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 [email protected].

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)

PILP Hears from Speakers on Reproductive Rights and Justice

On Thursday, November 7th, the Public Interest Leadership Committee heard from two distinguished speakers on the topic of reproductive justice. First, Jamie Sabino, attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and the co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Judicial Consent for Minors Lawyer Referral Panel spoke about women’s reproductive health in Massachusetts with a focus on the current landscape nationwide and in Massachusetts.   

She shared that currently in Massachusetts, under the judicial bypass process, minors must petition the court to obtain an abortion if a parent or guardian is not present to grant permission.  A concern with the requirement of the judicial bypass process is that physicians are mandated reporters, but judges are not.  Such a requirement creates an additional hurdle for minors, including a fear of loss of confidentiality.  The judicial bypass law disproportionately impacts young people of color and young people with low incomes.

Attorney Sabino also discussed the history of reproductive health laws and the changing landscape that has resulted from changes in the makeup of the United States Supreme Court.   

Since 1981, Jamie has chaired or co-chaired the Judicial Consent For Minor Lawyer Referral Panel, a group of attorneys who represent minors seeking judicial authorization for abortion.  Working with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Jamie has also trained lawyers in a number of states facing implementation of a parental involvement/judicial bypass statute, testified in many state legislatures on the burdens brought by such laws and served as an expert witness on the implementation of such laws in court challenges.

Mehreen Butt, Associate Director of Policy and Government Affairs at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, discussed her current focus on lobbying for the passage of The Roe Act, S. 1209, H. 3320.  Amongst several other components, the bill would eliminate the judicial bypass process, expand access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of fatal fetal anomalies, and abolish medically unnecessary abortion restrictions.  In June 2019, the bill went to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in the Massachusetts Legislature.

Ms. Butt has over 15 years of experience working in the social justice and public policy fields and on local, state, and federal campaigns.  She has worked at Rosie’s Place, Tufts Health Plan and Health Care for All.  In each of these positions, Ms. Butt was responsible for overseeing the organization’s policy and legislative agenda.

For more information regarding Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts priorities visit https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/planned-parenthood-advocacy-fund-massachusetts-inc/issues

Meeting Recap provided by PILP Members Andrea Carrillo (Greater Boston Legal Services) and Sharona Sternberg (Sunstein Kann)

Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum Reception

This past Tuesday, the BBA’s Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum held a reception ahead of Veterans Day to bring together members of the bar who are current members of the military, veterans, and their colleagues, and to honor those who have served. The event featured keynote speaker Harvey Weiner, Senior Counsel at Peabody & Arnold and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, where he was an Army Captain and was awarded the Bronze Star (M), among other medals. Mr. Weiner is the National Judge Advocate of the Jewish War Veterans of America, the nation’s oldest active veterans’ organization, and a past Massachusetts Department Commander. He spoke candidly about his experiences in the Vietnam War and upon returning home, and discussed how throughout his career he has drawn on this experience to relate to and support others who have survived violence and trauma, including survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

The reception also kicked off the Forum’s 2019-2020 Active Duty Military & Veterans Mentoring Program, and offered an opportunity for participants in the program to meet their newly-assigned mentors. The program matches military-affiliated law students and new lawyers with more experienced military-affiliated lawyers, who offer career advice and guidance about how to navigate the Boston legal landscape. This fall, the Forum has matched 21 pairs of mentees and mentors through the program. The Forum is thrilled to provide this program, which recognizes the unique experiences of active duty military and veteran attorneys.

Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum Co-Chairs Mark Fitzgerald (Wilson Sonsini) and Jessica Hopton Youngberg (Veterans Legal Services) with keynote speaker Harvey Weiner (Peabody & Arnold) at Tuesday’s reception

Celebrating Pro Bono Month: A Recap

As October comes to a close, another Pro Bono Month is in the books, and we have a lot to celebrate.

In total, the BBA trained over 200 attorneys to take pro bono cases and engage with the BBA’s public service projects. This included trainings on representing low-income debtors pro bono and preparing attorney volunteers to teach high school students the importance of making informed decisions through the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program.

Take a look below for highlights from this month and check out our photo album here:

October 2ndThe BBA teamed up with lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) New England Chapter, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), and the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) Coalition to provide information about the new Public Charge regulation. Though the regulation has thus far been blocked from going into effect, advocates were trained on how to talk about the topic with clients.

Public Charge Attorney Training

October 10thThrough our longstanding partnership with the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), a Boston Bar Foundation grantee, dozens of attorneys were trained on all aspects of representing a low-income consumer debtor in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case pro bono through VLP’s bankruptcy panel.

Pro Bono Training: Chapter 7 Consumer Bankruptcy Basics

October 15th – BBA staff joined hundreds of law students and attorneys at Suffolk University Law School for the Annual Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House, sponsored by the BBA and Suffolk. This provided an opportunity for attendees to learn about pro bono opportunities with local nonprofits and legal services organizations.

Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House at Suffolk Law

October 18thRepresentatives from the Mass Health Connector and Health Law Advocates hosted a training to help lawyers understand the most common legal concerns that individuals face when they consider applying for healthcare through the Health Connector, including immigration concerns.

October 22ndBBA members joined volunteer attorneys from Massachusetts Legal Answers Online (MLAO) and VLP  to answer legal questions for low-income Massachusetts residents through the MLAO website, as part of our recurring “Pizza and Pro Bono Blitz” programming. During the session, 11 individuals received online pro bono advice for their legal concerns. 

October 23rdAttendees received information about how to volunteer with the BBA’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program to help high school students across Massachusetts build the foundational skills to make informed and effective decisions regarding their finances. Keynote speaker State Senator James Eldridge described why efforts to increase financial literacy are so important to the Boston community and the entire Commonwealth.

Financial Literacy Info Session with Senator James Eldridge

October 24thThe BBA hosted a speed networking event with representatives from VLP, MLAO De Novo, the Court Service Centers, and the Women’s Bar Foundation to learn about family law pro bono opportunities.

October 28th Attendees learned the skills needed to volunteer at the BBA’s monthly CORI Sealing Clinic and help low-income clients who have questions about their Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) records. CORI records can pose significant barriers to housing, employment, and educational opportunities, and as such advising on sealing and expungement is a critical way for lawyers to help.

Pro Bono Training for Attorneys to Help Clients Seal Their CORI Records

Thank you to our members who donated their time and talents in support of Pro Bono month—and to those who embody the spirit of Pro Bono all year round by providing the unique services to our community that only attorneys can. Even though October is over, there are still more opportunities to engage: On Thursday, November 7th, the BBA will be hosting a Fall Networking Breakfast for Law Students and New Lawyers Exploring Public Interest Careers and Pro Bono Opportunities. Find out more and register today.

Missed any of these programs, but still want to find a way to get involved?  Reach out to Community Programs Assistant Doug Newton with questions at [email protected].

Boston Bar pro bono and public service projects are made possible by funding from the Boston Bar Foundation. To support our pro bono and public service initiatives click here or contact Erica Southerland at [email protected].

Public Service Spotlight: Helping Future Lawyers Pass the Bar

Taking the Bar Exam is stressful. And for those who have already taken the exam and are sitting for it again, the anxiety may be even greater. The BBA’s Bar Exam Coaching program offers free coaching to help applicants navigate the process, anxiety, and expectations that come with preparing for the Bar Exam.

The program focuses on providing support to applicants who are retaking the Uniform Bar Examination in Massachusetts, although first-time takers can also be matched with a coach based on availability. Applicants are matched with volunteer attorney coaches who have received training from experienced bar prep staff to assist with the non-substantive elements of preparing for the exam, including mental preparation, effective study techniques, and time management. Over half of applicants participating in the program work full time while studying for the bar exam, making the support of a coach who can help with time management and study schedules even more critical. Since the program’s official launch in 2017, 57% of participants served by the program have been bar applicants of color.

If you know an applicant taking the exam in February of 2020 who would like to be connected with a coach, you can send them this online information form.

Boston Bar pro bono and public service projects are made possible by funding from the Boston Bar Foundation.

Pro Bono Month Spotlight: Sullivan Supports the Transformative Power of Education in Dorchester Through Longstanding Pro Bono Partnerships

Of the many pro bono relationships maintained by Boston-based law firm Sullivan & Worcester LLP (“Sullivan”), those with College Bound Dorchester, Inc. and the Neighborhood House Charter School are the longest-standing.

In 1965, former corporate partner Charlie Cabot helped establish College Bound Dorchester (then known as Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses, Inc.) by merging three settlement houses (Denison House, Little House and Dorchester House) with the goal of better serving the Dorchester community and its minority, immigrant and low-income populations.  Over the years, College Bound has included many additional programs including Kit Clark Senior Services, a summer camp, an alternative middle school and a food pantry.  In the mid-1990s, College Bound became the incubator of one of the first charter schools in Massachusetts, the Neighborhood House Charter School.

College Bound’s current focus is on transforming neighborhoods through education, particularly those affected by generational cycles of poverty, street level violence and a widening economic inequality gap.  Its ‘Boston Uncornered’ solution engages gang-involved or formerly incarcerated youth and turns them into positive leaders in their neighborhoods by training them as trusted peer mentors.  They in turn support program participants who receive educational supports and a weekly stipend that affords them the space to pursue educational opportunities to help them turn away from the streets for good.  Michelle Caldeira, Senior Vice President of Strategy & External Affairs at College Bound Dorchester, cited the program’s continued success.  They have served over 500 young people in the city each year with a 70% college matriculation rate and a reduced recidivism rate of 91%.

“We are grateful for the significant dollar value of their pro-bono work, we are indebted to Sullivan & Worcester for all the additional ways in which they support College Bound and Uncornered – serving as officers on our board of directors, providing guidance on personnel matters, shepherding the sale or acquisition of capital assets, amplifying our work and even filing copyright applications. I also want to note David Guadagnoli’s work on managing the partnership always being available to answer a quick question or dig deep on thorny issues, doing it all with amazing efficiency and a sense of humor,” said Caldeira.

In the Pope’s Hill neighborhood of Dorchester stands the K-7th grade campus of NHCS, whose mission is to provide students with the skills and support they need to graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education on the path to achieve life success.  The School now serves over 700 students, the majority of whom are drawn from one of Boston’s most diverse neighborhoods.  Until recently a K-8th grade school, NHCS is in the process of expanding through to the 12th grade.

“Working with these organizations offers many, if not all, of our attorneys the opportunity to do pro bono work within their respective areas of expertise, which is rare among pro bono clients,” said David Guadagnoli, a Tax Partner at Sullivan.

For over half a century and at least 21,000 pro bono hours later, Sullivan remains a fierce champion for and partner of both entities.  Guadagnoli, who currently serves on the Board of College Bound Dorchester and leads Sullivan’s relationship for both entities, explains how this unique partnership has provided opportunities for lawyers throughout the firm, regardless of practice area, to contribute pro bono services and make a unique impact in the community.

With the same types of challenges faced by for-profit clients, Sullivan has remained steadfastly committed to both organizations, in large part because each offers virtually every Sullivan attorney the opportunity to contribute in their own specialty area – corporate lawyers have rewritten bylaws, managed filings, overseen restructurings and provided guidance in critical areas of governance; real estate attorneys have bought and sold properties and negotiated leases; financing lawyers have helped each organization finance and refinance short and long term debt; tax attorneys have helped each organization maintain their tax-exempt status and avoid tax traps; employment attorneys have supported the management teams with HR support and advice; litigators have defended each organization as needed; intellectual property attorneys have helped with trademark and copyright issues; and benefits attorneys have assisted in ensuring that each organization offers a robust menu of benefit offerings.  In addition to pro bono legal work, several Sullivan attorneys have served as directors, trustees and clerks of each of these organization through the years.

Molly Stearns, Director of Strategic Projects at NHCS, says that “Sullivan has become our ‘downtown home,’” supplying meeting space for the school leadership in addition to thousands of hours of pro bono work and service.

“We are so grateful that Neighborhood House Charter School has benefited from an extraordinary 25-year pro bono partnership with Sullivan.  Their advice on matters ranging from governance, to real estate transactions, to personnel matters, to employee benefits has been invaluable.  Sullivan attorneys have served as ad hoc members of various Board committees and presented to our middle schoolers about the legal profession on Career Day.  In ways large and small, Sullivan has helped Neighborhood House sustain a 25-year track record of success.  It’s an honor to have gotten to know so many wonderful lawyers at Sullivan along the way.”

As these two organizations remain committed to supporting those in need of opportunities, they have each found a steadfast partner and friend in Sullivan.

PILP Explores Climate Change and Environmental Justice

On Wednesday, October 16th, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) class heard from the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) about the intersection of environmental justice and climate change.  The presentations focused on how to use the traditional tools of environmental law, like the Clean Air Act and planning and zoning laws, to address climate change while meeting the needs of underrepresented groups.

The first speaker, Staci Rubin, is a senior staff attorney at CLF where she focuses on transportation issues.  Rubin informed the class that in Massachusetts, transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions—the key driver of climate change. The Commonwealth is one of the leading states in adopting policies to curb emissions, including a pending bill to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.  However, it is crucial that the transition to cleaner transportation is equitable and just.  Latinx and Black Americans are exposed at least 50% more pollution than they produce, compared to non-Hispanic white Americans, who are exposed to 17% less pollution than they produce.  Rubin also noted that public transit service tends to be less available and reliable in communities of color.  For example, the Fairmont commuter-rail line used to pass through Dorchester, a predominantly Black neighborhood, to Hyde Park, a mainly white neighborhood.  The Dorchester community absorbed the pollution from the train but did not have access to the transportation benefits until recently, when the Blue Hills Avenue station opened.  Through examples like these, Rubin illustrated that equitable access to transportation is not just an economic issue—it is also a climate change issue.

Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal (Executive Director) and Lauren Sampson (Civil Rights Fellow) from LCR then discussed their organization’s launch of a new practice area focused on climate resilience and environmental justice in low-income communities of color.  The new initiative was sparked in part by the realization that much of the organization’s current work, such as immigration advocacy, overlaps with climate change.  For example, many immigrants arrive in the United States due to natural disasters and food shortages aggravated by climate change, but asylum law does not recognize claims based on environmental conditions.  LCR also has litigated successfully against the Trump administration’s attempts to rollback Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which might protect these climate migrants.  LCR also already advocates for increasing transportation equity for low-income communities of color and immigrant communities, opposing the MBTA’s cancellation of late-night service and cashless fares.  As it develops this new practice area, LCR plans to partner with other organizations like CLF and community groups to further its civil rights mission. 

The meeting ended with a conversation about the importance of viewing our clients’ challenges through a climate change lens.

For more information on Conservation Law Foundation’s transportation work, visit: https://www.clf.org/strategies/modernizing-transportation/

For more information on the Lawyers for Civil Rights’ new race and climate justice program, visit: http://lawyersforcivilrights.org/what-we-do/race-and-climate-justice/

Meeting recap provided by PILP Members Katie Stock (Miyares and Harrington LLP) and David Lyons (Anderson & Kreiger)

BBA’s Military & Veterans Mentoring Program Now Seeking Mentors and Mentees

The BBA is seeking mentors and mentees for the 2019-2020 year of our Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum Mentoring Program.

Military-affiliated BBA Members with four years or more of experience in the legal profession can sign-up as mentors. Mentors will be matched with a law student or new attorney hoping to meet and learn from experienced legal professionals with military backgrounds. A mentor can offer guidance on resume writing or interview prep, as well as offer perspective on practicing law in Boston as a servicemember/ veteran. Law students and attorneys with less than four years in practice with military affiliation are invited to sign-up as mentees.

Mentors can sign up here.

Mentees can sign up here.

Contact Hannah Poor at [email protected] with additional questions.