Secretary Ureña Visits BBA Veterans Reception

With Memorial Day weekend approaching, Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services Francisco Ureña stopped by the BBA to give remarks during a reception for veterans in the legal profession and their families.

The reception followed a pro bono training on discharge status upgrades for veterans, and Secretary Ureña thanked the attorneys present for their dedication to aiding those who have served.

“Massachusetts may be number one in the country for veterans’ services, but we are only as good as the people who are willing help,” he said.

The training was the third in a series of educational programs for attorneys who have experience helping clients navigate a discharge upgrade case. Attorneys from the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and the Veteran Advocacy Project of the Urban Justice Center shared their expertise.

The BBA is thankful for the opportunity to hear from Secretary Ureña. If you are interested in learning more about assisting veterans, check out the Veterans Legal Clinic website and look out for more programs at the BBA in the fall. Additionally, if you or someone you know is looking to be connected with fellow law student/attorney service members, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

Thank You to Our Summer Jobs Employers!

As we creep toward summer and school is winding down, 54 Boston Public School high school students are preparing for their summer jobs. Thanks to 36 Boston area law firms, government agencies, and legal organizations, those 54 students have the opportunity to gain professional office experience while learning about the legal profession. We can’t wait to welcome the students to the BBA and share their summer experiences through the blog.

Our greatest thanks to those hiring students in 2017:

Boston Bar Association
Boston Bar Foundation
Boston Planning & Development Agency
Brown Rudnick LLP
Burns & Levinson LLP
Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP
Chu, Ring & Hazel LLP
Collora LLP
Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
DLA Piper
Foley Hoag LLP
Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP
Goodwin Procter LLP
Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP
Holland & Knight LLP
Jackson Lewis P.C.
Locke Lord LLP
LPL Financial
Margolis & Bloom, LLP
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
McCarter & English LLP
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
Nixon Peabody LLP
Nutter, McClennen & Fish LLP
Office of Corporation Counsel, City of Boston
Prince Lobel Tye LLP
Proskauer Rose LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP
Shaevel & Krems, LLP
Sherin & Lodgen LLP
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.
Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers LLP
Verrill Dana LLP
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

Basics of Affordable Housing Presented to Hope House Residents

Earlier this month, Ryan Sakoda (Committee for Public Counsel Services), spoke to the residents of Hope House, a provider of residential and outpatient treatment services for those with substance abuse disorders, about how to apply for subsidized housing in Massachusetts. For Hope House program participants, finding stable housing is crucial for success after leaving the program. Sakoda explained the types of subsidies available and the differences between mobile & project-based, state & federal, and shallow & deep subsidies. Additionally, there are numerous applications for the various types of subsidies and public housing authorities. The application process can be extensive and detailed, but there are Boston area organizations that will provide general assistance when first applying.

Sakoda also highlighted the possibility of facing discrimination when searching for an apartment. Landlords may overtly or covertly deny housing to those with housing subsidies, which if suspected, can be reported to various state organizations for investigation. Attendees were provided the contact information of the city and state departments that will investigate housing discrimination, as well as other organizations dedicated to assisting with affordable housing issues.

This workshop was the last of our program year for the BBA’s Reentry Education Committee. However, if you’re interested in joining the committee to assist with finding speakers or review presentation materials, or if you’d like to volunteer as a speaker, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

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!

VLP Announces February – April Honor Roll

Every Wednesday and Thursday volunteer attorneys assist landlords and tenants through the BBA Lawyer for a Day at the Boston Housing Court Program. VLP relies on volunteers to deliver pro bono services to those in need.

Every Wednesday and Thursday volunteer attorneys assist landlords and tenants through the BBA Lawyer for a Day at the Boston Housing Court Program. VLP relies on volunteers to deliver pro bono services to those in need.

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association thanks the following attorneys who accepted cases or provided consultation from February through April:

John M. Allen
Samuel Ames
Leslie J. Arsenault
Shovon Ashraf
Tristan Axelrod
Dick Bauer
Thomas Beauvais
Michael Belair
Elaine M. Benkoski
Neil J. Berman
Lisa Bernt
Pavel Y. Bespalko
Peter Bilowz
Christina Bitter
Sarah Boonin
Larry Booz
Rebecca Brodie
Matt Brooks
Jade Brown
Lisa Brown
Robert Burdick
Edward Burns
Rachel Bussey
Michael Campinell
Joshua Caswell
Jeanne Charn
Alyce Chen
Rosemarie Clinch
Tristan P. Colangelo
Seth Davis
Maureen Jones Devine
Julie Dick
James T. Downes
Stuart V.C. Duncan Smith
Natalie Feigenbaum
Shelah Feiss
Elisha Figdor
Daniel Fogarty
Joel F Gardiner
Andres Garron
Kevin W Gaughen
Roger Geller
Poppi Georges-Massey
Michael G. Giarrusso
David Goldman
Emmanuel Gonzalez
Mindy Green
Steven Greenzang
Jonathan Guest
Karen Hoffman
Scott Hubbell
Katherine Hughes
David P. Hunt
Katherine Insogna
Jared Iverson
Maya Jachimowicz
Ki-Chan Jeon
Sharon V. Jones
Alexis Kaplan
Daniel D. Koh
Raymond Kwasnick
Candace Labbe
Joseph M. Lally
Mitchell Langman
Elisia Lau
Helen Lee
Laura Lerner
Jacqueline Levy
Natasha Lewis
Christopher Liedl
Kirsten Liedl
John Lim
Sarah Lim
Michael MacDonald
Jessica Aurora  Mahon Scoles
Jennifer L. Manning-Zoll
Katherine Maxwell
Alan Minuskin
Caryn R. Mitchell-Munevar
Greg Moscatel
Joanne Moses
Justin Murphy
Fernanda H. Naspolini
Andrew O’Laughlin
Francis X. Olivieri
Judy O’Neil
Amy Parker
Nina Parker
Katuscia Pierre-Charles
Steven D. Pohl
Philip Douglas Poole
Stephen Provazza
Liz Ranks
Jacob Raver
Gregory Rees
Lei Reilley
Lola Remy
James Richards
Jessica Rosenfield
Lou D. Saban
Robert Sable
Terry Schnicker
Iris Taymore Schnitzer
Evan R. Segal
Bryn Sfetsios
Alexis Shapiro
David Shaw
Joseph L. Sheridan
Julie Callahan Shields
Jacob Simon
Brian Snell
Victoria Spetter
Andrew P. Strehle
Tamara Sturges
Kyle Sullivan
Lisa Terrizzi
Sharon L. Toffler
James M. Tourkistas
Kelly Towns
William Valletta
Andrew Varshavsky
Shima Walker
Adrienne Walker
Leann Walsh
Teresa Jeanne Walsh
Michael Wang
Neil Warrenbrand
Lawrence A. Wind
Charles M. Wyzanski
Shawna Hui-Kuang Yen
Nicholas Yiannias

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.

Coolidge House Residents Participate in the BBA’s Reentry Education Program

The Boston Bar Association’s Reentry Education Program provides resources and information to probationers on a variety of topics. This month, residents of Coolidge House, a residential program for probationers released from federal prison, heard from Lizbeth Ginzburg (Greater Boston Legal Services) on the basics of public benefits. Attendees learned about the application process for SNAP, cash assistance programs, MassHealth, and SSI/SSDI benefits.

For many, it can be difficult to even know where to start, so the opportunity to hear about the process helps prepare those hoping to apply. Attendees discussed the challenges and myths they’ve heard surrounding various benefit programs and were provided with resource packets with information on all the programs.

If you’re interested in leading one of our Community Readiness Workshops, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].