This past Tuesday, the BBA’s Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum held a reception ahead of Veterans Day to bring together members of the bar who are current members of the military, veterans, and their colleagues, and to honor those who have served. The event featured keynote speaker Harvey Weiner, Senior Counsel at Peabody & Arnold and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, where he was an Army Captain and was awarded the Bronze Star (M), among other medals. Mr. Weiner is the National Judge Advocate of the Jewish War Veterans of America, the nation’s oldest active veterans’ organization, and a past Massachusetts Department Commander. He spoke candidly about his experiences in the Vietnam War and upon returning home, and discussed how throughout his career he has drawn on this experience to relate to and support others who have survived violence and trauma, including survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
The reception also kicked off the Forum’s 2019-2020 Active Duty Military & Veterans Mentoring Program, and offered an opportunity for participants in the program to meet their newly-assigned mentors. The program matches military-affiliated law students and new lawyers with more experienced military-affiliated lawyers, who offer career advice and guidance about how to navigate the Boston legal landscape. This fall, the Forum has matched 21 pairs of mentees and mentors through the program. The Forum is thrilled to provide this program, which recognizes the unique experiences of active duty military and veteran attorneys.
The BBA is seeking mentors and mentees for the 2019-2020 year of our Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum Mentoring Program.
Military-affiliated BBA Members with four years or more of experience in the legal profession can sign-up as mentors. Mentors will be matched with a law student or new attorney hoping to meet and learn from experienced legal professionals with military backgrounds. A mentor can offer guidance on resume writing or interview prep, as well as offer perspective on practicing law in Boston as a servicemember/ veteran. Law students and attorneys with less than four years in practice with military affiliation are invited to sign-up as mentees.
The Boston Bar Association is proud to have hosted a
training on representing veterans pro bono in military discharge upgrade cases
this April. The training, sponsored by the Active Duty Military
& Veterans Forum, offered volunteers and those working with
veterans seeking discharge upgrades with the opportunity to meet and hear from the
leaders of the military review boards. Joseph Masterson (Army Review Boards
Agency), Elizabeth Hill (Board for Correction of Naval Records), Sean Schrock
(Board for Correction of Naval Records), and Nicole Jackson (Air Force Board
for Correction of Military Records), reviewed how their boards operate and how
pro bono attorneys can best advocate for their veteran clients.
This presentation was the fifth annual pro bono training put
on by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law
School, as part of its Veterans
Justice Pro Bono Partnership. Dana Montalto (Veterans Legal Clinic)
provided the training’s attendees with an overview of discharge upgrades and
the Partnership, which connects local veterans seeking discharge upgrades with
pro bono attorneys who want to give back to those who served in uniform. The
Legal Services Center provides ongoing case support throughout the
representation. Over the past five years, the Partnership has allowed more than
60 local veterans unjustly discharged from the military obtain pro bono
This pro bono assistance is critical because 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, experienced military sexual trauma, 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
If you’d like access to the training’s materials, please email Francine Alexandre at email@example.com. If you would like to get involved with the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership, please email Dana Montalto at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established in 2015, the Veterans
Justice Pro Bono Partnership at the Veterans Legal Clinic at the
Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School assists veterans seeking discharge
upgrades. The partnership connects veterans to private attorneys and provides
ongoing support and expert resources to those attorneys throughout the case.
For the past four years, the BBA has hosted an annual training to introduce
interested attorneys to this opportunity and bolster the skillset and knowledge
of existing pro bono volunteers. The next training will provide attendees the chance
to hear perspectives from the military board of directors for the Air Force,
Army, and Navy. They will discuss how the boards operate and how pro bono
attorneys can best advocate for their veteran clients. The pro bono training
will also include an update about recent changes in the law. You’re invited to
attend on Thursday, April 25th from 2:30 – 5:00 PM at the BBA. A
networking reception with the Active Duty Military and Veterans Forum will
immediately follow the training. Read more and register to attend here.
Note that this training will build on those from 2015-2018. Convenient
videos and materials from past trainings are available through our Learn Online
library’s dedicated pro bono and
public interest page. Easily watch the videos and review the
materials whenever your schedule permits and wherever works for you, whether at
your office or on the go!
The Military & Veterans Legal Helpline is a core part of the BBA’s ongoing efforts to provide access to justice and crucial legal assistance to military members, veterans, and their families. Each year, the helpline, which is housed in the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service, receives hundreds of calls from this population, and refers individuals to attorneys offering reduced-fee legal services as well as other legal service programs.
Last year, nearly 500 calls and requests came to the helpline, and we are looking for more attorneys to assist this population in all areas of law. If you are an attorney interested in assisting by providing reduced-fee legal services, please contact Solana Goss, Lawyer Referral Service Manager, at email@example.com or 617-778-1978.
If you work with military service members, veterans, or family members of either group who are looking for legal assistance, please encourage them to call the Military & Veterans Legal Help Line housed at the Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 617-742-0625 or 1-800-552-7046. Individuals can also get referrals 24/7 through our newly launched online platform, www.bostonbarlawyer.org.
We are extremely proud to announce the Boston Bar Association’s new mentoring program for military-affiliated law students and new lawyers. This pilot program will match senior lawyers who are veterans or active-duty servicemembers with new and prospective members of the bar with military backgrounds.
The BBA’s Military and Veterans Forum exists to support military-affiliated lawyers and create connections between them, as well as support veterans legal services efforts. The forum’s members are also focused on developing pathways to success in the legal profession while leveraging the many positive professional attributes of attorneys with a military service record.
Former Military and Veterans Forum Co-Chair Jonathan Hayden, of Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster, shared his thoughts on why the mentoring program is so important:
The skills and qualities a servicemember develops while serving in the military are incredible assets in a legal career, but former servicemembers at the beginning of their civilian legal careers often struggle to effectively present those assets to potential employers.
The BBA’s Military and Veterans Forum Mentorship Program will connect military veteran law students, junior attorneys, and active duty servicemembers looking to begin legal careers in Boston with established local attorneys who are also military veterans and can help the mentees at the start of their careers as Boston attorneys.
Mentors will also help to provide mentees with advice about navigating law school, crafting a resume that demonstrates the tangible benefits military experience offers in the legal environment, making career-development decisions, and learning to network within the Boston legal community. We can all point to attorneys who were instrumental in helping each of us start our legal careers, and, by linking mentors and mentees with a shared experience of military service, the Mentorship Program will show the mentees that there are many people in Boston who want them to succeed and are ready to help.
To learn more about this program, or to sign up to be a mentor or mentee, please click here.
You’re also invited to attend the Forum’s next Meet & Greet Luncheon on Friday, Nov. 2nd at 12:00 PM at the BBA. For more info and to register, please click here.
On May 22, members of the private bar gathered to learn about representing veterans pro bono in military discharge upgrade applications. Dana Montalto, Betsy Gwin, and Evan Seamone of the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School presented a comprehensive training for those who are interested in serving the veterans community. Their presentations offered a step-by-step approach to developing a persuasive petition, provided guidance about addressing common legal and practical challenges in discharge upgrade representation, and concluded with information about recent legal updates.
This presentation was the fourth annual pro bono training put on by the Veterans Legal Clinic, as part of its Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership. Through that Partnership, the Clinic connects local veterans seeking discharge upgrades with pro bono attorneys who want to give back to those who served in uniform and provides ongoing case support throughout the representation. Over the past three years, the Partnership has allowed dozens of veterans unjustly discharged from the military obtain pro bono assistance.
This pro bono assistance is critical because 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.
If you’d like access to a video recording of the training and its materials, please email Cassandra Shavney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Tuesday, members of the Boston Bar heard from the City of Boston’s Commissioner of Veterans Services, Giselle Sterling, at a networking reception for members of the legal community who are current members of the military, veterans, and their families and friends. Commissioner Sterling is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran whose multiple deployments placed her in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Guam, Diego Garcia, and Japan. She was appointed as Commissioner in 2015 and since then has been working to connect more veterans to available resources.
With roughly 20,000 veterans living in Boston and over 200 organizations offering services to veterans and military families, Commissioner Sterling has spent the last three years helping to build the Greater Boston Veterans Collaborative. At the start of the Collaborative, Commissioner Sterling noted there were four organizations participating and that it has now grown to 202 non-profits, government organizations, corporations, and more. Her office is working with those organizations to create a resource network that will better connect veterans to everything that is available to them.
The City’s Operation Thank a Veteran volunteer program is another one of Commissioner Sterling’s initiatives that is bringing the veterans’ community together. Through face-to-face interactions, Commissioner Sterling, her staff, and numerous volunteers are able to thank veterans for their service and provide information about what the Office of Veterans’ Services offers.
Commissioner Sterling hopes to be able to expand the impact her office makes on the veterans community and she thanked the veterans in the room for their service and the attorneys who are working to assist veterans with their legal needs.
The reception was hosted at the Boston Bar Association by the Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum, which works to spotlight legal needs, serve as a network for current and former servicemembers in the legal profession and their families, and advise the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service on its Military & Veterans Legal Help Line. If you have questions about the Forum or would like to become involved, please email Cassandra Shavney at email@example.com
Last month, the BBA’s Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum hosted a lunch for service members and veterans in the legal community, as well as attorneys currently working and volunteering with this population, to socialize, network and learn about the unique aspects of life for veterans and active duty military personnel who are college students.
Guest speaker Andy McCarty, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers (CAVS) at Northeastern University, spoke candidly about the path from the center’s inception to its actual opening on campus. McCarty is a Northeastern alumnus and a veteran himself, having served in the United States Air Force in Egypt and Qatar. Along with other staff members, McCarty sought to open CAVS to fulfill an unmet need on campus. Prior to CAVS, students with military involvement had to visit various offices and departments on campus to speak to staff about financial aid, housing benefits and other government programs designed to assist veteran students.
McCarty described CAVS as a “one stop shop” where students who have served or are serving in the military can access the resources they need. The CAVS staff is trained to understand the benefits available to these students from the government, and how best to apply them. They also help students navigate class registration and scheduling, balancing each student’s academic commitments with their commitment to the armed services. Their services are available to students pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees, including at Northeastern University’s School of Law.
By serving individual students and empowering them to get the most out of higher education, CAVS is designed to fulfill a broader mission. McCarty said the center’s ultimate purpose is to address the disproportionate unemployment rate among veterans.
“Our guiding philosophy is this: If we’re not preparing veteran students for a career after graduation, then what are we really giving them?” McCarty said.
To that end, CAVS also assists students with articulating their military experience in a resume, in a manner that relates to civilian jobs. From job interview coaching to emotional support, McCarty said CAVS offers a diverse array of services to veteran students and students on active duty, who may be having a hard time breaking into the job market or adapting to an office job once they are hired.
“It’s definitely a big adjustment to work in a civilian job,” McCarty said. “One thing we are always trying to do is open the lines of communication between veterans and non-veterans.”
At work, that means coaching employers on ways to bring up a veteran employee’s military service without putting the employee on the spot or making them feel uncomfortable. On campus, CAVS also works to integrate veterans into the overall community of Northeastern students.
After McCarty’s remarks, attendees had the chance to ask him questions and learn more about Northeastern’s work.
This luncheon was the first event for the Active Duty Military and Veterans Forum, which had previously organized as a committee within the BBA. Through its work, the Forum will spotlight the needs of active duty military personnel, reservists, and veterans within and outside of the legal profession.
To become involved in the Forum’s efforts, you’re invited to attend an upcoming pro bono training on Tuesday, May 22nd to learn the basics of representing veterans in discharge upgrade cases. If you’d like to receive more information on the training when it becomes available, please contact Cassandra Shavney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From teaching a record 1,700 students through Law Day in the Schools to releasing a compelling report on criminal justice reform, 2017 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 service initiatives over the past year.
The 2017 Public Service Award presented at the Boston Bar Foundation’s annual John & Abigail Adams Benefit Ball honored Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall in January. Chief Justice Marshall addresses the crowd at the Museum of Fine Arts, reminding every one of the importance of being good and just in their work.
MIT Bhangra, an award-winning dance group, entertained the crowd at the Adams Benefit. 2017’s Ball raised over $650,000 in support for local legal services organizations providing civil legal services to those in need. In June, the Foundation granted $960,000 to 20 such organizations.
Each January, hundreds of attorneys travel to the State House to Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. The Equal Justice Coalition coordinates this annual event to call on our legislators to adequately fund the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation through the state budget. Carol Starkey, 2016-2017 BBA President, highlights the importance of civil legal aid as noted in the BBA’s Investing in Justice report, which details that 2 out of 3 income eligible clients are turned away from legal services due to a lack of resources.
In response to President Trump’s Executive Order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, then BBA President Carol Starkey reaffirmed the BBA’s aim to “support the rule of law, as well as the core values of access to justice and diversity and inclusion, which help keep the fundamental promise that all of us will enjoy due process and equal protection under the law.” Over the course of the year, the BBA worked with many legal services organizations to connect attorneys to volunteer opportunities. Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project presented a number of Know Your Rights trainings for attorneys wishing to present to community groups about their immigration rights. Here, attorneys William Graves (Graves & Doyle) and Seth Purcell (PAIR Project) welcome over 60 attorneys to the first training at the BBA.
Paulette Brown (left, Locke Lord) accepts the Beacon Award for Diversity and Inclusion for her work as president of the American Bar Association convening the Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission. One result of the Commission’s work was the passage at the ABA of Resolution 113, an initiative designed to increase diversity in the legal profession. In November of 2016, the BBA announced its strong support for the Resolution and is working with other partners in Boston on its implementation.
Raquel Webster (right, National Grid) introduces presenter Brian McLaughlin (McLaughlin Law) to a group of probationers at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The BBA’s Reentry Education Program, which was developed by the Public Interest Leadership Program, engages with dozens of probationers annually on useful topics related to community reentry, including family law, reinstating a driver’s license, public benefits, and more.
Secretary Francisco A. Ureña (Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services) addresses the crowd at a Memorial Day reception hosted by the BBA’s Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum. The reception was held after the annual pro bono training for attorneys representing veterans in discharge upgrade cases. Since 2015, the BBA has worked with the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School to hose these trainings to support their Veterans Legal Clinic.
One night a year, the BBA is transformed from a meeting space to a casino floor. Seventeen organizations sponsored this year’s Casino Night for Summer Jobs, the proceeds of which support the Summer Jobs Program and support internships for high school students at legal services organizations, government agencies, and courts. Attendees at Casino Night celebrate beating the house and eagerly await the mystifying reveal of a magic trick.
Law Day in the Schools, one of the BBA’s most popular volunteer opportunities, introduces Boston Public School students to the legal profession and particular areas of the law. This year, volunteers including Jill Brenner Meixel (left) and Allison Belanger (right) of Krokidas & Bluestein introduced students to due process and the importance of having fair rules and laws for all. There were a record 15 schools and over 1700 students in the program this year.
Throughout the year, the New Lawyers Section’s Public Service Committee coordinates volunteer events with organizations throughout the city. In addition to serving food at the Pine Street Inn, attorneys also helped sort donations at Cradles to Crayons, keep the esplanade clear at the Charles River Clean-up, and other important volunteer initiatives in the area.
High school students convene with Chief Justice Melvin S. Hoffman (U.S. Bankruptcy Court) after listing to a mock hearing in bankruptcy court. This session, which teaches students about the consequences of filing for bankruptcy is part of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, which began in 2005. Since it began, over 5800 students statewide have been introduced to the importance of budgeting, understanding credit, and financing a large purchase.
Over 1,000 attorneys came together for this year’s Law Day Dinner in Back Bay. Congressman Seth Moulton provided keynote remarks and highlighted the importance of lawyers and upholding the rule of law now more than ever.
This year’s Thurgood Marshall Award, honoring an attorney in private practice in Greater Boston for their extraordinary efforts in enhancing the human dignity of others by providing legal services to Massachusetts’ low income population, went to Elaine Blais (Goodwin). Blais volunteers with both the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) representing both children and adults in various immigration cases.
Anne Mackin (Greater Boston Legal Services) accepts the John G. Brooks Legal Services Award, an award presented to professional legal services attorneys for their outstanding work on behalf of indigent people in the Boston area. Mackin has worked in legal services for nearly 30 years, and joined GBLS’s Immigration Unit in 2013. Since then, she has helped people from all over the world who have witnessed or experienced unspeakable tragedies and faced severe persecutions. Her efforts have ensured that many who are fleeing extreme discrimination and danger are able to seek justice and safe harbor.
Members of the Society of Fellows experience a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts’ summer exhibit, Matisse in the Studio. Each Fellows pledge supports the work of the Boston Bar Foundation’s many public service initiatives. The growing number of Fellows, now over 400, learn about the work their gifts support, including programs supporting Boston’s youth and grants to legal services organizations, at events throughout the year.
Boston Public High School students stand with Natashia Tidwell (center left, Collora) and Mark Smith (center right, BBA President, Laredo & Smith) on the morning of the first day of work with the Summer Jobs Program. The program, a partnership with the City of Boston and the Boston Private Industry Council, employs students in internships at legal offices across the city. In 2017, 52 students gained valuable office experience and were given insight into the legal profession.
Attorneys network surrounding the chocolate fountain, a staple at this year’s Boston Bar Foundation Summer Fundraiser. Guests at the event are treated to delicious dishes from area restaurants while learning about the public service programs their contribution supports.
The Public Interest Leadership Program’s class of 2016-2017 hosted their symposium, Constitutional Battlegrounds: Civil Rights in a Changing Landscape, earlier this year. The event’s speakers addressed a number of issues recently in the national spotlight, both in the media and the courts. Nearly 100 attorneys and interested members of the community packed the BBA to hear insights from the panels of experts.
This fall, the 14th Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) started their term. Twenty attorneys were selected for the program based on their experience and dedication to public service and civic engagement. The program now includes nearly 200 alumni who’ve gone on to serve the BBA in other capacities and carry their passion for serving the public interest into the community.
Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black, addressed the audience at the BBA’s Annual Meeting. Kerman, a former prisoner, discussed her work bringing prison issues to the forefront of national conversation. She also acknowledged the BBA’s report No Time to Wait: Recommendations for a Fair and Effective Criminal Justice System, which was released this fall. The report commends the reforms proposed earlier this year by Massachusetts leaders based on research by the Council of State Governments (CSG), but strongly urges lawmakers to enact broader reforms designed to further reduce recidivism, and make the criminal justice system fairer and more cost-efficient.
Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women to introduce the public to the services it offers. Thousands of requests come through each year and referrals are made out to experienced attorneys practicing nearly 350 areas of law. The LRS also houses a dedicated Military Legal Help Line, which connects veterans, military personnel, and their families with lawyers and other legal resources appropriate to their needs.
The three award recipients at November’s Beacon Award for Diversity & Inclusion stand with members of the Beacon Award Selection Committee. Brent Henry received the Voice of Change Award for his work recruiting and retaining diverse legal talent while at Partners Healthcare. The Empowerment Award went to Iván Espinoza-Madrigal for his work on civil rights issues, including racial justice, immigrant rights, and LGBT/HIV equality, as the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. Susan Alexander accepted the Corporate Champion Award on behalf of Biogen. Biogen’s legal department has developed a system of diversity metrics which the legal team uses when choosing outside counsel. Above, left to right: Brent Henry (Mintz Levin), Iván Espinoza-Madrigal (Lawyers’ Committee), Susan Alexander (Biogen), Sarah Kim (Treasurer and Receiver General of Massachusetts), Kate Cook (Sugarman Rogers), Stephen Hall (Holland & Knight), and Damon Hart (Liberty Mutual).
Hosted at Suffolk University Law School, the annual Pro Bono Recruitment Fair and Open House connects law students and attorneys to volunteer opportunities across the state. Over 25 organizations recruited at the fair this year.
BBA President Mark Smith (right) met with Principal Danladi Bobbitt of the John D. Philbrick Elementary School in Roslindale. As a participant in the Principal Partners event, hosted by Boston Public Schools, Boston Plan for Excellence, and Bank of America, the BBA President has the opportunity to visit a school and engage in meaningful conversations about the role of education in our society.