Bar.
Michelle Wolf (Veterans’ Disability Benefits), a panelist on last week’s training on Veterans Benefits, stated,
“We all owe a duty to those who have volunteered to serve and protect our country, especially with the growing recognition of the toll military service takes on our soldiers, veterans and their families. Lawyers can truly make a difference in the lives of these individuals and families by assisting with legal issues that might otherwise distract soldiers currently serving.”
Keep an eye on the BBA calendar for additional training opportunities this winter and into the spring. If you would like to know more about joining the Military and Veterans’ Panels for the Military Legal Help Line, please contact Solana Goss at email@example.com.
Conference attendees have a panel discussion about how to run an effective Lawyer Referral Service. Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Bar Association.
If Beyond the Billable asked you what the BBA’s largest public service program is, what would you say? The Financial Literacy Program which reached over 1,300 students this past year? The Summer Jobs Program, which was one of the ten largest providers of Summer Jobs in the City of Boston? The Lawyer for a Day in the Housing Court Program, where 12,000 volunteers have assisted 15,000 unrepresented tenants and landlords since the program began? Any of them would be a good guess, but surprise, they would all be wrong. The BBA’s largest public service program is its Lawyer Referral Service (LRS).
Even though the LRS has been around for more than 50 years, it’s still looking for the best and most efficient ways to connect callers to lawyers who can help them with their legal needs. That’s why LRS Intake Coordinator Solana Goss attended the ABA National Lawyer Referral Workshop in Atlanta Georgia. Nearly 100 participants from across the country met to discuss ideas and share information about running a Lawyer Referral Service Program. Topics included panel management, website and marketing tools, protocol for new panel members, the role of a review committee, and more.
Beyond the Billable reached out to Solana to see what she took from attending the conference, and here’s what she had to say:
“As the intake coordinator of the LRS, I am always looking for ways that we can do more, and have a larger impact in the community. The conference offered programs to help improve marketing, lawyer-client relationships, and operations, all of which are valuable tools to help the BBA LRS expand our reach. Meeting bar staff and seeing how their services operate provided insight to our referral service as we look to respond to the ever-changing needs of the community.”
The Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service is the only referral service in Greater Boston approved by the American Bar Association. To find out more about joining the LRS, please contact Solana Goss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After three months on the job, BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) intern Kia White sat down with Beyond the Billable to share her experience thus far. Kia spends her days answering the dozens of calls LRS receives each day and helping the LRS intake coordinator with data entry, mailings, and other administrative duties that help run the service. She will be with us until the end of December before returning to Northeastern University where she studies Criminal Justice and business.
Here is what she had to say during her interview:
What has been the highlight of your first three months?
The highlight of my first three months was at the beginning of my internship when I attended the practice area trainings. This was a great opportunity for me because I gained so much knowledge in many different areas of law. This was helpful in my job here at the BBA as well as in my own personal life. Each of the attorneys that came to speak with us was very knowledgeable of their field of law.
What do you find most challenging about your internship?
Handling the LRS phone calls has taught me the importance of having patience and a sense of understanding of other peoples’ perspectives. We receive a large amount of calls a day, and everyone is different and has different situations. Some people speak other languages and it is important to be patient and try to understand them because they do need our help. I have also experienced callers who are under great amounts of stress and may come off a little hostile. By having a sense of understanding, it makes the call a lot easier. You have to understand that the caller may be dealing with a lot, and the goal is to give the caller the referral so that you can help them.
How has this co-op shaped your view of the legal field?
By listening to callers from the LRS, I have learned that sometimes it is extremely difficult to navigate through the legal system. Some people would be much better off in their legal situations if they had lawyers to guide them through and explain their rights to them. The BBA LRS provides a beneficial service to the community. We are able to aid clients in finding legal assistance that they may not be able to obtain on their own. A good number of callers are new to the legal system, and don’t know what to do. They may not know what type of case they have, what type of lawyer they need, and many other factors. Our service makes it so that we can guide them through the process of figuring out what type of lawyer they need and then connect them to some potential lawyers for their cases. It is very reassuring to know that there is a service in the community to get people started on the right track when dealing with a legal situation.
Attorneys Chick Mone (Pierce, Davis & Perritano, LLP) and Kyle Crossley (Audax Group) discuss Torts Law and what it means to be a lawyer.
This month, you heard from seven attorneys who volunteered their time to teach BBA interns about a wide range of legal topics. The attorneys discussed their experiences training interns, and why they were motivated to participate. Check out what they had to say in Part One and Part Two of this three-part feature.
The trainings were organized by the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service, the largest public service program of the Boston Bar Association, dedicated to helping members of the public in need of assistance connect with attorneys.
We would like to thank all of the attorneys who volunteered their time to conduct training sessions for the BBA’s new interns:
Last week, you heard from three attorneys who conducted training sessions for BBA interns and Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff. When we asked the attorneys why they donated their time to participate, the response was overwhelming. Here’s a look at what others had to say:
Mary Lee (Mary K.Y. Lee P.C.) conducted a training session on Landlord/Tenant and Real Estate & Law.
“Conducting this training provided a chance to help LRS staff better pinpoint, screen, and identify potential cases for the LRS attorney panel. It was fun to share with eager and engaged learners, and the experience energized the rest of that particular day. It was a wonderful reminder why I need to continuously share, because it’s part of the profession and part of my ongoing development/improvement as an attorney. I hope that I was able to convey to the interns that regardless of how much fear one is challenged with by the legal process, by not giving into that fear, the law and knowledge of the law will eventually help them resolve their problems. I think it’s important for the interns and potential clients to know that philosophy to sustain the spirit of moving forward.”
Dino Santangelo (Law Office of Dino R. Santangelo) conducted a training session on Public Benefits & Social Security.
“I always enjoy being able to talk to these trainees and let them know that there is more to the learning process than just being in the classroom and that they should make the most of this experience of being able to deal with real life matters that are important to potential callers. I make a point of letting them know that they will be receiving calls from people who come from all walks of life. Some are very poor, homeless, and have never spoken to a lawyer and have difficulty in even explaining why they need a lawyer. They were told to get a lawyer and it is our job to figure out what they need and help as best we can. You have to establish a trusting relationship with client’s in order to be able to get the information needed and be able to properly represent them.”
Roger Bertling (Law Offices of Roger Bertling) conducted a training session on Bankruptcy Law.
“I volunteered to conduct the training session because I believe strongly in the work that the BBA LRS staff does in assisting people who need an attorney in finding the right attorney. If I can help them in any small way do that better, that is great.
I wanted the interns to know that in this day of the internet and social media, there still is no substitute for the assistance of a capable, experienced attorney to help guide one through their legal situation. Also, as an attorney, one of the greatest satisfactions lies in determining the roots of a legal problem and devising a way to resolve it.”
Joseph Sommer (Sommer & Associates) conducted a training session on Trusts & Estates.
“Fundamental changes occurred in Massachusetts Trust and Estate law within the last two years. It is important to educate referral staff regarding changes to more effectively refer cases. Moreover, I hope to inspire referral staff and interns to become more involved in Massachusetts Trust and Estate law to better the profession. I attempted to convey the importance of versatility and transparency in the areas of Massachusetts Trust and Estate law. Versatility and transparency are important concepts that could be employed in most areas of life.”
If you are interested in becoming involved in future training sessions, please contact Solana Goss, the LRS Intake Coordinator, at email@example.com.
Attorneys Roger Bertling ( Law Offices of Roger Bertling) & Bill McLeod (U.S. Bankruptcy Court) discussed the complexity of the bankruptcy process.
Throughout the month of July, volunteer attorneys conducted eleven training sessions at the BBA for summer interns and Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff about various practice areas. We caught up with some of the volunteers to see what they had to say about their participation, and asked them why they felt motivated to volunteer their time.
Dan Biagiotti (The Legal Advocacy and Resource Center) conducted a training session on Legal Services.
“The Legal Advocacy and Resource Center works closely with the BBA LRS to make the best referrals between the programs. There are many callers to the LRS that do not have enough income to hire an attorney but that have a serious legal problem and it is important that these clients get directed to an agency that is most likely to assist them. By understanding which clients should be directed to LARC and which should be directed to another agency is a valuable service to callers who often have a very difficult time navigating the legal services delivery system. I enjoy conducting the training for these students because they bring such enthusiasm and desire to help others and learn about the legal profession.”
Rachel Engdahl (Law Office of Rachel L. Engdahl) conducted a session on Family Law
“Family Law is an exciting and changing field of law. I am inspired to see young people interested and proactive in learning about the process and daily practice. It is never too early to get involved and begin meaningful relationships.”
Ilir Kavaja (Kavaja Law) conducted a training session on Criminal Law.
“One thing in particular that I enjoyed sharing and talking about with the trainees was the importance of helping all those in need of legal representation, regardless of the ability to afford full, or partial legal fees. I shared this tidbit with the interns because it is a cornerstone of my legal philosophy; “Justice Above All”!”
Stay tuned for part two of the LRS intern training sessions.
If you are interested in becoming involved in future training sessions, please contact Solana Goss, the LRS Intake Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.