Want to Try Being a Lawyer-for-the-Day? It’s Easier Than You Think

On Wednesday of last week, the BBA was proud to host a training for prospective volunteers for the Eastern Housing Court’s Lawyer for the Day program. The training was conducted by Geraldine Gruvis-Pizarro, Colin Harnsgate, and Sarah Lee, who coordinate the program as staff attorneys from the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). The Hon. MaryLou Muirhead, 1st Justice of the Eastern Housing Court, gave the opening remarks.

Her words of advice for future volunteers? Try not to end up in front of her. In fact, most tenant-landlord disputes are settled by mediation. She also urged the audience to take advantage of the Eastern court’s extra “amenities.” From the experienced housing specialists in the clerk’s office, to Rosie’s Place advocates, to the RAFT and TPP homelessness prevention programs, there is a range of in-house resources available to help volunteers help their clients.

During the comprehensive training, VLP lawyers explained the major legal and procedural issues surrounding summary process for evictions. They discussed the defenses available to tenants, requirements for landlords initiating evictions, the acceptable forms of prima facie evidence, important filing deadlines, and much more.

VLP hosts free Landlord/Tenant Law trainings regularly, and both law students and attorneys with minimal housing case experience are encouraged to attend. The Eastern Housing Court sees up to 200 cases on the docket per week. With many low-income tenants and landlords going without representation, volunteer lawyers play a vital role.

To register for their next training on January 15th, click here. For more information on how to volunteer, visit the VLP website. And for more volunteer opportunities at the Cambridge session of Eastern Housing court on Fridays, contact Susan Corcoran at De Novo.

The VLP and De Novo are grantees of the Boston Bar Foundation.

January 8th Landlord/Tenant Law Training

BBA CORI Sealing Project Releases 2020 Dates

The Boston Bar Association is excited to announce the continuation of our monthly CORI Sealing Clinic in to 2020. Our CORI Sealing Clinic assists low-income clients in asking courts to seal their criminal records with help from volunteer attorneys. The BBA conducts this clinic along with our partner, Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS).

CORI(Criminal Offender Record Information) report is the official log of any charges brought against someone by the state of Massachusetts. CORI reports can be used by employers and landlords to deny people access to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.

Massachusetts law allows people to “seal” their CORI records from public view by meeting certain legal requirements. The BBA’s CORI Sealing Clinic will help low-income individuals get copies of their CORI and seal their past records when possible.

The BBA’s CORI Sealing Clinic will be located at:

Edward W. Brooke Courthouse
Boston Municipal Court, Central Division
24 New Chardon St. 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02114

Walk-in clinics will take place from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on the following dates. No advance registration is required.

Bar Exam Coaching Program in Full Swing!

The BBA is thrilled to announce that our we have matched thirty-five applicants sitting for the bar exam in February with Attorney volunteers for our Bar Exam Coaching Program! In this program, Attorneys provide guidance on the non-substantive aspects of preparing for the bar exam (stress management, study tips, etc.) to bar applicants who are re-taking the bar exam. On Monday, December 9th, the BBA officially launched our February 2020 Bar Exam Coaching Program with our Volunteer Training and Kickoff Reception events.

The training consisted of a comprehensive seminar presented by Kandace Kukas, Assistant Dean and Director of Bar Admission Programs at Northeastern University School of Law. Kandace provided an overview of the bar exam, as well as tips on helping bar applicants with organizational skills and emotional wellness as they prepare. At the reception, we were thrilled to have a former participant in the program who passed the bar exam with the help of her coach speak to our applicants and coaches in attendance. She noted that her score increased nearly fifty points from her first attempt and described how her coach was instrumental in helping her to understand exactly which preparation habits would be beneficial. Attendees of the reception also heard from Wadner Oge, Staff Attorney at the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. Wadner described the rigor of preparing for the exam, noting that there are no ways around putting in many hours of preparation over the course of several months.

As part of this program, we have also planned two workshops for our bar applicants and coaches. The first, taking place on January 6th from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, will be presented by Jonny Schreiber of Iron Mountain as well as Adrian Velazquez with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This workshop will offer guidance on the essay portions of the bar exam. The second will be presented by Barbara Bowe, who works in Clinical Services at Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. Barbara will educate our coaches on recognizing signs of stress and anxiety in bar applicants as they prepare for the exam.

We at the BBA thank each of these excellent speakers for supporting our coaches and applicants as they prepare for the bar exam. If you are a bar applicant interested in participating in this program, or if you have any questions, please contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org.

Public Service Spotlight: M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program Now Seeking Volunteers!

The BBA is currently seeking volunteers for our M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program! This program helps students across Massachusetts develop the skills necessary for effective financial management through educational and experiential opportunities. Through this program, volunteers present one of three modules (Personal Finance & Budgeting, Using Credit & Credit Cards, and Financing a Large Purchase) to a group of students in the Greater Boston Area. The program concludes with a mock-trial presentation on the consequences of poor financial management in a federal bankruptcy courtroom. The following Eastern Massachusetts schools are participating in the program:

  • Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School (New Bedford)
  • Woburn High School
  • Bridge Over Troubled Waters (Brighton)
  • Madison Park Technical Vocational High School (Roxbury)
  • The Compliance Mentor Group (Sites in Cambridge and Boston)
  • Charlestown High School
  • The English High School (Jamaica Plain)

The BBA thanks Liberty Mutual for adopting Madison Park Technical Vocational High School as well as Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Since the program’s inception in 2005, over 1,400 volunteers have reached over 5,800 students statewide. The total time commitment for a volunteer, including training, classroom preparation, and classroom time, averages 3-5 hours. No specific experience is required to volunteer, and all materials are provided by the BBA. This is a unique opportunity to help the next generation develop practical skills that will better their lives in the present and future. If you would like more information on the program, please contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org. A training video for volunteers can be found at this link. If you are interested in signing up to teach a module at one of the above locations, please click here to do so. Please also check back in the spring for volunteer opportunities at the “Consequences of Poor Financial Management” sessions!

The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund. This fund provides critical support for the bankruptcy-related pro bono, public service, and civic programs of the Boston Bar Association. For more information on the BBF or this fund, please click here.

BBA Summer Jobs Program Now Seeking Employers!

We’re already looking to summer here at the BBA and are gearing up for our Summer Jobs Program. The program is an integral part of Mayor Walsh’s Summer Jobs Initiative to hire over 10,000 Boston teens each summer. With the help of over 24 law offices, our program is one of the top eight largest private sector employers in the city. The program is a long-time partnership between the BBA, the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), and provides students who attend public high schools in the city of Boston with the chance to gain professional experience and earn a paycheck.

We’re seeking legal offices that have the capacity to hire and support a youth intern for seven weeks over the summer. Our Summer Jobs students have a successful record of helping with many tasks in a busy professional environment, including data-entry, filing, research, receptionist duties, and more. Many of the students selected for the program have prior work experience and all are invested in learning more about the legal profession. We encourage you to contact us to find out how hiring a student can make a difference, for them and for your office!

This upcoming year of the program will run from Monday, July 6th, 2020 to Friday, August 21st, 2020. We are asking that students be paid $13.75 per hour. We also ask that employers contribute a $150 administrative fee to the BBA.

If your office is interested in providing a Boston public high school student with a meaningful professional experience over the upcoming summer, please complete the online form at this link. Please contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org with any questions.

Applications for the BBA Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship are Now Open!

The BBA is thrilled to announce that applications are now open for our 2020 Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship. We are seeking law students who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion within the legal profession, and who will have completed their 1L or 2L year by the summer of 2020. Fellowships offer an opportunity for substantive work in a public interest law office, including supervision, skill development, and building one’s professional network. In addition to gaining work experience, Fellows attend professional development programming at the BBA and receive a mentor through the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion section. The program aims to ensure that law students from all backgrounds can gain experience in public interest law. Those interested in applying for the program can do so at this link.

In Summer 2020, three Fellowship positions will be available: The Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Applications to this program will be due back to the BBA on January 16, 2020. Each host office will select a fellow to participate. All Fellows will receive a stipend of $5,000 for the summer. Please see each application for more details. You can read about the experiences of last year’s Fellows here.

Funding for this program is made possible by the Boston Bar Foundation. Thank you to Pierce Atwood for their sponsorship of the Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program.

BBA Hosts Second in two-part Series on Vicarious Trauma

As part of the BBA’s ongoing focus on lawyer well-being, the Delivery of Legal Services Section recently held a workshop entitled “Addressing Vicarious Trauma: Practical Skills and Planning.” This was the second in a two-part series on vicarious trauma featuring professionals from Resilience Works.

This second installment was presented by Lisa Tieszen, a social worker by training, who has been working on the issue of vicarious trauma for the past two decades. After reviewing the definitions of trauma and vicarious Trauma, Tieszen offered strategies for attendees to deploy to address the stress of their jobs in the moment. Focusing on one’s breathing, for instance, was identified as a helpful strategy. Tieszen explained that breathing is “one of the areas we can control when we are most anxious or distressed.” She demonstrated one technique with the attendees in the room, encouraging all to take time out of the day when necessary to do such exercises.

Tieszen also addressed things at an organizational level, stressing the importance of having a workplace that is vicarious trauma-informed. She noted that it is incumbent on organizations to recognize the toll of the work, and to proactively ensure that their employees are prepared to handle the impacts of the job. Tieszen further identified several characteristics of a trauma-informed practice and urged the importance of peer support in ensuring the health and safety of each team member.

Stay tuned for more well-being programming here at the BBA!

This programming is made possible in part by the Boston Bar Foundation’s Joan B. DiCola Fund. This fund provides critical support for Boston Bar Association programs and initiatives that foster the education and professional development of lawyers. For more information on the BBF or this fund, please click here.

Lisa Tieszen of Resilience Works presents at the BBA

Recent BBA Program Addressed the Effects of Vicarious Trauma for Pro Bono and Legal Services Attorneys

As part of the BBA’s ongoing focus on lawyer wellbeing, earlier this month the Delivery of Legal Services Section held an introductory workshop for pro bono and legal services lawyers on understanding vicarious trauma.

The program, led by Katherine Manners of Resilience Works, provided an overview of vicarious trauma, which represents an occupational challenge for those working with trauma survivors.  Citing a 2011 study, Manners said that 34% of attorneys working with traumatized clients meet the criteria for PTSD, and 75% meet the criteria for functional impairment, such as disruption in one’s personal and family life.  She noted that, if left unaddressed, vicarious trauma can have significant physical, behavioral, emotional, spiritual, cognitive, and relational effects, and can negatively impact professional performance.  An interactive activity helped attendees reflect on how some of these effects may have manifested in their own lives.

Manners stated that vicarious traumatization is inevitable in workplaces where employees are exposed to the effects of trauma, but that the negative impacts can be managed, and that both individual practitioners and entire organizations can adopt practices to increase vicarious resilience, vicarious transformation, and “compassion satisfaction.”  She discussed factors that improve resilience, and suggested some practical coping tools.

A second program on this topic, “Addressing Vicarious Trauma: Practical Skills and Planning,” will be held on Thursday, December 12, from 4:00-6:00pm. The program will focus on helping attendees integrate trauma-informed principles into their practice, establish professional boundaries, and consider ways to strengthen team and organizational responses to vicarious trauma. For more information and to register, click here.

This programming is made possible in part by the Boston Bar Foundation’s Joan B. DiCola Fund. This fund provides critical support for Boston Bar Association programs and initiatives that foster the education and professional development of lawyers. For more information on the BBF or this fund, please click here.

M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program – Calling All Volunteers!

The BBA is thrilled to begin a new year of our M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. Volunteers can now sign up to present classroom modules (Personal Finance & Budgeting; Credit & Credit Cards; and Financing a Large Purchase) at participating schools! Our volunteers help high school students across Massachusetts learn about making informed and effective decisions regarding their finances through educational and experiential opportunities. Since 2005, over 1,400 volunteers have reached close to 7,000 students statewide.

To sign up to volunteer in a classroom, click here.

To view the volunteer training video for volunteers, click here.

If you have any questions about the program, please contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org.

The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund. This fund provides critical support for the bankruptcy-related pro bono, public service, and civic programs of the Boston Bar Association. For more information on the BBF or this fund, please click here.

Thank You to our CORI Sealing Clinic Volunteers

Earlier this year, the Boston Bar Association in collaboration with the Greater Boston Legal Services launched a monthly CORI Sealing Clinic that assists low-income clients in asking courts to seal their criminal records.  The clinic is held monthly at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in downtown Boston and clients can receive assistance with obtaining, reviewing, and, if advised, sealing or expunging their records. With the help from our volunteer attorneys, we have helped nearly 100 members of the community remove the barriers of a CORI in order to be in a better position to obtain jobs, housing, educational opportunities, etc.

We would like to thank our volunteer attorneys, law students, paralegals, and summer associates for dedicating time and hard work to assisting members of the community in need.

  • Annie Lee (Anderson & Kreiger)
  • Arianne Bennett (Boston University Law Student)
  • Brandon Schneider (Sullivan & Worcester Summer Associate)
  • Brett Lovins (Lovins & Metcalf)
  • Chelsea Wood (Sullivan & Worcester)
  • Christin Lal (Suffolk University Law Student)
  • Dena Medford (Kirkland & Ellis)
  • Ed Burley (Emancipated Media Group)
  • Ezra Dunkle-Polier (Anderson & Kreiger Summer Associate)
  • Frank Liu (Pepper Hamilton)
  • Haley Grissom (Nutter, McClennen, & Fish)
  • Han Park (Kirkland & Ellis)
  • Holly Robinson (Law Office of Holly Robinson)
  • Irene Vitale (Liberty Mutual Paralegal)
  • Jaclyn Essinger (Pepper Hamilton)
  • Jillian Friedman (Sullivan & Worcester Summer Associate)
  • Kara Guedes (Liberty Mutual)
  • Kelly Crosby (Liberty Mutual)
  • Kelsea Médard (Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius)
  • Kerry O’Connor (Suffolk University Law Student)
  • Kevin France (New England Law Student)
  • Krystle Santana (New England Law Student)
  • LeinWeih (Andrew) Tseng (Pepper Hamilton)
  • Lydia Horan (Greater Boston Legal Services)
  • Maria Dorney (Precision Corporate Services)
  • Maris Kramer Brosnan (Boston University Law Student)
  • Matthew Bailey (Sullivan & Worcester Summer Associate)
  • Megan Bigelow (Pepper Hamilton)
  • Nancy Keating (Liberty Mutual)
  • Nathaniel Koslof (Sullivan & Worcester)
  • Paul Kominers (Anderson & Kreiger)
  • Payal Salsburg (Laredo & Smith)
  • Payam Tarifard (Vugar Jafarov Law Office)
  • PeiJung Hsueh (Boston University Law Student)
  • Rachel Gants (Sullivan & Worcester Summer Associate)
  • Ray Doucette (Anderson & Kreiger Summer Associate)
  • Ryan Rosenblatt (Sullivan & Worcester)
  • Samuel Bombaugh (Sullivan & Worcester)
  • Samuel Dinning (Anderson & Kreiger)
  • Spenser Swaczyk
  • Stephanie Finklea (Liberty Mutual)
  • Teresa Cunha (Liberty Mutual)
  • Ventura Dennis (Greater Boston Legal Services)
  • William Wise (Liberty Mutual)
  • Xena Robinson (New England Law Student)

This project was made possible through collaboration with the private bar, legal services agencies, law schools and the court system. The BBA is grateful for the support of sponsor firms Sullivan & Worcester LLP and Pepper Hamilton LLP , who have committed to staffing the clinic with volunteer attorneys during its pilot phase. The launch of this clinic would also not be possible without the expertise of Greater Boston Legal Services’ CORI & Re-Entry Project Director Pauline Quirion and New England Law Center for Law and Social Responsibility Director David Siegel. 

If you are an attorney interested in volunteering with the CORI Sealing Clinic, please click here for more information.

CORI Sealing Volunteers Sam Dinning (Anderson & Kreiger), Payal Salsburg (Laredo & Smith), Annie Lee (Anderson & Kreiger), Dena Medford (Kirkland & Ellis), Haley Grissom (Nutter, McClennen, & Fish), and Han Park (Kirkland & Ellis)