From teaching a record 1,700 students through Law Day in the Schools to releasing a compelling report on criminal justice reform, 2017 was a successful year at the BBA. For highlights and our favorite photos from the year, read on to see how you and your colleagues contributed to our public service initiatives over the past year.
Posts Tagged: Military Legal Help Line
Did you know that there are currently 21.8 million veterans of the U.S armed forces?
The BBA is proud to host a special Veterans Day Reception on Thursday, November 12, 2015, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
Led by past BBA President Jack Regan of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and William Sinnott of Donoghue Barrett & Singal, P.C. – both veterans themselves – the event brings together legal professionals who share a history of military service, a connection to military service, or a dedication to serving veterans and their families.
“Bill Sinnott and I have been involved with veterans’ issues at the BBA for years,” said Regan. “Our work together has included asking the lawyers of Boston to step up and assist veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families, with a range of urgently needed legal services. This reception is a way to say thank you to those lawyers, and to pause — in the midst of our busy professional and personal lives — to recognize the sacrifices made by Massachusetts veterans for all of us.”
“I hope that attendees gain a greater understanding of the issues that veterans confront when they suddenly transition from a structured military life and the rigors of deployment to the open, unstructured environment of civilian life and the challenges of re-entry into a competitive workplace, while trying to leave the memories of war behind,” he continued. “Attendees would also gain an insight into the extensive work being done by the lawyers of the Boston Bar Association and related legal services organizations to assist veterans with that transition.”
Click here to register
Are you coming to Passport to Pairings next Thursday? If you can pull yourself away from the delicious food and drinks, be sure to ask our volunteers and staff about the programs featured at the event. Take a look below for a cheat-sheet highlighting the programs:
Law Day in the Schools: Every spring, join lawyers from all over the city to visit classes across the Boston public school system to teach students about different topics related to the law. This year our volunteers taught over 1000 students from kindergarten to seniors in high school about the Magna Carta.
Military & Veterans Legal Help Line: The BBA Lawyer Referral Service has a dedicated line to connect servicemembers and their families to legal assistance. The line has fielded over 600 calls since the BBA LRS became home to the Military& Veterans Legal Help Line in September 2013.
Pro Bono Trainings: Every year the BBA partners with legal service organizations and the Courts to hold pro bono trainings to address the unmet legal needs in our community. Over the past two years, the BBA has held 34 pro bono trainings on topics, including Veterans Discharge Appeal, Special Advocacy for At-Risk Youth, and Landlord Tenant Law.
M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program: Volunteers work in pairs to teach high school students throughout the state about personal finance & budgeting, using credit, buying a car, and the consequences of making poor financial decisions. Since the program began 11 years ago, volunteers have taught over 4,500 students statewide how to make informed financial decisions. This program is conducted through a partnership between the United States Bankruptcy Court of the District of Massachusetts and the BBA.
Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court: Every Wednesday and Thursday volunteer attorneys offer legal assistance to landlords and tenants at the Boston Housing Court. Since the program began 15 years ago, over 13,000 volunteers have helped more than 16,000 pro se landlords and tenants.
Reentry Education Program: The program provides information to federal probations through monthly workshops on key civil legal issues that they may face in reentering society, including finding affordable housing, CORI management and public benefits.
Click here to buy tickets and to learn more about the event.
Last week, attorneys gathered at 16 Beacon to learn about veterans’ rights in employment and education. The panelists, Jennifer Serafyn (U.S Attorney’s Office), Donald d’Entremont (US Department of Labor), Kate Upatham (Sanghavi Law Office), and James Downey (US Department of Labor), outlined the rights afforded to veterans and active duty military under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Here’s what panelist Kate Upatham had to say about the importance of this program:
“There are over 21 million veterans in the United States today, making us likely to encounter veterans in our work as lawyers. Members of our military give so much of themselves to our country, risking their very lives; it is the least we as lawyers can do to ensure that we are well versed in, and that we protect the rights of, our veterans.”
Last week’s program is part of the BBA’s continuing initiatives to increase access to justice for our military & veteran’s communities. Mark your calendars! On June 2, we are holding a training on Representing Veterans in Discharge Upgrade Cases. This training will guide attorneys through the process of helping less-than-honorable discharged veterans petition to upgrade their status. There is an enormous gap in legal services available to veterans facing upgrade cases, so we encourage you to sign up now.
If you are able to help veterans or active duty military members with employment cases, or in other areas of law, please contact Solana Goss at [email protected].
The BBA had another year full of public service. For a look back at our members’ work in the community, take a look at the photos below:
Last Monday, we heard from an impressive panel of speakers about the Veterans’ Treatment Courts of Massachusetts. The Honorable Mary Hogan Sullivan, Attorney Vanessa Velez from the Committee for Public Counsel Services, and Access to Justice Fellow Attorney Allan E. Taylor discussed how the treatment courts provide an alternative to incarceration. The Veterans’ Treatment Court coordinates support for veterans in the criminal justice system by connecting them with services and programs that address underlying service-related issues.
If you’re not familiar with the Veterans’ Treatment Courts, here’s a little background: Judge Hogan Sullivan brought the first Veterans’ Treatment Court to Massachusetts in Dedham, a model which will be replicated in 4 other counties in the state, and is already open at BMC. Veterans’ Treatment Court judges understand military culture, and how PTS, traumatic brain injuries, substance addiction, or military sexual trauma may fuel criminal behavior among veterans. The judges are assisted by an interdisciplinary team of providers, and mentors, including Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists, representatives from the State Department of Veterans Affairs, and former veterans who volunteer as mentors. More than 130 courts nationwide now have a Veterans’ Treatment session. To read more about the Veterans’ Treatment Courts, click here.
Our dedicated readers know about the BBA’s commitment to addressing the legal needs of our servicemembers, veterans, and their families through the Veterans and Military Helpline and Yellow Ribbon Events. One of the priorities of the BBA’s Active Duty, Family Members & Veterans Committee is to illuminate issues facing this population. Case in point– we have a program on military sexual trauma coming up on January 27th (click here for more information). We’ll keep you posted when similar programs are added to the BBA’s calendar.
This Veterans Day, we remember the past and ongoing sacrifices of the men, women and their families who have served our nation.
That’s why we wanted to share this Boston Globe article that sheds light on just how difficult navigating the VA system can be not only for clients, but for lawyers as well.
The article tells the story of a 59-year old Vietnam Veteran, and his difficulty communicating with the VA about his benefits. Despite serving his country bravely and honorably during a time of war, the veteran has encountered hurdles that would leave many too frustrated to overcome. Along the way, he has been helped by a pro bono attorney Steve Veenema, who now works at Murphy & King. Despite being proactive and communicating to the VA that he was receiving Social Security benefits for an automobile accident, the veteran was penalized for a VA error that was not his fault. Even his lawyer had difficulty being acknowledged by the VA in several instances, and found that the way that his client was treated by the VA system caused needless frustration and suffering. For the full story, we encourage you to read the whole article.
So what can you do to help? We receive calls daily though the BBA Military & Veterans Legal Help Line though the Lawyer Referral Service. If you or your firm is interested in receiving referrals from this line, please contact Solana Goss at (617) 778-1978 or [email protected]. You may have seen last week that 4 BBA sponsor firms have volunteered to accept pro bono referrals through the Help Line – hear from them why they stepped up to help military members, veterans and their families.
To read about the BBA’s impact with the military & veterans community over this past year, click here.
The BBA Lawyer Referral Service (BBA LRS) kicked off a the season of community outreach at the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance’s (MOVA) 2014 Victim Rights Conference in honor of Victim Rights Month in Massachusetts and National Crime Victim Rights Week. Last Friday’s conference brought survivors and victim service providers together at Seaport World Trade Center for a day of learning and networking via multiple workshops and exhibits. As an exhibitor, the BBA LRS spread the word about the services of the program to the conference attendees. In addition to highlighting the LRS and its reduced-fee panels, the LRS table had information about special projects for those affected by the Marathon Bombings, and the Military Legal Helpline.
If you would like more information about the Lawyer Referral Service please contact Solana Goss at [email protected].
It’s been a little over six months since the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service adopted the Military Legal Help Line . If you remember, this past fall we announced the expansion of our Veterans’ Initiative, by transferring the Help Line, launching our CLE series on Representing Military Members, Veterans & Their Families, and leveraging the efforts by our Active Duty, Family Members and Veterans Committee.
Here’s a glimpse of our impact so far:
- Since September 1st, we have received calls from more than 250 military personnel, veterans and family members.
- We successfully connected 65% more callers to lawyers and legal services than last year. Since developing a panel of qualified attorneys trained to assist with the unique legal issues facing this population, we have been able to help more clients.
- All of the attorneys on these Military & Veterans panels accept reduced-fee cases and are generally willing to provide brief advice at no cost to the veteran or military member.
- For more complex cases that members of our Military & Veterans panels are unable to help, we have been successful in finding other BBA members with specific expertise to provide assistance.
These successes come at the same time the state is expanding its outreach to veterans by launching the second Veterans Treatment Court, this one in Suffolk County. The court began holding sessions at the end of January and is staffed with specially trained judges, clinicians, probation officers and attorneys. The Veterans Treatment Court will hear certain criminal cases where a link has been established between trauma caused by military service and the defendant’s crime.
Can you help assist active duty military members with discharge cases? If you can or are an attorney who wants to help support the BBA’s Military Legal Help Line, contact Solana Goss at [email protected].
As of September 1st, the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) is the new home of the Military Legal Help Line. This line will connect veterans, military personnel, and their families with lawyers and other legal resources. The service will refer callers to qualified attorneys offering reduced fee and pro bono legal assistance or the appropriate government or non-profit agency.
Beyond the Billable checked in with Solana Goss, the LRS intake coordinator, to hear what she has to say about line:
“As the intake coordinator of the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, I am excited and proud to help this deserving population connect with the legal resources they need. The BBA LRS is happy to support the needs of the community and those who served our country, by expanding the availability of legal assistance to active duty military, veterans and their families.”
If you are seeking legal assistance, please call the Military Legal Help Line at 617-742-0625 or 1-800-552-7046. You can also fill out an online request at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.
Stay tuned for more information on upcoming trainings to prepare additional attorneys to take these types of cases.