Posts Categorized: Pro Bono

Give Thanks, Give Back

Let the BBA connect you with opportunities to serve the community alongside fellow Members – become trained as a Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court, volunteer at the Greater Boston Food Bank or with Cradles to Crayons. You can also help give hope and guidance to a law school grad preparing to take the Bar Exam.

Give back while you prepare to give thanks!

Volunteer with The Greater Boston Food Bank
Saturday, November 12, 2016 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Greater Boston Food Bank – 70 South Bay Avenue, Boston, MA

Come join members of the New Lawyers Section as we partner with other volunteers to help “End Hunger Here.” This event will be an excellent opportunity to enjoy the company of fellow lawyers in a non-professional setting.

Pro Bono Training: Landlord Tenant Law Basics
Monday, November 14, 2016 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

This training will cover the basics of summary process law in landlord / tenant cases and how to represent both landlords and tenants in a summary process eviction matter.You’ll be prepared to volunteer for Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court.

Bar Exam Coaching – Call for Volunteers!
Bar Coaching Reception – Monday, November 14, 2016 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

We are seeking attorneys to serve as coaches to bar exam applicants sitting for the Massachusetts Bar Exam this February. This is a short term commitment with a big impact. Coaches are not expected to answer substantive law questions, but will be trained to offer guidance on mental preparation, confidence, study tips, time & stress management, and dealing with anxiety. To sign-up to volunteer, fill out this information form. If you would like to share information about this program with a law school graduate preparing to take the February exam, please direct them to this sign-up form.

If able, please join us at the Bar Exam Coaching Kick-Off Reception. You’ll meet with applicants, coaches, judges, and bar leaders and talk with recent exam-takers about strategies that worked for them.

Volunteer at Cradles to Crayons
Saturday, December 17, 2016 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Cradles to Crayons – 155 North Beacon Street, Brighton, MA

Join members of the BBA in processing and packaging donations that will be distributed to children across the state through Cradles to Crayons. Cradles to Crayons provide homeless or low-income children with the essential items they need to thrive at home, at school, and at play.

Peek into the Pro Bono Fair

On Tuesday, law students and attorneys mingled with legal services organizations at Suffolk University Law School to learn about pro bono opportunities across the Commonwealth. Over 30 organizations passed out flyers and collected information on potential volunteers. If you were unable to make it to the event, we’ve included a few photos from the evening below and we hope you join us next year!

Representatives from Mass Legal Answers Online and the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association speak with attendees.

Representatives from Mass Legal Answers Online and the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association speak with attendees.

 

Ting Chiu tables for Greater Boston Legal Services

Ting Chiu tables for Greater Boston Legal Services.

 

A Suffolk law student hears more information on Political Asylum Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project

A Suffolk law student hears more information on the Political Asylum Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project.

 

Abbe Hershberg, BBA Family Law Public Service Committee Co-Chair, Carolyn Mitchell and Cassandra Shavney of the BBA, and Michael McDermott, New Lawyers Section Public Service Committee Co-Chair, table on behalf of the Boston Bar Association

(Left to Right) Abbe Hershberg, BBA Family Law Section Public Service Committee Co-Chair, Carolyn Mitchell and Cassandra Shavney of the BBA, and Michael McDermott, BBA New Lawyers Section Public Service Committee Co-Chair, table on behalf of the Boston Bar Association.

 

Law Students and Attorneys meet with numerous organizations and hear about their work and pro bono opportunities.

Law Students and attorneys meet with numerous organizations and hear about their work and pro bono opportunities.

 

An attendee learns about the work of Project Citizenship

An attendee learns about the work of Project Citizenship.

 

Barbara Oro and Rochelle Hahn prepare to explain the new Mass Legal Answers Online Project.

Barbara Oro and Rochelle Hahn gladly explain the new Mass Legal Answers Online Project.

 

If you’d like information on the organizations present at the fair, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected]

Understanding Pro Bono Immigration Work

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Pro bono work can be challenging, especially when dealing with immigration cases. Often encompassing multiple areas of law such as family and criminal law, pro bono immigration cases can require a lot of time and effort. On Tuesday, October 18th, the BBA hosted a discussion in order to provide attendees with a better understanding of these types of cases. The speakers, Alexandra Peredo-Carroll from Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), An Le from the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, and Seth Purcell from the Political Asylum Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project discussed their expertise with pro bono immigration work, from discussing the types of cases they see to the ethical and professional responsibilities.

Purcell described the mission of the PAIR project, which is focused on connecting attorneys to and providing legal services for asylum seekers and immigrants in detention, many facing deportation.  PAIR also provides trainings and mentorships for volunteers, which all the panelists agreed is an extremely important part of being able to provide assistance to people with extremely complicated immigration cases.

Peredo-Carroll discussed how KIND solely assists unaccompanied minors who are going through deportation proceedings.  With the nature of this work being so sensitive, KIND also provides extensive trainings to their volunteers to make sure that those in need get the best representation they can.

While the mayor’s office does not provide legal services to constituents, city employees do work with groups like KIND and PAIR to connect  a wide range of people with immigration problems to the help they need, Le explained.  He spoke about the difficulty of refraining from giving legal advice while fulfilling the office’s legal and ethical responsibility to help people with legal issues.

Both Purcell and Peredo-Carroll  said it is important for attorneys to devote  as much time and effort to pro bono cases as  paid cases. While Massachusetts does not currently require attorneys to complete pro bono hours, Professional Conduct Rule 6.1 urges attorneys  devote at least 25 hours a year to pro bono work or donate between $250 or 1% of the attorney’s taxable income to legal services providers.

For more information on how to get involved with pro bono immigration work, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

Pro Bono Work: Serving the Community, Advancing Your Career

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Working for free isn’t exactly what many law school grads have in mind after graduation, especially with many facing high student debt. Some believe they can’t afford the time to volunteer for pro bono work in such a competitive legal environment, and many don’t realize how many opportunities there are to not only help those in need, but also to gain experience and build a professional network.

On Friday, October 14th, attorneys discussed the benefit of volunteering your time at the program “Pro Bono Work: Serving the Community, Advancing Your Career.” Rachel Biscardi (Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts), Vanessa Dillen ( Court Service Center), Brian McLaughlin (Brian McLaughlin Esq. LLC), and William Moore(Law Office of William Moore)shared their pro bono experiences with interested attorneys.

The speakers provided the audience with insider-knowledge on what it’s really like to work at a service organization and to volunteer for pro bono work. While all of the speakers agreed it can be tough, they also all spoke about how rewarding it is when you assist someone who otherwise would not be able to acquire legal help. In addition, pro bono work is an incredible way for new attorneys to get legal experience, especially in the courtroom, that otherwise would not be possible as a new attorney. McLaughlin may have put it best when he described his devotion to pro bono work as a combination of the tugging at his heartstrings and a passion to learn more, gain experience, and expand his legal network.

For new and seasoned lawyers, there are always volunteer opportunities available, and organizations like the Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts and the Court Service Center of the Massachusetts Trial Court are grateful for their volunteers.

If you’d like more information on available pro bono opportunities, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Honors Pro Bono Work

On Thursday, October 6th, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts held its Fourth Annual Pro Bono Awards Ceremony. The Bankruptcy Judges presented the Pro Bono Publico Awards, which are given for exceptional devotion to pro bono work in each of the state’s regions. The Boston Bar Association congratulates all of the awardees and distinguishes Janet Bostwick for receiving the District of Massachusetts Award.

While presenting the award to Bostwick, Judge Joan Feeney noted that the District of Massachusetts Award is not given every year, but Bostwick’s dedication to pro bono and the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program are deserving of the award. Bostwick was also recently honored at the Boston Bar Association for her work on the Financial Literacy program after she stepped down as Co-Chair of the Financial Literacy Committee after 12 years of service. You can read more on that honor here.

Following the Pro Bono Publico Awards, the 2016 Pro Bono Honor Roll certificates were presented to attorneys meeting the Honor Roll criteria outlined by the Court’s Pro Bono Legal Services Advisory Committee. The Boston Bar Association congratulates those awardees and thanks them for their service to the community.

Pro Bono Publico Awards:

Western Division Award – Henry E. Geberth, Jr.

Central Division Award – Judith Vassilovski

South Coast/Cape & Islands Division Award – David B. Madoff

Eastern Division Award – Neil D. Warrenbrand

District of Massachusetts Award – Janet E. Bostwick

Honor Roll:

Warren Agin

Kermine S. Akoglu

William R. Baldiga

Joseph H. Baldiga

Elaine M. Benkoski

Janet E. Bostwick

Christopher M. Candon

Nadine Champagne

David R. Chenelle

Michelle L. Cote

N. Lee Darst

John W. Davis

Michael P. Dube

Kellie W. Fisher

Jesse N. Garfinkle

Henry E. Geberth, Jr.

Jonathan R. Goldsmith

Maegan L. Hurley

Jeffrey L. Jonas

Elizabeth D. Katz

Gazion Kotoni

Donald Lassman

Sarah J. Long

John G. Loughnane

Carolyn Lynch

Heather J. Lynham

David Madoff

Jonathan D. Marshall

Wendy M. Mead

Richard E. Mikels

Kate E. Nicholson

Andrea M. O’Connor

Gina Barbieri O’Neil

William J. O’Neil

David W. Ostrander

Nina M. Parker

Carmenelisa Pérez‐Kudzma

Steven D. Pohl

David G. Prentiss

Richard S. Ravosa

Alex M. Rodolakis

Deborah G. Roher

Adam J. Ruttenberg

Mary Sharon

Denise M. Shear

Mary Jeanne Stone

Andrew P. Strehle

Leslie Su

Christina M. Turgeon

Adrienne K. Walker

Kevin J. Walsh

Neil D. Warrenbrand

Thomas N. Wilson

Keri L. Wintle

Pro Bono Preparation for Boston’s Citizenship Day

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On Monday, September 12th, the BBA hosted its first pro bono training of the 2016-2017 program year. The training, run by Veronica Serrato of Project Citizenship and Joy DePina from the City of Boston, was designed to help prepare volunteer law students and attorneys for Citizenship Day in Boston, which will take place on Saturday, September 17th at the James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury.

Joy DePina began by expressing the commitment the City of Boston has to assisting the nearly 48,000 permanent legal residents currently living in the city. She also spoke about Mayor Marty Walsh’s own history regarding the naturalization of his parents, as well as the obligation he personally feels in assisting all immigrant residents in Boston.

Veronica Serrato then provided an extensive overview of the US naturalization process, from the general requirements which must be met by applicants, to the intricacies of the 20 page application itself. She also explained what the Department of Homeland Security looks for in these applications, and how to make sure they are being properly filed. The applications will be filled out with the assistance of a volunteer attorney and checked for quality to ensure applicants are not turned away due to errors that commonly occur when filing without legal assistance.
The BBA would like to thank all of those who attended the training, the speakers, and the many volunteers who will be assisting applicants during Citizenship Day.

If you would like to volunteer for Citizenship Day, please click here to sign-up.

“Citizenship Day in Boston” is an event where legal permanent residents across the state are able to receive free legal assistance and guidance in filling out the N-400 citizenship application. Project Citizenship, in unison with The Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement and Goodwin Procter, is expecting to assist over 300 people apply for citizenship at this year’s event. Project Citizenship has been working year round since 2011 to provide assistance to those wishing to become citizens of the United States, and has so far assisted 8,100 applicants, with 3,194 last year alone. This year’s event will be the third yearly Citizenship Day so far, hopefully with many more to come.

Pro Bono Opportunities This Fall

As the weather cools down and the leaves change color, the BBA is getting excited for the best month of the year: Pro Bono Month! While October is officially designated Pro Bono Month, we’d like to make sure you’re aware of all Pro Bono events throughout the fall. See below for programs happening at the BBA and in our community.


September:

Legal Clinic for the Homeless (St. Francis House)
Friday, September 9, 2016, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Lawyers Clearinghouse – St. Francis House, 39 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02111
Work with homeless clients seeking legal assistance.

What You Need to Know About Naturalization: Pro Bono Preparation for Boston’s Citizenship Day
Monday, September 12, 2016, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108
The training will include an overview of citizenship, eligibility, the impact of a criminal history for an applicant, as well as important issues and red flags.

Bankruptcy Roundtable for Pro Bono Lawyers in Massachusetts
Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy St, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
Join us for a question and answer session with experienced consumer bankruptcy attorneys. It will be a forum for discussing case and practice issues with each other and a place where newer attorneys can get advice from experienced practitioners.

Landlord-Tenant Law 101
Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 4:30 – 6:00 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
Join us for a one-session training on working with tenants and landlords facing eviction.

Citizenship Day
Saturday, September 17, 2016, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Project Citizenship – 205 Roxbury Street, Roxbury, MA 02119
Volunteer through Project Citizenship to help over 300 applicants complete their paperwork and start their journey to US citizenship.

Mass Legal Answers Online – An Innovative New Way to Do Pro Bono
Monday, September 26, 2016, 12:30 – 1:30 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108
At this program, attorneys will learn more about this innovative pro bono opportunity and how participating in this “bite size pro bono” project can make a real difference for people in need.

Wage and Hour Training
Monday, September 26, 2016, 4:00 – 7:00 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – Mass. Attorney General’s Office – Suffolk Law School: Faculty Meeting Room
120 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108
This one-session training will give you the basics on initiating a wage and hour claim for your client.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Basics
Monday, September 26, 2016, 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
This training will give VLP volunteers the information they need to handle a pro bono Chapter 7 bankruptcy case using Best Case software.

Unemployment Insurance Appeals
Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
This training is designed for attorneys who are seeking to represent on a pro bono basis clients who are pursuing unemployment benefits.

Family Law 101
Wednesday, September 28, 2016, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
Attend an introductory training on Domestic Relations Law. This one-session training will give you the basics on initiating a divorce. It will cover filing the Complaint and all the accompanying documents, and serving the opposing party.

Legal Clinic for the Homeless (Pine Street Inn)
Friday, September 30, 2016, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Lawyers Clearinghouse – Pine Street Inn: 444 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02118
Work with homeless clients seeking legal assistance.


October:

Landlord-Tenant Law 101
Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 4:30 – 6:00 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
Attend this one-session training on working with tenants and landlords facing eviction.

Family Law 102
Wednesday, October 5, 2016, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
Family Law 102 covers Temporary Orders, Pre-Trial Conferences, and how to finalize a divorce or other family law matter.

Pro Bono Work: Serving the Community, Advancing Your Career
Friday, October 14, 2016, 12:30 – 2:00 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108
Join us to hear about how public service and pro bono work shaped the careers of our panel of attorneys and how the work they performed has impacted the community.

Legal Clinic for the Homeless (Medeiros Center)
Friday, October 14, 2016, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Lawyers Clearinghouse – Cardinal Medeiros Center, 25 Isabella Street, Boston, MA 02116
Work with homeless clients seeking legal assistance.

Family Law 103
Wednesday, October 19, 2016, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
Family Law 102 covers joint petition for divorce, Complaint for Modification, Complaint for Contempt, and more!

Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project, Representing Asylum Seekers
Friday, October 21, 2016, 2:00 – 5:00 PM
PAIR – Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, 10 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108
This Asylum 101 training will cover asylum law and procedure, packaging the I-589 application, how to work with traumatized clients, tips for immigration court practice, and perspectives from the bench.

Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House at Suffolk Law
Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 4:30 – 6:00 PM
Boston Bar Association & Suffolk Law School – 120 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108
This event introduces attorneys and law students with a range of pro bono opportunities.

Family Law 104
Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
Family Law 103 covers establishing paternity, separate support, and adoption.

Legal Clinic for the Homeless (Southampton Shelter)
Friday, October 28, 2016, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Lawyers Clearinghouse – Southampton Shelter, 112 Southampton St. , Boston, MA 02118
Work with homeless clients seeking legal assistance.

Unemployment Insurance: Helping Out-of-Work Clients Navigate the Unemployment System
Friday, October 28, 2016, 1:00 – 4:30 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, 10 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108
This seminar provides you with the expertise you need to understand the UI system and to help your clients get the UI benefits they are legally entitled.


November:

Introduction to Guardianship of Minors
Wednesday, November 2, 2016, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
This nuts and bolts training will give participants the tools they need to handle simple guardianship of minor cases from the filing of the petition through the establishment of a permanent guardianship.

Landlord-Tenant Law 101
Thursday, November 8, 2016, 4:30 – 6:00 PM
Volunteer Lawyers Project – 99 Chauncy Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111
A one-session training on working with tenants and landlords facing eviction.

Legal Clinic for the Homeless (Bridge Over Troubled Waters)
Sunday, November 18, 2016, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Lawyers Clearinghouse – Bridge Over Troubled Waters, 47 West Street , Boston, MA 02111
Work with homeless clients seeking legal assistance.

Save the Date & Get Your Spot at the Suffolk University Law School Pro Bono Fair

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The hot weather may not have gotten the memo, but fall is almost here! That means it’s once again time for Suffolk University Law School’s Annual Pro Bono Fair – and we want to see as many organizations there as possible!

The BBA and Suffolk University Law School have teamed up for the sixth year in a row to sponsor the event, which will present legal services and other public interest organizations with an opportunity to connect with talented law students, recent graduates, and experienced attorneys about pro bono opportunities.

The fair is held as part of the National Pro Bono Celebration sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.  At last year’s fair, 30 public interest employers dedicated their time to attend the event and speak with individuals interested in doing pro bono work.  Over 250 students and attorneys participated in the highly successful fair.

The format of the event is similar to a career fair. Participating organizations are assigned tables and representatives from those organizations can distribute information to attendees at the fair. If you would like to reserve a table, please fill out this survey and contact Sarah Bookbinder by October 3. She can answer any questions you may have about the fair.

If you plan to attend the fair to browse the tables and hear from the fair’s organizations, please click this link to RSVP.

We look forward to seeing you next month!

Common Sense Tips on Trying a Case in Housing Court

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This week, the BBA held its last pro bono training for the program year, which focused on trials in Housing Court. The goal of the training was to recruit volunteers for the BBA Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court program, where attorneys help landlords and tenants who would otherwise be unrepresented resolve disputes.

First Justice of the Housing Court Hon. Jeffrey Winik had many helpful tips that were practical in nature. “Never lose sight of the fact that you are looking to resolve a problem,” he advised.

He went on to say that a resolution that is mutually satisfying to both the landlord and the tenant may not be a “winning” verdict, so to speak. He also elaborated on the key to successfully arguing a case in Housing Court.

“A good trial lawyer has to be as familiar with the other side’s case as they are with their own,” he said.

Judge Winik also advised attorneys to vet information given to them by their clients by seeking out documents from other sources, such as city inspection offices.

We would like to thank those who led and those who participated in Pro Bono Trainings at the BBA this year, with special thanks to those who went on to volunteer their time after the training session.

Pro Bono Spotlight: Goodwin Procter’s Neighborhood Business Initiative

 

NBILogo_FINALThis month, Beyond the Billable is thrilled to feature Goodwin Procter’s Neighborhood Business Initiative (NBI) in our “Pro Bono Spotlight” feature. There is a lot to say about all the good the program has done for low-income neighborhoods in the city of Boston, but no one says it better than the attorneys themselves.

We caught up with NBI Founder Anna Dodson, a partner in Goodwin’s Private Equity Group, to hear more about what the firm is doing to help grow the local economy while expanding access to justice.

Can you describe how the Neighborhood Business Initiative began?

In 2001, the idea of providing pro bono legal services to for-profit businesses was in its infancy.  We began offering those services, which would later be formalized into Goodwin’s Neighborhood Business Initiative (NBI). We believe that strong, owner-operated neighborhood businesses are fundamentally important for community development and healthy, vibrant city neighborhoods.

Fast-forward to today: Roughly 500 attorneys and other professionals at Goodwin have provided pro bono business legal services to hundreds of low-income entrepreneurs and small-business owners in underserved neighborhoods through direct representation and neighborhood-based legal workshops and clinics, and by partnering with community-based organizations.

Since 2001, how has the NBI program changed and grown?

Our workshops and other programs have grown both in number and in complexity. We started with the basics – Starting and Growing a Business, developed in collaboration with the Economic Justice Project of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.  Now our suite of 12+ programs includes negotiations, commercial lease, choice of entity, food labelling and doing business on-line.

Is there a particular workshop or clinic that has consistently been the most sought-after or well-attended? If so, what do you think draws people to that program?

As we worked with community partners in Dorchester and Jamaica Plain over the years, we noticed that  many of our program participants were working in the food industry.  These “culinary entrepreneurs” include restaurateurs, caterers and entrepreneurs looking to produce food for retail sale. Responding to the need for specialized assistance, we developed a food labeling curriculum.

Today, a multi-disciplinary team provides interactive workshops on Intellectual Property for food labeling and packaging, food labels and products liability and federal regulation of food labels. Our team frequently collaborates with a corporate partner, such as Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream.  The Boston Beer Company’s team presents the business side of food labeling – creative design, marketing and branding, as well as niche expertise like the rules for beer labels. Our audiences for these business and law of food labeling programs frequently exceed 50 entrepreneurs. We hear from our audiences that the information can be hard to find and that an expert’s insight and strategic perspective is a valuable guide that makes the information more useful.

How does this program benefit specific business owners who participate, their neighborhoods, and the city’s economy? Can you describe why Goodwin Procter has made it a priority to foster the development of small businesses in underserved areas?

From the outset, Goodwin’s NBI program has reflected two core values.  We value access to justice (access to all law for all people) and community development (building neighborhood businesses for diverse, vibrant neighborhoods).  Often, low income business owners are isolated – they may lack sounding boards and advocates. They have to take risks and may have to make hard choices – and often it’s not on a level playing field. Our goal in providing individual representation is to provide legal services to business owners who would not otherwise be able to have the assistance, and to create value that supports the growth of a neighborhood business.

How does this differ from other pro bono opportunities and programs that are out there, both for attorneys and clients? 

Business law attorneys typically have fewer choices than litigators to provide pro bono legal services in an area of law that aligns with their practice. NBI offers Goodwin business law attorneys an opportunity to do good doing what they do best – structuring an entity, negotiating a contract, advising on intellectual property strategy, negotiating a lease, and any number of corporate and transactional matters. It offers an opportunity to develop the strong listening skills needed to undergird strong counseling skills. For the firm’s NBI clients, working with the Goodwin team offers highly responsive, proactive counsel committed to leveling the playing field.

Is there a specific client story or anecdote that you would like to share that exemplifies the impact of this program?

We represented an entrepreneur who was a Brazilian immigrant in taking out a loan from Accion, a nonprofit lender. Goodwin prepared a loan release in Portuguese that would be enforceable in Brazil, a condition to the new loan. Our client used the proceeds of her Accion loan for working capital and to repay a predatory lender who used intimidation tactics. Our legal services were an important component of a transaction that yielded peace of mind and safety for a low income businesswoman, and a well-stocked, woman-owned corner market for the neighborhood.

 

What else would you like someone who has never heard of this program before to know?

One of the biggest challenges of a program like Goodwin’s NBI is reaching eligible clientele.  Most entrepreneurs and small business owners do not think or expect that they would qualify for pro bono assistance, so engaging with them requires a lot of outreach and education. We have made a concerted effort to connect with local business owners through partnering with community organizations, and personally going out into the community and offering clinics and workshops.  At the same time, we are ever sensitive to the need to support small law firms in the neighborhoods, so we dedicate a lot of time and effort to vet potential clients to ensure that, but for our pro bono assistance, they could not otherwise afford to engage legal counsel for the matter requested.  We also define the scope of our representation to discrete requests and do not provide ongoing assistance.  We have essentially created a self-contained legal services group within our firm, and lead it with the assistance of two dozen Goodwin attorneys who serve on local NBI steering committees in Boston, New York and San Francisco.