Experiencing a day in the shoes of a Boston public school principal has become a tradition for Boston Bar Association Presidents. Since 2004, the BBA president has participated in the Principal for a Day program run by Boston Plan for Excellence (BPE). The Program allows public and private sector leaders to better understand the improvements and remaining challenges in the Boston public school system.
Furthermore, it provides the basis for the types of relationships between the business community and the local school system that can help improve the schools. President James D. Smeallie participated in BPE’s’ annual Principal for a Day Program on Tuesday, November 13th, shadowing the co-headmasters of the Quincy Upper School.
BBA President J.D. Smeallie talking to 8th and 9th graders at the Quincy Upper School.
“After a morning at the Josiah Quincy School, what struck me was how genuinely enthusiastic the co-headmasters were in the face of poor facilities, budget constraints and a talent drain to the exam schools,” said Smeallie. “If their ideas and strategies are indicative of our public schools as a whole, there is a tremendous amount of effort and creativity directed toward improving our city’s schools.”
Smeallie had the opportunity to review test results with teachers, meet with the principal and administrative staff, participate in a student government meeting, visit classrooms, and debrief with a teacher after a lesson. Following the morning activities, all 2012 participants ended the day with a lunchtime discussion at Bank of America with a representative from the Mayor’s office, Bank of America Chairman Emeritus and BPE Board of Trustees Chair Chad Gifford, BPE Executive Director Jesse Solomon, Boston School Committee Chair, Reverend Gregory Groover, and Superintendent Carol Johnson.
Co-Headmaster Richard Chang, BBA President J.D. Smeallie, Steven Wright, and Co-Headmaster Stephen Cirasuolo
During time in the schools, Smeallie gained a personal look at the impact of the BBA’s public service programs on the Boston school system. These school-based programs, which include the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, Law Day in the Schools, Mayor’s Youth Council, Summer Jobs Program, and the Boston Debate League, provide students with real world professional skills to increase their involvement in their communities and prepare them for future careers and higher education opportunities. To cite just one benefit, Smeallie explained that all of the students involved in the BBA’s Boston Debate League program from Quincy Upper School continue on to college and receive scholarships.
For more information about public service opportunities in the Boston public schools, please review our 2012 Public Service Report or contact Katie D’Angelo at email@example.com.
The combined efforts of both GLAD and the AG’s Office have brought together an impressive network of lawyers to advance one of the most significant civil rights issues in recent history. What’s particularly meaningful for us is that the two honorees engaged the legal community as an advocate for greater Diversity and Inclusion both in Massachusetts and the nation.
This fight for civil rights for gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts could be seen in a fundamental way as starting with a single pro bono case from the mid ‘80’s, Babets v. Johnston. It began with The Boston Globe breaking a story about two brothers in the foster care system placed with a gay couple, Babets and Jean. The very same day the story broke, the Dukakis administration removed the children from their home.
The couple’s sexual orientation was the sole reason the boys were removed from their home. No issues of neglect, abuse, or any sort of mistreatment were ever raised. After the children were removed, the administration approved a new DSS policy that essentially banned gays and lesbians from being foster parents.
From GLAD Website: Don Babets and David Jean (back) with GLAD attorney and Executive Director Kevin Cathcart (r) and co-counsel Tony Doniger Photo by Ellen Shub
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders started the legal fight to overturn this blatantly discriminatory policy and return the boys to their home. Today, there would be lawyers lining up around the block to help fight for this family, but in 1986, GLAD found it nearly impossible to find any support in the legal community. Attorney Anthony M. Doniger, a partner at Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C. – later to become President of the Boston Bar Association –stepped up to the challenge and represented the plaintiffs in the case pro bono all the way up to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The court rejected the claim of executive privilege asserted by the Dukakis administration in order to withhold documents related to the DSS policy banning gay and lesbians from being foster parents. This ruling allowed the plaintiffs to move forward on their suit to reverse the policy. The policy was ultimately reversed back to the “best interests of the child” standard and the initial suit was settled out of court.
The Beacon Award is celebrating the great work GLAD and the AG’s office have done to promote marriage equality not only in the Commonwealth, but across the nation. Every civil rights effort begins with small steps that, like pebbles dropped in a pond, send out ripples that ultimately can have profound impact. The Babets v. Johnston case is just one of those “pebbles” dropped just over 25 years ago.
Please join us on November 13 at 6:00 at the Liberty Hotel for the Beacon Award. The event is free but we do ask that you RSVP.
It seems like every firm these days is publishing an annual pro bono or public service report to talk about the good work their lawyers are doing. The BBA has never published a report before, but this year, we decided to jump on the bandwagon. We realized that without a comprehensive review of the work done over the past year, it is easy to forget the larger impact we are making on the community. The BBA Public Service Report: Building Stronger Communities has allowed us to document our programs and all the work that is being done by our members and volunteers.
One of the ongoing projects highlighted in the report is the BBA Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court which began in 1999 with volunteers assisting landlords and tenants in summary process cases one day a week. Since then, the program has expanded to include a second day for summary process cases and one day a month to assist pro se litigants in filing complaints. Over the past 13 years, an estimated 12,000 BBA volunteers have helped more than 14,732 individuals.
In addition to facilitating direct pro bono work, the BBA works with the public schools to help underserved students. One such program is the Summer Jobs Program which began 19 years ago. Summer Jobs is a diversity and inclusion pipeline program with the goal of introducing Boston Public School students to the law and the legal profession. Over 385 Boston Public High School students have been place in legal jobs across Boston.
These programs obviously benefit the community, but the benefit to the lawyers cannot be overestimated. Through volunteering for these programs, lawyers are building new legal skills including negotiating settlements and advocating in court. They are also building new relationships with fellow attorneys and community leaders who could help them build a practice or facilitate a career change or advancement.
We would like to thank all of the BBA volunteers who through their dedication and creativity make all of our programs work. In addition, we would like to thank the Boston Bar Foundation and the Boston Foundation for partially funding many of the BBA’s Public Service programs.
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.
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.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Cameron Casey (email@example.com) for more information about the 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
Committee for Public Counsel Services*†
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 LRS@bostonbar.org or visit us on the web at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.