Posts Tagged: Boston Municipal Court

Thank You to Our Reentry Education Volunteers

We’d like to thank our 2016 BBA Reentry Education Program volunteers for donating their time to educate probationers on how to navigate various civil-legal issues faced when reentering society. This year, volunteers addressed over 150 probationers on issues related to employment law, obtaining housing, reinstating a driver’s license, CORI sealing, public benefits, finances, and family law. The BBA partnered with the Court Assisted Recovery Effort (CARE) and Reentry: Empowering Successful Todays and Responsible Tomorrows (RESTART) programs of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, the CHOICE program in the Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court, and Hope House and Coolidge House, community partners serving the probation population.

We’re thankful for our volunteers:

Michael Birch, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP

Lizbeth Ginsburg, Greater Boston Legal Services

Julie Heinzelman, Prince Lobel Tye LLP

Anuj Khetarpal, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

David Lieberman, Day Pitney LLP

Brian McLaughlin, Brian McLaughlin Esq. LLC

Kavya Naini, Harvard Law School

Ryan Sakoda, Committee for Public Counsel Services

Phong Tran, Harvard Law School


Click here to read more about the program and if you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Cassandra Shavney at

“There’s More Beyond the Billable Hour”: PILP Meets with Chief Justice Ronquillo

Chief Justice Roberto Ronquillo

Chief Justice Roberto Ronquillo talks judicial responsibility with PILPers.

The PILP class welcomed Chief Justice Roberto Ronquillo of the Boston Municipal Court (BMC) to its meeting last week. There’s no doubt about it, Chief Justice Ronquillo is incredibly impressive. Appointed in January 2014, Chief Justice Ronquillo oversees the eight divisions of the BMC, 30 judges, and over 500 employees. The BMC houses a variety of specialty courts, including four drug courts, three mental health courts, Veterans’ treatment court, and homeless court.

Chief Justice Ronquillo earned his undergraduate degree in criminal justice at the University of Texas at El Paso and moved to Boston to attend New England School of Law | Boston. After graduating from NESL, Chief Justice Ronquillo served as an Assistant District Attorney in Suffolk County and then ran his own law firm. In 2001, he was appointed to the bench, and in 2007, Chief Justice Ronquillo was named First Justice.

The PILPers used this meeting to ask questions ranging from how Chief Justice Ronquillo balances his judicial and administrative responsibilities to what the Chief’s sentencing philosophy is and everything in between. Throughout his Q&A and stories, Chief Justice Ronquillo emphasized the important role of specialty courts within the BMC. He believes that the specialty courts show a change in how we approach the legal process. Within the specialty courts, there is a particular focus on how to serve and support a community with stability, encouragement, and respect.

After meeting with Chief Justice Ronquillo, Elianna Nuzum, PILP class member and Assistant District Attorney at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, said:

“Chief Justice Ronquillo was particularly inspiring when he spoke about the individuals whose lives were changed, and put back on track, after addressing their challenges — and their criminal cases — through the specialty courts such as homeless court, drug court, and veterans’ court.  He pressed the importance of respect for each individual, and coming up with creative ways to help get people out of situations that are likely to cause recidivism.”

 Chief Justice Ronquillo concluded the meeting by reminding the PILPers that lawyers have a tremendous responsibility to their clients, that clients deserve your respect and time, and that “there’s more beyond the billable hour.”

PILP 11 Talks Benefits with CHOICE Program

PILPers present an overview of public benefits at the BMC in Roxbury.

PILPers present an overview of public benefits at the BMC in Roxbury.

Last Friday, PILP 11 visited the BMC-Roxbury CHOICE program for this month’s civil legal education workshop. Lizbeth Ginsburg (Greater Boston Legal Services) and Nency Salamoun (The Victim Rights Law Center) provided an overview of public benefits to CHOICE participants, with help from Donna McCormick (GLBS). The presentation featured an overview of the following benefits:

–  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),
–  Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC),
–  Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC),
–  MassHealth and Connector Care, and

Beyond the Billable caught up with Nency Salamoun after the presentation. Here’s what she had to say about Friday’s session:

“I was impressed with the level of engagement and commitment by every participant in the program. It was amazing to watch a whole community of people surround these participants and help them reclaim their lives.  From the Judge to the probation officer- every person in the courtroom was fully invested.”

Keep a look out for next month’s update on PILP’s family law presentation!

Staying Busy This Summer – Law Students Start Summer Judicial Internships



The 2014 Summer Judicial Interns, ready to begin their internships at various courts throughout the Greater Boston Area.

Beyond the Billable recently chatted with a few excited Summer Judicial Interns about their upcoming summer and what they were most looking forward to about their experience. Fortunately, for our 28 interns, the wait is over – their summer job has officially begun as of last evening’s orientation session at 16 Beacon. At the orientation students participating in the Program learned about general procedures for working in the courts from BBA’s Manager of Member Engagement Kristen Scioli White and Judge Robert Tochka. Kristen and Judge Tochka spoke with interns about the expectations for their internship and answered questions to help ease concerns about the law students’ first time working in a court. Following the presentations, the interns, participating judges, and past participants of the program gathered for a reception and celebrated the beginning of this year’s Summer Judicial Internship Program. We’ll be following our interns progress closely this summer, so be sure to check Beyond the Billable for more updates!

24 Law Students Are Judicial Interns Thanks to BBA Program

The BBA’s Pipeline & Recruitment Committee of the Diversity & Inclusion Section welcomed 24 diverse law students to the Summer Judicial Internship Program at last night’s orientation meeting. Judge Tochka and Judge Ronquillo, both of the Boston Municipal Court, who have spearheaded this initiative at the BBA offered students tips for working in the court system and making the most of their summer internship. Pipeline & Recruitment Committee Co-Chairs Angela Gomes (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates) and Mia Friedman (Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service Suffolk University Law School) shared information on the Diversity & Inclusion Section and its programming.

These Judicial Interns students will work alongside judges in the Boston Municipal Courts, District Courts and Probate & Family Courts. In addition, interns are invited to engage in weekly professional networking meetings held at the BBA.

The new

Judicial interns attended an orientation last night at the BBA. The interns will be working in the Boston Municipal Courts, District Courts and Probate & Family Courts this summer.

Contact Susan Helm at or 617-778-1984 for more information on the program

Use Pro Bono to Build Your Practice

The current legal job market is one of the toughest the field has ever seen. The need for pro bono legal services continues to grow. More and more new lawyers are starting their own firms and looking for ways to develop their legal skills. Is there a way to reconcile all of these demands? Come to Building Your Practice Through Pro Bono and find out how three new lawyers have done just that.

Here is just a bit of what you will learn from these attorneys:

Saccardi, ChrisChristopher Saccardi, The Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi 

I started my landlord-tenant practice by volunteering through the BBA Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program. My first trial was a pro bono case that I accepted on the morning of trial. While I was moderately terrified to be conducting a trial with very little experience, I soon realized that my client was very grateful to have any attorney representing her, even one with limited experience. And even more surprising, the judge was also happy to deal with an attorney during the trial as opposed to a pro se litigant. Because I was clearly inexperienced, the judge was extra patient with me and as a result, not only was I able to help out a deserving client but I learned a great deal through the experience.

As I gained experience through pro bono cases, I started to build up my own caseload of paying clients, drawing upon what I learned through volunteering and taking advantage of the network of mentors and colleagues I had built up through my work.

Thomas Beauvais, Attorney at Law 

Once my license arrived in the mail, I started the process of opening my practice. In my brief time networking with other solos, I have found most have difficulty with the business side of the practice: how to get enough clients, what to charge those clients, and where to meet them. My biggest obstacle was the product itself, what area of law to practice.

I knew what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to practice in criminal law, family law or personal injury. Not that there aren’t very deserving clients in those areas, or that there aren’t some truly amazing attorneys practicing this law, I just knew it wasn’t for me. I did, however, want to litigate. Looking back at my list of eliminations, one might notice the Venn Diagram of my options was rather narrow. From my perspective at the time, there was no overlap. Nevertheless, I began looking for pro bono opportunities to keep myself busy. Thankfully, I came across Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). Every Wednesday, VLP hosts a Fair Debt Collection Clinic at the Boston Municipal Court. Not only would they allow any attorney with a free Wednesday morning to actually represent clients in a civil litigation setting, but they train them to do it well. After my first appearance, I was hooked.

Silber, AlisonAlison Silber, Law Offices of Alison Silber

I have a large VLP caseload—three cases at a time plus I mentor two other volunteers—and, in return, the VLP staff often answer questions for me about my non-VLP cases. They also provide me templates of motions/Proposed findings/etc. for my non-VLP cases.

In addition to taking cases with VLP, their lunches are a great opportunity to network and bounce ideas off of more experienced attorneys. I attend the large lunches whenever I can, plus VLP hosts a small, monthly Family Law brownbag that I find invaluable. I have developed two mentors from that circle. Each time I come with a list of questions from my non-VLP cases, and they always get answered.

Click here for more information and to register for Building Your Practice Through Pro Bono, January 23 at 12:30 pm.

BBA Seeks to Foster Diversity with Law Student Internship Program in the Courts

Background. . .

In the beginning it was an informal initiative designed to provide unpaid internships, introducing law students to the inner workings of the courts. The brainchild of Boston Municipal Court Judge Robert Tochka, the program helped provided needed assistance to the trial courts during a time marked by funding cuts and staff layoffs.

Over time, Judge Tochka made an effort to reach out to more law students, providing them with the opportunity to volunteer their time to him, observe courtroom proceedings and enhance their legal research and writing skills. Word of the program began to spread and other BMC judges were eager to become involved.

In 2010, the BBA Diversity and Inclusion Section heard of this internship program and saw it as a unique opportunity for the BBA to use its resources to help expand and formalize this project as a modest but important step towards providing diverse law students with valuable mentoring and professional experience, and supporting the courts.

By the spring of 2011, the BBA Diversity and Inclusion Section conducted extensive outreach to career services offices at Boston law schools to recruit candidates who could benefit from semester long internships, and helped place students with judges.

Fast forward to the May 15, 2012 meeting of the BBA governing Council. . .

Following a presentation by BBA Diversity Section Co-Chair and Choate, Hall & Stewart partner, Macey Russell, the BBA Council voted to partner with the BMC to formalize this initiative for the purpose of helping to retain a diverse and inclusive population of young lawyers here in Boston.

Students are required to work 15 hours per week, with one day being in court. In addition to completing assigned tasks from their judge, they are required to work on the Massachusetts Case Summaries blog which summarizes important Massachusetts cases.

The next session will begin in the fall; applications will be accepted in August. Interested participants are encouraged to contact Susan Helm at or 617-778-1984.