This week, the BBA held its last pro bono training for the program year, which focused on trials in Housing Court. The goal of the training was to recruit volunteers for the BBA Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court program, where attorneys help landlords and tenants who would otherwise be unrepresented resolve disputes.
First Justice of the Housing Court Hon. Jeffrey Winik had many helpful tips that were practical in nature. “Never lose sight of the fact that you are looking to resolve a problem,” he advised.
He went on to say that a resolution that is mutually satisfying to both the landlord and the tenant may not be a “winning” verdict, so to speak. He also elaborated on the key to successfully arguing a case in Housing Court.
“A good trial lawyer has to be as familiar with the other side’s case as they are with their own,” he said.
Judge Winik also advised attorneys to vet information given to them by their clients by seeking out documents from other sources, such as city inspection offices.
We would like to thank those who led and those who participated in Pro Bono Trainings at the BBA this year, with special thanks to those who went on to volunteer their time after the training session.
Busy scene at the Boston Housing Court, where BBA volunteers have been providing legal assistance to landlords and tenants for 15 years.
Did you know that approximately 90 percent of tenants and 50 percent of landlords in the Boston Housing Court don’t have legal representation? Since 1999, the BBA’s Lawyer for the Day in the Housing Court Program has acted as a lifeline for pro se landlords and tenants, with volunteers providing more than 15,000 pro se litigants with legal assistance.
Attorneys at the Boston Housing Court on a Thursday morning assisting tenants as part of the BBA’s Lawyer for the Day Program.
This year, the Program has been able provide representation to over 450 tenants and 100 landlords. Last Wednesday, the Program also launched a monthly initiative with Burns & Levinson LLP that will assist Section 8 clients facing eviction. As our members know, a lawyer can make all the difference for families who are facing the loss of their homes and landlords who need to better understand their rights.
At Boston Housing Court, Lawyer for the Day Program volunteers Joanna Allison of the Volunteer Lawyers Project and BBA Real Estate Public Service Committee and Chris Saccardi of The Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi.
Beyond the Billable checked in with Joanna Allison (Volunteer Lawyers Project) to learn more about the Program. Here’s what she had to say:
“The Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program gives a voice to so many in need. This Program is a model not only for legal professionals and law firms, but for the nation as a whole. I am proud to be a part of a program that prioritizes increased access to justice and look forward to watching the program grow and expand its reach.”
Join us in celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program, on April 10th at 5:00 p.m. It will be an evening of food and drinks while we acknowledge the hard work of volunteers, Housing Court staff and the many others who make the program possible. R.S.V.P. online here.
As we move into some of the coldest months here in New England, we have been reflecting on some of the bright spots over the past year. For example, last summer, ten Boston Public high school students had paying jobs at non-profit legal services organizations, government agencies and in the courts. One student told us about her experience –“I have been exposed to brilliant people who shared their experiences with me, and helped me form an idea of the career path I might want to take.”
US Bankruptcy Judge Joan Feeney talking with students during the final Module of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program.
With the help of hundreds of volunteers, the US Bankruptcy Court and the Boston Public Schools, we have impressed the importance of prudent financial management upon young minds through the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. This program not only helps teens see how they might be able to save for a car, but hopefully can help them avoid bankruptcy later in life.
And in the Housing Court, BBA volunteers assisted more than 1,000 individuals struggling to navigate a complex, overburdened court system. This program gives hope and relief to pro se landlords and tenants at a time in their lives when one of their basic needs is at stake.
What do these programs have in common? They are all run with funding provided by the Boston Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the BBA.
The BBF is perhaps most well-known for its role in granting funds to legal services organizations in our community. These Boston-based programs operate in all areas of need – from giving children access to equal education and life opportunities, providing counseling and advice to homeless and at risk veterans, and helping thousands of families facing foreclosure learn their legal rights and fight displacement. But what many people don’t know is that the BBF is also providing a helping hand on the community service front, and working with the BBA to improve lives and strengthen neighborhoods.
As the holiday season approaches, the BBF will be launching its Annual Campaign to help support this work. The tax-deductible donations made to the Annual Campaign help provide a solid base of support as the BBF renews its commitment to increasing access to justice for those who need it most, providing opportunities for young people and engaging lawyers in the kind of projects that improve the lives of those in our community.
Learn more at http://www.bostonbarfoundation.org/Support/annual_appeal.html.