Posts Categorized: Public Service

Chief Justice Ordoñez Weighs in on Importance of LAR at Probate & Family Court Training

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On Tuesday, Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Angela Ordoñez greeted attendees at a Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) workshop aimed at preparing attorneys to represent clients on a limited basis in a probate or family law case.

LAR is a useful tool for clients who might not otherwise have access to legal representation. Rather than paying a large sum as a retainer, they can hire an attorney for one particular motion or hearing, after which the parties can choose to go their separate ways or draft another agreement concerning the next steps.

The only problem with LAR, Chief Justice Ordoñez said, is that not enough people know they have access to it.

“Let people spread the word to their friends, their cousins, their family and all of that. If you spread the word about LAR, you’ll help the court, you’ll help the client and you’ll help yourselves. I see people every day who have no idea what LAR is,” she said.

Panelists Ilene Mitchell (Probate and Family Court Administrative Office) and Laura Unflat (The Law Office of Laura M. Unflat) spoke to attendees about their experience practicing LAR and answered questions about cases that the attorneys in the audience were already working on.

If you’re interested in learning more about LAR, including how to get certified to practice, our next training on April 28 will focus on LAR in the Boston Municipal and District Courts.  Click here to learn more.

Representing Low-Income Taxpayers: A Recap

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Last week, we wrapped up a three-part series of pro bono trainings geared toward helping to build the first ever low-income taxpayer pro bono panel of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS).

Over the course of the series, attorneys learned about the IRS collections timeline, a client’s right to due process, and the best tactics for removing levies and liens. They also learned about working out payment agreements and other alternatives to full collection of back taxes, and how to best resolve a dispute stemming from an audit.

Expert attorneys as well as IRS representatives made up the panels for these trainings. Over the course of three programs, over 35 attorneys and tax professionals signed on to work with the low-income taxpayer pro bono panel.

We reached out to Keith Fogg, the Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, and Luz Arevalo, a senior attorney at GBLS, to ask about the major takeaways of the program.

“Legal representation for all taxpayers most obviously helps the taxpayer represented, but it also serves as a check that improves our system of taxation. Working families will avoid much frustration and heartache if they respond promptly and correctly to a tax audit notice. Having an advocate involved early in the process will often translate into quick resolutions of the case.

I believe a paramount principle in taxation is Fairness. This principle is preserved by insuring access to legal representation.”

–Luz Arevalo

“An important takeaway from the most recent training is that the failure to respond to notices from the IRS or the MA Department of Revenue leads to dire consequences including not only a debt but also the loss of a driver’s license or a passport.  The government has created a process of auditing that is very automated and efficient for them.  Low income taxpayers, who will frequently shrink from responding out of fear of the unknown, need resources to assist them in responding and working with the system.  The National Taxpayer Advocate for the IRS has developed statistics showing much higher rates of success by represented taxpayers in the audit process.  The program sought to encourage and enable representatives provide much needed pro bono assistance.

As a new clinic and as a clinic partnering with GBLS, it is important for Harvard to co-host this program in order to help build a cadre of representatives willing and prepared to assist our clients when we reach capacity to assist them with the resources available in our clinic.”

–Keith Fogg

VLP Announces December, January, and February Honor Roll

Volunteers are crucial to many of VLP's programs, including the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program pictured above.

Volunteers are crucial to many of VLP’s programs, including the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program pictured above.

Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association thanks the following attorneys who accepted cases or provided consultation December, January, and February:

Samuel Ames
Steven Ballard
Hans Banitt
Thomas Beauvais
Elaine Benkoski
Stephanie Biggs
Sarah Boonin
Maja Bozic
Alissa Brill
Rob Buchholz
Robert Burdick
Edward Burns
Jerald Burwick
Lisa Callahan
Vikas Dhar
Jessica Doucette
Meredith R. Douglas
James Downes
Jasmine Elatab
Peter Fellman
Dahlia Fetouh
Julie Franklin
Brendan Furey
Andres Garron
Nashwa Gewaily
Michael Giarrusso
David Goldman
Richard Goulding
Taurean Green
Steven Greenzang
David Haffner
Craig Herman
Karen Hoffman
Sharon Jones
Noor Kazmi
Susan Khurshudyan
Jeff Kiesling
Ilene Klein
Daniel Koh
Candace Labbe
Esther Laine
Maude Laroche-St. Fleur
Gregory Lee
Jacqueline Levy
Michelle Lewis
Amy Lipman-White
Corrine Lusic
Michael MacDonald
Cameron McGinn
Rosanna Molinaro
William Moore
Evelyn Venables Moreno
Madelyn Morris
Kristofer Munroe
Justin Murphy
Katherine Newman
Kate Nicholson
Judy O’Neil
Walter Oney
Seth Orkand
Allison Orpilla
William Patton
Nicholas Planty
Thomas Polito
John Polley
Camala Richardson
Patricia Ridge
Timothy Robertson
David Rome
Rebecca Royer
Lou Saban
Robert Sable
Ryan Takeo Sakoda
Evan Segal
Elizabeth Julia Smith
Danielle Spang
Kerry Spindler
Marsha Springette
Kathryn Terrell
Sharon Toffler
Jeffri Uber
William Valletta
Judith Vassilovski
Adrienne Walker
Brendan Ward
Heather Ward
Neil Warrenbrand
Amanda Whelan
Ajay Zutshi

LAR Series Continues With Housing Court Training

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BBA member Christopher Saccardi and First Justice of the Boston Housing Court Hon. Jeffrey Winik go way back. They go back to Saccardi’s days in law school, volunteering at the Lawyer for a Day program in Boston Housing Court.

Through that program, Saccardi took on his first Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) cases. He helped clients through a specific piece of their case, such as an individual motion or filing.

“LAR is a wonderful training ground for new lawyers who want courtroom experience,” Saccardi told attendees at a recent training on representing litigants in Housing Court.

Not only is LAR beneficial to new attorneys looking for experience, it can be a vital service to litigants who can’t afford legal representation. The vast majority of people who come before Judge Winik are unrepresented, he said. This is a huge disadvantage to the litigant, who may not have the knowledge to represent their own interest effectively. It also ties up the court system, as an attorney helps to move a case more efficiently forward.
During the training, the two panelists explained how to become certified online to practice LAR. They also gave tips on common obstacles in LAR cases, including how to facilitate communication with non-native English speakers, to drafting clear, specific fee agreements.

“The bedrock of LAR is informed consent,” Judge Winik said. “You, the lawyer, must understand what you have agreed to do, and most importantly, the client must understand what you’ve agreed to do – or not to do.”

Of the importance of LAR in his court, Judge Winik said, “It is always better to have a litigant represented than not.”

Don’t miss the rest of the LAR Practical Skills series. Sign up for one of the upcoming sessions on how to use LAR in particular courts:

LAR Practical Skills: Probate & Family Court
March 22nd 12-1:30 pm

LAR Practical Skills: Boston Municipal Court & District Court
April 28th 12-1:30 pm

LAR Practical Skills: Land Court
May 24th 12-1:30 pm

BBF Junior Fellows Happy Hour a Success

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David Lieberman of Day Pitney LLP, Nikki Marie Oliveira of Bass, Doherty & Finks, PC and Marisa Roman of Sinsheimer & Associates

Last Thursday, the Boston Bar Foundation’s Junior Fellows Society held its first happy hour reception of 2016. Mingling over drinks and hors d’oeuvres, this group of conscientious young attorneys came together to network and celebrate the BBF’s work in Greater Boston.

The Junior Fellows Society, which is composed of attorneys in practice 10 years or less, is an important part of the Boston Bar Foundation’s Society of Fellows, a community of more than 400 leading attorneys who are committed to investing in our city’s future. Junior Fellows come together throughout the year for happy hour receptions for young attorneys, in addition to receptions with the entire Society of Fellows.

The featured guest of the evening was Junior Fellows Society member David Lieberman, an Associate at Day Pitney LLP who focuses on complex fraud claims. David is an alumnus of the Boston Bar Association’s Public Interest Leadership Program, has volunteered for the BBA’s Law Day in the Schools, and has worked with the BBA’s Reentry Education Program.

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David shared with the group his many reasons for joining the Society: helping to fund the public service activities of the bar, befriending other like-mind attorneys at events like this reception, and remaining engaged with the BBA and BBF community – in addition to the professional networking opportunities the Society provides. Several attendees noted that the Junior Fellows Society offers a much-needed outlet for young lawyers to discuss common worries they face in their first years in the legal field and to gain professional contacts that will serve them for years to come.

Members of the Junior Fellows Society pledge to contribute $250 a year for four years to support the Boston Bar Foundation’s endowment. The contributions of Junior Fellows allow the Boston Bar Foundation to expand access to justice for the underserved of Greater Boston, fund all of the public service projects of the BBA such as the ones David participated in, and provide invaluable educational opportunities for Boston’s urban youth. Learn more about the Junior Fellows Society.

Junior Fellows have unique opportunities to attend exclusive networking and social events with Fellows and Junior Fellows throughout the year. Because the Boston Bar Foundation is a 501(c)(3), all Junior Fellows contributions are tax-deductible. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Junior Fellow, please contact Tara Trask at [email protected] or (617) 778-1984.

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Sean Hagen of Long Knight, P.C. and Hannah Joseph of Beck Reed Riden

New Lawyers Volunteer at Pine Street Inn

New Lawyers spent Saturday morning serving food at the Pine Street Inn.

New Lawyers spent Saturday morning serving food at the Pine Street Inn.

The BBA’s weekend volunteer opportunities have been filling up quickly! Last week a group of attorneys headed to the Pine Street Inn to help prepare meals for the homeless at the Pine Street Inn and learn about the problem of homelessness in Boston.

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Are you looking for a similar volunteer opportunity? Don’t miss the Greater Boston Food Bank on March 23rd from 5:30-8:00 pm. Click here to learn more.

Cradles, Crayons, and Kitchens: Volunteer Spots Fill Up in February

A group of attorneys volunteered at Cradles to Crayons on Saturday.

A group of attorneys volunteered at Cradles to Crayons on Saturday.

The New Lawyers Public Service Committee’s annual Cradles to Crayons volunteer event is always popular, but this year it filled up in record time. Fifteen attorneys spent last Saturday processing and packaging donations that will be distributed to disadvantaged children across the state through Cradles to Crayons.  In case you’re not familiar with the organization, Cradles to Crayons provide homeless or low-income children with the essential items they need to thrive at home, at school, and at play.

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So what’s next for the New Lawyers Public Service Committee? Attorneys are heading to the Pine Street Inn on Saturday, February 20th to help prepare meals for the homeless at the Pine Street Inn and to learn about the problem of homelessness in Boston. This even also filled up quickly (which goes to show how dedicated our members are to volunteering in the community). However, keep an eye on the calendar for more weekend volunteer opportunities later this spring!

Volunteer at the Regional Mock Trial Tournament at Boston College

VolunteerAre you looking for a volunteer opportunity? Serve as a judge for the Undergraduate Mock Trial Regional Tournament at Boston College on February 13th and 14th. Twenty-four teams from top schools in the area will be competing for a chance at the National Championship Tournament.

If you are unfamiliar with mock trial, it is a competition where college students prepare a legal case and compete against each other as both defense and plaintiff. The role of a judge is simply to score the teams, rule on objections and provide feedback for the teams.

You are welcome to sign up for as many rounds as you’d like. Take a look below for the time slots.

  • Round 1: Saturday, February 13: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • Round 2: Saturday, February 13: 1:30 PM – 5:00 PM
  • Round 3: Sunday, February 14: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Round 4: Sunday, February 14: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

There will be a training and instruction session immediately preceding each round, and breakfast, lunch and coffee will all be provided.
If you are interested in judging, please take a few seconds and go to this link to register for as many rounds as you would like.

Public Service: A Year in Photos

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program didn’t slow down this year! With the help of 350 volunteers, the program assisted over 1,213 landlords and tenants in the Boston Housing Court.

The Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program didn’t slow down this year! With the help of 350 volunteers, the program assisted over 1,213 landlords and tenants in the Boston Housing Court.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Experts Break Down the United States Refugee Admissions Program

Marjean Perhot (Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston), Lisa Brennan (Ascentria Health Care Alliance), and Vivie Hengst (State Office of Refugees and Immigrants) spoke about the Syrian Refugee Crisis at Tuesday's brown bag program.

Marjean Perhot (Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston), Lisa Brennan (Ascentria Health Care Alliance), and Vivie Hengst (State Office of Refugees and Immigrants) gave a practical overview of the laws and processes for Syrian refugees. 

The issue of admitting refugees into the United States has been publicly discussed with increasing frequency as tensions in Syria have escalated and life there has become more dangerous. This week at the BBA, Immigration Section Co-Chair Iris Gomez and Asylum Committee Co-Chair Ani Ajemian sought to shed some light on the long, complicated process of entering the United States as a refugee, and the role that state governments play in that process.

They hosted three speakers who were able to bring diverse perspectives to a brown bag program. Marjean Perhot, Director of Refugee and Immigration Services for the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston, spoke about the many hurdles a person must clear in order to be granted admission to the country as a refugee.

Lisa Brennan, Program Manager at Ascentria Health Care Alliance, spoke about the steps her staff members take to help refugees adjust to life in America once they’re here, such as offering employment assistance and help applying for necessary documents.

Vivie Hengst, General Counsel for the State Office of Refugees and Immigrants, spoke about the process by which the federal government assigns a location to a refugee for resettlement.

In a PowerPoint presentation, the trio explained that refugees are just a “drop in the bucket” compared to the total number of immigrants in the United States. Marjean explained that only about one percent of the applicants make it through the federal government’s rigorous screening procedures, which begin long before a potential refugee leaves his or her home country.

Relocating refugees to another country is actually the least preferred option for both individual refugees and the agencies who help them, Marjean said. But sometimes there is no other option.

“Wouldn’t we love everybody to go back to their homes, to their familiar places? But that just is not the case for so many people,” Marjean said.

Vivie said about 10,000 refugees are expected to enter the country from Syria this year, and it is the federal government’s job to decide where they go. They are assigned a location based on a variety of factors, including the existing population of refugees in a given area, the cost of housing, and more.

The program offered those unfamiliar with the refugee immigration process a step-by-step overview. Participants were interested in learning more from the panelists after the program’s conclusion.