Posts Categorized: Uncategorized

Re-entry Education Committee Prepares to Kick-off 2015-2016 Program Year

With honors at our next Adams Benefit going to Roca, and the state legislature discussing options for sentencing reform, reducing recidivism and mass incarceration has been top of mind at the BBA.

The BBA Reentry Education Program Committee wrapped another successful year teaching probationers about civil legal issues, and with the help of PILP11, it expanded to include the CHOICE program at Boston Municipal Court, Roxbury Division. Between the two programs, the program served over 100 probationers and presented 12 civil legal education workshops.


In March, Judge Leo Sorokin and Volunteer Adrienne Walker (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.) spoke with participants about financial literacy through the BBA Reentry Education Program.

With continuing co-chair Julia Devanthery (Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School) and new co-chair Sarah Schendel, the committee hopes to continue the great work in both federal and state court.

“This year the Re-Entry Education Committee will be working with the District Court of Massachusetts to refine our know-your-rights workshop offerings, and to make sure that our volunteers are reaching as many probationers as possible,” said Julia Devanthéry. “To that end, we’re looking into moving some of our more popular sessions from the court to community-based locations that are more easily accessible to probationers. We hope that this simple change may allow our volunteers to empower more probationers, and support their successful reentry into the community.”

“Since first working with incarcerated individuals and their families over 10 years ago, I’ve seen the challenges that await those released from prison,” added Sarah Schendel. “However, when we help our incarcerated friends, family members, and neighbors access the support, information, and opportunities they need, they are empowered and able to thrive. I’m excited to continue working with the BBA’s Reentry Committee to support individuals involved in both the state and federal courts, and honored to serve as co-chair.”

A Co-Op Student’s Perspective: Working in the BBA Lawyer Referral Service

Guest Post:  Jacqueline Lopes is working at the Boston Bar Association as a Co-Op Student. She is a rising senior at Northeastern University.

I am a Northeastern Student pursuing a Double Major in Political Science and Business Administration, and I am working at the Boston Bar Association in the Lawyer Referral Service for my 6 month Co-Op placement.

One of my main duties is fielding calls from individuals looking for legal assistance.  At first it was hard to assist the people that were calling for legal help, since I did not know all the legal terms for all of the practice areas.  Being on the phone and assisting someone that really relies on your help and direction was harder than I thought. I quickly realized that I always need to make sure that I am using the right words, tone of voice, and asking the right questions to find out how to best assist the caller. In the first month that I was here, I had trainings almost every week with different attorneys specializing in different practices. They would tell us about their practice and also give us great advice for screening calls, and our career plans. Not only the trainings made me feel more comfortable speaking on the phone, but it was amazing meeting the attorneys that came to talk with us. The BBA has a great structure to help new interns feel comfortable when assisting clients

After the trainings, I felt more confident helping the clients that were calling us for assistance. Now that I know how to direct the clients to the correct place, I really feel that the LRS program does make a difference in the lives of many people. Some clients call us and have no idea where to start, and being able to give them some kind of guidance by sending them to an attorney or to a legal service that might be able to help them is an amazing feeling. I am really excited to see what I will learn and who I will help in the next couple of months.

My dream always has been to go to law school one day, and being at the BBA is a great opportunity for me to better understand how the legal world works in real life. Meeting attorneys, going on field trips to courts, and seeing how the BBA runs as a business is definitely going to help me develop as a person and as a professional. I know that interning here for six months will have a great impact on the next step I take towards my career.

Jacqueline Lopes is a rising senior at Northeastern University.  She has joined the BBA Lawyer Referral Service as part of her 6 month cooperative education program through Northeastern.

A Student’s Perspective: Visiting the Supreme Judicial Court

The BBA Summer Jobs students met with Associate Justice Sydney Hanlon (Massachusetts Trial Court) to hear about her career and the process to become a judge.

The BBA Summer Jobs students met with Associate Justice Sydney Hanlon (Massachusetts Appeals Court) to hear about her career and the process to become a judge.

Guest Post: Elijah Oyenuga is one of the Summer Jobs Student working at the Boston Bar Association. He recently graduated from Another Course to College in Brighton and will be attending Lesley University next year.

The courts in Greater Boston always have a rich history behind them, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, or rather the John Adams Courthouse, is no different. Upon our visit to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, we were given a tour by the law clerks who graciously took the time out of their day to do so. First, we explored the court room occupied by the Supreme Judicial Court. It was by far the most beautiful and intimidating of the state courts. Next, we viewed two rooms, one dedicated to the life of our second president John Adams and another to the Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti case.

One of the cases showcased in the John Adams room, was the case of Quock Walker vs. Jennison, a case that helped abolish slavery in Massachusetts. It was case about an American slave who sued for his freedom in June 1781 and ended with Chief Justice William Cushing declaring all men to be born free and equal according to the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. In contrast, we then have the case of Sacco and Vanzetti, two anarchists who were wrongfully convicted and executed for armed robbery and murder. One is a prime example of when the law and those who swear to uphold it work in a just fashion; the other is a blatant crime, an abuse of power and prejudice. This was my second time embarking on this tour and it was still very insightful in terms of this working dichotomy that is always present in our society.

The BBA Summer Jobs students toured the courtrooms and historical galleries at the Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday.

The BBA Summer Jobs students toured the courtrooms and historical galleries at the Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday.

Last, we met with Associate Justice Sydney Hanlon of the Appeals Court. Associate Justice Hanlon is remarkable and charismatic woman with a whimsical personality. She told us about the amazing story of her life, from how she started out in her career to how she came to fall in love with Boston. It was interesting to learn her vast amount of occupations prior to becoming an Associate Justice. She headed the sexual assault unit, became an assistant United States attorney in Boston, worked in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, become an assistant attorney general, and formed a drug crime unit. Her life and experience is truly something for the textbooks. It is always motivating to meet such an amazing person because it lets the youth like us know that anything is possible.

The Boston Bar Association has put me into contact with lovely lawyers and judges that are just as amazing as Associate Justice Hanlon and that is a wonderful thing. My time at the BBA is coming to an end and I just want to thank everyone at the BBA, the lawyers and judges that came to speak with us. And most of all, I want to thank Katie D’Angelo for giving me this opportunity and being an amazing supervisor. This was by far the most enjoyable and educational summer I have ever had and it’s all thanks to you.