BBA member Christopher Saccardi and First Justice of the Boston Housing Court Hon. Jeffrey Winik go way back. They go back to Saccardi’s days in law school, volunteering at the Lawyer for a Day program in Boston Housing Court.
Through that program, Saccardi took on his first Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) cases. He helped clients through a specific piece of their case, such as an individual motion or filing.
“LAR is a wonderful training ground for new lawyers who want courtroom experience,” Saccardi told attendees at a recent training on representing litigants in Housing Court.
Not only is LAR beneficial to new attorneys looking for experience, it can be a vital service to litigants who can’t afford legal representation. The vast majority of people who come before Judge Winik are unrepresented, he said. This is a huge disadvantage to the litigant, who may not have the knowledge to represent their own interest effectively. It also ties up the court system, as an attorney helps to move a case more efficiently forward.
During the training, the two panelists explained how to become certified online to practice LAR. They also gave tips on common obstacles in LAR cases, including how to facilitate communication with non-native English speakers, to drafting clear, specific fee agreements.
“The bedrock of LAR is informed consent,” Judge Winik said. “You, the lawyer, must understand what you have agreed to do, and most importantly, the client must understand what you’ve agreed to do – or not to do.”
Of the importance of LAR in his court, Judge Winik said, “It is always better to have a litigant represented than not.”
Don’t miss the rest of the LAR Practical Skills series. Sign up for one of the upcoming sessions on how to use LAR in particular courts:
LAR Practical Skills: Probate & Family Court
March 22nd 12-1:30 pm
LAR Practical Skills: Boston Municipal Court & District Court
April 28th 12-1:30 pm
LAR Practical Skills: Land Court
May 24th 12-1:30 pm