CORI Experts Train Over 50 Potential Volunteers

Ahead of the Boston Bar Association’s first CORI Sealing Clinic over 50 attorneys and law students attended a training to learn about the sealing process. As many of the potential volunteers were new to this topic, Agapi Koulouris (Department of Criminal Justice Information Services) opened by reviewing precisely what information is kept on a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) and the visibility of that information to potential employers or housing providers. Following Koulouris, Sarah Joss (Office of the Commissioner of Probation) reviewed the administrative sealing process, which individuals can pursue when they have met the sealing waiting periods. These waiting periods were recently decreased (from 5 years to 3 years for a misdemeanor and from 10 years to 7 years for a felony) with the passage of the Criminal Justice Reform Bill last year. To start, the BBA’s clinic will primarily assist clients with obtaining their CORI and administrative sealing, and then it will transition into assisting clients with sealing prior to hitting their waiting period benchmark. Pauline Quirion and Vanessa Dennis (Greater Boston Legal Services) reviewed that process and also touched on the new expungement laws related to juvenile and certain adult criminal records. David Siegel (New England Law | Boston) moderated the panel and encouraged attendees to volunteer for the clinic.

At the first clinic on February 6th, five clients were assisted by our volunteers. These individuals were seeking help requesting their CORI and navigating the administrative sealing process. We anticipate that a few of those individuals will return to the clinic for follow-up and that we’ll see more clients visit in the coming months.

The clinic will take place every first Wednesday of the month from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Edward Brooke Courthouse. If you or your firm is interested in becoming involved, contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected]

VLP Announces October – December Lawyer for the Day in the Housing Court Honor Roll

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association* thanks the following attorneys who accepted cases or provided consultation in October, November, and December through Lawyer for the Day at the Eastern Housing Court:

Gary Allen
Jessica Bergin
Rachel Bier
James Bor-Zale
Gerard Cedrone
Matt Costello
Sarah Frazier
Steven Garza
Sharon V. Jones
Kim Karon
Jeanette Leopold
George Manley
Rachel McCarthy
Madelyn Morris
Kevin C. Mortimer
Yavor Nechev
Vanessa O’Connor
Amy Pearlman
Tim Perla
Julia Prochazka
Stephen Provazza
Joel M. Reck
Rian Rosetti
Greg Schmidt
David Soutter
Lu Wang
Emily Whelan
Lawrence A. Wind
Angela Yoon

*The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association is a 2018 Boston Bar Foundation grant recipient.

PILP Hears from ACLU’s Racial Justice Program Director

Guest Post: Janette Ekanem (Greater Boston Legal Services) is a member of the BBA’s 2018-2019 Public Interest Leadership Program.

This past fall, Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, spoke to the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) about the history of the criminal legal system, (a term he prefers to criminal justice system) and efforts to reform the system within Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts last year, five out of eleven races for district attorney were contested and as a result, reform of the criminal legal system has been at the forefront of voters’ minds.  Attorney Hall noted that although police have power, district attorneys are the most powerful people in the criminal legal system because they decide who gets charged with a crime, and they determine how most criminal cases are resolved.  

Attorney Hall’s remarks challenged PILP participants to deeply examine the historical roots of the criminal legal system and how the history of the system has continued to further racial disparities.  PILP members learned that despite being branded as a liberal state, Massachusetts has some of the worst racial disparities in the criminal legal system when compared to other states in the country.     

The need to address these troubling disparities guided the Boston Bar’s own report on criminal justice reform released in the lead-up to the reforms made last session. You can learn more about that report, titled, No Time to Wait, here.  

Due to the renewed attention on criminal justice reform in Massachusetts, Attorney Hall urges voters to reframe how they think about the criminal legal system and use their voice for the change that they want to see within the system.

For more information on the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, visit https://www.aclum.org/en/rahsaan-d-hall-director-racial-justice-program.

Teach Teens Lifelong Financial Skills

The Boston Bar Association’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, in partnership with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, has been introducing high school students to essential financial concepts for 13 years. Sign-up is now open for the 2019 Financial Literacy sessions in high schools throughout the state. Attorneys and law students from all practice area backgrounds are welcome to participate and make an impact.

Through the program, volunteers sign-up for at least one 1-hour presentation in a classroom in the area. Presentation topics include Personal Finance & Budgeting, Using Credit & Credit Cards, and Financing a Large Purchase. As a volunteer, you’ll be provided with all of the training and materials needed to present to the students and guide them through lesson activities. Join us to educate high school students on the importance of making smart, informed financial decisions.

To view available volunteer slots and sign-up, please visit this website: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0b4daeac28a1fa7-2019

If you have any questions or are interested in volunteer opportunities in the Springfield area, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

The Role of the Executive Branch in Setting Immigration Policy

Last month, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from Stephen Roth of Project Citizenship, concluding the month-long examination of immigration policies today. Stephen has extensive experience representing detained and non-detained immigrants undergoing removal proceedings and in family-based petitions in both New England and greater New York City. Project Citizenship* is a nonprofit agency that seeks to increase the naturalization rate in Massachusetts and beyond through free workshops and legal counseling.

Stephen offered a first-hand look at how immigration policy has changed from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration. Specifically, under a regulation rarely invoked in the past, the U.S. Attorney General has the singular authority to refer immigration cases to himself and to then re-adjudicate them autonomously.

Upon becoming Attorney General, Jeff Sessions self-referred several cases involving previously settled law, Stephen explained. The most notorious of his decisions was Matter of A-B-, in which Sessions overturned Board of Immigration Appeals precedent, finding that “being a victim of private criminal activity” did not constitute a cognizable “particular social group” for purposes of asylum, though domestic-violence-based claims had been recognized as grounds for asylum for decades.

Stephen encouraged the PILP class to volunteer with Project Citizenship and other nonprofit organizations providing free or low-cost legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees.  Stephen further encouraged everyone to participate in notice-and-comment procedures on proposed changes to federal regulations governing asylum and other immigration procedures.

Meeting recap provided by PILP Member Genevieve Aguilar (Choate).

*Project Citizenship is a 2018 Boston Bar Foundation Grant Recipient.

PILP Learns About Employment-Based Immigration Policy and Recent Legislative Reform

In October, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from George Lester, Partner at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewry, LLP.  George has 25 years of experience practicing in the field of U.S. immigration and nationality law, and he advises diverse U.S. and multinational companies seeking to hire foreign professionals, scientists, business persons, and artists and represents them in all procedures to obtain temporary or permanent immigration status before relevant U.S. government agencies.

With immigration playing a major role in the 2016 presidential campaign and 2018 mid-term elections, changes to U.S. immigration law and policy impact not only refugee admissions and humanitarian issues, but have significant business consequences as well.  George focused his remarks on how the federal government’s changing immigration priorities have had immediate effects on corporations dependent on high-skilled immigrant labor.

George discussed various legislative proposals to overhaul the current immigration system, their projected efficacy in addressing the current system’s shortcomings, as well as obstacles to their implementation. George also examined executive actions and reform initiatives that the Trump administration has taken or is expected to take, which do not require action from Congress.

The PILP class welcomed the opportunity to learn about an often overlooked piece of the immigration system and the impacts of recent policy changes on businesses in the U.S. George encouraged lawyers to submit public comments to proposed regulation changes which, he said, would likely have an overall detrimental effect on the U.S. economy.

Meeting recap provided by PILP Member Genevieve Aguilar (Choate).

Interested in Providing Legal Assistance to Military Members & Veterans?

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 protected] 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.

Thank You to the 2018 Bar Exam Coaches

The BBA is grateful for the below attorneys who supported bar applicants ahead of the February and/or July exam in Massachusetts. They worked with bar applicants offering encouragement and assisting with time management and developing effective study techniques.

Ruth Adeyinka, Massachusetts Trial Court Administrative Office
Eunice Aikins-Afful, Alliance Foundation Trials, LLC
Ana Alvarado
Anne Archbald, Beaumont Financial Partners
Brittany Besler
Rose Billeci, Housing Opportunities Unlimited
Olympia Bowker, McGregor & Legere, P.C.
Elmira Cancan-Zenger
Kate Cook, Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.
Susan Corcoran, Community Legal Services and Counseling Center
Jessica Corr
Shaneka Davis, Boston Children’s Hospital
Emma Days, Ropes & Gray
Jasmine Elatab
Tony Faillaci, Mintz
Natalie Feigenbaum, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Joseph Flynn, Molina Flynn Law Offices/Latino Law Center
Brian Galletta
Laurel Gilbert, Hinckley Allen
Caitlin Gossett, Massachusetts Department of Children and Families
Naitasia Hensey, State Street Corporation
Christopher Huntsman, Goodwin
Paul Koch, Jr., Finard Properties LLC
Robert Kubica, The Davis Companies
Szeman Lam, Proskauer
Kristy Lavigne, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Jin Lin
Michael McDermott, Dain Torpy
Marc Parsons, Ascensus College Savings
Robert Quinan, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Carla Reeves, Goulston & Storrs
Alexandra Rubin, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Jonathan Schreiber, Iron Mountain
Alicia Selman, Davis, Malm & D’Agostine, P.C.
Shane Setalsingh, Competition Dynamics
Pamela Swanson, Sherin and Lodgen
Sheba Varughese, Greater Boston Legal Services
Robert Ward, Law Offices of Kenneth V. Kurnos, PC
Doyon Won, Fish & Richardson P.C.

If you’re interested in acting as a Bar Exam Coach ahead of the February 2019 exam, you can read more and sign-up on our website: http://www.bostonbar.org/in-the-community/bar-exam-coaching

Veterans Mentoring Program Now Open for Enrollment

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.

Summer Jobs Spotlight: Avi Nguyen and Katie Krom at Nixon Peabody

Many of our Summer Jobs students have worked alongside interns from multiple organizations – some in high school, some in college, and even some in law school. But only a small number have the chance to work alongside fellow BBA Summer Jobs interns in the same office.

Boston Latin School’s Avi Nguyen and Katie Krom are a dream team, according to the attorneys and professional staff they worked with at Nixon Peabody over the summer. The interns and their supervisors all touted teamwork as an asset the two had in spades. Rather than tackling distinct pieces of a project they were assigned, they were more likely to collaborate on each step.

For Nguyen and Krom, that collaboration was a valuable way to get ready to work in future offices and collaborate with colleagues.

At Nixon Peabody, they participated in several legal research projects – assisting attorneys with looking up domestic violence laws in every state. They also did projects on affordable housing statutes and gaming laws all over the country.

“I truly didn’t realize how much an intern can do to help with a case,” Nguyen said.

Another major responsibility was helping prepare for an office move – Nixon Peabody will have a new address come January 2019. Nguyen and Krom also helped manage the firm’s media contacts and worked on other projects with the marketing and communications team.

While neither is sure they want to pursue a career in the law, they both received a lot of advice on the next steps available to them after high school. Krom also said she learned to be less shy, while Nguyen said he learned a lot about filing, and came to really enjoy making sure records are in the right place.

Outside the office, they both enjoyed the BBA’s Wednesday seminars for the students. Specifically, Krom said she enjoyed the financial literacy sessions and felt like she was on the right path toward good money management habits.

“I actually created a savings account as soon as I got home,” she said.

Katie and Avi (center and second from right) pose with their colleagues Ruth Silman (far left), Rick Pedone (second from left), and Jackie Cunio (far right) in the Nixon Peabody lobby.