Posts Categorized: Public Service

Attorneys Help Make over 13,000 Meals Possible at GBFB

Over the weekend, members from the Boston Bar Association volunteered at the Greater Boston Food Bank helping to sort and pack food for families across Eastern Massachusetts. The volunteers for the day made 13, 356 meals possible and sorted over 16, 500 lbs of food. Thank you to our BBA members dedicated to giving back to the community!

BBA members after their volunteer shift at the Greater Boston Food Bank.

BBA Members Volunteer with Pine Street Inn

Each year, the Boston Bar Association’s New Lawyers Public Service Committee organizes a volunteer event at Pine Street Inn, an organization dedicated to helping Boston’s homeless. Recently, BBA members volunteered to serve dinner at The Men’s Inn, a nightly emergency shelter service which supports 350 men each night. We’re proud of our members helping our community!

If you’re interested in Pine Street Inn’s work, you can read about their services online.

BBA members volunteered at the Pine Street Inn in February.

 

One-Time Volunteer Opportunities Throughout the Spring

With temperatures hitting 60 degrees this week, we can’t help but dream of the warmer weather to come. Looking ahead to spring, the BBA has a number of one-time volunteer opportunities working with various community and environmental organizations. We hope you’ll sign-up for one (or more!) of the below events to give back to your community while meeting other BBA members!

Volunteer with The Greater Boston Food Bank
Saturday, March 11, 2017 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Greater Boston Food Bank – 70 South Bay Avenue, Boston, MA

Volunteer at Cradles to Crayons
Saturday, March 25, 2017 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Cradles to Crayons – 155 North Beacon Street, Brighton, MA

Annual Charles River Clean Up
Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Charles River Esplanade, Boston, MA

Volunteer on the Farm: The Food Project Serve & Grow
Saturday, May 6, 2017 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Lynn Farm – 1 Collins Terrace, Lynn, MA

Spring Woodland Restoration Event at Allandale Woods Urban Wild
Friday, May 19, 2017 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Allandale Woods Urban Wild, Roslindale, MA

Last year’s crew at the Annual Charles River Clean-Up enjoying some sun and beautifying the Esplanade.

CEASE Network Combats Human Trafficking in Boston

Last week, representatives from Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation (CEASE) – Boston spoke to attorneys on the prevalence of human trafficking in Boston. As a topic not widely discussed, it’s easy to assume human trafficking does not happen in our city. However, 14 is the average age of young women in Boston entering the sex trade and over 20,000 ads for paid sex are posted monthly in Boston alone. Lieutenant Donna Gavin (Boston Police Department) and Dhakir Warren (Demand Abolition) belong to the CEASE Network and presented these statistics along with their approach to combat demand. Through “buyer beware” campaigns, they hope to dissuade buyers, primarily older, married men with expendable income, from searching for and purchasing sex online.  Warren noted that when one sex trafficker is arrested, four more will pop up to take over the lucrative business. By curbing demand, CEASE hopes to halt the business altogether.

A recent Boston Globe article quotes Lieutenant Gavin and features a young woman whose story is like so many of those who are swept into the sex trade. For a glimpse of what’s happening in Boston, read the article here.

If you were unable to attend the program at the BBA and would like to view a video recording, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

Attend an Upcoming Public Service Program at the BBA!

Start your new year by attending one of the BBA’s upcoming public service programs. From pro bono trainings to informational brown bags, there’s sure to be a program that interests you. Take a look below!

No Buyers, No Business. Combatting Human Trafficking by Targeting the Demand
Monday, January 23, 2017, 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
At this program, you’ll learn the role of demand reduction in combatting commercial sexual exploitation, the scope of the issue of commercial exploitation in Boston, local efforts deployed by CEASE Boston to combat demand, and the role prosecutorial innovation can play in support of efforts to increase the consequential penalties for the purchase of illegal commercial sex by buyers.

Pro Bono Training: How to Prepare a Bankruptcy
Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 3:30 PM to 7:00 PM

This training will inform attendees how to take on pro bono bankruptcy cases and represent pro bono debtors.

Pro Bono Training: Representing Debtors in Small Claims Court
Thursday, February 9, 2017, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM

The panelists will discuss the launch of the Lawyer for the Day Fair Debt Collection Clinic in Small Claims Court at the Boston Municipal Court Central Division and how attorneys can volunteer at the clinic.

A Year in Photos – Public Service in 2016

From teaching over 1,500 students their Miranda Rights to instituting a Bar Exam Coaching Program, 2016 was a successful year at the BBA. For highlights and our favorite photos from the year, read on to see how you and your colleagues contributed to our public services initiatives in 2016.

Over 1,000 guests attended the 2016 John and Abigail Adams Benefit at the Museum of Fine Arts. Each year, our premier fundraiser provides support for the legal services organizations in our community. We're grateful for the over $600,000 raised in 2016.

Over 1,000 guests attended the 2016 John and Abigail Adams Benefit at the Museum of Fine Arts. Each year, our premier fundraiser provides support for the legal services organizations in our community. We’re grateful for the over $600,000 raised in 2016.

Molly Baldwin, Executive Director of Roca, accepts the 2016 Public Service Award on behalf of the organization. Roca was recognized for their work reducing recidivism and improving employment rates for young men in Massachusetts.

Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, addresses the crowd at Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. Each year, hundreds of private attorneys and civil legal aid advocates converge on the Massachusetts State House to demonstrate their support for state funding of civil legal aid.

Anuj Kheterpal, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, leads a session of the Reentry Education Program at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. Presenting on topics ranging from family law, affordable housing, and CORI sealing, the Reentry Education Program provides useful information and resources to probationers in our community.

The BBA’s Military and Veterans Committee works throughout the year to both address the legal needs of our veterans community and also provide a space for attorneys who have served or are serving in the military the chance to connect. Luncheons held throughout the year provide an informal, conversational means for veteran attorneys to connect.

One of the most anticipated events of the year is always the BBA’s Casino Night for Summer Jobs. Inside the BBA, the rooms are transformed into a functioning casino spaces for guests to enjoy throughout the building. All proceeds from the event support our Summer Jobs program. Specifically, donations allow high school students the opportunity to work at legal services organizations, courts, and government agencies that may not otherwise have the resources to hire a student.

For over ten years, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy program has taught high school students financial responsibility. Above, students from Peabody Veterans Memorial High School visit Judge Joan N. Feeney’s courtroom to learn the consequences of filing for bankruptcy.

Members of the Boston Bar Foundation’s Society of Fellows gaze at an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts last spring. The Society of Fellows is a group of over 400 attorneys who’ve pledged their support for the BBA’s public service initiatives.

An active group within the BBA, the New Lawyers Public Service Committee plans nearly monthly volunteer events for attorneys to give back to their community through direct service. Here, BBA volunteers are working with the Charles River Watershed Association to clean-up the banks of the Charles River.

As part of the annual Law Day activities each spring, the BBA hosts its Law Day in the Schools program through which attorney volunteers introduce students in kindergarten to 12th grade to the legal profession and legal issues. In 2016, Law Day in the Schools focused on Miranda Rights, which seemed especially to resonate with students during a year marked by discussion of the balance of power between law enforcement and citizens.

At the 2016 Law Day Dinner, former BBA President Jack Regan, WilmerHale, was presented the Thurgood Marshall Award for his commitment to public service. Regan has tirelessly worked to support pro bono services for military personnel, veterans, and their families.

The John G. Brooks Legal Services Award was presented at Law Day Dinner to Daniel Nagin, founder of the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. Nagin also helped start the Low Income Tax Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.

Pairings: A Gourmet Evening for Public Service supports all of the public service programs of the BBA. Guests of the event are treated to delicious dishes from area restaurants while learning about the programs their contribution supports.

Throughout the year, the BBA hosts numerous pro bono trainings on a range of practice areas. We partner with many legal services organizations to connect our members to their pro bono opportunities. Above, attorneys lead a training on how to volunteer for the Family Law Court Clinic at the Court Service Center.

Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge addresses the audience at the BBA’s Juvenile Restorative Justice Program. The symposium focused on restorative justice initiatives in the Commonwealth as particularly related to the state’s youth. This event was the culmination of the 12th Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) class’ 14-month program. PILP promotes civic engagement and public service by advancing the leadership roles of new lawyers. Throughout the program, the class examines various issues facing our community and concludes with a symposium of entirely their design.

Summer is a beloved time at the BBA because it means that law firms, courts, government agencies, and legal services organizations across the city will host high school student interns as part of our Summer Jobs Program. Students gain valuable insight into the legal profession and office work experience as they intern during their summer break. Students are also provided Enrichment Seminars, which enhance their experience and provide exposure to various legal careers, the workings of the Supreme Judicial Court, and more.

Janet Bostwick, Janet E. Bostwick, PC, was acknowledged this past year for her devotion to the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. Bostwick was appointed head of the Financial Literacy Committee by her dear and late friend, M. Ellen Carpenter in 2004 and has since grown the program to teach over 500 students a year. Bostwick stepped down from the Committee after 12 years and we’re thankful for her service.

Law students and attorneys met with various legal services organizations and government agencies as they browsed the Pro Bono Fair & Open House in October. The event draws scores of people each year and provides organizations the chance to attract new volunteers.

BBA President Carol Starkey, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP, meets with Katy Buckland, principal of UP Academy Boston. The BBA President participates in Principal for a Day each year to gain insight into the day-to-day activities of the students many of our public service programs impact.

 

Thank you for a wonderful year, we can’t wait to kickoff 2017 with you!

Meet the PILP Symposium Faculty: Hon. Jay Bliztman, First Justice of the Middlesex Probate and Family Court

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The First Justice of the Middlesex County Juvenile Court, Hon. Jay Bliztman, has for decades been a leader in the efforts to improve the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts. As a public defender, he started the Youth Advocacy Project, which began with the goal of protecting and advancing the legal and human rights of children and promoting their healthy development, through active partnerships in Boston’s communities.  In 1994, he co-founded the Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ), a statewide non-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on important juvenile justice issues.  Judge Blitzman dedicated himself to these initiatives because he believed that if he and other lawyers worked to improve access for juveniles and their families outside the courtroom these efforts would have a positive impact on the atmosphere within the courtroom.

A strong proponent for restorative justice, Judge Blitzman was initially “drawn to RJ at the urging of students” while teaching a course at Northeastern University. Concerned about national trends in the arrest and prosecution rates in Massachusetts and across the United States, Judge Blitzman learned that restorative justice, can be a cost effective tool to curb recidivism in the juvenile justice system by changing the behavior of youth.

Judge Blitzman will be a speaker in the Public Interest Leadership Program will host the Juvenile Restorative Justice Symposium at the Boston Bar Association on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. The Symposium free event is open to the public and will bring together restorative justice practitioners for the purpose of educating the bar and raising awareness about restorative justice principles and efforts to implement these principles in the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts.

BBA’s PILP Class to Host Juvenile Restorative Justice Symposium

pilp symposium

The Boston Bar Association will host a Juvenile Restorative Justice Symposium on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 here at 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA.

The Symposium was planned for the members of the BBA community and the community at large by the BBA’s 2015-16 Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP). PILP is a program engaged in by a select group of attorneys from a variety of practice areas and settings, all in their first 10 years of practice, who embark on a 14-month exploration of legal services, social justice and public interest issues in the Commonwealth.  After hearing from a variety of speakers who addressed the class concerning recent developments in specialty courts, alternative sentencing and diversionary programs, as well as other topics pertinent to the Boston legal community, the PILP class was inspired to organize a Symposium on Juvenile Restorative Justice.

The Symposium is free to attend and is designed to bring together restorative justice practioners while also educating the bar and raising awareness about restorative justice principles and efforts geared toward juveniles in Massachusetts.

Challenges and successes will be examined from the perspectives of the court, prosecution, defense, probation, and police departments.  We will also discuss over lunch (provided), the future of restorative justice in Massachusetts communities.

Faculty will include:

Hon. Jay Blitzman, First Justice, Middlesex County Juvenile Court

Commissioner Edward Dolan, Commissioner of Probation

Sen. James (Jamie) Eldridge, Massachusetts State Senator from the Middlesex and Worcester District

Erin Freeborn, Executive Director of Communities for Restorative Justice

Hon. Leslie Harris (Ret.), Suffolk County Juvenile Court

Ziyad Hopkins, Committee for Public Counsel Services, Youth Advocacy Division, Roxbury

Professor Susan Maze-Rothstein, Teaching Professor and Director of the Legal Skills in Social Context Program at Northeastern University School of Law; Board President of Our Restorative Justice

Chief Frederick Ryan, Chief of Police, Arlington, MA

Marian Ryan, Middlesex County District Attorney

Challenges and successes will be examined from the perspectives of the court, prosecution, defense, probation, and police departments.  We will also discuss over lunch (provided), the future of restorative justice in Massachusetts communities.

Advanced registration is required because space is limited.  More information and registration information can be found here.

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.

Reflecting on the First Year of the Harvard Low-Income Tax Clinic

Nagin_Daniel

Daniel Nagin, Faculty Director of the Legal Services Center & Veterans Legal Clinic of Harvard Law School, recently sat down with us to talk about how the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic there has fared in its first year. With financial support from the Boston Bar Foundation, the IRS, and the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, and the donation of time and resources of members of the private bar, the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic aims to increase access to legal aid for low-income taxpayers with legal problems related to taxes.

One of the priority populations the Clinic serves is low-income veterans.  This year, tax attorneys from the Legal Services Center, Greater Boston Legal Services, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and the IRS led a series of trainings at the BBA with the goal of recruiting pro bono attorneys to accept overflow cases from the Clinic. Nagin said over 35 attorneys and tax professionals signed on to our pro bono panel as a result of these trainings.  In October, the Clinic also arranged a lunch time program at the BBA with the National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson.

These are the questions we asked about the Clinic’s successes and plans for its future:

Q: How would you sum up the Clinic’s first year?

A: There has been tremendous momentum due to a number of intersecting forces. First, there are a substantial number of people who have tax controversies with the IRS and no recourse. Understandably, they feel intimidated, overwhelmed, and often they have no idea that there are defenses available to them. Another force has been the interest from the private bar. There are many attorneys looking to do pro bono work in the area of tax law. We are gratified to the BBF’s partnership in bringing these forces together.

Q: What plans do you have for the Clinic’s future?

A: We are seeing an increasing number of taxpayers with issues with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, so that is one area of our work that we are trying to build out. In the future we hope to address not only federal tax issues, but related state issues. Unfortunately, like many other segments of the community, low-income veterans often have not only one legal problem but multiple legal problems. So, we also have a substantial number of clients who are referred internally at the Legal Services Center from the Veterans Legal Clinic to the Tax Clinic when they contact us about veterans’ law issues but also have tax issues.

Q: Why do you think there is such a need for this type of clinic in the community?

A: It is not uncommon for people who have tax problems to be afraid and unsure what to do—which can lead to people doing nothing and letting deadlines and opportunities to challenge IRS claims pass . Our mission is to eliminate barriers and increase access to help, to make it as easy as possible for people in these situations to get legal representation. The Tax Clinic is now on the list of resources that the Tax Court gives to pro se litigants, so we now have cases referred to us through the Court itself. While we’re not happy that there is such a depth of need in the community, we are gratified to play a role in helping to close the access to justice gap.

Q: Can you share a specific instance of the Clinic helping a taxpayer in need?

A: The Clinic recently completed representation of a disabled combat veteran who had almost $200,000 in tax liability, but it was the result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder issues that made it extremely difficult for him to function and that led him into extreme financial distress . The Clinic developed the record to highlight his financial circumstances and developed medical evidence to demonstrate his service-connected mental health issues. In the end, the IRS made the decision to waive nearly the entirety of the tax liability.  In another case, this one also involving a disabled veteran, the Clinic is fighting not only an incorrect IRS allegation that the client owes $500,000 in back taxes, but is also arguing that the IRS actually owes the client a refund as a result of seizing his funds to satisfy the incorrect liability.  In addition to its work on individual cases of low income taxpayers, the Clinic is pursuing numerous systemic reform efforts to improve tax procedures and tax laws that harm low-income taxpayers.

Q: Why would you encourage an attorney to get involved with the Clinic?

A: There is a tremendous unmet need in the community.  Our intake line is overwhelmed with clients seeking legal help who are unable to afford an attorney.  Joining our pro bono panel will ensure that we are matching the incredible pro bono energy from the private bar with the pressing need that exists in the community. The cases are also very meaningful. It’s a powerful experience to help someone challenge the IRS when that person would otherwise go without an advocate and be left to his or her own devices in a complex and intimidating matter.  The Taxpayer Advocate has done studies showing that taxpayers have a much higher success rate when they are represented.  Additionally these cases present opportunities to learn and deepen understanding of tax procedure and the tax laws.