BBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship: End of Summer Reflections

Over this summer, the BBA was excited to grow its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, providing essential work experience for six outstanding law students through paid summer internships in public interest offices. This year, we partnered with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, Committee for Public Counsel Services, Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General, and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. The stipends for these positions was made possible with the support of individual donors and funding from the BBF Beacon Fund, the Charles P. Normandin Fund and generous firm sponsors Foley Hoag Foundation, Nutter, and Pierce Atwood.

Our third year of this program proved to be successful, with law students Kajahna Matos (UMass Law – Dartmouth), Dhairya Bhatia (Boston College Law School), Alfred Spencer (Suffolk University Law School), Jessie Baek (Boston College Law School), Catherine Garcia Summa (UMass Law – Dartmouth), and Travis Salters (Boston College Law School) providing support for these offices, developing relationships with attorney mentors, and participating in BBA professional development programs. See what they had to say about their experiences below!

If your office is interested in supporting or participating in this program, please reach out to Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

End of Summer Reflection: Kajahna Matos

2L, UMass Law – Dartmouth

Summer Fellow, Committee for Public Counsel Services

Through the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, I had the honor of interning for the Committee of Public Counsel Services (“CPCS”). I was an intern for the Public Defender Division at the Boston Trial Office this summer along with six other interns, and we were each assigned to various attorneys who gave us assignments throughout the summer.

This summer was certainly an interesting one, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as we have had to face the unique difficulties of working remotely. Navigating this current unprecedented time has been challenging, but CPCS did an excellent job of making interns still feel like they were part of the office family. The Office hosted weekly intern events that were well-executed remotely. First, The Intern Speaker series were given every Wednesday and Friday, which is when guest speakers and/or presentations were offered to address issues about diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Next, we had the Coffee Break series where we met different attorneys in the office and got to have fluid conversations about their work at CPCPS every Tuesday. Then, we each had Case Crunches on different days of the week-mine was on Thursdays- and this is where we were in a group with other attorneys discussing a complicated case and brainstorming different legal strategies and best advocating avenues for our clients. Last, we had criminal defense trainings on different topics randomly every month where we were taught how to approach certain situations and how to prepare the best arguments on those topics.

Through my internship, I was able to enhance my confidence in my legal research, writing skills, and client relationships. I was lucky to have been assigned many different assignments on a variety of topics. Some of the topics that I did legal research on consisted of the Attenuation Doctrine and a Fugitive from Justice charge. I also wrote different motions to suppress, one on a Show-up ID and the other based on statements. At the same time, I continued to enhance my writing skills by being tasked with providing a memorandum based on an armed robbery. This was a personal goal of mine as I wanted to feel more confident in my legal work products, and I was able to accomplish this through my first real-life legal memorandum. Luckily, COVID-19 restrictions were lifting throughout the summer, so I was also able to watch in on different court proceedings. Whenever I could not attend an in-court proceeding, I was able to remotely join and watch how judges navigated their courtrooms.

The highlights of my summer were being a part of a homicide case and working on a community project to help eliminate jail and prison phone call costs. I have always wanted to work on high crime or serious cases, and I was given the chance to this summer alongside an incredible attorney who kept me very involved throughout the case. I also worked on a community project where I was doing my research in figuring out how to end jail and prison phone call costs throughout Boston. I was able to connect with individuals who had loved ones that were affected by the financial burden of phone call costs. Therefore, I was trying to do my part to advocate for jail and prison phone call justice.

I am extremely grateful for the personal relationships I was able to develop in such a short period of time and remotely in this internship. I connected with two attorneys at CPCS who came from the same background as me and/or shared the same interests as me. These attorneys cared very much for my success and always pushed me on my assignments by giving me helpful feedback to apply to my future legal career. These attorneys heightened my interest in working for CPCS upon my graduation because the CPCS office runs more as a family rather than just colleagues. 

Summer of 2021 is one to remember, and I am grateful that I spent this summer at CPCS. Thank you to the Boston Bar Association for making this summer experience possible.

End of Summer Reflection: Dhairya Bhatia

2L, Boston College Law School

Summer Fellow, United States Bankruptcy Court

Through the 2021 Boston Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fellowship, I had the opportunity to intern with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts in Chief Judge Christopher Panos’s chambers. Remotely, I observed hearings for consumer and commercial bankruptcy cases and was able to research a couple of novel issues and provide recommendations for those issues.

This summer provided me an opportunity to learn more about the issues that arise in bankruptcy from discrete technical questions to the broader policy considerations that underlie the Bankruptcy Code. For example, I researched issues surrounding the dismissal process of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy for abuse of its provisions and the controversial undue hardship standard that a student loan debtor is required to meet in order to discharge their student loan debt in bankruptcy.

While researching dismissal of a Chapter 7 for abuse of its provisions, I learned about the development of the process, which culminated into the codification of a means test that would determine whether abuse of the Chapter 7 provisions shall be presumed. This topic introduced me to the recurring theme of the competing interests between creditors recovering payments and fresh starts afforded to honest debtors. I also was able to learn about arguments that drive statutory construction and why a means test to determine abuse was implemented.

The more interesting topic I had a chance to research during my internship was how student loan debt was handled in bankruptcy. As students, we are particularly sensitive to this topic, especially with news of the student loan industry increasing along with American households’ level of student loan indebtedness, and the Administration’s efforts to cancel student loan debt or provide other types of relief during the pandemic. Having been able to spend so much time researching the student loan debt discharge jurisprudence, I was able to learn about the two tests that courts consider when determining whether or not student loan debt created undue hardship on a debtor and the debtor’s dependents.

To better understand why the undue hardship standard exists, I tracked the history of the student loan debt exception in the Bankruptcy Code. By tracking its history through researching the development of the provision and reading Congressional reports, I learned that ultimately Congress was weary of a hypothetical student who would take out student loan debt to pay for a college education, receive a high-paying job, and then discharge that debt in bankruptcy upon graduation. It is unclear to me as to whether students actually committed such acts, but the result was that student loan debt would be treated the same way as judgments that people received for committing fraud, driving under the influence, or domestic support obligations. Regardless of the validity of Congress’s concerns, the reality is that the viability of the student loan industry takes precedence over the student loan debtor.

Though I concluded my internship by researching what other avenues are available to student loan debtors who are unable to meet the undue hardship finding through the court’s equitable powers, I still find myself thinking about student loan debt exception and the policy implications of it. In the United States, Black people often have more student loan debt than their white counterparts. Women hold more of the student loan debt than men. Notwithstanding these disparities, student loan debt is treated differently than other unsecured debts. Thus, this internship gave me insight about how the American legal system continues to exacerbate racial and gender disparities. As I continue my path to becoming a lawyer who wants to combat the deeply engrained white supremacist patriarchal attitudes in the American legal system, I have no choice but to be cognizant of this reality.

End of Summer Reflection: Alfred Spencer

2L, Suffolk University School of Law

Summer Fellow, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

My summer spent working with the Chelsea District Court trial team and the Integrity Review Bureau (IRB) has helped me to better understand what it means to be an attorney. Not only has it opened my eyes as to what it takes to be a good attorney, it has helped me to think about what it means to pursue justice.

Working with the Chelsea District Court trial team has fostered my interest in victim advocacy and alternative solutions to incarceration. When thinking about the legal process and what it means to be a prosecutor, people quickly associate it with the prosecutor fighting zealously with the defense and that “winning” is all that matters. I learned that this assumption is an oversimplification of the complex job that a prosecutor needs to do. Prosecutors must consider whether incarceration will be best for the community, the defendant, and also needs to consider the victim. I am grateful that I was able to witness Drug Court firsthand and learn about the many ways that both sides can work together towards that common goal. The many discussions we had about victim advocacy is also something that will stick with me and continue to color my approach moving forward. Hearing about the difficulties that victims face has also inspired me to try and find ways to advocate for them and to find creative solutions to issues that they face.

Working with the IRB has helped me to appreciate the amount of trust that prisoners and their families put into the system when requesting that their case or sentence be reviewed. Many of them have been incarcerated for over a decade and often this is their last chance for release. It has also made clear to me the tough choices that the attorneys working in the IRB must make. When reviewing someone’s case and sentence all the details matter, regardless of how small they seem. It’s a balancing act of wanting to help people who may have had an unfair trial and/or been sentenced unfairly and needing to protect the community. Having witnessed the work that is done and the care that is given to each case has been eye opening.

Overall, this summer has solidified my interest in and my determination to pursue a career in criminal law. I will take what I have learned at the courts and with the IRB into my legal clinic this upcoming 3L year and it will continue to color what I do in the future. Everyone I have worked with has helped me to better understand my goals and what I can do to help make the legal profession more equitable for everyone. I am definitely looking forward to getting back into the court room in the near future.

End of Summer Reflection: Jessie Baek

2L, Boston College Law School

Summer Fellow, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Through the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, I interned at the General Counsel’s Office for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), sponsored by the Pierce Atwood Law firm. I had a fully remote, but extremely rewarding, internship this summer and had the opportunity to regularly meet with the different Commissioners at the MCAD to learn about their practice.

One of the most important things I learned this summer was about the MCAD’s role in adjudicating discrimination complaints. In the state of Massachusetts, all discrimination complaints must first be filed with the MCAD. From that point, after the Complainant has submitted his/her complaint and the Respondent(s) has filed his/her position statement, the MCAD works through its investigative process to determine whether probable cause exists. If probable cause is found, the Commission Counsel assists the Complainant through a conciliation and a public hearing where they hear their final order. Understanding this process put into perspective a lot of the work that I did at the MCAD, from observing conciliations with Complainants and Respondents, to writing a legal memo on the privilege that attaches between the Commission Counsel and a Complainant. Some of my other assignments consisted of writing a disposition on an employment case, completing discovery requests (interrogatories and a request for production of documents), researching case law that supported Counsel’s argument in motions to the court, and compiling a database of laws evoking the MCAD’s jurisdiction.

Throughout my remote internship, what I appreciated the most about my experience was the openness and willingness of the MCAD’s Commission Counsels in meeting with me to answer questions, inviting me to attend their upcoming conciliations and appeals, and making time to debrief with me after each observational opportunity. This made the remote internship extremely personal and allowed me to build strong, interpersonal relationships with the different attorneys.

I also want to thank my mentor, Acting General Counsel Deirdre Hosler, who always went out of her way to make sure that I was meeting all of my goals through the internship. We met regularly over Zoom on a weekly basis to discuss my progress on assignments and have ongoing conversations about how we see anti-discrimination work being furthered through the MCAD’s mission. Her commitment to eradicating discrimination in the state of Massachusetts inspired me to stay true to my passions and remember what led me to law school in the first place.

End of Summer Reflection: Catherine Garcia Summa

2L, UMass Law – Dartmouth

Summer Fellow, Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General

I first knew that my internship with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was going to be a phenomenal legal experience during the interview process.  I was taken aback with how my interviewers – who would later be my supervisor and mentor – took the time to learn about my military service and were genuinely interested in what I could bring to the Office as an intern.  When we started the internship, we were remote and I was nervous about not having any interactions with my fellow interns and other members of the legal division.  It was especially nerve-wracking as a 1L with zero experience in legal work aside from school.  My anxiety was quelled over the first few days when Jenny, our supervisor, reached out to the interns daily, scheduled video conferences to discuss concerns or assignments, and included us on every legal division meeting.  I instantly felt like part of the team. 

My first assignment was to write an internal memo on the Inspector General’s role on a particular board.  I dove into the research and quickly learned that Massachusetts has many, many General Laws.  I also learned that I love researching.  It was exciting to learn new things during my research for the memo that I would have otherwise never come across.  I also enjoyed picking apart statutes and analyzing how they applied to the OIG, if at all.  With my mentor’s help, I learned about other methods of obtaining information when I got stuck like asking a Social Law librarian for references.  I received positive feedback on the memo as well as constructive criticism that has helped me become a better legal writer and that I will carry with me throughout my career.  After discussing the project with Jenny and how I wanted to continue sharpening my legal research skills, she assigned me numerous research assignments that ranged from civil procedure questions to finding precedent cases and information to assist with the Office’s current investigations.  My favorite research assignment involved investigating how other jurisdictions have changed their hiring criteria involving applicants with past criminal history.  In working on this assignment, I discovered that many states are revising their hiring policies to take a more holistic approach in hiring applicants with past criminal history.  This assignment was important to me because I know first-hand how certain hiring criteria disproportionately affects people of color.  The assignment also reaffirmed what I already knew about the Office’s commitment to increasing diversity within the legal profession, and I was proud to take part in it.

Leaving the Office and the relationships I developed is difficult, but I am leaving with quite a bit: a greater sense of confidence in myself; a group of mentors who were instrumental in my success this summer and who I will continue to reach out to throughout my career; contacts in numerous government organizations, including the SJC, and friends within the legal community who I am excited to watch do great things.

End of Summer Reflection: Travis Salters

2L, Boston College Law School

Summer Fellow, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General

My experience working in the Constitution and Administrative Law Division of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General exceeded all my expectations. Heading into the summer, I hoped to practice legal research and writing, while also shadowing attorneys as they moved through their cases. I assumed I would work steadily on one or two cases, receive some feedback from my supervisor, and start preparing for my next academic year. Yet, on my first day, I received three assignments from three different attorneys. The first assignment required me to participate in a moot court with an attorney as she prepared for an upcoming oral argument. Another attorney requested a brief on a legal question regarding a recent Supreme Judicial Court decision, while another attorney asked me to draft a motion for an approaching court deadline. After receiving these assignments on the first day, I initially thought they mistakenly sent these to the wrong person because surely a first-year law student can’t be expected to conduct this meaningful work. However, I quickly realized that these challenges were opportunities to grow as I received tremendous support from a host of attorneys.

Throughout these two months, I worked on six different cases ranging in topics including retirement law, health law, and family law. I wrote memos on questions of statutory construction, drafted motions, participated as a judge in a moot court, and assisted with a multi-state amicus brief.

In addition to these meaningful work experiences, I received mentorship, guidance, and teaching from some of the brightest people I’ve ever met including Amy Spector, LaRonica Lightfoot, David Marks, Kim Parr, Elizabeth Kaplan, Doug Martland, Julie Kobick, Adam Cambier, and many others. Throughout my time working with them, everyone demonstrated their commitment to justice and the truth. During one of my first assignments, I recall pointing out the fact that the Commonwealth could lose a case if a particular argument was raised. I’ll never forget the attorney responding, “if that is the truth, then we must lose.” In an ever-polarizing, divisive, and adversarial world, that moment of vulnerability for the truth encouraged me to remain optimistic. If someone with decades of legal experience is optimistic, how can I not? 

I was also encouraged by the Office’s genuine, intentional conversations and strategy about viewing their work through a lens of racial equity. Again, this demonstrated commitment to justice stood out throughout my short time in the Office and will leave a lasting impression of how I view my own work.

I’m thankful for this incredible opportunity granted by the Boston Bar Association, I’m proud of my capabilities developed by Boston College Law School, and I’m grateful for the amazing relationships that I’ve established, which I intend to carry on throughout my legal career in Boston.

Funding for the position with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) Beacon Fund. The position at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General has been sponsored by the Foley Hoag Foundation. The position at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund, the position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is made possible through the law firm Pierce Atwood, and the position at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is sponsored by the law firm Nutter. For more information about how to support the BBF, please contact Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

2021 DEI Summer Fellows Finishing the first Month of Internships

The 6 BBA DEI Summer Fellows are now finishing their first month at their Fellowships. We checked in and asked, “Which work task or experience this week did you find most interesting or enjoyable?” See their responses below!

Kajahna Matos, UMass Law – Dartmouth
Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS)

I found my task in helping to create a homicide timeline for one of the attorney’s I work with to be the most interesting this week! I have always wanted to work on high crime cases and see what the experience is like for an attorney. Through this task, I have received a ton of exposure in how to do pretrial preparation for a murder charge. 

Catherine Garcia Summa, UMass Law – Dartmouth
Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General (OIG)

This past week, I was afforded the opportunity to research how to properly serve a foreign limited liability company without a registered agent in Massachusetts.  We learned about proper service of process during Civil Procedure, but actually taking part in the proceeding gave me a deeper understanding of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.  What was most enjoyable is seeing how what I learned during class is applied in the field, and how my research and the write ups of my findings help the legal team.  Getting the hands on experience has been invaluable.

Dhairya Bhatia, Boston College Law School
United States Bankruptcy Court

This week, I began research on the dischargeability of student loan debt in bankruptcy. This research is interesting because I’ve heard about how difficult it was to discharge student loan debt because a debtor has to show that repaying student loan debt would impose an undue hardship on them. Now, I’ve learned about the competing standards to assess undue hardship, the history and policies of student loan debt, and a little about the role the courts play in fashioning equitable remedies. This research is shedding light on how a student can discharge their student loan debt in bankruptcy.

Alfred Spencer, Suffolk University School of Law
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

The most interesting experience I had in this past week was being able to carry out certain legal duties under Rule 3:03. Although it was a nerve-racking experience at first, it was a very educational experience and I enjoyed being able to apply what I have learned in law school. I look forward to presenting more cases and learning more in the coming weeks and being able to apply the feedback given to me by the Assistant District Attorneys.

Jessie Baek, Boston College Law School
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)

This week I have been making progress on my research memo on the privilege that attaches between the MCAD’s Commission Counsel and a Complainant. It’s a challenging topic to explore, but this week I narrowed my research and have been looking closely at how pro se litigants are treated by the court. It was interesting to read how different courts view pro se litigants, and it helped a lot in figuring out how to close the conceptual gap that I was facing.

Travis Salters, Boston College Law School
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General (AGO)

My time at the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has been filled with several incredible experiences and opportunities for growth. Throughout all the meaningful assignments, I’ve constantly received constructive feedback to strengthen my research and writing. The most enjoyable experience was participating in a moot court prior to an attorney arguing before the Appeals Court the following day. The task entailed reading all the briefs and documents associated with the case, preparing potential questions that may challenge the Office’s argument, and posing those questions in a live session while acting as a judge. Asking the questions was terrific, but simply listening in on the strategic planning by several attorneys across different departments was particularly fascinating. I feel strongly that I learn just as much from “listening” as “doing” when I’m surrounded by such brilliant attorneys.

Funding for the position with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) Beacon Fund. The position at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General has been sponsored by the Foley Hoag Foundation. The position at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund, the position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is made possible through the law firm Pierce Atwood, and the position at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is sponsored by the law firm Nutter. For more information about how to support the BBF, please contact Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Fellows Begin Summer Internships

The 6 BBA DEI Summer Fellows all started work in in early June. We checked in and asked “What are you most looking forward to this summer over the course of your Fellowship?”

Catherine Garcia

I am most excited to apply my legal research and writing skills to real world scenarios and see how what I have learned this past year translates into actual practice.  I am also very excited to network with the other fellowship recipients as well as BBA members and learn more about the various practice areas of law.  Because most law schools have been fully remote this past year, I feel like I have been in a bit of a bubble and am eager to meet people and talk about our experiences in school and in practice.

Jessie Baek

I am most excited to work with my attorney supervisor to gain a better understanding of how the MCAD resolves discrimination complaints. By engaging in legal research and writing, I hope to become a stronger advocate for future clients. 

Alfred Spencer

This summer over the course of my Fellowship placement I am looking forward to being able to witness progressive prosecution firsthand while I work with the Chelsea District Court Division. I am also excited to finally be able to work on something that I am truly passionate about, criminal justice reform. Being able to work in such a progressive legal environment where I can see firsthand how these new policies directly impact individuals and communities is an experience that I know will help me hone the skills needed to [SN1] contribute to ongoing conversations that can truly bring about criminal justice reform. I know that what I learn and what I experience will stay with me for the rest of my legal career.

Kajahna Matos

I am most excited about meeting attorneys in the Boston CPCS office and engaging in their community efforts by providing great defense to indigent people. I am looking forward to the diverse environment that Boston brings and seeing it fill the Boston CPCS office. I am ready to learn new things and how to become the best public defender I can be by being mentored from those in CPCS. 

Dhairya Bhatia

I am most interested in learning more about issues consumers are facing, since bankruptcy covers such a diverse set of consumer issues! I am also excited to get to write about some of these topics and attend hearings!

Travis Salters

I am one week into my Fellowship at the Massachusetts’s Office of the Attorney General, and I have already had an amazing experience! The meaningful and substantive work of the office has challenged me to employ the knowledge and skills that I have developed during my first year of law school. Particularly, my Law Practice class at Boston College, where Professor Mary Ann Chirba was exceptional at teaching me how to draft memos and briefs, has been critical in my ability to perform in this role. In my first week, I participated in a moot court to help an attorney prepare for an Appeals Court argument, and I have met with several attorneys to receive feedback and direction. I look forward to building mentor relationships with attorneys throughout the office that will hopefully last beyond this Fellowship. I am also excited to expand my personal community by getting to know other Fellows and Interns.

Funding for the position with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) Beacon Fund. The position at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General has been sponsored by the Foley Hoag Foundation. The position at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund, the position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is made possible through the law firm Pierce Atwood, and the position at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is sponsored by the law firm Nutter. For more information about how to support the BBF, please contact Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.


Students Selected for the BBA’s 2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program

Thanks to funding from the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) Beacon Fund for Diversity & Inclusion, the BBF Charles P. Normandin Fund and generous firm sponsors Foley Hoag Foundation, Nutter, and Pierce Atwood, the BBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship program has doubled in size, from three positions to six. Students will be placed in fully paid summer fellowships at the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, the United States Bankruptcy Court, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General, and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. 

Each Fellow will receive a $5,000 stipend for the summer and will also gain practical experience in developing legal research and writing skills, expanding professional networks, and access to programming at the BBA. In addition, the fellows are paired with a mentor from the BBA’s Diversity Equity & Inclusion Section.

This year’s summer Fellows are:

Travis Salters, a second-year student from Boston College Law School, who will be interning at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
Jessie Baek, a second-year student from Boston College Law School, who will be interning at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
Catherine Garcia Summa, a second-year at the University of Massachusetts School of Law – Dartmouth, who will be interning at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General
Kajahna Matos, a second-year student at the University of Massachusetts School of Law – Dartmouth, who will be interning at the Committee for Public Counsel Services
Dhariya Bhatia, a second-year student from Boston College Law School, who will be interning at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts
Alfred Spencer, a second-year student from Suffolk University Law School, who will be interning at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

Travis Salters, Boston College Law School
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General (AGO)

After attending Penn State University, Travis was motivated to join Teach For America as a high school literature teacher in Atlanta. After teaching for three years, Travis founded a non-profit organization in Atlanta called Next Generation Men and Women, an organization dedicated to providing students with exposure to career pathways, professionals, and personalized support. At BC Law, Travis participates in the BC Negotiation Competition, and contributes to the BC Impact Blog where he shares his perspective on law school for current and future students. In his application, Travis shared “My commitment to underserved communities will always be a top priority. I know that this fellowship will be a significant part of my journey to becoming a practicing attorney in Boston. It will expose me to the legal system to gain a better understanding of how to positively impact systems for the underserved communities. Whether I am a high school literature teacher, a non-profit leader, or an attorney, I will continue to value diversity and assume the responsibility of representing beyond myself.”

Jessie Baek, Boston College Law School
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)

Jessie has always gravitated towards community-based projects that supported urban youth and their development. Her previous experience includes being a mentor with the Asian American Tutorial Project, a tutor with the Neighborhood Partnership Program, and a representative of her undergraduate college’s Office of Admission to recruit diverse students in Los Angeles to higher education. Prior to law school, Jessie worked as a teacher’s assistant for the Title I department of a public school. From her application, Jessie notes, “What excites me to work with MCAD is the opportunity to be a part of a group of attorneys and policymakers who resolve discriminatory complaints and expand my interest in creating inclusive spaces to outside of the classroom.”

Catherine Garcia Summa, UMass Law – Dartmouth
Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General (OIG)

Prior to enrolling in UMass Law, Catherine developed impressive leadership skills as a former Military Police Officer and a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve. Motivated by her life experiences, Catherine hopes to bring her unique perspective to her fellowship, and is looking forward to continuing on her path of public service. From her application, Catherine notes, “As an intern with the Office of the Inspector General, I hope to learn more about the detection of fraud, waste, and abuse and how it affects members of the military as well as the general public I intend to serve as a lawyer.”

Kajahna Matos, UMass Law – Dartmouth
Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS)

Prior to law school, Kajahna received her degree in Political Science with a concentration in Law and American Government. Kajahna is joining CPCS this summer, after several prior internships in the public sector that have been focused on assisting low-income minorities. Though these internships, Kajahna has been able to advance her Spanish speaking skills to effectively communicate with future clients. At UMass Law, she is a member of the Criminal Law Society and a member of the Legal Association of Women. In her application, she notes “I want to provide representation to those who are most at-risk of facing legal obstacles and are not prepared to successfully navigate the law and advocate for themselves.”

Dhairya Bhatia, Boston College Law School
United States Bankruptcy Court

Prior to attending Rutgers University, Dhairya began working as an administrative assistant with Legal Services of New Jersey’s Foreclosure Defense Project, conducting intake for clients facing residential and property tax foreclosure.  The work galvanized his desire to become a public interest lawyer. At BC Law, he serves as chair of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Working group which focuses on programming to uplift and center marginalized voices. In his application, he notes how powerful bankruptcy can be for low-income people. Dhariya will be working in Chief Judge Christopher Panos’s chambers for the summer.

Alfred Spencer, Suffolk University School of Law
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

As a 2L at Suffolk, with an interest in criminal and public interest law, Alfred hopes to build on his experience working at the AGO’s Contributory Retirement Appeals Board doing legal research and writing. From his application, Alfred notes, “If there is one thing that I would like to accomplish as a lawyer, that is to make sure the law applies to and protects all Americans equally, regardless of skin color, sexuality, affiliation, creed, or ethnicity.” Prior to law school, Alfred worked at a law firm in Belgium. He also contributes to the Suffolk University Law School Journal of Health and Biomedical Law (JHBL).

Funding for the position with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) Beacon Fund. The position at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General has been sponsored by the Foley Hoag Foundation. The position at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts is made possible by the Charles P. Normandin Fund, the position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is made possible through the law firm Pierce Atwood, and the position at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is sponsored by the law firm Nutter. For more information about how to support the BBF, please contact Erica Southerland at esoutherland@bostonbar.org.

In a Job Search, Should You Follow Your Interests or Trends in the Marketplace? The Answer is Both!

By: Stephen Seckler, President, Seckler Legal Recruiting and Coaching

Years ago, I used to give presentations at law schools on the state of the job market. It is always a subject that interests law students and I didn’t mind weighing in. But after giving a number of these talks, I began to question their utility. Ultimately, I reached the conclusion that focusing on your interests is a much better place to start when looking for a job. Trying to predict what will be hot in the future is difficult at best and it is very hard to distil the entire hiring landscape down into anything useful.

In some ways, it can also be dispiriting to hear about trends in the market. For example, if you know that the demand is high for corporate lawyers with two to five years of large firm M&A and securities experience, it is not going to help you if you don’t have the qualifications to get that job. If you know that bankruptcy litigation is a hot area of practice, how does that help you if you have no interest in litigation or bankruptcy?

On the other hand, if you do have the interest, it does make sense to pursue practice areas that are active. At the very least, if you have curiosity about an area where there seems to be hiring, then go explore. In other words, having a sense of the market can help.

So What are the “Hot” Areas of Practice?

If you are interested in data privacy, there is a lot going on in that space. If you have a general interest in corporate transactional law, it seems reasonable to predict that this will be a busy area of practice over the next 12 months (although as we saw in 2008/2009, that can change quickly). If employment law, trusts and estates or family law interest you, those areas seem to be doing well. In Massachusetts, the life sciences industry is very hot (lots of opportunity for IP lawyers, corporate lawyers and other practices that support the industry).

On the other hand, if you are interested in litigation, be aware that this area of practice is generally down because of court closures (but that may change too as COVID related litigation begins to explode.) Bankruptcy has not yet peaked, but it seems likely that this area will continue to be busy by the second half of the year. Similarly, commercial real estate seems to be a less busy practice area with demand for commercial office space in the city on the decline. The pandemic and changes in the way businesses will structure their work from home policies is making it challenging to predict when commercial real estate will be back. Residential real estate, on the other hand, is booming.

If this all sounds a little wishy washy or not that practical, then we are on the same page. As I said at the outset, it is very hard to predict hiring trends into the future. I believe it is a lot more productive to start exploring where your interests take you.

What if You Aren’t Sure What You Want to Do?

The truth is, until you get some work experience, you won’t really know what it is like to practice in a given area. If you’ve done a summer clerkship, participated in a clinic in law school, or worked as a paralegal prior to law school, you may have some sense of this already. If you haven’t, then start doing informational interviews with lawyers in different practice areas and come up with some educated guesses about where you might be happy. Once you have some clues, then pursue those opportunities.

Doing What You Like Will Advance Your Career More Quickly

If you like what you are doing, you are more likely to put time and energy into doing a good job and getting the training and experience that will help you advance to the next stage of your career. If you chase jobs just because you think you can get hired, you may be less motivated to make that investment.

At the same time, don’t ignore the realities of the marketplace. If you love sports and you are vying for the one available job in Boston where you’ll get to represent professional athletes, make sure to have a Plan B. You may be the lucky one. But you are more likely to be employed after graduation if you also match your interests with market realities.

Careers are really a lot less linear that they may appear. Most of us end up experimenting along the way until we find what we like. For a good podcast on the subject, listen to my interview with Jose Sierra who suggests that careers are more like whitewater rafting than a canoe ride. I also invite you to visit my website for many more career resources. Feel free to reach out to me for in informal career consult. I always enjoy hearing from law student and attorneys who are starting out. See www.counseltocounsel.com.

The Legal Ramifications of COVID-19: Access to Justice

When the 2019-2020 PILP class began their journey as the BBA’s most recent class of leaders, the vision for the program seemed clear and routine. Due to the challenges of this year, however, it became a class unlike any other before it–switching to a virtual format due to the declaration of a state of emergency, adjusting to working from home overnight, welcoming multiple PILP babies, and having to change their service project deep into the class. To their great credit, the class rose to the occasion. 

The BBA is proud to present the PILP 2019-2020 project: The Legal Ramifications of COVID-19, a series of reports that surveyed various legal landscapes and provides reflections on the impact of COVID-19 in each space. Each report will be published through Beyond the Billable. This is the fourth in the series, focused on access to justice.

This piece was written by Associate Counsel, Assistant Vice President at State Street Corporation Naitasia V. Hensey. Her piece provides a detailed analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability of marginalized groups to access the justice system in Massachusetts. To read Naitasia’s piece, please click here.

Naitasia V. Hensey is Assistant Vice President, Associate Counsel at State Street Corporation. Naitasia is a graduate of Stetson University where she studied psychology and communications, and then went on to receive an MBA from the University of Phoenix while working full time. After relocating to Massachusetts for the love of seasons, Naitasia pursued a J.D. with a concentration in Intellectual Property law from New England Law | Boston as a Charles Hamilton Houston Scholarship recipient and graduated receiving the President Anna E. Hirsch Award for “dedicated service to fellow students, the law school, and the legal profession.”

The Legal Ramifications of COVID-19: Racial & Ethnic Disparities

When the 2019-2020 PILP class began their journey as the BBA’s most recent class of leaders, the vision for the program seemed clear and routine. Due to the challenges of this year, however, it became a class unlike any other before it–switching to a virtual format due to the declaration of a state of emergency, adjusting to working from home overnight, welcoming multiple PILP babies, and having to change their service project deep into the class. To their great credit, the class rose to the occasion. 

The BBA is proud to present the PILP 2019-2020 project: The Legal Ramifications of COVID-19, a series of reports that surveyed various legal landscapes and provides reflections on the impact of COVID-19 in each space. Each report will be published through Beyond the Billable. This is the third in the series, focused on racial & ethnic disparities.

This piece was written by Equal Opportunity Specialist at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sajid Shahriar. His piece takes a detailed look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on racial & ethnic disparities in criminal justice, labor & employment, child care, housing, and more. To read Sajid’s piece, please click here.

Sajid Shahriar is an Equal Opportunity Specialist at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, where he enforces the Fair Housing Act and related federal civil rights laws in the New England region. He graduated from Boston College Law School in 2016.

American Bar Association Law Student Division Seeking Volunteers for National Appellate Advocacy Competition

The American Bar Association Law Student Division is looking for attorneys, judges, and counselors to volunteer as mock “Supreme Court” Justices for its annual National Appellate Advocacy Competition. This year’s topic is Civil Rights Law, focusing on the First Amendment rights of a public employee and the qualified-immunity doctrine. All attorneys licensed in the US are welcome to judge, and there is no requirement to have previous appellate experience. The ABA Law Student Division will provide a bench memorandum, the problem (record), and instructions on judging. Reviewing these materials is the only preparation needed.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, the competition will be held completely virtually, meaning that volunteer judges from all over the United States can help mentor law students participating in this prestigious competition. Competitions will be held via Zoom on the weekends of February 18–20, February 25–27, and March 4–6. Competition rounds last approximately 4 hours. For more details, please go to the NAAC Judges web page or direct questions to competitions@americanbar.org.

The Legal Ramifications of COVID-19: Labor & Employment

When the 2019-2020 PILP class began their journey as the BBA’s most recent class of leaders, the vision for the program seemed clear and routine. Due to the challenges of this year, however, it became a class unlike any other before it–switching to a virtual format due to the declaration of a state of emergency, adjusting to working from home overnight, welcoming multiple PILP babies, and having to change their service project deep into the class. To their great credit, the class rose to the occasion. 

The BBA is proud to present the PILP 2019-2020 project: The Legal Ramifications of COVID-19, a series of reports that surveyed various legal landscapes and provides reflections on the impact of COVID-19 in each space. Each report will be published through Beyond the Billable. This is the second in the series, focused on Labor & Employment. You can view the first in the series focused on decarceration here.

This piece was written by Volunteer Lawyers Project Staff Attorney Tallulah Knopp and Assistant Attorney General with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Meryum Khan. Their piece takes a detailed look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers across our Commonwealth.

To read Tallulah & Meryum’s piece, please click here.

BBA Now Accepting Applications for the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program

Applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Summer Fellowship Program. This program will provide three outstanding law students with critical work experience through paid summer internships in the public interest. We are seeking applicants who have demonstrated their commitment to advancing diversity, equity & inclusion within the legal profession. The BBA will partner with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) to provide these opportunities for law students to gain practical experience, develop legal research and writing skills, expand their professional networks, and access tailored programming at the BBA.

Each Fellow will receive a $5,000 stipend for the summer. Funding for the position with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF) Beacon Fund. Funding for the position with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts has been provided by the Charles P. Normandin Fund of the BBF, and the position with the MCAD has been sponsored by the law firm Pierce Atwood LLP.

We’re proud to bolster our existing DEI initiatives, and to further support the passion and commitment of law students dedicated to the public interest. Please see written reflections from last year’s participants in the program here.

For information about the program and to download the applications, please click here.