Expanding Access to Justice by Engaging Senior Fellows

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

BBA Members Volunteer with Pine Street Inn

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.

 

PILP Hears From Experts on Domestic Violence Issues

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.

VLP Trains BBA Members for Small Claims Court Clinic

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

Do You Know a BPS Teacher Interested in Law Day in the Schools?

The BBA’s Law Day in the Schools program is now signing up classrooms for the spring. From April 26th through June 2nd, attorneys will head out across the city to teach Boston public school students about due process. Do you know a Boston public school teacher who may be interested in participating? The program is open to students kindergarten through 12th grade.

If you know a teacher interested in participating or would like to get your child’s school involved, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

Anthony Scibelli and Carolyn Marcotte (Barclay Damon LLP) volunteered in 2016 with a 5th grade classroom at Josiah Quincy Upper School.

Applications Open for 2017-2018 PILP Class

The Boston Bar Association is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for its 2017-2018 class of Public Interest Leaders. The BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) is a unique leadership program for new lawyers which promotes civic engagement and public service by advancing the leadership role of lawyers in service to their community, the profession and the Commonwealth. Over the past few months, Beyond the Billable has been recapping PILP’s monthly meetings. If you’d like a refresher on what they’ve been up to this year, find their stories here.

If you’re interested in the program, we invite you to join us on Monday, March 6, 2017 from 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM to learn more. PILP has four specific purposes:

  • To identify and recognize present and future leaders in the BBA and the Boston legal community.
  • To contribute to the professional and leadership development of promising young attorneys.
  • To integrate young leaders into the BBA and its public service landscape — at the same time significantly contributing to the public interest.
  • To build a powerful alumni network of lawyer leaders who by their actions demonstrate that part of being a successful lawyer is giving back to the community.
  • The information session will feature PILP alumni who will provide insight into the program, discuss the application process, reflect on their experiences, and answer questions.

If you’d like to attend on Monday, please sign up here.

To download the application, please click here. Applications are due March 31, 2017 to Cassandra Shavney, [email protected].

Driver’s License Reinstatement Addressed at Reentry Education Session

This month, the BBA’s Reentry Education Program held a workshop at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts for probationers looking for guidance on reinstating their driver’s license. Benjamin Richard (Law Office of Benjamin Richard) led the presentation and reviewed the basic guidelines to reinstate one’s license. In many cases, there may be unresolved child support or parking tickets that need to be paid before it’s possible to apply for reinstatement. By outlining a three-step plan to reinstate one’s license, Richard was able to help the attendees figure out their next steps and priorities. Obtaining a driver’s license is a critical step for returning citizens who may need a car or license for employment.

The next Reentry Education workshop will focus on managing one’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI).

If you’re interested in volunteering to lead a Reentry Education workshop, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

One-Time Volunteer Opportunities Throughout the Spring

With temperatures hitting 60 degrees this week, we can’t help but dream of the warmer weather to come. Looking ahead to spring, the BBA has a number of one-time volunteer opportunities working with various community and environmental organizations. We hope you’ll sign-up for one (or more!) of the below events to give back to your community while meeting other BBA members!

Volunteer with The Greater Boston Food Bank
Saturday, March 11, 2017 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Greater Boston Food Bank – 70 South Bay Avenue, Boston, MA

Volunteer at Cradles to Crayons
Saturday, March 25, 2017 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Cradles to Crayons – 155 North Beacon Street, Brighton, MA

Annual Charles River Clean Up
Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Charles River Esplanade, Boston, MA

Volunteer on the Farm: The Food Project Serve & Grow
Saturday, May 6, 2017 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Lynn Farm – 1 Collins Terrace, Lynn, MA

Spring Woodland Restoration Event at Allandale Woods Urban Wild
Friday, May 19, 2017 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Allandale Woods Urban Wild, Roslindale, MA

Last year’s crew at the Annual Charles River Clean-Up enjoying some sun and beautifying the Esplanade.

VLP Announces December-January 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 in December and January:

Melissa Alden
Wendy Allis
Samuel Ames
Sarah Andries
Dick Bauer
Thomas Beauvais
Lisa Bernt
Roger Bertling
Stephanie Biggs
Peter Bilowz
Christina Bitter
Larry Booz
Dorothy Bourassa
Alissa Brill
Lisa Brown
Angelina Bruce-Flounory
Natalia V. Bukhanova
Robert Burdick
Edward Burns
Rachel Bussey
Nicole Cabrera
Michael Campinell
Daniel J. Carragher
Seunghee Cha
Rosemarie Clinch
Seth Davis
Vikas Dhar
Jennifer DiCarlo
Julie Dick
Eleanora DiLorenzo
Raymond Dougan
Pauline Edmonds
Jinanne S. Elder
Richard Evans
Natalie Feigenbaum
Peter Fellman
Kelly Finn
Kevin Finnegan
Joel F Gardiner
Andres Garron
Roger Geller
Michael G. Giarrusso
Gabriel Martin Gillmeyer
Philip R. Gindi
David Goldman
Mark Gordon
Courtney Greenberg
Steven Greenzang
Michael Harriman
Steve Hassink
III Hatfield
Eric Hight
Karen Hoffman
Rizwanul Huda
David P. Hunt
Sharon V. Jones
Ilene S. Klein
Jonathan Kravetz
Nicole Krea
Donald R. Lassman
Elisia Lau
Matt Jason Lawlor
Michael Levesque
Tyler Lewis
Sarah Lim
Michael MacDonald
Holly Mayfield
Brandon Middleton-Pratt
William Moore
Madelyn Morris
Greg Moscatel
Joanne Moses
Engie Mota
Kevin R. Mulcahy
Kristofer C. Munroe
Justin Murphy
Sarah Murphy-Holroyd
Jessica L. Nagle
Fernanda H. Naspolini
Yavor Nechev
Kate E. Nicholson
Vanessa A. O’Connor
Nnena Odim
Judy O’Neil
Allison Orpilla
William Patton
Katuscia Pierre-Charles
Nicholas Planty
Stephen Provazza
Jacob Raver
Gregory Rees
Lola Remy
Katherine Richardson
Lou D. Saban
Soraya Sadeghi
Ryan Takeo Sakoda
Terry Schnicker
Timothy Shea
Jordan Smith
Carl Studlar
Beibei Sun
Nigel Tamton
Lisa Terrizzi
Kristin Thurbide
Sharon L. Toffler
James M. Tourkistas
William Valletta
Andrew Varshavsky
Christopher Versfelt
Anthony T. Visconti
Adrienne Walker
Leann Walsh
Heather M. Ward
Neil Warrenbrand
Richard Harris Wheeler
Donald Whitmore
Lawrence A. Wind
David Zieja
Ajay Zutshi

PAIR Hosts Asylum Training at BBA

Anita Sharma, executive director of the PAIR Project.

At a recent well-attended training at 16 Beacon Street, the Boston Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project brought experts in the legal and medical fields to talk about best practices for representing asylum seekers.

The training was geared toward those who have never taken on an asylum case before, and introduced attendees to PAIR’s method of assigning teams of attorneys to tackle these multifaceted, challenging cases. PAIR’s executive director, Anita Sharma, stressed the importance of teamwork, creative thinking and empathy in asylum cases, which require a mix of legal prowess and sensitivity from attorneys.

“It’s one thing to read the language of this law, but when you are dealing with an actual human being who has been through terrible trauma, and you’re trying to … check off all the boxes (to make sure they meet the qualifications to obtain asylum), it becomes very difficult,” she said.

Even a phrase as seemingly straightforward as a “well-founded fear of persecution,” which one must demonstrate to qualify for asylum, is subject to multiple interpretations. The panel of experts walked attendees through each piece of the legal requirements for asylum. They also discussed the distinction between asylum status and refugee status, gave tips on working with interpreters, and offered advice on coaxing clients to talk about what they have endured.

“It’s human instinct: you go through something horrible and you want to forget it. But we (as attorneys) are in this terrible position where we have to ask for every single detail” in order to strengthen the client’s case, Sharma said.

Sonda Crosby, a physician at Boston Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, spoke about the importance of a forensic medical examination in proving a client’s claims in a situation where they have been physically harmed.

Ilana Greenstein (Law Office of Macias & Greenstein) and David McHaffey (McHaffey & Associates) also lent their expertise to the training.

Check out our calendar  page for more public service programs and pro bono trainings and if you’re interested in volunteer opportunities related to immigration issues, please complete this online survey.

The Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project is a 2016 Grantee of the Boston Bar Foundation.