Each month, members of the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) chair two meetings on a specific community need. This October, PILP focused on housing discrimination issues and brought in speakers uniquely knowledgeable on the subject. Last week, the group welcomed Aaron Gornstein, President and CEO of Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) and former undersecretary for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. Gornstein first spoke to the group on the work of POAH, describing their focus on providing affordable housing across the U.S. through owning and managing over 9000 homes, as well as various neighborhood transformation projects. POAH acknowledges that affordable housing alone is not the solution, only the foundation, to helping people and families succeed in their community. Through POAH’s various community services at their properties, including job training, childcare services, financial literacy trainings, etc., they hope to provide their tenants the tools to thrive.
Gornstein also explained the history of affordable housing in the U.S. and current trends toward public housing redevelopment and mixed-income housing. Finally, he noted that incentives work far better than penalties to encourage people to save and eventually own their own home.
Look for next week’s PILP meeting recap after the group hears from Professor William Berman from Suffolk University Law School on his insights into affordable housing issues.
On Tuesday, law students and attorneys mingled with legal services organizations at Suffolk University Law School to learn about pro bono opportunities across the Commonwealth. Over 30 organizations passed out flyers and collected information on potential volunteers. If you were unable to make it to the event, we’ve included a few photos from the evening below and we hope you join us next year!
Representatives from Mass Legal Answers Online and the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association speak with attendees.
Ting Chiu tables for Greater Boston Legal Services.
A Suffolk law student hears more information on the Political Asylum Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project.
(Left to Right) Abbe Hershberg, BBA Family Law Section Public Service Committee Co-Chair, Carolyn Mitchell and Cassandra Shavney of the BBA, and Michael McDermott, BBA New Lawyers Section Public Service Committee Co-Chair, table on behalf of the Boston Bar Association.
Law Students and attorneys meet with numerous organizations and hear about their work and pro bono opportunities.
An attendee learns about the work of Project Citizenship.
Barbara Oro and Rochelle Hahn gladly explain the new Mass Legal Answers Online Project.
If you’d like information on the organizations present at the fair, please email Cassandra Shavney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pro bono work can be challenging, especially when dealing with immigration cases. Often encompassing multiple areas of law such as family and criminal law, pro bono immigration cases can require a lot of time and effort. On Tuesday, October 18th, the BBA hosted a discussion in order to provide attendees with a better understanding of these types of cases. The speakers, Alexandra Peredo-Carroll from Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), An Le from the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, and Seth Purcell from the Political Asylum Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project discussed their expertise with pro bono immigration work, from discussing the types of cases they see to the ethical and professional responsibilities.
Purcell described the mission of the PAIR project, which is focused on connecting attorneys to and providing legal services for asylum seekers and immigrants in detention, many facing deportation. PAIR also provides trainings and mentorships for volunteers, which all the panelists agreed is an extremely important part of being able to provide assistance to people with extremely complicated immigration cases.
Peredo-Carroll discussed how KIND solely assists unaccompanied minors who are going through deportation proceedings. With the nature of this work being so sensitive, KIND also provides extensive trainings to their volunteers to make sure that those in need get the best representation they can.
While the mayor’s office does not provide legal services to constituents, city employees do work with groups like KIND and PAIR to connect a wide range of people with immigration problems to the help they need, Le explained. He spoke about the difficulty of refraining from giving legal advice while fulfilling the office’s legal and ethical responsibility to help people with legal issues.
Both Purcell and Peredo-Carroll said it is important for attorneys to devote as much time and effort to pro bono cases as paid cases. While Massachusetts does not currently require attorneys to complete pro bono hours, Professional Conduct Rule 6.1 urges attorneys devote at least 25 hours a year to pro bono work or donate between $250 or 1% of the attorney’s taxable income to legal services providers.
For more information on how to get involved with pro bono immigration work, please contact Cassandra Shavney at email@example.com.
Bill Ferguson, Veterans Upward Bound, explains how the program supports veterans in Massachusetts.
At the BBA Veterans Meet and Greet Luncheon last week, William Ferguson, Academic and Career Advisor for Suffolk University Veterans Upward Bound (VUB), went over some factors that hold veterans back from obtaining a secondary education and how VUB can help.
Veterans Upward Bound provides counseling, mentoring, tutoring and academic instruction for veterans. In preparation for college, participants also learn about financial literacy and career planning. The steps that Veterans Upward Bound lays out allow prospective students to refine their goals and develop a specific plan for their education, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the specific benefits provided by the GI Bill.
Veterans eligible for VUB must be low-income or a first generation college student, must have served 180+ days of active duty military service, and must have a military discharge status other than dishonorable or have been discharged due to a disability connected to their service.
Ferguson encouraged attendees to spread the word about the program, which is housed at Suffolk University but run by the U.S. Department of Education. Since the program is federal, participants are not required to apply to a specific college or university. If you would like to read more on VUB at Suffolk University or apply for the program, please visit this page.
The luncheon was part of an ongoing series of events hosted by the BBA with the aim of connecting veterans and active duty military personnel in the legal profession. If you are interested in getting involved with the BBA’s Active Duty Military, Family Members, and Veterans Committee, please contact Cassandra Shavney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonathan Hayden (center), Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster and Co-Chair of the BBA Military & Veterans Committee speaks with luncheon attendees.
Working for free isn’t exactly what many law school grads have in mind after graduation, especially with many facing high student debt. Some believe they can’t afford the time to volunteer for pro bono work in such a competitive legal environment, and many don’t realize how many opportunities there are to not only help those in need, but also to gain experience and build a professional network.
On Friday, October 14th, attorneys discussed the benefit of volunteering your time at the program “Pro Bono Work: Serving the Community, Advancing Your Career.” Rachel Biscardi (Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts), Vanessa Dillen ( Court Service Center), Brian McLaughlin (Brian McLaughlin Esq. LLC), and William Moore(Law Office of William Moore)shared their pro bono experiences with interested attorneys.
The speakers provided the audience with insider-knowledge on what it’s really like to work at a service organization and to volunteer for pro bono work. While all of the speakers agreed it can be tough, they also all spoke about how rewarding it is when you assist someone who otherwise would not be able to acquire legal help. In addition, pro bono work is an incredible way for new attorneys to get legal experience, especially in the courtroom, that otherwise would not be possible as a new attorney. McLaughlin may have put it best when he described his devotion to pro bono work as a combination of the tugging at his heartstrings and a passion to learn more, gain experience, and expand his legal network.
For new and seasoned lawyers, there are always volunteer opportunities available, and organizations like the Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts and the Court Service Center of the Massachusetts Trial Court are grateful for their volunteers.
If you’d like more information on available pro bono opportunities, please email Cassandra Shavney at email@example.com.
On Thursday, October 6th, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts held its Fourth Annual Pro Bono Awards Ceremony. The Bankruptcy Judges presented the Pro Bono Publico Awards, which are given for exceptional devotion to pro bono work in each of the state’s regions. The Boston Bar Association congratulates all of the awardees and distinguishes Janet Bostwick for receiving the District of Massachusetts Award.
While presenting the award to Bostwick, Judge Joan Feeney noted that the District of Massachusetts Award is not given every year, but Bostwick’s dedication to pro bono and the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program are deserving of the award. Bostwick was also recently honored at the Boston Bar Association for her work on the Financial Literacy program after she stepped down as Co-Chair of the Financial Literacy Committee after 12 years of service. You can read more on that honor here.
Following the Pro Bono Publico Awards, the 2016 Pro Bono Honor Roll certificates were presented to attorneys meeting the Honor Roll criteria outlined by the Court’s Pro Bono Legal Services Advisory Committee. The Boston Bar Association congratulates those awardees and thanks them for their service to the community.
Pro Bono Publico Awards:
Western Division Award – Henry E. Geberth, Jr.
Central Division Award – Judith Vassilovski
South Coast/Cape & Islands Division Award – David B. Madoff
Eastern Division Award – Neil D. Warrenbrand
District of Massachusetts Award – Janet E. Bostwick
Nixon Peabody’s website boasts impressive pro bono numbers. In 2015, 84% of attorneys firm-wide participated in pro bono projects. The firm logged 34,001 total pro bono hours in 2015 with participation from attorneys, paralegals, professional specialists and staff members.
The staff at PAIR match attorneys with immigrants who are seeking asylum or have been unjustly detained in Massachusetts. PAIR offers training and
mentorship, particularly to attorneys who may not regularly practice immigration law. That describes Hannah Bornstein and Troy Lieberman, who concentrate on white collar criminal defense and intellectual property litigation, respectively.
Some of their clients have survived horrors like abuse and torture, and are forced to leave family members behind when they flee their home country. Many do not speak English and do not have the funds to hire an attorney to help them navigate the complex process of applying for asylum.
“I have two little kids. Imagine having to leave overnight and go to a country where you don’t know anyone, you don’t speak the language, and the only reason you do it is because if you stay where you are, you’ll be killed,” Bornstein said. “You hear these stories, and everyone is in tears, and it’s really heartbreaking.”
Bornstein began volunteering with PAIR when she was in law school, and has stuck with it for the last 10 years. Her enthusiasm inspired Lieberman to get involved, and he said the work has been appealing and inspiring on many levels.
Attorneys who take part in Nixon Peabody’s various pro bono projects are not only improving the lives of their clients, they are sharpening their professional skills in practice areas that might differ significantly from their own. In these types of immigration and asylum cases, where clients have been through trauma, becoming extremely familiar with documents is important, Bornstein said. Sometimes building their case revolves around telling a story that moves from point A to point B coherently.
Lieberman echoed these comments, and also said working with PAIR clients helps him to gain perspective on his work.
“Clients come in so upbeat and optimistic in spite of everything, and it makes you realize how fortunate we are,” he said.
Volunteering with PAIR does not require expertise in a specific practice area. Bornstein and Lieberman both praised the staff at PAIR for their seemingly endless capacity to work through issues and make themselves available to help. But it does require patience and immense sensitivity.
“The level of trust it takes for these clients to confide in you and talk about these things they’ve been through is what really stays with me. It doesn’t happen in the first, second,
or even third meeting, usually. It takes a high level of trust and a lot of listening. There’s a huge human element to the process,” he said.
Bornstein said working with PAIR clients inspires her to be grateful, particularly for the freedoms Americans have that people in other parts of the world are denied.
“My clients show up with a smile on their face and they are happy and grateful for our help. It speaks to resiliency and how people can overcome a lot. I think it’s the clients that are the heroes of these stories,” she said.
The Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) project is a grantee organization of the Boston Bar Foundation. To find out more about their work, please visit http://pairproject.org/.
The BBA is excited to welcome Jonathan Hayden, a veteran who served for four years as a Captain in the U.S. Army JAG Corps, to his new post as a co-chair of the BBA’s Active Duty Military, Family Members, and Veterans Committee.
Hayden joined Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster as an associate last year. He concentrates his practice in real estate law, representing commercial mortgage lenders and assisting clients with development and permitting matters. He will serve alongside Harvard Law School Professor Daniel Nagin, who serves as Vice Dean for Experiential and Clinical Education and Faculty Director of the Veterans Legal Clinic of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center.
The committee’s charge is of personal importance to Hayden based on his military experience and his work as board member at Veterans Legal Services in Boston. As a co-chair, he hopes to expand the BBA’s existing work to connect veterans with legal assistance and support veterans in the legal profession.
“There are so many veterans in the legal community, and many have vastly different military experiences,” he said. “There are attorneys who enlisted in the military before they went to college and law school. We also have people more like me, who finished school, spent time in the military, and then moved to Boston for the next phase of their legal careers. Regardless of the differences in our military experiences, one thing I think we all share is a desire to help other veterans who have not been as fortunate. Studies show unmet legal needs are one of the root causes of veteran homelessness, and the committee’s work can do a lot for the local veteran population.”
From February of 2010 to March of 2014, Hayden served first on the staff at West Point and then as a prosecutor at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. By taking this unique path, Hayden said he was able to gain a lot of experience handling criminal cases straight out of school, an opportunity most attorneys don’t get.
“In my first four years as an attorney, I did a lot of things that my friends from law school did not get to do,” he said. “I’ve lost count of the number of jury trials I handled as a prosecutor. I advised high-ranking military officers. The confidence and attention to detail necessary for my work as a JAG attorney were great preparation for my legal career in Boston. I am lucky that I got to do it.”
Two years ago, Hayden discovered the BBA’s Active Duty Military, Family Members and Veterans Committee and was pleased to have the chance to network with other attorneys with military backgrounds. Hayden said for attorneys entering the legal field after serving in the military, the chance to speak with other veterans about how to best transition to a career in Boston can be a significant asset. At BBA luncheons veterans have the opportunity to reminisce about their military experiences, discuss challenges in the legal field, and learn about opportunities to serve the local veteran population.
“For those of us who are now settled into our careers in Boston, the opportunity to network with fellow veterans can be incredibly helpful as we move forward in our careers,” he said.
The BBA’s next Veterans Meet & Greet Luncheon is this Friday, and will feature remarks from guest speaker William Ferguson, Academic and Career Advisor for Suffolk University’s Veterans Upward Bound program.
With the end of the BBA Summer Jobs Program comes the end of another successful year for the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. Because of the attorneys who volunteer their time to this unique educational experience, students all over Massachusetts are able to better understand how to manage their finances.
Thank you to Chief Judge Melvin S. Hoffman, Hon. Frank J. Bailey, Hon. Henry J. Boroff (Ret.), Hon. Joan N. Feeney, and Hon. Christopher J. Panos for their support of this program.
We would also like to thank our partners at the Hampden County Bar Association and Hampshire County Bar Association for bringing the Carpenter Financial Literacy Program to students throughout the Commonwealth.
Thank you to all of this year’s volunteers!
Amane Abdel Jaben
Karen Adamski, O’Brien & Adamski
Warren Agin, Swiggart & Agin, LLC
Jesse Angeley, McLane Middleton, Professional Association
Joseph Baldiga, Mirick O’Connell – Westborough Office
Janet Bostwick, Janet E. Bostwick, PC
Christopher Candon, Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green- NH
Jeffrey Cedrone, Sun Life Financial
Stephen M Cohen, Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
Michele Collins, MetLife
Christopher Condon, Murphy & King
Jaime D’Almeida, Duff & Phelps
Jeanne Darcey, Sullivan & Worcester LLP
John Davis, Cooley Shrair, P.C.
Mark DiOrio, Bulfinch Companies, Inc.
Danielle D’Onfro, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Max Ferullo, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Kellie Fisher, Brown Rudnick LLP
Kate Foley, Mirick O’Connell – Westborough Office
David Gabor, Wagner Law Group, PC
Henry Geberth, Hendel & Collins, PC
Lane Goldberg, Goldberg Law
Jonathan Goldsmith, Law Office of Jonathan R. Goldsmith
Michelle Greco, Sun Life Financial
Nancy Gregory, BlumShapiro
Nicholas Grimaldi, Fierst, Kane & Bloomberg, LLP
Lisa Halbert, Bacon & Wilson, PC
David Hansen, Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green PA
Richard Harper, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
William Harrington, U.S. Department of Justice – Office of the U.S. Trustee
Lee Harrington, Nixon Peabody LLP
Benjamin Higgins, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
D. Ethan Jeffery, Murphy & King
Kevin Kam, Mirick O’Connell – Worcester Office
Geraldine Karonis, U.S. Department of Justice – Office of the U.S. Trustee
Elizabeth Katz, Rescia & Katz, LLP
Michael Katz, Bacon & Wilson, PC
Ryan Kelley, Pierce Atwood, LLP
Justin Kesselman, Posternak Blankstein & Lund LLP
Amy Lipman-White, Lipman & White
Andrew Lizotte, Murphy & King
John Loughnane, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
David Madoff, Madoff & Khoury LLP
Wendy Mead, Kressler & Ehrhard PC
Dragica Mijailovic, Sun Life Financial
Rose Miller, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Rebecca Mitchell, Brown Rudnick LLP
Vanessa Moody, Goulston & Storrs PC
John Morrier, Casner & Edwards, LLP
Karen Murphy, Pioneer Valley Legal Associates, LLP
Sean Nehill, Boston Redevelopment Authority
Andrea O’Connor, Hendel & Collins, PC
Laura Otenti, Posternak Blankstein & Lund LLP
Gregory Pakhladzhyan, American Student Assistance
Jessica Pettit, Sun Life Financial
Steven Pohl, Brown Rudnick LLP
Jesse Redlener, Dalton & Finegold, LLP
Douglas Rosner, Goulston & Storrs PC
Adam Ruttenberg, Posternak Blankstein & Lund LLP
Patricia Saint James, Tarlow, Breed, Hart & Rodgers, PC
Mary Sharon, Pro Se Debtors Bankruptcy Clinic
Denise Shear, Ostrander Law Office
Richard Sheils, Bowditch & Dewey, LLP – Worcester Office
Danielle Spang, Law Office of Danielle Spang
Jennifer Spavins Holme
Leslie Su, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Ryan Swartz, McLane Middleton, Professional Association
Lisa Tingue, U.S. Department of Justice – Office of the U.S. Trustee
Tali Tomsic, Feinman Law Offices
Jacob Walker, Block & Leviton LLP
Adrienne Walker, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Gary Weiner, Weiner Law Firm, PC
Thomas Wilson, Dunn & Wilson
Keri Wintle, Duane Morris LLP
Amy Zuccarello, Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Students from Peabody High School visited Judge Feeney’s chambers at the Bankruptcy Court in April to learn the consequences of filing for bankruptcy.