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BBA Bar Coaching Program: From Student to Coach

Tony Faillaci said it was “soul-crushing” for him when he found out he didn’t pass the bar exam for the first time. Until he enrolled in the BBA’s Bar Coaching program, he felt like the only person he knew who was stuck with having to do it over, he said.

“It’s devastating. You watch your colleagues that you graduated law school with, and the majority of them passed. While you don’t want to take away from what they accomplished, you’re jealous that it wasn’t you,” he said. “But when I entered the room (at the BBA) there were a lot of other people that were in the same boat.”

Faillaci said he was struggling to balance working full time and studying for the bar exam. His coach, attorney Mike McDermott (Dain Torpy), was able to relate and provide tips from his own experience.

“(Mike) was a positive guy. If I ever had questions, if he didn’t have an answer, he would put me in contact with someone that would know,” Faillaci said. “It doesn’t sound like much, but if it takes you 30 minutes to find a contact to talk to about something, that’s 30 minutes that you’re not studying.  From that standpoint, it’s invaluable.”

Faillaci went on to pass the bar exam in February, and he believes so strongly in the bar coaching program that he decided to “pay it forward” and coach a test-taker as they study for their upcoming exam in July.

If you are taking the bar exam in July or you know someone who is, check out the BBA Bar Coaching Program webpage!

Work on Veterans Discharge Upgrade Cases? Attend our Advanced Training on Building a Persuasive Case

Many of the men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces are cut off from veterans’ services and benefits because they were given a less-than-honorable discharge. They may have served in combat or have suffered physical or mental wounds, but are nevertheless unable to access much-needed treatment and support from federal and state veterans agencies because of their discharge status. In many cases, the origin of their need for support—for example, service-related post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury—also contributed to the conduct that led to their less-than-honorable discharges.

This program builds on the June 2015 introductory training and May 2016 advanced training on representing veterans in discharge upgrade petitions. The focus will be on how to build a strong evidentiary record to support a discharge upgrade application.

Attorneys who did not attend the June 2015 or May 2016 trainings are welcome to attend this advanced training. They are encouraged to watch the introductory training beforehand, which is available online. Please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected] for access to those trainings.

After this seminar, attendees will know about new laws and policies affecting discharge upgrade practice and will better understand how to creatively and effectively gather and develop evidence in order to build a persuasive case to the military discharge review boards.

Attorneys who participate in the training will be eligible to join the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership (VJPBP), established in 2015 by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. Through the VJPBP, the Veterans Legal Clinic screens and refers veterans seeking discharge upgrades to private attorneys and then provides ongoing support and expert resources to those attorneys throughout the case. The generosity and efforts of VJPBP attorneys help to address the enormous gap in the provision of legal services to veterans and will provide much-needed advocacy to those who served the nation in uniform.

Law students are welcome but are not eligible to take pro bono referrals from the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership.

To register for this training, please log in and RSVP here.

After the training, the BBA will be hosting a Military & Veterans Networking Reception with guest speaker Secretary Francisco Ureña of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services. All are welcome to attend and should RSVP here.

DLA Piper Leverages Real Estate Expertise to Assist Area Non-Profits

DLA Piper is no stranger to pro bono work. The firm’s Pro Bono Committee regularly takes on pro bono clients who need assistance in a wide variety of areas, from immigration matters and veterans affairs to litigation. But with approximately half of its Boston-based attorneys specializing in real estate, members of the firm’s pro bono committee, including Brian Hochleutner, saw potential for more.

“As a transactional lawyer, it can be hard to find interesting pro bono work within your specialty,” said Hochleutner, a partner in DLA Piper’s real estate group. “As lawyers become more senior and more specialized; many would like to do pro bono work that’s in their subject matter.”

Hochleutner had handled pro bono real estate work, including leasing, for a variety of non-profit groups like the Girl Scouts, work that led to a big “thank you” in the form of a giant case of his cookie of choice, Thin Mints. But connecting pro bono clients who need a real estate lawyer, and real estate lawyers in search of good pro bono work, can be a challenge.  Some of this is because nonprofits do not always think to find a lawyer to help with their leasing work.

DLA Piper found the seed of an idea for addressing this issue when the firm participated in the City of Boston’s Main Street program, where firm attorneys volunteered to offer legal advice to the small businesses and entrepreneurs in attendance.

“Several of DLA Piper’s Boston real estate attorneys — Jarrod Matteson and Chris Price – put together a presentation on the basics of commercial leasing, knowing that their audience was made up of people who are trying to get a business started and don’t always have the money to spend on a lawyer,” explained Hochleutner. “And that got us thinking from a pro bono standpoint about how we could leverage that idea, and whether there were other groups who might benefit.”

Hochleutner and his DLA Piper pro bono committee colleagues Rich Gruenberger, Geoff Howell, and Emma Yashar connected with Machiko Sano Hewitt, Legal Referral Director for The Lawyers Clearinghouse, which is a Boston Bar Foundation grantee organization that works to connect lawyers with substantive pro bono opportunities. Working together, they put together a one day clinic where non-profit organizations with concerns or questions about their leases could come to DLA Piper’s office and consult with an attorney for free.

“Boston is home to a lot of non-profits doing great work, and very nearly all of them have a lease,” said Hochleutner. “However, many don’t hire an attorney to review it, either because of budget concerns or they may have the idea that it’s not that difficult a process.”

But in Hochleutner’s experience, there are things a lawyer can spot before the lease is signed that can save time, money, and aggravation later. For example, a landlord may include overbroad language with expansive tenant indemnity obligations or that allows the owner to pass on costs of potential future building renovations to the tenants over and above the rent, each of which could result in unanticipated costs that can wreak havoc on a small non-profit’s budget.

“When you’re running a non-profit, you need predictability in budget. A lot of time, it’s just a matter of having a conversation and walking them through the issues you’ve flagged and working out a plan for negotiation. But if you don’t know what items you can and should push back on, you’re not in a good place to negotiate.”

The February clinic was so well attended – by both attorneys and pro bono clients – that DLA Piper is planning to hold a second one in June, with the goal of having regular quarterly clinics to follow. And in addition to offering legal advice and representation on lease negotiation, DLA Piper hopes to leverage its relationships with commercial real estate brokers where appropriate cases, to help non-profits that need assistance from a broker obtain help on a pro bono basis.

“We’ve had non-profits reach out to us and ask if they can get advice on finding a new office or advising on the fairness of the proposed rent,” he explained. “In those cases we have sought to connect the client with a broker who can help them pro bono to get the right space or understand the market better, while we help get them with the provisions in the lease.”

And who knows? Perhaps there’s a lease renewal in the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts’ future.

Attorneys Learn to Lead Know Your Rights Trainings in Our Community

Since the presidential election, the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR)* has experienced an exponentially increase in demand for Know Your Rights trainings from community groups and organizations. PAIR has been coordinating and hosting these trainings with the assistance of dozens of volunteer attorneys. Last month, PAIR trained an additional 50 volunteers at the Boston Bar Association to lead Know Your Rights trainings. Attorneys were prepped with the basics of people’s rights when questioned by immigration officers, how immigrants should prepare themselves and families if they are questioned, and what legal and community resources are available for those needing further assistance. Attorney volunteers were also provided an overview of all immigration and travel executive orders since the election and were briefed on where the law stands now.

PAIR is continuing to host trainings for attorneys and coordinate Know Your Rights presentations. If interested in PAIR’s work, please visit their website.

*The Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project is a 2016 Grantee of the Boston Bar Foundation

Attorneys Help Clean Up the Charles River & Esplanade

The BBA thanks its members that joined over 400 volunteers last weekend as a part of the Charles River Watershed Association’s Annual Charles River Cleanup. Volunteers spent the morning picking up trash and debris along the Charles River and Esplanade, ultimately clearing 210 bags of trash. If you weren’t able to join us this year, keep your eye out next spring to join the BBA’s team.

BBF Grantees Speak at Society of Fellows Appreciation Breakfast

Last Wednesday morning, nearly 100 members of the Society of Fellows and representatives from the Boston Bar Foundation’s grantee organizations gathered for a breakfast at the Taj Boston hotel downtown. The group came together to celebrate the positive impact of their support of the BBF in the community and look ahead to the important work that remains to be done in the coming months. Check out the photos from the event here.

 

Lisa Goodheart (Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen), Patricia Comfort (Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts) and Taci Darnell (Fidelity)

This year, in addition to funding all of the public service programs of the BBA, the BBF granted $1 million to more than 20 local legal services organizations, all of which are working on the front lines  to improve access to justice for those most in need. Representatives from many of these essential community organizations attended the breakfast, with four of them participating on a panel that the BBF convened to discuss the current challenges to expanding access to justice and serving those in need. Moderated by the Honorable Nonnie Burnes, retired Superior Court judge, the panel  engaged Jacqui Bowman of Greater Boston Legal Services, Betsy Soule of MetroWest Legal Services, Ronnie Millar of the Irish International Immigrant Center, and Samantha Morton of Medical-Legal Partnership Boston in a substantive panel discussion of emerging trends in Boston’s legal services field given recently enacted and proposed public policy shifts at the federal level.

Betsy Soule (MetroWest Legal Services), Samantha Morton (Medical-Legal Partnership Boston), Ronnie Millar (Irish International Immigrant Center) and Jacquelynne Bowman (Greater Boston Legal Services) speak on a panel at the Society of Fellows Appreciation Breakfast, moderated by Hon. Nonnie Burnes (Ret.).

Despite serious concerns about the future of access to justice in the areas of immigration, healthcare, housing and more, the panelists were encouraged by the outpouring of support for their work by the Massachusetts private bar. They hope that this momentum will continue and leave them better equipped to address the community’s increased needs during this difficult time.

The Society of Fellows is a vibrant community of more than 400 Boston leaders who are the backbone of the BBF’s efforts to expand access to justice and leverage the power of lawyers to improve our community in many different ways. Interested in learning more about how the Society provides the foundation for all of the BBF’s work and how you might get involved? Contact Tara Trask at [email protected] or (617) 778-1984.

 

PILP Discusses Boston’s Police Body Camera Pilot Program

As discussions around criminal justice reform continue, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) recently heard from Segun Idowu, the Co-Organizer of the Boston Police Camera Action Team (BPCAT). In addition to his role with BPCAT, Idowu works at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate where he is currently the Visitor Services Manager, and is the 3rd Vice-President for the Boston chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He helped organize BPCAT after the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 and in September 2016, the Boston Police Commissioner announced the start of the body camera pilot program and in March, the program was extended to allow more time for data collection. BPCAT worked with community partners such as the ACLU of Massachusetts to help develop the pilot program’s policy that was adopted by the City of Boston and they continue to follow the results of the program.

You can read more about the work of BPCAT on their website.

Call for Volunteer Attorneys to Coach July Bar Exam Applicants

We are seeking attorneys to serve as coaches to bar exam applicants sitting for the Massachusetts Bar Exam this July. 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. Coaches will communicate with their applicant by e-mail, by phone, or in person.

A training video and coaching guidelines will be provided. You will also have the option of attending our in-person training on May 1.

If you would like to volunteer as a coach, please fill out this online information form.

If you have any questions, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected] or at 617-778-1918.

Still Time to Hire a BPS Student This Summer!

With less than a month to go before Casino Night, we can’t hold in our excitement for another round of the Summer Jobs Program. Law firms, government agencies, and in-house legal departments will be hiring students for seven weeks over the summer, with the proceeds from the Boston Bar Foundation’s Casino Night helping to hire students to work at legal services organizations. We’re so thankful to the organizations that have already signed up to hire a student and for those pledging to support the program through Casino Night.

To truly understand the impact of the program, we’re revisiting the experience of Sherley Muscade. Sherley was the first student the Boston Planning and Development Agency (known as the Boston Redevelopment Authority last summer) hired and was a wonderful resource for their office. When we visited her office last August, Sherley’s enthusiasm for the work was obvious. Check out her story here.

There’s still time to sign-up to hire for 2017, so please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected] for more information.

VETRN Founder Highlights Entrepreneurial Program for Veterans

At the last Veterans Meet & Greet Luncheon, two dozen active duty military and veteran attorneys and law students, members of the BBA’s Military & Veterans Committee, and fellow BBA members mingled over lunch at the BBA. Attendees also met with two guests from the Veteran Entrepreneurial Training & Resource Network (VETRN).

Leland Goldberg, Founder, and Marie Shirley, Program Manager, of VETRN were invited to provide information on their organization. Goldberg shared that after he returned from duty in Vietnam, he was hired by a veteran to work at John Hancock. Since then, Goldberg has been the CEO of numerous companies and started VETRN’s StreetWise ‘MBA’ program to help veteran small business owners grow their business. Program participants participate in a 26-week program that includes educational sessions and mentorship.

VETRN is currently recruiting for their next program year and is accepting applications. Goldberg encouraged the group to share the program application with anyone that may be interested. Additionally, the program is always looking for mentors. As a mentor, you’ll be matched with a veteran in the program to help guide them as they work on implementing the lessons learned in their business.

Please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected] if you’d like to connect with VETRN on mentorship opportunities.