Each week we talk about the valuable work our volunteer and pro bono lawyers are doing in the community. They advocate for clients of limited means, mentor students, teach life skills and assist unrepresented litigants. Our programs are successful because of the time and energy that our volunteers dedicate each year. However, it takes more than lawyers to create successful programs.
The BBA’s Public Service department oversees the Lawyer Referral Service and all other BBA public service programs — including the Public Interest Leadership Program. We also initiate and nurture relationships with non-profit organizations that facilitate pro bono engagement by lawyers or provide for the direct delivery of civil legal services to the indigent. In addition, the BBA’s Public Service Staff participates in and supports the work of the BBF Grants Committee, and administers BBF special funds grants that support specific BBA projects.
Over the past year, the BBA’s staff’s hard work and dedication has given us much to be proud of. Through the BBA’s unique relationship with the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) we have been able to grow the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program (Financial Literacy). This past summer Financial Literacy expanded to include students working at Sovereign and Citizens Banks. In addition, this spring, with the help of PIC, Financial Literacy will add an additional five Boston Public High Schools whose students are participating.
Staff worked tirelessly to cultivate the very productive partnership with the Boston Debate League (BDL). This partnership has led to meaningful, new volunteer opportunities for BBA members. For BDL, the partnership with the BBA has helped them recruit talented judges and mentors for their urban high school debate teams. The partnership has truly benefited both organizations.
The department is staffed by four people: a Manager, a Public Service Programs Coordinator, a LRS Intake Coordinator and a LRS intern.
Sonia Shah, the Public Service Manager is a former legal services attorney with deep connections to the legal services and Greater Boston non-profit community.
Katie D’Angelo, the Public Service Programs Coordinator, recently joined the BBA and provides daily support for all of our programs.
1. The Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) is the largest public service program of the Boston Bar Association. Over the years it has grown and now the LRS staff screens over 100,000 calls per year connecting members of the community to lawyers and legal resources for advice, representation and information on legal issues.
2. The BBA LRS is the only ABA-accredited Lawyer Referral Service in Greater Boston. In order to become approved by the American Bar Association, the BBA LRS complies with standards established by the ABA, including the creation of objective experience requirements for the attorneys on each practice area panel. Furthermore, LRS staff conducts daily quality assurance calls with callers about the referrals made, and each month all of the attorneys on the panel are individually verified that they are in good standing with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.
3. The BBA LRS receives requests from over 600 organizations, including courts, libraries, and hospitals to receive marketing materials. A few times per year, the LRS sends brochures in English and Spanish that highlight our referral process, as well as bilingual tear sheets that have our contact information. These organizations share our information with their patrons that they cannot assist. The LRS receives many calls from people who found our contact information at a library, or other non-profit organization.
4. Our attorneys can do well by doing good. Consider the following…An 85 year old woman called the BBA LRS when injured trying to enter a business establishment with her walker. A patron held the door open for the client, but the large door struck her as it was closing, resulting in substantial injuries and other health complications. The BBA LRS referred the caller to Petrucelly, Nadler & Norris P.C. Due to the client’s age and disabilities, partners Jeffrey Petrucelly and Jennifer Norris along with associate Daniel McCabe visited the client extensively at her home, completing depositions and arranging meetings. The firm found that the door did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements or Massachusetts disability guidelines. Ultimately, the firm obtained a $200,000 settlement on behalf of the client. In addition, another important and meaningful result was achieved when the company’s representative and attorney met with the client’s family to apologize and express their sympathy about the unfortunate accident.
5. The BBA LRS Conducts extensive outreach. Throughout the year, the LRS staff attends approximately one community and outreach event per month, connecting with many neighborhoods and populations in the Greater Boston area. LRS staff speak to hundreds of people who wanted to learn more about the service and how they can get in touch with an attorney. For example, last Sunday the BBA LRS joined in the festivities at the 20th annual Cambridge Carnival.
Solana Goss, LRS Intake Coordinator and Alison Kuba, LRS Intern at the 20th Annual Cambridge Carnival.
This past Sunday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff joined thousands of others at the India Association of Greater Boston‘s (IAGB) annual India Day. The event, held at the DCR Memorial Hatch Shell, celebrated the 65th anniversary of India’s independence, and marked 50 years of service by the IAGB to the Indian-American community of the Boston area.
LRS staff spoke with hundreds of people, making them aware of the largest Public Service program of the Boston Bar Association. The South Asian population in Greater Boston is constantly growing and the event gave BBA staff an excellent opportunity to talk with people about how to obtain a lawyer from the BBA Lawyer Referral Service.
When approached by the India Day attendees, the BBA staff was primarily asked questions pertaining to immigration and business law. The day following the event, one of the festival attendees called seeking an attorney to help him with permanent residence services. Other attendees took marketing materials, and were interested in contacting the LRS about other legal issues.
In addition to speaking with individuals, the LRS staff was also able to enjoy the festivities including, cultural performances and vendors selling South Asian foods and goods.
India Day is just one of the many annual outreach events the LRS participates in. If you would like more information on future events, please contact Solana Goss, the LRS Intake Coordinator, at [email protected].
To reach 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 the web at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.