Finding the Right Pro Bono Opportunity Can Be A Challenge

Finding the right pro bono opportunity can be a challenge.  Without feeling committed to the cause, it’s hard to get engaged and remain committed over time.  Throughout the years I have coordinated a pro bono program at my firm, I have seen many attorneys who have the desire to get involved in pro bono work, but don’t know how to make the time, haven’t found a cause that resonates with them, or have been turned off after being thrown on a case they weren’t interested in.  Attorneys have extensive demands on their time, and without accessible, manageable opportunities that attorneys can feel passionate about, many who are open to the idea of pro bono work simply won’t take it on.

Finding a cause that resonates with each individual attorney is crucial.  Once someone feels committed to the cause, they become more engaged, and often they remain committed over a longer period of time, becoming willing to take on not just one case, but another, and yet another.  In addition to identifying the right cause, attorneys have to feel supported – by their employers and the community – so that they can successfully balance their pro bono work with the other demands on their time.  Whether working at a firm, the government, or another large institution, learning how to find the necessary support can be a challenge in and of itself.

Increasing the number of attorneys who engage in pro bono work, and increasing their engagement over time, allows for the benefits provided to individuals and non-profit organizations by pro bono legal services to grow exponentially.  Taking steps to achieve this goal is important to the members of the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program, so we have arranged for a panel discussion entitled “How to Navigate Pro Bono Work at Law Firms” on October 9th at 4:00 p.m.  The panel will be followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. hosted by the New Lawyers Pro Bono Committee, with representatives from various sections who can speak with attorneys about specific pro bono opportunities.  In addition, on October 22nd from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. the BBA will be co-sponsoring the Pro Bono Fair for Attorneys and Law Students at Suffolk University Law School.  Representatives from a very wide range of non-profit organizations will be in attendance to educate attorneys about the types of pro bono opportunities that are available in our community.

With four very experienced panelists and an expert moderator, next week’s panel will provide attorneys with the tools they need to incorporate pro bono work into their practice.  Whether at a law firm or not – the skills and tactics that will be discussed will apply to attorneys across a range of practices, including both litigation and transactional work.  Join us to learn how to make pro bono work a lasting part of your practice.

Emily Hodge is an Associate at Choate Hall & Stewart LLP. Emily is a member of the Boston Bar Association’s Public Interest Leadership Program.

AG Assisting Homeowners Facing Foreclosure Statewide

When the foreclosure crisis hit Massachusetts, one of the most frustrating aspects for legal services lawyers and advocates for homelessness prevention was the fact that many homeowners were falling through the cracks. That is because legal services and other homelessness prevention agencies have strict income guidelines and can only assist indigent individuals or families. Due to these restrictions, many families have been unable in the past to get the help they desperately need to try and save their home from foreclosure.

Good news! Thanks to the multi-state settlement that Massachusetts was a party to, the Attorney General has been able to provide help for to any homeowner facing foreclosure regardless of income. The five national banks involved in the $44.5 million settlement are: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and GMAC.  With a portion of this money, the AGO has launched a new statewide program, “HomeCorps”, available to any homeowner facing foreclosure, regardless of income eligibility.

The goal of the AGO’s HomeCorps is to mitigate the impacts of the foreclosure crisis by providing advocacy to distressed borrowers in Massachusetts facing foreclosure. HomeCorps is a comprehensive program which includes loan modification assistance, free direct legal representation to borrowers and post foreclosure assistance to families, as well as a series of grants to foster community restoration and organizations focused on foreclosure crisis response. HomeCorps has already received almost 10,000 calls from distressed homeowners to date. For more information about HomeCorps, or to refer a client who may be facing foreclosure, please click here.

In addition to the services available to all distressed borrowers via the AGO’s HomeCorps, there are also payments available under the National Mortgage Settlement to 21,000 Massachusetts borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011 and whose mortgages were serviced by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.  Application or these payments are made directly through the national grant administrator. More information is click here.

Lynn Girton- A Champion of Justice for Those Who Might Otherwise Be Forgotten

Before a crowd of more than 1,200 people at the Boston Bar Association’s Annual Luncheon, Lynn Girton, Chief Counsel of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association, will be awarded the John G. Brooks Legal Services Award. Lynn has been devoted her career to helping those unable to afford private counsel in civil cases.

Beyond her direct service work, Lynn has been a fixture at the BBA. Lynn was co-chair of the Delivery of Legal Services Section (DLS), is an active member of the Public Service Oversight Committee, and has been a speaker at countless training sessions. But those contributions pale in comparison to the work Lynn has done as co-chair of the DLS Active Duty Military, Family Members, and Veterans Committee.

Lynn’s commitment to Military Members and Veterans is unmatched. She was initially appointed to the BBA Committee on Legal Services for Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families in 2009. This committee worked to determine how the BBA could help soldiers who are being overwhelmed with legal issues in light of their ongoing military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The DLS Active Duty Military, Family Members, and Veterans Committee was the result of this work.

Lynn has chaired the DLS Active Duty Military, Family Members, and Veterans Committee since its inception in 2010. She has been the driving force behind aligning resources in the community to provide these soldiers and their families with the best legal resources available. But Lynn is more than just the co-chair of this committee. She is the person we call when we have a veteran in need of an attorney and don’t know where to turn. She is the resource we use when we can’t find the answer to a veteran’s questions. She is the glue and the inspiration that has us all coming back month after month to ensure that we are providing the services that these men and women deserve.

Lynn Girton leaves her mark on everything that she does. The soldiers and veterans in Greater Boston are better off today not only because of the work Lynn does, but because of the work she inspires others to do.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service

1.    The Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) is the largest public service program of the Boston Bar Association.  Over the years it has grown and now the LRS staff screens over 100,000 calls per year connecting members of the community to lawyers and legal resources for advice, representation and information on legal issues.

2.    The BBA LRS is the only ABA-accredited Lawyer Referral Service in Greater Boston.  In order to become approved by the American Bar Association, the BBA LRS complies with standards established by the ABA, including the creation of objective experience requirements for the attorneys on each practice area panel. Furthermore, LRS staff conducts daily quality assurance calls with callers about the referrals made, and each month all of the attorneys on the panel are individually verified that they are in good standing with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.

3.    The BBA LRS receives requests from over 600 organizations, including courts, libraries, and hospitals to receive marketing materials.  A few times per year, the LRS sends brochures in English and Spanish that highlight our referral process, as well as bilingual tear sheets that have our contact information.  These organizations share our information with their patrons that they cannot assist.  The LRS receives many calls from people who found our contact information at a library, or other non-profit organization.

4.    Our attorneys can do well by doing good. Consider the following…An 85 year old woman called the BBA LRS when injured trying to enter a business establishment with her walker. A patron held the door open for the client, but the large door struck her as it was closing, resulting in substantial injuries and other health complications. The BBA LRS referred the caller to Petrucelly, Nadler & Norris P.C. Due to the client’s age and disabilities, partners Jeffrey Petrucelly and Jennifer Norris along with associate Daniel McCabe visited the client extensively at her home, completing depositions and arranging meetings. The firm found that the door did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements or Massachusetts disability guidelines. Ultimately, the firm obtained a $200,000 settlement on behalf of the client.  In addition, another important and meaningful result was achieved when the company’s representative and attorney met with the client’s family to apologize and express their sympathy about the unfortunate accident.

5.    The BBA LRS Conducts extensive outreach.  Throughout the year, the LRS staff attends approximately one community and outreach event per month, connecting with many neighborhoods and populations in the Greater Boston area.  LRS staff speak to hundreds of people who wanted to learn more about the service and how they can get in touch with an attorney.  For example, last Sunday the BBA LRS joined in the festivities at the 20th annual Cambridge Carnival.

Solana Goss, LRS Intake Coordinator and Alison Kuba, LRS Intern at the 20th Annual Cambridge Carnival.

Mass Lawyers Weekly Article on MUPC Highlights Need for Continued Help from Trusts and Estates Bar

An August 27th article in Lawyers Weekly, “Bar, court still adjusting to probate code overhaul,” (subscription required) highlights the challenges that the probate courts, the trusts and estates bar and the community have faced as the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) has been implemented during the last five months.  The article emphasizes the court’s efforts to adapt to the new law while being constrained by a hiring freeze.  Despite being understaffed, the court has gone to great lengths to provide information about the new law to the public and the bar, including making a procedural guide, forms, checklists, training materials and practice tips available on its website.

In turn, the trusts and estates bar, led by the Boston Bar Association and the Massachusetts Bar Association, has made significant contributions of time and expertise to help ease the transition to the MUPC.  Well before the MUPC took effect, the BBA, MBA and the court collaborated on ways to assist practitioners, pro se litigants and court staff in understanding the new law.  In addition to sponsoring numerous CLE programs on the new law, they spearheaded an effort to establish MUPC resource desks staffed by bar association volunteers.  These resource desks have been set up in the probate registries in seven counties across the state and are typically in session for two to four hours each week.

The resource desks have allowed trusts and estates practitioners to supplement the court’s efforts by providing input and guidance on MUPC related questions posed by lawyer and non-lawyer visitors to the probate registries.  Resource desk volunteers have also helped open a dialogue between the court staff and the bar, discussing issues and questions that have arisen for both groups during the first months that the MUPC has been in effect.  To date, 49 volunteer lawyers have assisted 166 people, including at least 44 attorneys, 71 pro se litigants, and 28 court staff.

The MUPC resource desks will be in place at least through the end of October and are in need of volunteers.  If you are interested in volunteering a few hours of your time to help the court and the bar through what continues to be a challenging time, please contact Peter Shapland ([email protected]) or Cameron Casey ([email protected]) for more information about the program.

Cameron Casey is an Associate at Ropes & Gray LLP. Cameron is a member of the Boston Bar Association’s Trusts and Estates Section Steering Committee and currently serves as co-chair of the Section’s Public Service Committee.

Bidding Farewell to the 2012 Summer Jobs Program

As the warm and bright summer days are slowly turning into longer autumn months, the BBA’s Summer Jobs Program has come to an end.  The Summer Jobs Program is a diversity and inclusion pipeline program with the goal of introducing Boston Public School students to the law and the legal profession.  During the 8 week employment program the students also participated in an enrichment component.   Students chosen for the Program are motivated and high-achieving students with their eyes set on college and hopefully, after participating in this Program, the legal profession.   Last Thursday, Holland & Knight generously opened their doors to our 55 Summer Jobs students, their family members and firm sponsors for our annual Graduation Ceremony.   It was a packed house – as speakers including keynote, Steven Wright, Executive Partner of Holland & Knight, BBA President, Lisa Goodheart and BBA President Elect, J.D. Smeallie help bid farewell to an impressive class of students.

 
In his keynote remarks, Mr. Wright urged the students to think about the “5 Rs – respect, resilience, resourcefulness, responsibility and the ability to take risks” as guiding principles for both their academic and professional careers.  His thoughtful advice encouraged the students to “develop a stakeholder’s group – the group of people that will help guide you through your career.” The keynote address was particularly significant for our students as they stand at the threshold of their young careers.

 

 
 In addition, two students, Stephane Alexandre, a student at Boston Latin Academy and an intern at Prince Lobel Tye and Raymond Cen, a student at Boston Latin School and an intern at Nixon Peabody shared their experiences in the Program.  Stephane said that during her internship she worked “alongside clerks, paralegals, and lawyers” and her duties included “informing the clients of the status of their cases and files.”  She also noted that she “had the opportunity to learn about affidavits and depositions, as well as the importance of time management, which is required to succeed in life.”

 
 Raymond spoke of establishing a strong working relationship with many employees at Nixon, including former Boston City Council President and Boston Latin School alum, Larry DiCara. He noted that “now, every time Larry sees me, he exclaims a Latin saying – ‘ad astra per aspera’ – to the stars through difficulties.”  Raymond said that “working at Nixon Peabody has given me a new perspective on the legal world. I consider my internship at Nixon Peabody one of the great experiences of my life and will truly miss working with the amazing people I have met.”

 
The Boston Bar Association would like to thank the following firms for their support of the Summer Jobs Program.  Without you, this Program and the opportunities it affords our students would not be possible.

Anderson & Kreiger LLP
Bingham McCutchen LLP
Boston Bar Association*
Burns & Levinson LLP*
Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
Chu, Ring & Hazel LLP
Collora LLP
Committee for Public Counsel Services*†
Cooley LLP
DLA Piper LLP- Boston Office
Donnelly, Conroy & Gelhaar, LLP
Donovan Hatem, LLP
Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP*
Ferriter Scobbo & Rodophele PC
Foley Hoag LLP
Goodwin Procter LLP
Hemenway & Barnes LLP
Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP
Holland & Knight, LLP
Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services†
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute†
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC
Morrison Mahoney LLP
Nixon Peabody LLP
Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Office of the Corporation Counsel City of Boston*
Peabody & Arnold LLP
Pierce Atwood, LLP
Prince Lobel Tye LLP
Proskauer Rose LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP*
Shaevel and Krems
Sherin and Lodgen LLP
Shilepsky Hartley Robb Casey Michon LLP
Sovereign Bank
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office*†
Suffolk University Law
Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, PC
Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers LLP
Todd & Weld LLP
United States Bankruptcy Court†
Verrill Dana LLP
Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association *†
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, PC

*Hiring more than one student
† Position funded the by Boston Bar Foundation

We would also like to thank the volunteers that led the weekly enrichment seminars over the course of this summer. You have helped to broaden the experiences of our students.

Warren Agin, Swiggart & Agin, LLC
Hon. Peter Agnes, Massachusetts Appeals Court
Hon. Frank Bailey, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Barbara Berenson, Supreme Judicial Court
Janet Bostwick, Janet E. Bostwick, PC
Jeanne Darcey, Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Lawrence DiCara, Nixon Peabody LLP
Hon. Joan Feeney, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
John Fitzgerald, Office of the U.S. Trustee
William Harrington, Office of the U.S. Trustee
Kathleen Henry, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation
Donald Lassman, Law Office of Donald R. Lassman
John Loughnane, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC
Ben Loveland, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
David Mawhinney, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Stacie McHale, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
John Morrier, Casner & Edwards, LLP
Vanessa Peck, Goulston & Storrs – A Professional Corporation
Kathleen Rahbany, Craig and Macauley Professional Corporation
Diane Rallis, Holland & Knight, LLP
Emmanuelle Renelique, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Lynne Riley, Riley Law Group
Jeffrey Sternklar , Duane Morris LLP
Jillian Vorce, The Jillian Group

Giving Back on a Board

It’s that time of year again. Although Boston is still reaching temperatures in the 80’s by the afternoon, there is no denying the slight coolness in the air these past few mornings. September has always been an exciting month for me, there are new classes to be taken, new friends to be made, and new extracurricular activities to be tried. It is a time to step out of your comfort zone and reinvent the person you can be this year.
 
This year I’ve had the pleasure of helping to organize the BBA’s annual, Charitable Boards Service event scheduled for September 14th. The event is an opportunity to discover how serving on a charitable board is a way to contribute to a worthy cause, gain experience, and use your skills to serve your community in an area of your personal interest. Specifically, attendees will learn how to find board membership opportunities, identify topics that board members should be aware of – such as fiduciary duties, fiscal oversight, and governance issues, and hear fellow attorneys discuss their own experiences serving on boards.

As a member of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy board, my own service has been an opportunity to expand my professional network and contribute to a personal interest of mine. I have been able to take on leadership roles and develop skills that I could never gain simply from practicing law.

Based on my personal experience I encourage all attorneys to serve on a charitable board. Board service can be valuable for any attorney, from the new attorney who is seeking substantive experience and the unemployed attorney who is hoping to expand existing networks to the soon-to-be retired attorney looking for the next challenge and the attorney taking a break from the practice of law who still wishes to sharpen those legal skills. Even the busy, well-established attorney can find a few hours here and there to contribute knowledge and expertise to a favorite cause.
 
So while I hope you enjoy these last few days of summer, I encourage you all to attend the Charitable Board Service event and consider offering your time and expertise to a worthy organization.

Jennifer R. Garcia
Metropolitan Area Planning Council

BBA Lawyer Referral Service Reaches Out to Growing South Asian Community

This past Sunday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff joined thousands of others at the India Association of Greater Boston‘s (IAGB) annual India Day. The event, held at the DCR Memorial Hatch Shell, celebrated the 65th anniversary of India’s independence, and marked 50 years of service by the IAGB to the Indian-American community of the Boston area. 

LRS staff spoke with hundreds of people, making them aware of the largest Public Service program of the Boston Bar Association. The South Asian population in Greater Boston is constantly growing and the event gave BBA staff an excellent opportunity to talk with people about how to obtain a lawyer from the BBA Lawyer Referral Service. 

When approached by the India Day attendees, the BBA staff was primarily asked questions pertaining to immigration and business law. The day following the event, one of the festival attendees called seeking an attorney to help him with permanent residence services.  Other attendees took marketing materials, and were interested in contacting the LRS about other legal issues. 

In addition to speaking with individuals, the LRS staff was also able to enjoy the festivities including, cultural performances and vendors selling South Asian foods and goods. 

India Day is just one of the many annual outreach events the LRS participates in.  If you would like more information on future events, please contact Solana Goss, the LRS Intake Coordinator, at [email protected].

To reach the BBA Lawyer Referral Service please call (617)742-0625 or (800)552-7046 Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. You can also email us at [email protected] or visit us on the web at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.

Mentors with Diverse Backgrounds

In preparation for the next program year, the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section Group Mentoring Program is proud to announce the Mentors for the upcoming program year. Each Mentoring group has two Mentors who work together to provide their 6-10 mentees with a welcoming environment to learn, ask questions and seek advice.

Mentors are chosen not only for their racial and ethnic diversity, but also for their legal diversity. This year our Mentors are partners in law firms, in-house counsel, government attorneys, small business owners, solo practioners, legal services attorneys and bar leaders. Following different paths they were able to reach their current positions in both their profession and legal communities. Having access to these Mentors of this caliber is what makes the BBA Group Mentoring Program a continued success.

Take it from June Duchesne, current Mentoring Committee co-chair and former mentor: “Mentors can be critical to the success of new lawyers.  The mentors I had early in my career were invaluable in helping me navigate the ins and outs of our profession.  I am excited that our new class of incoming mentors, all respected and experienced attorneys with a lot of talent and knowledge to share, will be able to do the same for so many young lawyers in Boston.”

June Duchesne, Co-Chair

EMC Corporation

 

 

 

Richard Moore, Co-Chair

Planet Fitness

 

 

 

Lindy Aldrich

The Victim Rights Law Center, Inc.

 

 

 

Adam Foss

Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

 

 

 

Christopher Kauders

Pre-Trial Solutions, Inc.

 

 

Jessica Massey

Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General

 

 

 

Richard Quinby

Craig and Macauley Professional Corporation

 

 

 

Mala Rafik

Rosenfeld Rafik & Sullivan, P.C

 

 

 

Randall Ravitz

Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General

 

 

 

Anita Sharma

PAIR Project

 

 

 

Laura Unflat

The Law Office of Laura M. Unflat

 

 

 

Thuy Wagner

Boston Medical Center-Office of the General Counsel

 

 

 

Charles Walker

Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure

 

 

 

For more information on the BBA’s Group Mentoring Program contact Susan Helm at [email protected].

BBA Volunteer Lawyers Train New Interns

Attorney Claudia Gregoire speaks to LRS staff and interns about immigration law.

The BBA Lawyer Referral Service is the largest public service program of the Boston Bar Association, dedicated to helping members of the public in need of assistance connect with attorneys.  Each year the LRS connects about 10,000 callers from a diverse client base to qualified attorneys who speak many languages and can serve clients with a variety of legal issues.  The BBA LRS is the only ABA-approved lawyer referral service in the greater Boston area.

In order to ensure that the BBA LRS is providing the public with the highest level of service, twice a year BBA attorneys volunteer their time to conduct training sessions for the LRS staff on a wide range of legal topics. These topics range from Criminal Law and Bankruptcy to legal aid resources available in greater Boston. The trainings help to make sure accurate referrals are being made so that the callers are reaching the help that they need.

Beyond the Billable wanted to find what the LRS staff learned by attending these training sessions.

Solana Goss

LRS Intake Coordinator


“Working on the telephones all day, I encounter legal situations from a diverse group of callers, so it is important that I find appropriate resources specific to their needs.  Learning which questions to ask, what documents callers may be referring to, and the basics of the law helps me to ensure the callers will be well-served by the BBA LRS.  More importantly however, the trainings reminded me to analyze the caller’s situation from their perspective.  They are calling us in a stressful and vulnerable time period, and are often using our service because they have never needed or spoke to an attorney before.  My role also requires me to be sympathetic and patient, especially when callers might be difficult to understand or communicate with, as these are the clients that often need our help the most. Participating in the trainings conducted by the volunteer attorneys reinforced the importance of what we do at the BBA LRS by increasing access to justice. I am able to do my job more effectively and refer callers to the most appropriate resources.”

Alison Kubas

Northeastern University Co-op Student 2012, Northeastern University Class of 2013

“It was clear that a main concern of each of the attorneys was that there be access to legal services for anyone who may be in need. This was reiterated with comments regarding the great service that was being provided to the public and how important it is that we at the Boston Bar Association continue giving quality assistance. In addition, the attorneys emphasized the importance of always remaining patient and kind to the callers because you never know what type of situation they are in. After this great advice and information, I can go into each call confidently and finish it feeling accomplished.”

The Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service would like to thank the following attorneys who volunteered their time to conduct training sessions for the BBA’s new interns:

Roger Bertling (Law Offices of Roger Bertling) – Bankruptcy

Dan Biagiotti (Legal Advocacy & Resource Center) – LARC & Legal Services Overview

Vilas Dhar (Dhar Law, LLP) – Business Law & Consumer Law

Robin Gorenberg (Law Office of Robin Gorenberg) – Trusts & Estate Planning

Claudia Gregoire (George J. West & Associates) – Immigration Law
 
William Korman (Korman & Associates, LLC) – Criminal Law

William McLeod (United States Bankruptcy Court) – Bankruptcy

Chik Mone (Pierce, Davis & Perritano, LLP) – Torts

Staci Rubin (Alternatives for Community & Environment) – Environmental Law

Dino Santangelo (Law Office of Dino R. Santangelo) – Public Benefits & Health Law

Ryan Sullivan (Sullivan Legal) – Real Estate & Landlord/Tenant Law

Francis Teague (Frank J. Teague & Associates ) – Employment Law

Laura Unflat (The Law Office of Laura M. Unflat) – Family Law

If you are interested in joining the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, or becoming involved in training sessions in the future, please contact Solana Goss, the LRS Intake Coordinator, at [email protected].

To reach the BBA Lawyer Referral Service please call (617)742 0625 or (800)552-7046 Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm; Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. You can also email us at [email protected] or visit us on the web at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.