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.
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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.
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.
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@example.com or (617) 778-1984.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at 617-778-1918.
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@example.com for more information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to connect with VETRN on mentorship opportunities.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project, in partnership with the Women’s Bar Foundation and Community Legal Services and Counseling Center*recently began a weekly Family Law Clinic at the Court Service Center in the Edward Brooke Courthouse in Boston. The clinic provides legal advice and helps draft pleadings on family law issues including divorce, custody, and more. The Boston Bar Association recently hosted a training for attorneys and law students interested in volunteering with the clinic. This opportunity is open to attorneys of all skill levels. Law students and new lawyers are able to build skill sets by interacting with clients and drafting pleadings. More experienced practitioners are able to do pro bono work without commitment of full case and have mentorship opportunities.
The Family Law Clinic is every Wednesday from 9-1 PM at the Suffolk Probate & Family Court. Volunteers are able to sign-up online for any week and as often as one would like.
*The Volunteer Lawyers Project, Women’s Bar Foundation, and Community Legal Services and Counseling Center are 2016 Grantees of the Boston Bar Foundation.
Earlier this month, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) welcomed Representative Michael Day to the Boston Bar Association. Rep. Day is currently in his second term in the Massachusetts State House representing the 31st Middlesex District of Massachusetts, which includes Stoneham and Winchester. Rep. Day is also a partner at Torres, Scammon, Hincks & Day, LLP where his practice focuses on business and criminal litigation.
When asked what prompted his interest in public service, Rep. Day cited his time in PILP in 2008-2009 as the tinder that lit the fire. Working on programs like Law Day in the Schools and the Charitable Board Service Information Session helped Rep. Day realize his passion for community based work. After PILP, Rep. Day joined the BBA’s Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Section Steering Committee and went on to co-chair that section until he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2015.
Rep. Day described his schedule to PILP and explained how he balances his political duties and being a firm partner. He also described how PILPers, as residents of Massachusetts, can raise concerns with their representatives and become more civically engaged on issues they’re passionate about. On the state level, Rep. Day noted that one’s state representative has the closest tie to their constituents because they represent an area far smaller than state senators. PILP was encouraged to reach out to their state representative with any question or concern.
You can read more about Rep. Day here.
If you’re interested in applying to PILP, applications for the 2017-2018 Class are being accepted until March 31, 2017. Please contact Cassandra Shavney at email@example.com if you’d like to apply.
At a reception at the John Adams Courthouse on Thursday, March 2, 2017, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and Appeals Court Chief Justice Scott L. Kafker delivered remarks and honored three volunteers for their outstanding pro bono work in the Civil Appeals Court Clinic run out of the Appeals Court Clerk’s Office. Since 2015, volunteer attorneys from the Volunteer Lawyers Project and Boston-area law firms have helped at least 230 low income litigants who are representing themselves in civil appellate court matters on a number of issues, ranging from housing to family law. The Civil Appeals Court Clinic volunteers who were presented with certificates were: Kimberly Parr, Daniel Goodrich, and Conlan Orino. For more information about the Civil Appeals Court Clinic, including how to get involved, visit https://www.vlpnet.org/volunteer/item.6901-Civil_Appeals_Clinic.
At a recent well-attended training at 16 Beacon Street, the Boston Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project brought experts in the legal and medical fields to talk about best practices for representing asylum seekers.
The training was geared toward those who have never taken on an asylum case before, and introduced attendees to PAIR’s method of assigning teams of attorneys to tackle these multifaceted, challenging cases. PAIR’s executive director, Anita Sharma, stressed the importance of teamwork, creative thinking and empathy in asylum cases, which require a mix of legal prowess and sensitivity from attorneys.
“It’s one thing to read the language of this law, but when you are dealing with an actual human being who has been through terrible trauma, and you’re trying to … check off all the boxes (to make sure they meet the qualifications to obtain asylum), it becomes very difficult,” she said.
Even a phrase as seemingly straightforward as a “well-founded fear of persecution,” which one must demonstrate to qualify for asylum, is subject to multiple interpretations. The panel of experts walked attendees through each piece of the legal requirements for asylum. They also discussed the distinction between asylum status and refugee status, gave tips on working with interpreters, and offered advice on coaxing clients to talk about what they have endured.
“It’s human instinct: you go through something horrible and you want to forget it. But we (as attorneys) are in this terrible position where we have to ask for every single detail” in order to strengthen the client’s case, Sharma said.
Sonda Crosby, a physician at Boston Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, spoke about the importance of a forensic medical examination in proving a client’s claims in a situation where they have been physically harmed.
Ilana Greenstein (Law Office of Macias & Greenstein) and David McHaffey (McHaffey & Associates) also lent their expertise to the training.
Check out our calendar page for more public service programs and pro bono trainings and if you’re interested in volunteer opportunities related to immigration issues, please complete this online survey.
The Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project is a 2016 Grantee of the Boston Bar Foundation.