The Boston Bar Association is pleased to announce our “Active Duty Military and Veterans Forum” has changed to the “Veterans and Servicemembers Law Forum”. We believe this name change more accurately describes its membership.
The co-chairs highlighted the need to replace “active duty military” with “servicemembers” because the term servicemembers is both more inclusive and accurate for the forum. Servicemembers was selected because it is defined in the Servicemember Civil Release Act (SCRA) as including, but not limited to, all Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard forces. This includes reservists and national guard who are often active but may not have been recalled to full-time duty.
The Forum was formed in 2014 in order to, “further pro bono and public service initiatives that support [servicemembers]…, spotlight legal needs, serve as a network for current and former servicemembers in the legal profession and their families, and advise the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service on its Military & Veterans Legal Help Line.” There are currently over two hundred active members of the Forum and the group annually hosts networking lunches and trainings on legal issues specific to Veterans and Servicemembers. The proposed name change would help clarify the inclusion of all servicemembers and those that support them, which upholds the goals and practices of the Forum.
If you are interested in learning more about this forum, please contact Doug Newton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are extremely proud to announce the Boston Bar Association’s new mentoring program for military-affiliated law students and new lawyers. This pilot program will match senior lawyers who are veterans or active-duty servicemembers with new and prospective members of the bar with military backgrounds.
The BBA’s Military and Veterans Forum exists to support military-affiliated lawyers and create connections between them, as well as support veterans legal services efforts. The forum’s members are also focused on developing pathways to success in the legal profession while leveraging the many positive professional attributes of attorneys with a military service record.
Former Military and Veterans Forum Co-Chair Jonathan Hayden, of Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster, shared his thoughts on why the mentoring program is so important:
The skills and qualities a servicemember develops while serving in the military are incredible assets in a legal career, but former servicemembers at the beginning of their civilian legal careers often struggle to effectively present those assets to potential employers.
The BBA’s Military and Veterans Forum Mentorship Program will connect military veteran law students, junior attorneys, and active duty servicemembers looking to begin legal careers in Boston with established local attorneys who are also military veterans and can help the mentees at the start of their careers as Boston attorneys.
Mentors will also help to provide mentees with advice about navigating law school, crafting a resume that demonstrates the tangible benefits military experience offers in the legal environment, making career-development decisions, and learning to network within the Boston legal community. We can all point to attorneys who were instrumental in helping each of us start our legal careers, and, by linking mentors and mentees with a shared experience of military service, the Mentorship Program will show the mentees that there are many people in Boston who want them to succeed and are ready to help.
To learn more about this program, or to sign up to be a mentor or mentee, please click here.
You’re also invited to attend the Forum’s next Meet & Greet Luncheon on Friday, Nov. 2nd at 12:00 PM at the BBA. For more info and to register, please click here.
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.
The 2017 Public Service Award presented at the Boston Bar Foundation’s annual John & Abigail Adams Benefit Ball honored Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall in January. Chief Justice Marshall addresses the crowd at the Museum of Fine Arts, reminding every one of the importance of being good and just in their work.
MIT Bhangra, an award-winning dance group, entertained the crowd at the Adams Benefit. 2017’s Ball raised over $650,000 in support for local legal services organizations providing civil legal services to those in need. In June, the Foundation granted $960,000 to 20 such organizations.
Each January, hundreds of attorneys travel to the State House to Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. The Equal Justice Coalition coordinates this annual event to call on our legislators to adequately fund the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation through the state budget. Carol Starkey, 2016-2017 BBA President, highlights the importance of civil legal aid as noted in the BBA’s Investing in Justice report, which details that 2 out of 3 income eligible clients are turned away from legal services due to a lack of resources.
In response to President Trump’s Executive Order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, then BBA President Carol Starkey reaffirmed the BBA’s aim to “support the rule of law, as well as the core values of access to justice and diversity and inclusion, which help keep the fundamental promise that all of us will enjoy due process and equal protection under the law.” Over the course of the year, the BBA worked with many legal services organizations to connect attorneys to volunteer opportunities. Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project presented a number of Know Your Rights trainings for attorneys wishing to present to community groups about their immigration rights. Here, attorneys William Graves (Graves & Doyle) and Seth Purcell (PAIR Project) welcome over 60 attorneys to the first training at the BBA.
Paulette Brown (left, Locke Lord) accepts the Beacon Award for Diversity and Inclusion for her work as president of the American Bar Association convening the Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission. One result of the Commission’s work was the passage at the ABA of Resolution 113, an initiative designed to increase diversity in the legal profession. In November of 2016, the BBA announced its strong support for the Resolution and is working with other partners in Boston on its implementation.
Raquel Webster (right, National Grid) introduces presenter Brian McLaughlin (McLaughlin Law) to a group of probationers at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The BBA’s Reentry Education Program, which was developed by the Public Interest Leadership Program, engages with dozens of probationers annually on useful topics related to community reentry, including family law, reinstating a driver’s license, public benefits, and more.
Secretary Francisco A. Ureña (Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services) addresses the crowd at a Memorial Day reception hosted by the BBA’s Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum. The reception was held after the annual pro bono training for attorneys representing veterans in discharge upgrade cases. Since 2015, the BBA has worked with the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School to hose these trainings to support their Veterans Legal Clinic.
One night a year, the BBA is transformed from a meeting space to a casino floor. Seventeen organizations sponsored this year’s Casino Night for Summer Jobs, the proceeds of which support the Summer Jobs Program and support internships for high school students at legal services organizations, government agencies, and courts. Attendees at Casino Night celebrate beating the house and eagerly await the mystifying reveal of a magic trick.
Law Day in the Schools, one of the BBA’s most popular volunteer opportunities, introduces Boston Public School students to the legal profession and particular areas of the law. This year, volunteers including Jill Brenner Meixel (left) and Allison Belanger (right) of Krokidas & Bluestein introduced students to due process and the importance of having fair rules and laws for all. There were a record 15 schools and over 1700 students in the program this year.
Throughout the year, the New Lawyers Section’s Public Service Committee coordinates volunteer events with organizations throughout the city. In addition to serving food at the Pine Street Inn, attorneys also helped sort donations at Cradles to Crayons, keep the esplanade clear at the Charles River Clean-up, and other important volunteer initiatives in the area.
High school students convene with Chief Justice Melvin S. Hoffman (U.S. Bankruptcy Court) after listing to a mock hearing in bankruptcy court. This session, which teaches students about the consequences of filing for bankruptcy is part of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, which began in 2005. Since it began, over 5800 students statewide have been introduced to the importance of budgeting, understanding credit, and financing a large purchase.
Over 1,000 attorneys came together for this year’s Law Day Dinner in Back Bay. Congressman Seth Moulton provided keynote remarks and highlighted the importance of lawyers and upholding the rule of law now more than ever.
This year’s Thurgood Marshall Award, honoring an attorney in private practice in Greater Boston for their extraordinary efforts in enhancing the human dignity of others by providing legal services to Massachusetts’ low income population, went to Elaine Blais (Goodwin). Blais volunteers with both the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) representing both children and adults in various immigration cases.
Anne Mackin (Greater Boston Legal Services) accepts the John G. Brooks Legal Services Award, an award presented to professional legal services attorneys for their outstanding work on behalf of indigent people in the Boston area. Mackin has worked in legal services for nearly 30 years, and joined GBLS’s Immigration Unit in 2013. Since then, she has helped people from all over the world who have witnessed or experienced unspeakable tragedies and faced severe persecutions. Her efforts have ensured that many who are fleeing extreme discrimination and danger are able to seek justice and safe harbor.
Members of the Society of Fellows experience a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts’ summer exhibit, Matisse in the Studio. Each Fellows pledge supports the work of the Boston Bar Foundation’s many public service initiatives. The growing number of Fellows, now over 400, learn about the work their gifts support, including programs supporting Boston’s youth and grants to legal services organizations, at events throughout the year.
Boston Public High School students stand with Natashia Tidwell (center left, Collora) and Mark Smith (center right, BBA President, Laredo & Smith) on the morning of the first day of work with the Summer Jobs Program. The program, a partnership with the City of Boston and the Boston Private Industry Council, employs students in internships at legal offices across the city. In 2017, 52 students gained valuable office experience and were given insight into the legal profession.
Attorneys network surrounding the chocolate fountain, a staple at this year’s Boston Bar Foundation Summer Fundraiser. Guests at the event are treated to delicious dishes from area restaurants while learning about the public service programs their contribution supports.
The Public Interest Leadership Program’s class of 2016-2017 hosted their symposium, Constitutional Battlegrounds: Civil Rights in a Changing Landscape, earlier this year. The event’s speakers addressed a number of issues recently in the national spotlight, both in the media and the courts. Nearly 100 attorneys and interested members of the community packed the BBA to hear insights from the panels of experts.
This fall, the 14th Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) started their term. Twenty attorneys were selected for the program based on their experience and dedication to public service and civic engagement. The program now includes nearly 200 alumni who’ve gone on to serve the BBA in other capacities and carry their passion for serving the public interest into the community.
Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black, addressed the audience at the BBA’s Annual Meeting. Kerman, a former prisoner, discussed her work bringing prison issues to the forefront of national conversation. She also acknowledged the BBA’s report No Time to Wait: Recommendations for a Fair and Effective Criminal Justice System, which was released this fall. The report commends the reforms proposed earlier this year by Massachusetts leaders based on research by the Council of State Governments (CSG), but strongly urges lawmakers to enact broader reforms designed to further reduce recidivism, and make the criminal justice system fairer and more cost-efficient.
Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women to introduce the public to the services it offers. Thousands of requests come through each year and referrals are made out to experienced attorneys practicing nearly 350 areas of law. The LRS also houses a dedicated Military Legal Help Line, which connects veterans, military personnel, and their families with lawyers and other legal resources appropriate to their needs.
The three award recipients at November’s Beacon Award for Diversity & Inclusion stand with members of the Beacon Award Selection Committee. Brent Henry received the Voice of Change Award for his work recruiting and retaining diverse legal talent while at Partners Healthcare. The Empowerment Award went to Iván Espinoza-Madrigal for his work on civil rights issues, including racial justice, immigrant rights, and LGBT/HIV equality, as the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. Susan Alexander accepted the Corporate Champion Award on behalf of Biogen. Biogen’s legal department has developed a system of diversity metrics which the legal team uses when choosing outside counsel. Above, left to right: Brent Henry (Mintz Levin), Iván Espinoza-Madrigal (Lawyers’ Committee), Susan Alexander (Biogen), Sarah Kim (Treasurer and Receiver General of Massachusetts), Kate Cook (Sugarman Rogers), Stephen Hall (Holland & Knight), and Damon Hart (Liberty Mutual).
Hosted at Suffolk University Law School, the annual Pro Bono Recruitment Fair and Open House connects law students and attorneys to volunteer opportunities across the state. Over 25 organizations recruited at the fair this year.
BBA President Mark Smith (right) met with Principal Danladi Bobbitt of the John D. Philbrick Elementary School in Roslindale. As a participant in the Principal Partners event, hosted by Boston Public Schools, Boston Plan for Excellence, and Bank of America, the BBA President has the opportunity to visit a school and engage in meaningful conversations about the role of education in our society.
From teaching over 1,500 students their Miranda Rights to instituting a Bar Exam Coaching Program, 2016 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 services initiatives in 2016.
Over 1,000 guests attended the 2016 John and Abigail Adams Benefit at the Museum of Fine Arts. Each year, our premier fundraiser provides support for the legal services organizations in our community. We’re grateful for the over $600,000 raised in 2016.
Molly Baldwin, Executive Director of Roca, accepts the 2016 Public Service Award on behalf of the organization. Roca was recognized for their work reducing recidivism and improving employment rates for young men in Massachusetts.
Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, addresses the crowd at Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. Each year, hundreds of private attorneys and civil legal aid advocates converge on the Massachusetts State House to demonstrate their support for state funding of civil legal aid.
Anuj Kheterpal, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, leads a session of the Reentry Education Program at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. Presenting on topics ranging from family law, affordable housing, and CORI sealing, the Reentry Education Program provides useful information and resources to probationers in our community.
The BBA’s Military and Veterans Committee works throughout the year to both address the legal needs of our veterans community and also provide a space for attorneys who have served or are serving in the military the chance to connect. Luncheons held throughout the year provide an informal, conversational means for veteran attorneys to connect.
One of the most anticipated events of the year is always the BBA’s Casino Night for Summer Jobs. Inside the BBA, the rooms are transformed into a functioning casino spaces for guests to enjoy throughout the building. All proceeds from the event support our Summer Jobs program. Specifically, donations allow high school students the opportunity to work at legal services organizations, courts, and government agencies that may not otherwise have the resources to hire a student.
For over ten years, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy program has taught high school students financial responsibility. Above, students from Peabody Veterans Memorial High School visit Judge Joan N. Feeney’s courtroom to learn the consequences of filing for bankruptcy.
Members of the Boston Bar Foundation’s Society of Fellows gaze at an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts last spring. The Society of Fellows is a group of over 400 attorneys who’ve pledged their support for the BBA’s public service initiatives.
An active group within the BBA, the New Lawyers Public Service Committee plans nearly monthly volunteer events for attorneys to give back to their community through direct service. Here, BBA volunteers are working with the Charles River Watershed Association to clean-up the banks of the Charles River.
As part of the annual Law Day activities each spring, the BBA hosts its Law Day in the Schools program through which attorney volunteers introduce students in kindergarten to 12th grade to the legal profession and legal issues. In 2016, Law Day in the Schools focused on Miranda Rights, which seemed especially to resonate with students during a year marked by discussion of the balance of power between law enforcement and citizens.
At the 2016 Law Day Dinner, former BBA President Jack Regan, WilmerHale, was presented the Thurgood Marshall Award for his commitment to public service. Regan has tirelessly worked to support pro bono services for military personnel, veterans, and their families.
The John G. Brooks Legal Services Award was presented at Law Day Dinner to Daniel Nagin, founder of the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. Nagin also helped start the Low Income Tax Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.
Pairings: A Gourmet Evening for Public Service supports all of the public service programs of the BBA. Guests of the event are treated to delicious dishes from area restaurants while learning about the programs their contribution supports.
Throughout the year, the BBA hosts numerous pro bono trainings on a range of practice areas. We partner with many legal services organizations to connect our members to their pro bono opportunities. Above, attorneys lead a training on how to volunteer for the Family Law Court Clinic at the Court Service Center.
Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge addresses the audience at the BBA’s Juvenile Restorative Justice Program. The symposium focused on restorative justice initiatives in the Commonwealth as particularly related to the state’s youth. This event was the culmination of the 12th Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) class’ 14-month program. PILP promotes civic engagement and public service by advancing the leadership roles of new lawyers. Throughout the program, the class examines various issues facing our community and concludes with a symposium of entirely their design.
Summer is a beloved time at the BBA because it means that law firms, courts, government agencies, and legal services organizations across the city will host high school student interns as part of our Summer Jobs Program. Students gain valuable insight into the legal profession and office work experience as they intern during their summer break. Students are also provided Enrichment Seminars, which enhance their experience and provide exposure to various legal careers, the workings of the Supreme Judicial Court, and more.
Janet Bostwick, Janet E. Bostwick, PC, was acknowledged this past year for her devotion to the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. Bostwick was appointed head of the Financial Literacy Committee by her dear and late friend, M. Ellen Carpenter in 2004 and has since grown the program to teach over 500 students a year. Bostwick stepped down from the Committee after 12 years and we’re thankful for her service.
Law students and attorneys met with various legal services organizations and government agencies as they browsed the Pro Bono Fair & Open House in October. The event draws scores of people each year and provides organizations the chance to attract new volunteers.
BBA President Carol Starkey, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP, meets with Katy Buckland, principal of UP Academy Boston. The BBA President participates in Principal for a Day each year to gain insight into the day-to-day activities of the students many of our public service programs impact.
Thank you for a wonderful year, we can’t wait to kickoff 2017 with you!
Blizzards and slow public transportation didn’t stop our volunteers from getting out in the community and giving back during 2015. Take a look below for highlights from the BBA’s 2015 public service efforts:
Lawyers braved the snow and marched to the Massachusetts State House for the annual Walk to the Hill. The 2015 Walk to the Hill was more important than ever. As you may remember, the BBA Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts released its long-awaited report in November called Investing in Justice, which found that the majority of clients seeking legal assistance are turned away and made the business case for an additional $30 million in civil legal aid funding. The Legislature appropriated $17 million to fund civil legal aid, a satisfying increase in a year marked largely by level funding.
In January 2014, the John & Abigail Adams Benefit raised over $650,000 to help to fund grants to 23 Massachusetts community organizations providing legal services in areas such as immigration, domestic violence and homelessness.
With the help of PILP 11, the BBA Reentry Education Program expanded to provide civil legal workshops to participants in the CHOICE Program at Boston Municipal Court, Roxbury. Overall, volunteers led 12 sessions with a total of 103 participants to prepare participants to address civil legal issues they may face upon reentry.
In 2015, over 160 volunteers taught 570 high school students in 12 schools about personal finance and budgeting, credit cards, and buying a car through the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. As you may remember, the BBA partners with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to run the program throughout the state.
The BBF’s popular Casino Night once again drew a large crowd. The event, which supports the BBA Summer Jobs Program by funding paid internships for Boston high school students in nonprofit and government agencies each summer through the program, raised more than $34,000.
This spring, 77 volunteer taught over 1,000 Boston public school students from kindergarten through seniors in high school about the importance of laws through the BBA’s Law Day in the Schools Program.
The BBA presented three public service awards to deserving recipients at the annual Law Day Dinner. Barbara Mitchell, the former Executive Director of Community Legal Services and Counseling Center, received the John G. Brooks Legal Services Award to honor her leadership and commitment to legal services; Al Wallis, the Executive Director of Brown Rudnick Center for Public Interest, received the Thurgood Marshall Award for his leadership in public interest and corporate social responsibility; and Jack Ward, the former Associate Director for Finance & Development at Greater Boston Legal Services, received the President’s Award for this leadership and guidance at Greater Boston Legal Services.
The BBF held the second annual Passports to Pairings event, where 100 % of the proceeds supported the BBA Public Service Programs. The event raise nearly $34,000, featured food and beverage pairings, and gave attendees an opportunity learn more about the BBA and BBF’s work in the community.
The BBA continued to step up its commitment to the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program by placing a record-breaking 65 Boston high school students in paid internships at Boston law firms, legal departments, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations through the BBA Summer Jobs Program. The BBF also increased its commitment to the program by funding 15 of these paid positions at non-profit community organizations, government offices and courts.
While October is officially Pro Bono Month, the BBA celebrated pro bono all year-round. Since January 2015, the BBA has trained over 400 attorneys to take pro bono cases in a range of areas, including landlord tenant law, veterans discharge appeals, and debt collections.
The BBF held an inaugural Society of Fellows Appreciation Breakfast at the Liberty Hotel in Boston this November. The Breakfast was an opportunity to recognize members of the Society for their support of the BBF and to celebrate what their generosity has allowed the BBF to accomplish in the last year.
The Claflin Center was packed on November 12th for the Veterans Day Reception, which featured a lively speech and Q & A with Congressman Seth Moulton, a former Marine Corps Captain who served four tours in Iraq. This event aimed to build a community for servicemembers in the legal field to share common experiences and challenges.
BBA President Lisa Arrowood spent the morning observing a humanities teacher meeting, greeting students, and visiting classrooms at the Frederick Pilot Middle School in Dorchester through BPE’s Principal for a Day Program.
The BBA Lawyer Referral Service participated in a number of community events this year, including the Massachusetts Conference for Women which drew a crowd of nearly 10,000. These events help to raise awareness of about the largest public service program of the Boston Bar Association, which fielded over 7,700 calls last year.
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.”
Panelist share what they know about veterans discharge upgrade cases with attorneys interested in taking on similar cases.
Did you know that veterans who receive a less than honorable discharge may not be eligible for VA health care or other veterans benefits that they need to maintain a stable life? This past Tuesday, attorneys gathered at the BBA for training on how to best represent veterans in discharge upgrade cases.
Panelist Dana Montalto (Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School), Daniel Nagin (Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School), Major Susan Lynch (U.S. Army Reserve), Dr. Sandy Dixon (William James College), and Betsy Gwin (Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School) gave an in depth training that prepped attorneys with information about relevant military review board procedures and regulations. The attorneys who attended this training are now eligible to join the inaugural pro bono discharge-upgrade panel of the Veterans Legal Clinic of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. The clinic allows attorneys and law students to represent veterans and their families in cases to obtain maximum stability and well-being.
Here is what panelists Dana Montalto and Dan Nagin had to say about why they believe it is important for attorneys to join the veteran’s pro bono discharge-upgrade panel:
“Despite a consistently high demand for assistance, remarkably few lawyers are available to represent veterans separated under less than honorable conditions in correcting that status and even fewer available to represent low-income veterans pro bono. By uniting the experience and expertise of the Legal Services Center with the dedication and civic-mindedness of private attorneys, the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership can help close that gap. We look forward to working with the many attorneys who have joined to Pro Bono Partnership to ensure fairness and justice for those who served our country.”
“Providing pro bono representation to veterans who have unmet legal needs is our shared obligation as a profession. Veterans who unjustly received a less-than-honorable discharge are among the veterans who need our help. Providing pro bono representation in discharge upgrade and correction of military record cases can help restore honor to these veterans’ military service and remove barriers that deny them critical services and resources.”
If you missed the training but are still interested in getting involved, please contact Katie D’Angelo at email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
At last Monday’s brown bag, attendees learned about the Veterans’ Treatment Court thanks to the help of an expert panel.
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.
U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas spoke with a group at the BBA about her work to combat military sexual trauma.
Attorneys gathered in the Claflin Center last night for an intimate discussion with Congresswoman Niki Tsongas on her work and commitment to combating military sexual trauma. Just in case you missed it, Beyond the Billable has the highlights for you. Rep. Tsongas serves as the top Democrat on the subcommittee for Oversight and Investigations on the House Armed Services Subcommittee. As the daughter of an Air Force Colonel, issues affecting military personnel are close to Rep. Tsongas’s heart. She has been a champion in the fight against military sexual trauma—drafting legislation to combat the issue and to respond to the needs of victims.
Beyond the Billable checked in with Anna Richardson, the co-chair of the BBA Active Duty Military, Family Members & Veterans Committee and co-executive director of Veterans Legal Services, to hear her thoughts about the program. Here’s what she had to say:
What should people who did not attend last night know about Rep. Tsongas’s work on this important topic?
“Before Congresswoman Tsongas began tackling this issue, sexual assault in the military was often not viewed as the crime that it is. The Congresswoman’s bipartisan efforts over the last seven years have helped to change that culture, create accountability, and hold our military to the high standard our service men and women are entitled to expect as they serve our country.”
Why should attorneys come to the follow up panel in October?
“While Congresswoman Tsongas is working to address this issue at the national level, our panelists in October are facing it head-on to ensure individual veterans receive justice. They are working to meaningfully implement the systemic reforms Congresswoman Tsongas has spearheaded, and to create a culture of accountability by prosecuting perpetrators and advocating for survivors. Join us to learn about their impressive efforts and how you can help.”
Do you want to learn what you can do to help combat sexual military trauma? Don’t miss the upcoming program on October 22nd from 2-6 pm called “Responding to Military Sexual Trauma: What You Can Do.” Click here to register.