Ropes & Gray Transgender ID Clinic Update

This time last year, we spoke with Emily Oldshue at Ropes & Gray about the firm’s Transgender ID clinic, a partnership with GLAD that offers pro bono legal assistance to transgender individuals navigating the process of legally changing their name and gender marker on official documents.

Last June, Ropes attorneys had assisted 300 transgender individuals, and parents of transgender children, with updating records such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passports, mortgage titles, voter registration and more.

Today, Oldshue was proud to report that the clinic has matched more than 600 pro bono clients with over 200 attorney volunteers. Attorneys in all of the firm’s U.S. offices, and four out of five of its offices outside of the United States, have participated in the project.

“The response and participation that we have seen from the Ropes & Gray community in the past year have continued to be overwhelmingly positive. The involvement of so many attorneys, from all of our U.S. offices, as well as globally, has allowed us to match another 300 individuals with attorney teams ready to help them navigate the process,” Oldshue said.

Oldshue, an associate in Ropes & Gray’s capital markets group, has been involved with the clinic since its inception. Last year she was named one of the National LGBT Bar Association’s Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.

The clinic currently covers all of New England, and Oldshue and her colleagues are hoping to expand to new cities in the coming years, domestically and abroad.

You can read the original Beyond the Billable piece on the Ropes & Gray Transgender ID Clinic here.

VLP’s January–March Lawyer for the Day Honor Roll

On a quarterly basis, we share the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association‘s* Honor Roll of attorneys who have stepped up to take a pro bono case through its Lawyer for the Day at the Eastern Housing Court program. With the need to volunteer as important as ever, with this installment of the VLP Honor Roll, we wanted to do something a little different.

Three of the attorneys appearing on the Honor Roll this year, Rachael McCarthy, Lillian Maguire and Madelyn Morris, checked in with us to tell us why volunteering in the Housing Court is so important to them.

“Participating as a Lawyer for the Day in Boston Housing Court is important to me because it helps me keep perspective on what is important in life,” McCarthy said. “It gives me the opportunity to use my training to help people navigate a confusing legal process in order to avoid eviction and stay in their homes.”

“I participate in the Lawyer for a Day program at Boston Housing Court because such little time on our part can make a tremendous difference in the lives of the people we serve. Navigating the legal system is incredibly complicated. Our clients may have significant defenses or options for remaining in their current housing that they would not discover on their own. Even lawyers who don’t specialize in landlord/tenant law can make a difference with their knowledge of basic civil procedure,” Maguire said.

She went on to emphasize how crucial this program is.

“Without a lawyer’s help, clients may not know what their best legal options are, but more importantly, they are left without an advocate. The simple act of listening to a client’s story and advocating on their behalf can make a huge difference when something as vital as housing is at stake.”

For Morris, the program meant using her skills as a lawyer in a new way to benefit the public good when she retired in 2015. During her 34 years of practice, she practiced environmental law first at the Environmental Law Division of the Office of the Attorney General and then at the Department of Environmental Protection.

“After volunteering for almost 3 years, I have gained so much from this experience. I have met many exceptional people who are working hard under difficult circumstances to provide a home for their family.  I have been inspired by the staff of the VLP and the Housing Court who are devoted to making the Edward Brook Courthouse a place where disputes between landlords and tenants can be resolved promptly and fairly.  I encourage other retirees to join this effort,” Morris said.

To get more information on volunteering, please contact attorney Milton Wong.

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association thanks the following attorneys who accepted cases January, February, and March through Lawyer for the Day at the Eastern Housing Court:

Adam Minsky
Alex Intile
Alexandra Slavet
Alyce Chen
Andres Garron
Ann Baum
Anne Bowie
Arlene Kasarjian
Avana Anderson
Brian Dunphy
Brian Reichart
Camala Richardson
Cameron McGinn
Caryn Mitchell-Munevar
Charles Wyzanski
Christopher Clark
Christopher John Freeland
Daniel Klubock
David Goldman
David Soutter
Deborah Bondzie
Earl Finn
Edward Burns
Eileen Henderson
Elaine Nichols
Elisia Lau
Erica James
Evelyn Venables Moreno
Gail Jones Klopfer
Greg Moscatel
Heather LaCount
Helen Lee
Huntern Shu
Ilene Klein
Jacob Simon
James Benjamin
James Franchek
James Tourkistas
James Downes
Jasmine Etesse
Jason Marshall
Jenelle DeVits
Jinanne Elder
Jiyan Yan
Joel Gardiner
John Allen
Jonathan Guest
Jonathan Marshall
Joseph Makalusky
Joseph Lally
Joshua Bone
Joshua Duncan
Judy O’Neil
Julia Katz
Kate Nicholson
Katharine Milton
Katherine Hughes
Katherine Insogna
Kathleen McGrath
Kelsea Médard
Kenneth Corson
Kevin Mortimer
Krzysztof Momot
Larry Booz
Lauren Donaldson
Laurie Freeman
Lawrence Wind
Leigh Gilligan
Lillian Maguire
Lisa Bernt
Madelyn Morris
Maegan Hurley
Margarett Grandoit
Matthew Feiner
Maureen Jones Devine
Mia Friedman
Michael Horan
Michael MacDonald
Michael Giarrusso
Moe Yasin
Monica Chou
Natasha Nese
Neil Warrenbrand
Nina Parker
Patrick Brown
Patrick Daly
Paul Newman
Peter A. Biagetti
Rachel McCarthy
Raymond Dougan
Rebecca Cazabon
Richard Maidman
Rizwanul Huda
Roger Bertling
Roger Geller
Sabrina Rocco
Samuel Ames
Samuel Brenner
Sara Jones
Sarah Smith
Seth Davis
Sharon Toffler
Sharon Jones
Soraya Sadeghi
Starlene Alves
Stephanie Biggs
Stephen Provazza
Steven Greenzang
Steven Cohen
Tamara Lauterbach Sturges
Teresa Jeanne Walsh
Theodore Prizio
Thomas Ayres
Thomas Beauvais
Tia Wallach
Tristan Axelrod
Tyler Lewis
Vanessa A. O’Connor
Victor Rivera Colon
Victoria Rothbaum
Vikas Dhar
Wei Xie
William Valletta
Yu Lu

*The Volunteer Lawyers Project is a 2018 Grant Recipient of the Boston Bar Foundation.

Volunteers are crucial to many of VLP’s programs, including the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program pictured above.

Eight Offices Selected to Host BBF Funded Summer Jobs Students

Each year, thanks to generous donations to the Boston Bar Foundation’s M. Ellen Carpenter Fund, a handful of high school students are provided the opportunity to work at legal services organizations, courts, and government offices through the BBA’s Summer Jobs Program. This summer, eight Boston Public School students will have the opportunity to earn a paycheck through the BBA while developing critical professional skills and providing support to a legal office in the city. The following organizations have been selected as 2018 host sites for the BBF-sponsored interns:

  • Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services
  • Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI)
  • Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC)
  • Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts, Clerk’s Office
  • U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, Clerk’s Office
  • U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, Ward Fellowship
  • Volunteer Lawyers Project

We’re also grateful to the 24 law firms and government agencies that are directly hiring students this summer.

The Summer Jobs Program will kick-off its 25th year on July 9th – stay tuned for updates on the students throughout the summer!


Bar Exam Coaching Program – Call for Bar Applicants and Attorney Volunteers

As we move into the summer, recent law school graduates are preparing to take the July Bar Exam. The Boston Bar Association is continuing to support bar applicants, especially those who are retaking the exam, with the mental, emotional, and practical preparation required. We’re currently recruiting bar applicants signed-up to take the July exam and attorneys who’d like to volunteer as coaches. See below for specific information and to sign-up!

Bar Applicants – Are you taking the Uniform Bar Examination in Massachusetts in July 2018?

We know you’ve got the academic part of your bar prep under control, but let us help out with the mental, emotional, and practical preparation. We are ready to connect you with attorney-coaches from diverse personal and professional backgrounds to offer guidance on:

  • time management
  • effective study techniques
  • stress management

If you are taking the July exam and would like to be connected with a coach, please fill out this online information form. Please note that this program is designed for those who are retaking the Bar Exam. However, we will accept applications for the program from first-time exam takers and assign you to a coach based on availability.

Attorneys – Could you offer a helping hand to an applicant sitting for the July 2018 Bar Exam?

We are seeking attorneys to serve as coaches to bar exam applicants sitting for the 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, and time & stress management. Coaches will communicate with their applicant by e-mail, by phone, or in person.

Training and program guidelines will be provided.

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]

Thank You to all Law Day in the Schools Volunteers!

As we head into summer, we’re grateful for the commitment made this spring by over 130 lawyers and law students to introduce Boston’s youth to the law and legal profession. The Boston Bar Association’s Law Day in the Schools Program reached over 1650 Boston Public School students in Kindergarten through 12th Grade classrooms in 16 schools. The volunteers worked with the students to help them identify issues in the community that resonated with them and to develop supporting arguments around those issues. Countless students voiced their support for longer recess and even more wanted to be more proactive against bullying, increase measures to slow climate change, and find solutions to make students feel safe in school. When this year’s program kicked off, we caught up with Jill Brenner Meixel and Allison Belanger of Krokidas & Bluestein to hear about why they volunteer for the program. For a peek into a high school class and to read their story, click here.

Thank you to all of those who helped the students identify what changes they want to see in their communities and for answering students questions about what it’s like to be a lawyer!

Haritha Ambros, Davis, Malm & D’Agostine, P.C.
Daryl Andrews, Andrews DeValerio LLP
Nieve Anjomi, Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of Boston
Justin Ansel, Hogan Lovells US LLP
Azure Aronsson, Hogan Lovells US LLP
Cathleen Augusto, Arrowood LLP
Heather Baer, Fitch Law Partners LLP
Paula Bagger, Law Office of Paula M. Bagger, LLC
Kathryn Barry
Allison Belanger, Krokidas & Bluestein LLP
William Boesch, Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.
Stephanie Bougas, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Jordan Bowne, Burns & Levinson LLP
Stephen Brake, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Jill Brenner Meixel, Krokidas & Bluestein LLP
Julie Bryan, Casner & Edwards, LLP
Natalie Cappellazzo, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Joshua Carroll, Ropes & Gray LLP
Jillian Carson, Beck Reed Riden LLP
Brendan Carter, AGCMA – Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts
Cameron Casey, Ropes & Gray LLP
Michael Cavoto
Smriti Choudhury, Sherin and Lodgen LLP
Brandon Clippinger, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc.
Carol Coakley
Ian Coghill, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Stephen Cohen, Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
Jessica Conklin, Laredo & Smith, LLP
Emily Crowley, Boyle, Shaughnessy, & Campo, PC
Allen David, Peabody & Arnold LLP
Emma Days, Ropes & Gray LLP
Joan Densberger, Boston University School of Public Health
Jennifer Durand, Schmidt & Federico, P.C.
Rebecca Edmondson, Levine-Piro Law
Isi Ehikhamhen
Edward Ferrante
John Fiske, Healy, Fiske, Richmond & Matthew, LLP
Colin Forbes, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Katherine Galle, Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of Boston
Ayla Geller, EF Education First
Galen Gilbert, Gilbert & O’Bryan, PC.
Maya Ginga, Washington & Lee University
Maria Granik, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Haley Grissom
Adam Hamel, McLane Middleton, Professional Association
Julianna Hanlon, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Bryce Helfer, Burns & Levinson LLP
Jennifer Henricks, Gesmer Updegrove LLP
Rachel Hershfang, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
Sheila Hubbard, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
Christopher Huntsman, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Securities Division
Andra Hutchins, Kerstein, Coren & Lichtenstein LLP
Valerie Jackson, Jackson Lewis P.C.
Daniel Johnston, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Marc Jones, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
Robert Kaitz, Davis, Malm & D’Agostine, P.C.
Stephanie Kao, Peabody & Arnold LLP
Sarah Kelly, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Dara Kesselheim, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Kelly Kirby, Burns & Levinson LLP
Michael Koehler, Keegan Werlin, LLP
Nathaniel Koslof, Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Eric Labbe, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Mark Larsen, Committee for Public Counsel Services
Brian Lee, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Paul Levenson, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
Sarah Lewis, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Christopher Lindstrom, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Ann Lowery, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Tony Lu, Dentons US LLP
Brian MacDonough, Sherin and Lodgen LLP
Stephanie Mariani, Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Laura Martin
Justin Masterman, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Michael McDermott, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Louis Mercedes, Jones Day
Christina Miller, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
R. Scott Miller, Committee for Public Counsel Services
Michael Millett, Marsh, Inc.
Laura Mittelman, Burns & Levinson LLP
Peter Moores, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
Cheron Morris, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc.
Joshua Nadreau, Fisher Phillips
Sean Nehill, Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA)
Joseph Nevins, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc.
Wadner Oge, Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners
Alexa O’Keefe, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Julia Ong, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Barbara O’Toole, Sherin and Lodgen LLP
Gregory Pakhladzhyan, American Student Assistance
Gregory Paonessa, Burns & Levinson LLP
Nina Pelc-Faszcza, Jones Day
Andrea Peraner-Sweet, Fitch Law Partners LLP
Charles Pierre, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Cassandra Prince
Susanne Reardon, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Lauren Reznick, Massachusetts Land Court
Michael Riley, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Michael Rossi, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Payal Salsburg, Laredo & Smith, LLP
Armand Santaniello
Lauren Schaefer, Beck Reed Riden LLP
Glenn Schley, Schmidt & Federico, P.C.
Susan Schorr, McLane Middleton, Professional Association
Catherine Scott, Peabody & Arnold LLP
Leanne Scott, John Hancock Financial Services
Courtney Scrubbs, Sanofi, US
Priya Selvam, Jones Day
Jacob Simon, Simon Law
Christina Simpson, The Law Office of Christina Simpson
Lynne Sollis, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Jared Spinelli, Schmidt & Federico, P.C.
Lorraine Stark, Burns & Levinson LLP
Carol Starkey, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Susan Stenger, Burns & Levinson LLP
Margaret Strauss, Arrowood LLP
Pamela Swanson, Sherin and Lodgen LLP
Glen Tagliamonte, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Miosotti Tenecora
Alexis Theriault, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Erika Todd, Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Sudeshna Trivedi, Public Health Advocacy Institute
Chelsea Tryder, Locke Lord LLP
Amanda Varrichione
Bradford Vezina, McLane Middleton, Professional Association
Sara Walker, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc.
Joseph Wang, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Ying Wang, State Street Corporation
Marilyn Wellington, Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners
Kristin Youkana, Schmidt & Federico, P.C.
Alexandra Youngblood, Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Jill Ziter, Massachusetts Land Court

If you’re interested in volunteering for this program next year, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected]

Service Innovation Project Kicks Off with School-to-Prison Pipeline Issue Briefing

On May 17, the Boston Bar convened attorneys for the next step in the pilot phase of its Service Innovation Project, which will focus on engaging the legal community in disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. At an issue briefing panel, a distinguished group of experts provided a comprehensive overview of the issue to attendees, and challenged them to think about actionable next steps to work toward solutions.

The panel, moderated by Northeastern University Law School’s Susan Maze-Rothstein, consisted of:

  • Jessica Berry – Deputy Director, Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts
  • Jay D. Blitzman – First Justice for the Middlesex Juvenile Court and Presiding Justice, Lowell
  • Matt Cregor – Education Project Director, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
  • Janelle Ridley – District Coordinator for System-Involved Youth, Boston Public Schools
  • Marlies Spanjaard – Director of Education Advocacy, the EdLaw Project

The goal of the panel was to give attendees a deeper understanding of the many complicated and intersecting issues that perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline, facilitating economically disadvantaged youth slipping into the justice system in Boston and all over the United States. From their unique professional vantage points, each panelist was able to share examples of glaring inequities which are, unfortunately, commonplace.

Jessica Berry (Children’s Law Center of MA), Hon. Jay Blitzman (Middlesex Juvenile Court, Lowell Juvenile Court), Matt Cregor (Lawyers’ Committee), Janelle Ridley (Boston Public Schools), and Marlies Spanjaard (The EdLaw Project)

In summing up the structure of the school-to-prison pipeline, panelists explained that communities with high poverty rates and larger-than-average incarcerated populations also tend to have the most overcrowded, underfunded schools. Though staying in school has proven to be a deterrent from getting involved in the justice system, the increase in policing on school campuses in the past 20 years has led to more arrests on school grounds than ever before. In addition, students who are suspended or expelled from school, often for minor non-violent infractions, are at higher risk to drop out of school and thus more likely to enter into the criminal justice system.

These factors disproportionately impact black and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities, and the panelists cited multiple sources of data on the devastating impact that disparity is having in majority-minority communities.

“There is no such thing as race-neutral, zero-tolerance (policies),” Judge Blitzman said, adding that well-intended legislation meant to bolster school safety has led to the “criminalization of adolescence” for at-risk youth.

Ridley said one of the most important parts of her job is simply to listen to students, something the students may not feel they are getting from other adults at school or at home.

“We have a lot of quantitative data, but what we’re missing is the qualitative data: the stories, the reasoning, and what got these kids to where they are,” she said.


Panel moderator Prof. Susan Maze-Rothstein (Northeastern Law) brainstorms with her breakout group.

Following the panel, attendees formed small breakout groups to discuss what they had learned and think about next steps. Throughout the room, attorneys thought about various ways to offer pro bono assistance directly to affected children and families. But other, multidisciplinary approaches were also a focus of the discussion – such as public information campaigns targeted to schools, parents and the general public. Many attendees expressed their enthusiasm for restorative-justice-style programs in schools, giving students the chance to express their feelings and hopefully avoid suspension or expulsion.

The Boston Bar would like to thank everyone who participated, and we look forward to working together with the Service Innovation Project Advisory Committee to take these ideas and incorporate them into our work going forward.

Attorneys and community leaders discuss the insights and information presented during the first half of the issue briefing.

Special thanks to the Boston Bar Foundation Burnes Innovation in Service Fund, made possible by a generous gift from Richard and Nonnie Burnes.  This fund provides critical support for the Service Innovation Project.  For more information on the Burnes Innovation in Service Fund or the Boston Bar Foundation, contact Megan Leppert at 617.778.1924 or [email protected]

Attorneys Trained to Provide Pro Bono Assistance in Veterans Discharge Upgrade Cases

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 [email protected].

Commissioner Giselle Sterling Highlights Boston’s Office of Veterans’ Services’ Accomplishments

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 protected]

23 Offices Sign on to Provide Summer Employment for Boston High School Students

Summer is right around the corner and over 30 students will have the opportunity to learn more about the legal profession and gain critical office experience at legal offices around the city. The 23 below organizations have pledged to hire at least one student in 2018 and will provide teens a stepping stone for a future career.Boston Planning & Development Agency
Brown Rudnick
Burns & Levinson
Chu, Ring & Hazel
Conn Kavanaugh
DLA Piper
Foley Hoag
Hogan Lovells
Holland & Knight
Jackson Lewis
Locke Lord
LPL Financial
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
Mintz Levin
Nelson Mullins
Nixon Peabody
Nutter McClennen & Fish
Proskauer Rose
Ropes & Gray
Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen
Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers
Verrill Dana

We encourage you to contact us to find out how hiring a student can make a difference, for them and for your office! For more information on the program, please click here. If your office is interested in hiring a student over the summer, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected] for additional information.

Law Day in the Schools Challenges Teens to Think Outside the Box

Allison Belanger and Jill Brenner Meixel (Krokidas & Bluestein) speak to William J. Ostiguy High School students.

When Krokidas & Bluestein attorneys Jill Brenner Meixel and Allison Belanger began to explain a mock city council exercise to a class of students at William J. Ostiguy High School in Boston, some students were skeptical. They were split into groups and asked to argue either in favor of or against a made-up ordinance that would require teenagers under the age of 17 to remain inside after a 9 p.m. curfew.

Some asked if this would ever really be considered by the Boston City Council. Some commented that since most students in the room were over 16, they wouldn’t be impacted, so they wouldn’t care. Yet all of the students tasked with arguing in favor of the fictitious proposal protested that they didn’t want to pretend to support an unfair rule.

“It’s an exercise, so just like lawyers, you might have to put your personal feelings aside and concentrate on presenting a compelling argument,” Belanger said.

But in fact, the day’s real lesson was to teach students how to empower themselves to express their personal opinions to effect change. The mock city council hearing was part of this year’s Law Day in the Schools Program, and the theme is “Liberty Under Law: Empowering Youth, Assuring Democracy.”

While brainstorming the points they would make in support of their given position, the students became increasingly engaged with the topic they originally were reluctant to address. Some students even observed that it was actually easier to craft arguments around the side they felt less passionately about, since they could easily imagine what problems adults might have with teenagers on the streets at night.

Articulating why they, as teenagers, deserved freedoms was harder. After speaking to Meixel and Belanger, one group struggling with the concept decided to frame their argument around the unfairness of restricting one population of people, but not others.

The idea of the exercise was to introduce the students to a forum where their ideas would be heard. Although the ordinance was not real, the format of the mock hearing was similar to real sessions at City Hall. Students assigned the role of mock city councilors had to weigh the arguments they heard and cast a vote.

The Law Day in the Schools program has a different focus every year, which lawyers go into classrooms to present to students. The lessons often involve a hands-on activity, and the program also provides an opportunity for students to interact with someone in the legal profession and ask them questions about what they do.

Meixel and Belanger teamed up for the second year in a row. In 2017, they were in an elementary school classroom, and both attorneys said it was fascinating to spend time with both groups of students and see the different ways they learn.

“These students are almost at an age where they will be able to vote in elections, which will allow their voices to have even more impact.  However, regardless of whether they are of voting age, they should feel empowered to speak up and speak out about issues for which they are passionate, because they can make a difference,”  Meixel added.

“If they take anything away, I hope it’s that there is somewhere they can go where someone will listen to them,” Belanger said. “I think we wanted to express to them that there is almost always an appropriate forum for them to voice their opinion and address changes they’d like to see, whether it’s the principal’s office, a local official, or someone in government at the state or national level.”

To see photos from our Law Day in the Schools sessions so far, please click here.