Blizzards and slow public transportation didn’t stop our volunteers from getting out in the community and giving back during 2015. Take a look below for highlights from the BBA’s 2015 public service efforts:
Lawyers braved the snow and marched to the Massachusetts State House for the annual Walk to the Hill. The 2015 Walk to the Hill was more important than ever. As you may remember, the BBA Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts released its long-awaited report in November called Investing in Justice, which found that the majority of clients seeking legal assistance are turned away and made the business case for an additional $30 million in civil legal aid funding. The Legislature appropriated $17 million to fund civil legal aid, a satisfying increase in a year marked largely by level funding.
In January 2014, the John & Abigail Adams Benefit raised over $650,000 to help to fund grants to 23 Massachusetts community organizations providing legal services in areas such as immigration, domestic violence and homelessness.
With the help of PILP 11, the BBA Reentry Education Program expanded to provide civil legal workshops to participants in the CHOICE Program at Boston Municipal Court, Roxbury. Overall, volunteers led 12 sessions with a total of 103 participants to prepare participants to address civil legal issues they may face upon reentry.
In 2015, over 160 volunteers taught 570 high school students in 12 schools about personal finance and budgeting, credit cards, and buying a car through the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. As you may remember, the BBA partners with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to run the program throughout the state.
The BBF’s popular Casino Night once again drew a large crowd. The event, which supports the BBA Summer Jobs Program by funding paid internships for Boston high school students in nonprofit and government agencies each summer through the program, raised more than $34,000.
This spring, 77 volunteer taught over 1,000 Boston public school students from kindergarten through seniors in high school about the importance of laws through the BBA’s Law Day in the Schools Program.
The BBA presented three public service awards to deserving recipients at the annual Law Day Dinner. Barbara Mitchell, the former Executive Director of Community Legal Services and Counseling Center, received the John G. Brooks Legal Services Award to honor her leadership and commitment to legal services; Al Wallis, the Executive Director of Brown Rudnick Center for Public Interest, received the Thurgood Marshall Award for his leadership in public interest and corporate social responsibility; and Jack Ward, the former Associate Director for Finance & Development at Greater Boston Legal Services, received the President’s Award for this leadership and guidance at Greater Boston Legal Services.
The BBF held the second annual Passports to Pairings event, where 100 % of the proceeds supported the BBA Public Service Programs. The event raise nearly $34,000, featured food and beverage pairings, and gave attendees an opportunity learn more about the BBA and BBF’s work in the community.
The BBA continued to step up its commitment to the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program by placing a record-breaking 65 Boston high school students in paid internships at Boston law firms, legal departments, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations through the BBA Summer Jobs Program. The BBF also increased its commitment to the program by funding 15 of these paid positions at non-profit community organizations, government offices and courts.
While October is officially Pro Bono Month, the BBA celebrated pro bono all year-round. Since January 2015, the BBA has trained over 400 attorneys to take pro bono cases in a range of areas, including landlord tenant law, veterans discharge appeals, and debt collections.
The BBF held an inaugural Society of Fellows Appreciation Breakfast at the Liberty Hotel in Boston this November. The Breakfast was an opportunity to recognize members of the Society for their support of the BBF and to celebrate what their generosity has allowed the BBF to accomplish in the last year.
The Claflin Center was packed on November 12th for the Veterans Day Reception, which featured a lively speech and Q & A with Congressman Seth Moulton, a former Marine Corps Captain who served four tours in Iraq. This event aimed to build a community for servicemembers in the legal field to share common experiences and challenges.
BBA President Lisa Arrowood spent the morning observing a humanities teacher meeting, greeting students, and visiting classrooms at the Frederick Pilot Middle School in Dorchester through BPE’s Principal for a Day Program.
The BBA Lawyer Referral Service participated in a number of community events this year, including the Massachusetts Conference for Women which drew a crowd of nearly 10,000. These events help to raise awareness of about the largest public service program of the Boston Bar Association, which fielded over 7,700 calls last year.