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
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.
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:
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
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 protected].
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].
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.
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.
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].
On Wednesday afternoon, attorneys headed to the BBA’s Claflin Center for a program called “Representing Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress: What Everyday Attorneys Need to Know.” Just as the title suggests, the program educated attorneys about the challenges and misconceptions that arise when serving clients with PTS.
The panel for this program included attorneys who regularly counsel veterans, health care professionals, as well as individuals that have served in significant combat operations. The speakers included Kevin Casey (VA New England Healthcare), Tim McLaughlin (Holland & Knight), Jack Regan (WilmerHale), Ann Stewart (the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program), Travis Weiner, and moderator Bill Sinnott (the Corporation Counsel, City of Boston). These panelists shared gripping personal stories and experiences and provided perspective into many of stressful factors veterans face post-deployment.
Beyond the Billable checked in with Tim after attending this program to see what he hopes attendees learned. Here’s what he had to say:
“First, I hope the panel members were able to provide some general insight into the realities of military service, which is very different from its portrayal in the media. Second, I hope we were able to provide some specific insights into what I would characterize as the normal and lifelong effects of military service and combat, which can manifest itself in many forms, including post-traumatic stress. However, and this is important both from a veteran’s point of view and for those attorneys who may represent veterans in the future; speaking from first-hand experience, post-traumatic stress is not a disorder. It is simply what comes next. It would be a disorder if I was unaffected. And finally, I hope we were able to share some of the many, many resources that are available to our veterans in and around Boston.”
This program is a part of the Boston Bar Association’s ongoing efforts to provide crucial legal assistance to military personnel, veterans, and their families. Along with this program, the BBA’s Military Legal Help Line through the Lawyer Referral Service, and participation in Yellow Ribbon events, are just some of the ways the BBA commits to providing veteran’s and their families the access to legal assistance that they need and deserve.
If you are an attorney and would like to find out about what you can do to help veterans and their families, check out our Veteran’s Initiative webpage here.