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.
At this month’s BBA Reentry Education Workshop at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, volunteers spoke to probationers about how to manage their Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI). In Massachusetts, all criminal records and information is stored on an individual’s CORI and can be requested for viewing through the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS). Often potential landlords or employers will access one’s CORI during the housing or employment application process. Our presenters, D’Andre Fernandez (Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office) and Renay Frankel (Harvard Law School), instructed the attendees how to access their CORI, check it for potential mistakes, and search who has requested their CORI in the past. They also reviewed the criteria for CORI sealing and provided information on legal clinics that can assist with sealing.
Presenters D’Andre Fernandez and Renay Frankel review CORI management with the attendees.
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 protected] if you’d like to apply.
Over the weekend, members from the Boston Bar Association volunteered at the Greater Boston Food Bank helping to sort and pack food for families across Eastern Massachusetts. The volunteers for the day made 13, 356 meals possible and sorted over 16, 500 lbs of food. Thank you to our BBA members dedicated to giving back to the community!
BBA members after their volunteer shift at the Greater Boston Food Bank.
Pictured from left: Joanna Allison, Executive Director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project; Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants; Attorney Kimberly Parr, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office; Conlan Orino, Analyst, Analysis Group; Attorney Daniel Goodrich, Law Clerk, Massachusetts Appeals Court; Appeals Court Chief Justice Scott L. Kafker; and Attorney Susan Finegan, a Member of the Litigation Section and the Pro Bono Partner of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
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.
The Boston Bar Association’s Active Duty Military, Family Members, and Veterans Committee will host its next Military and Veterans Meet & Greet Luncheon on Thursday, March 23rd from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. Current members of the military, veterans, and their families and friends in the legal community are invited for lunch at the BBA. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow attorneys who served in the military and attorneys currently working in veterans legal services.
We’re excited to welcome two speakers from the Veteran Entrepreneurial Training & Resource Network (VETRN) to speak about their organization. Leland Goldberg (Founder) and Marie Shirley (Program Manager) will discuss VETRN’s work training veterans with the skills necessary to manager a successful small business. Veterans in their program participate in a six month program that provides the knowledge needed to grow their business. To learn more about the VETRN program and how you can volunteer as a mentor, attend our luncheon on March 23rd!
To register for the event, please visit our website here.
On February 27, several dozen people gathered at the BBA to learn about the Access to Justice Fellows Program, an innovative collaboration between the Lawyers Clearinghouse* and the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission that pairs retired attorneys and judges with non-profits to work on year-long access to justice projects.
Program director Mia Friedman, co-founders Martha Koster (a partner at Mintz Levin) and Sue Finegan (co-chair of the Access to Justice Commission and the pro bono partner at Mintz Levin), and several Fellows spoke to the group about the increasing need for pro bono work, and the diverse range of projects available. This year, for example, Fellows are: representing low-income veterans, advocating for policies that promote clean renewable energy, mentoring new attorneys working with clients of modest means, writing about the vital services provided by the legal aid community, supporting a new website that provides pro bono advice online, and promoting quality educational standards in the Boston Public School system.
It was also noted that there is a great level of personal enrichment and intellectual satisfaction that goes along with serving as an Access to Justice Fellow. Mia spoke about the rich community of Fellows, who exchange ideas, volunteer on each other’s projects, and form friendships. Martha noted that many Fellows continue to work on their projects for several years. There are now 74 Access to Justice Fellows who have completed well over 50,000 hours of pro bono service.
To learn how you can get involved with the Access to Justice Fellows program, please visit their website here.
*Lawyers Clearinghouse is a 2016 Grantee of the Boston Bar Foundation
Each year, the Boston Bar Association’s New Lawyers Public Service Committee organizes a volunteer event at Pine Street Inn, an organization dedicated to helping Boston’s homeless. Recently, BBA members volunteered to serve dinner at The Men’s Inn, a nightly emergency shelter service which supports 350 men each night. We’re proud of our members helping our community!
If you’re interested in Pine Street Inn’s work, you can read about their services online.
BBA members volunteered at the Pine Street Inn in February.
To wrap-up their meetings on domestic violence, PILP met last week with Carrie Spiros (Assistant District Attorney at the Middlesex County’s DA’s Office) and Jennifer Bolton (Senior Manager of Prevention & Education at Domestic Violence Ended). Spiros reviewed the laws guiding her office’s prosecution of domestic violence. Chapter 209A legally defines domestic violence in Massachusetts and was expanded in 2014 by Chapter 260 to include strangulation and suffocation as indicators that the abuser has a higher risk of homicide. Both Spiros and Bolton noted that if an abuser strangles their victim, they are more likely to fatally harm the victim at a later time.
Describing the work of Domestic Violence Ended (DOVE), Bolton noted that her organization and most other domestic violence organizations in the state belong to the Jane Doe Inc. coalition. The coalition works toward providing services for domestic violence victims. DOVE specifically provides shelter services, legal advocacy, counseling, community educational trainings and more. If you’re interest in the work of DOVE, you can find more information on their website: http://dovema.org/
PILP’s back-to-back sessions focusing on domestic violence fell shortly before White Ribbon Day, an initiative of Jane Doe, Inc. which encouraged men and boys to become an active part of the effort to end domestic violence. Governor Charlie Baker joined 115 communities and organizations around Massachusetts in recognizing White Ribbon Day on March 1.
Earlier this week, the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP), hosted a training corresponding with the launch of their Lawyer for the Day in Small Claims Court program. VLP now coordinates Small Claims Clinics at the Boston Municipal Court Central Division, Cambridge Small Claims Court, and Quincy Small Claims Court. The training covered the debt collection industry, common defenses to consumer debt collection suits, and litigating Fair Debt Collection Practices Act claims in these cases, as well as how to represent a low-income debtor in negotiations and small claims trials. Attorneys and law students of all experience levels are able to volunteer. Please see the clinic schedule below and if you’d like to volunteer with VLP, please reach out to Hsindy Chen at [email protected].
- Boston Municipal Court, Central Division
- Every Thursday, 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM
- 24 New Chardon Street, Boston, MA, 5th Floor in front of Courtroom D
- Cambridge Small Claims Court
- First Tuesday of the month, 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM
- 4040 Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford, MA
- Quincy Small Claims Court
- Every Thursday, 8:30 AM – 11:00 AM
- 1 Dennis Ryan Parkway, Quincy, MA