Posts Tagged: Public Service

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Honors Pro Bono Work

On Thursday, October 6th, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts held its Fourth Annual Pro Bono Awards Ceremony. The Bankruptcy Judges presented the Pro Bono Publico Awards, which are given for exceptional devotion to pro bono work in each of the state’s regions. The Boston Bar Association congratulates all of the awardees and distinguishes Janet Bostwick for receiving the District of Massachusetts Award.

While presenting the award to Bostwick, Judge Joan Feeney noted that the District of Massachusetts Award is not given every year, but Bostwick’s dedication to pro bono and the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program are deserving of the award. Bostwick was also recently honored at the Boston Bar Association for her work on the Financial Literacy program after she stepped down as Co-Chair of the Financial Literacy Committee after 12 years of service. You can read more on that honor here.

Following the Pro Bono Publico Awards, the 2016 Pro Bono Honor Roll certificates were presented to attorneys meeting the Honor Roll criteria outlined by the Court’s Pro Bono Legal Services Advisory Committee. The Boston Bar Association congratulates those awardees and thanks them for their service to the community.

Pro Bono Publico Awards:

Western Division Award – Henry E. Geberth, Jr.

Central Division Award – Judith Vassilovski

South Coast/Cape & Islands Division Award – David B. Madoff

Eastern Division Award – Neil D. Warrenbrand

District of Massachusetts Award – Janet E. Bostwick

Honor Roll:

Warren Agin

Kermine S. Akoglu

William R. Baldiga

Joseph H. Baldiga

Elaine M. Benkoski

Janet E. Bostwick

Christopher M. Candon

Nadine Champagne

David R. Chenelle

Michelle L. Cote

N. Lee Darst

John W. Davis

Michael P. Dube

Kellie W. Fisher

Jesse N. Garfinkle

Henry E. Geberth, Jr.

Jonathan R. Goldsmith

Maegan L. Hurley

Jeffrey L. Jonas

Elizabeth D. Katz

Gazion Kotoni

Donald Lassman

Sarah J. Long

John G. Loughnane

Carolyn Lynch

Heather J. Lynham

David Madoff

Jonathan D. Marshall

Wendy M. Mead

Richard E. Mikels

Kate E. Nicholson

Andrea M. O’Connor

Gina Barbieri O’Neil

William J. O’Neil

David W. Ostrander

Nina M. Parker

Carmenelisa Pérez‐Kudzma

Steven D. Pohl

David G. Prentiss

Richard S. Ravosa

Alex M. Rodolakis

Deborah G. Roher

Adam J. Ruttenberg

Mary Sharon

Denise M. Shear

Mary Jeanne Stone

Andrew P. Strehle

Leslie Su

Christina M. Turgeon

Adrienne K. Walker

Kevin J. Walsh

Neil D. Warrenbrand

Thomas N. Wilson

Keri L. Wintle

Retired, Esq: Access to Justice Fellows Offer Vital Pro Bono Expertise

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Legal Services organizations need attorneys. Attorneys looking for pro bono work need the time and resources to complete it. One way to bridge that gap is to recruit retired lawyers into partnering with legal services organizations on important projects related to improving access to justice.

That’s how the Access to Justice Fellows Program was born.

A program run by the Lawyers Clearinghouse in collaboration with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Access to Justice Commission, the Access to Justice Fellows Program pairs attorneys who have retired or are approaching retirement with organizations who need their services.

Here’s a snapshot of their five years of pro bono work, which Program Director Mia Friedman presented at a panel on the program hosted by the BBA’s Delivery of Legal Services section this week:

  • 7 fellows participated during the program’s first year
  • 19 fellows are now active in the Access to Justice Fellows program
  • 55 fellows have participated in the program over five years
  • They have completed at least 40,000 hours of legal work

Program Director Mia Friedman said most of the attorneys who participate choose to stay with their project for longer than the mandatory commitment of one year. The work done by attorneys in the program varies greatly, from immigration and tax-related matters to probate and family cases. They work for 10-20 hours per week with the organization to which they volunteer their services.

“One of the important aspects of the program is the monthly lunches” where attorneys in the program get together, Friedman said. “It has developed into this wonderful exchange of ideas and a real sense of community between the fellows.”

To learn how you can get involved with the Access to Justice Fellows program, please visit http://www.lawyersclearinghouse.org/access-to-justice-fellows/.

Representing Low-Income Taxpayers: A Recap

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Last week, we wrapped up a three-part series of pro bono trainings geared toward helping to build the first ever low-income taxpayer pro bono panel of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS).

Over the course of the series, attorneys learned about the IRS collections timeline, a client’s right to due process, and the best tactics for removing levies and liens. They also learned about working out payment agreements and other alternatives to full collection of back taxes, and how to best resolve a dispute stemming from an audit.

Expert attorneys as well as IRS representatives made up the panels for these trainings. Over the course of three programs, over 35 attorneys and tax professionals signed on to work with the low-income taxpayer pro bono panel.

We reached out to Keith Fogg, the Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, and Luz Arevalo, a senior attorney at GBLS, to ask about the major takeaways of the program.

“Legal representation for all taxpayers most obviously helps the taxpayer represented, but it also serves as a check that improves our system of taxation. Working families will avoid much frustration and heartache if they respond promptly and correctly to a tax audit notice. Having an advocate involved early in the process will often translate into quick resolutions of the case.

I believe a paramount principle in taxation is Fairness. This principle is preserved by insuring access to legal representation.”

–Luz Arevalo

“An important takeaway from the most recent training is that the failure to respond to notices from the IRS or the MA Department of Revenue leads to dire consequences including not only a debt but also the loss of a driver’s license or a passport.  The government has created a process of auditing that is very automated and efficient for them.  Low income taxpayers, who will frequently shrink from responding out of fear of the unknown, need resources to assist them in responding and working with the system.  The National Taxpayer Advocate for the IRS has developed statistics showing much higher rates of success by represented taxpayers in the audit process.  The program sought to encourage and enable representatives provide much needed pro bono assistance.

As a new clinic and as a clinic partnering with GBLS, it is important for Harvard to co-host this program in order to help build a cadre of representatives willing and prepared to assist our clients when we reach capacity to assist them with the resources available in our clinic.”

–Keith Fogg

Public Service: A Year in Photos

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program didn’t slow down this year! With the help of 350 volunteers, the program assisted over 1,213 landlords and tenants in the Boston Housing Court.

The Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program didn’t slow down this year! With the help of 350 volunteers, the program assisted over 1,213 landlords and tenants in the Boston Housing Court.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Six Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

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If you’re looking to give back this holiday season, look no further! The BBA and BBF have a number of ways for you to support our community:

  • Donate to the BBF Annual Campaign: Generous community members like you make our essential work in the community possible. Each year, thousands of children, adults and families in Greater Boston are thankful for the access to justice and unique educational opportunities that they receive because of generous donors to the BBF. Contribute today to make an impact.
  • Mark your calendars for Walk to the Hill: Join hundreds of private attorneys and civil legal aid advocates at the Massachusetts State House on January 28th to demonstrate your support for state funding of civil legal aid. Be sure to stop by the BBA at 10 am to meet up with other attorneys before heading over to the event. Click here to learn more.
  • Use AmazonSmile: AmazonSmile is a way for you to give back to the BBF in a small way as you finish up your holiday shopping. Just go to smile.amazon.com and log in using your normal Amazon account name and password. Then select the Boston Bar Foundation as your charity and shop as you normally would. The BBF will receive a small percentage of the proceeds from your purchase.
  • Buy a ticket to Adams Benefit: Join the BBF for the John & Abigail Adams Benefit on January 30th at the Museum of Fine Arts for an unforgettable night of live entertainment, gourmet food and beverages and beautiful galleries and exhibits. 100% of the proceeds from the Adams Benefit will be used for direct grants to organizations that serve thousands of individuals and families struggling with issues such as homelessness, domestic violence and various forms of injustice. Learn more about the event and how you can purchase tickets here.
  • Join the BBF’s Society of Fellows: When you join the BBF’s Society of Fellows, you join a community of more than 400 of Boston’s leading attorneys who are committed to investing in our city’s future. Fellows pledge to make contributions to the BBF’s permanent endowment so that the BBF can continue its work in our community. Fellows receive exclusive invitations throughout the year to attend networking events and receptions, and come together to hear from representatives of BBF grantee organizations, public service volunteers and other inspirational speakers. Contact Tara Trask at ttrask@bostonbar.org.

 

 

 

 

BBA President Gets Firsthand Look at BPS Middle School

BBA President Lisa Arrowood had teh opportunity to observe teacher planning meetings during her morning at Frederick Pilot Middle School through the Principal for a Day Program.

BBA President Lisa Arrowood had the opportunity to observe teacher planning meetings during her morning at Frederick Pilot Middle School through the Principal for a Day Program.

Yesterday morning, BBA President Lisa Arrowood observed a humanities teacher meeting, greeted students, and visited classrooms at the Frederick Pilot Middle School in Dorchester through the Principal for a Day Program. Every year the BBA President heads out to visit a local school through the Program, which aims to build support for the local school system by pairing corporate and community leaders with school administrators for a morning. Lisa shadowed Principal Pauline Lugira and saw the innovative steps the school is taking to help their students achieve academic success, as well as the challenges in the community and school system that play a role in the students’ ability to learn.

“I was really impressed with everyone I met at every level: the teachers, principal and superintendent,” reported Lisa at a meeting of the BBA Council. “These people are fully invested in helping the kids succeed.”

BBA President Lisa Arrowood learned about new techniques for teaching middle school math while observing the math teachers content meeting.

BBA President Lisa Arrowood learned about new techniques for teaching middle school math while observing the math teachers content meeting.

 

Hot Off the Press: BBA & BBF Release 2015 Public Service Report

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The BBA & BBF are excited to announce the release of the 2015 Public Service Report. The report highlights the work of our 12,000+ members giving back and helping our community through programs like Law Day in the Schools and the Reentry Education Program. Take a few minutes to read through the report and learn more.

If you’re feeling inspired to get involved, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at kdangelo@bostonbar.org.

Upcoming Brown Bag Tackles Issue of Long-Term Solitary Confinement

Massachusetts is one of only a few states in the country where inmates can be sentenced for up to ten years in solitary confinement for one disciplinary infraction. Leslie Walker, Executive Director of Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, is one of many activists looking to educate the community about the risks of this practice.
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On October 26th, she will host a Brown Bag Lunch from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. where attendees will have the chance to watch a presentation, hear a former prisoner’s story and ask questions of Leslie and her staff. The primary goal of the Brown Bag is education about solitary confinement regulations in the Commonwealth, and about proposals to reform those regulations.

“Now is the time, because much of the rest of the country is realizing that long-term solitary confinement does much more harm than good and has a negative impact on public safety,” she said. “President Obama has spoken out against solitary confinement, and Associate Justice Kennedy of the Supreme Court has said it drives men mad.”

Leslie and her organization are in favor of a plan that would keep inmates in solitary confinement only as long as they are considered dangerous. In other states, studies have found that prisons become less violent when prisoners in solitary are allowed to gradually reenter the general population.
Leslie said she would encourage anyone with an interest in prisoners’ rights, especially law school students, to attend the Brown Bag event later this month.

“I would have people leave the Brown Bag educated as to the state of solitary confinement in Massachusetts and aware of the solutions that are out there,” she said.

Click here to register for the event.

Summer Career Series 2015: “What’s it REALLY Like: Defense and Prosecution?”

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As the BBA’s ‘What’s it REALLY Like’ lunch series continued last week, new attorneys and current law students were granted the long-awaited opportunity to hear from an expert panel on practicing as a prosecutor or defense attorney. Matthew Segal, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and David Solet, former member of the Middlesex District Attorney’s office and current chief legal counsel for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, discussed the pros and cons to their respective occupations and offered tips on how to strive within their demanding fields.

Here’s what the two attorneys had to say about their jobs:

“Most of the [Defendants] are the ones that society needs to somehow figure out how to fix, not sent to jail.  A lot of your clients will have fallen on rough times or have made a stupid mistake, meaning that you can easily distinguish between those who really need to be in jail and those who do not. That’s why I do this,” Solet said.

“This job is not about discovering who is guilty and who isn’t, because most of the time they’ve done the crime. Being a defense attorney is about weeding though who deserves the harsher or lesser punishment,” Segal said.

Interested in the federal side of the picture? The Criminal Law Section will welcome Assistant US Attorneys for the District of Massachusetts, Carlos Lopez and Giselle Joffrey on Tuesday, September 8, 2015, from 5:00-7:30pm.  Click here to learn more.  Additionally, don’t miss the next Summer Careers Series Program, , ‘What’s It REALLY Like Working for a Government Agency?’ on July 30th at 12:30PM. Click here to register.

Explore BBA Public Service at Passport to Pairings

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Attendees of Passport to Pairings will travel throughout the offices of 16 Beacon Street to stations holding different food and beverage pairings, each representing a project benefited by the event.

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.