Daily Archives: Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Giving Back: Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities at the BBA

With the new program year kicking off, it’s a good time to consider what volunteer opportunities you might like to get involved in during the coming year!   The BBA offers our members a number of ways to give back to the community while developing skills in different areas of law. Below are some of the opportunities that we are currently recruiting volunteers for. Reach out to Public Service & Grants Manager Hannah Poor at [email protected] or 617-778-1938 with questions or to get involved!

HOUSING COURT LAWYER FOR THE DAY
Volunteer attorneys are needed to advise and represent low-income, unrepresented tenants and landlords in Housing Court on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. You will provide access to justice to pro se litigants through advice, mediation, and case litigation, mostly in eviction cases. Learn more here.

CORI SEALING CLINIC
The CORI Sealing Clinic Pilot Project, which the BBA launched earlier this year in partnership with Greater Boston Legal Services and the Boston Municipal Court, connects low-income clients who have questions about their criminal records with volunteer attorneys who can help. The clinic is held the first Wednesday of every month at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse and clients can receive assistance with obtaining, reviewing, and, if advised, sealing or expunging their records. The clinic aims to help clients remove the barrier to housing, employment, and educational opportunities that having a criminal record can pose. Learn more here.

M. ELLEN CARPENTER FINANCIAL LITERACY PROGRAM
This statewide program helps high school students across Massachusetts learn about making informed and effective decisions regarding their finances through educational and experiential opportunities. You can volunteer to present any of the three classroom modules, which cover Personal Finances & Budgeting, Using Credit & Credit Cards, and Financing a Large Purchase. The program culminates with a mock trial presentation in the United States Bankruptcy Court. Learn more here.

BAR EXAM COACHING
The BBA’s Bar Exam Coaching program matches volunteer attorney coaches with applicants preparing to sit for the bar exam in Massachusetts, particularly those who are retaking the exam. Coaches guide applicants through the non-substantive elements of exam prep such as mental preparation, study tips, and time & stress management. We are currently seeking attorneys interested in serving as coaches for bar applicants sitting for the bar exam in February 2020.  Learn more here.

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE KNOW-YOUR-RIGHTS
As part of the BBA’s Service Innovation Project on Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline, the most recent Public Interest Leadership Program class partnered with Greater Boston Legal Services to provide community outreach presentations on school discipline rights, particularly with regards to new rights established under a 2018 settlement agreement that GBLS reached with Boston Public Schools. With the new school year kicking off, we are seeking volunteers to do more know-your-rights presentations to student, parent/caregiver, and community groups throughout Boston! Learn more here.

The BBA’s Public Service programs are made possible with the support of the Boston Bar Foundation. 

Celebrate Pro Bono Month at the BBA!

Clients receive day-of assistance on eviction day through the Housing Court Lawyer for the Day Program

October is Pro Bono Month, recognizing the valuable pro bono contributions made by lawyers throughout the year, and aiming to increase pro bono participation across the state in order to narrow the justice gap.

The BBA Council voted on Tuesday to recognize October 2019 as Pro Bono Month and to “commend Boston attorneys for their ongoing pro bono contributions, and remind all members that by engaging in pro bono work and providing financial support they can make a significant difference in the lives of Boston’s poor who would not otherwise have access to the legal system.”

At the annual Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House, attorneys and law students meet representatives from local legal services organizations to learn about pro bono opportunities

Last year, the BBA trained over 200 attorneys to take pro bono cases in civil appeals, veterans’ issues, housing, citizenship applications, education law, and more.  Meanwhile, more than 500 of our members dedicated their time to community service and pro bono work through our public service programs –whether by helping clients at our monthly CORI Sealing Clinic or by teaching elementary, middle, and high school students about the importance of First Amendment rights and free speech in our democracy.  We are grateful to our members for giving generously of their time and talents – and embodying the spirit of Pro Bono Month all year round by delivering unique services to our community that only lawyers can provide!

In April, BBA members learned about how to represent veterans pro bono in discharge upgrade cases.

This year, we have a robust set of activities planned for Pro Bono Month.  We hope you will think about where you might be able to lend support in the year ahead, and plug into one (or more!) of the many volunteer opportunities we will be highlighting in October.  Together, we can advance access to justice for all people in Massachusetts.

PUBLIC CHARGE ATTORNEY TRAINING
Wednesday, October 2, 12:00-2:00pm, at the BBA
Register here.

This free, in-depth training will provide Massachusetts immigration attorneys with information about the new Public Charge regulation, which takes effect on October 15.  This training will help lawyers assess how the new regulation will affect their clients and determine case strategy.

PRO BONO TRAINING : CHAPTER 7 CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY BASICS
Thursday, October 10, 3:00-6:30pm, at the BBA
Register here.

This program will cover all aspects of representing a low-income consumer debtor in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case, and will qualify participants to take on chapter 7 cases pro bono through the Volunteer Lawyers Project.

PRO BONO RECRUITMENT FAIR & OPEN HOUSE AT SUFFOLK LAW
Tuesday, October 15, 4:30-6:00pm, at Suffolk University Law School
Register here.

The Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House, sponsored by the Boston Bar Association and Suffolk University Law School, is open to law students and attorneys of all levels. Join us to learn about pro bono opportunities with local legal services organizations.

PIZZA AND PRO BONO: MASS LEGAL ANSWERS ONLINE BLITZ
Tuesday, October 22, 5:30-7:30pm, at the BBA
Register here.

Join us for a pro bono pizza party while we work with volunteer attorneys from Massachusetts Legal Answers Online and the Volunteer Lawyers Project to answer legal questions for low-income Massachusetts residents through the Mass Legal Answers Online website.

FINANCIAL LITERACY PROGRAM VOLUNTEER INFO SESSION
Wednesday, October 23, 3:00-5:00pm, at the BBA
Register here.

Learn about how you can volunteer with the BBA’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program and help high school students across Massachusetts build the foundational skills to make informed and effective decisions regarding their finances.

PRO BONO TRAINING FOR ATTORNEYS TO HELP CLIENTS SEAL THEIR CORI RECORDS
Monday, October 28, 3:00-5:30pm, at the BBA
Register here.

Learn 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, so advising on sealing and expungement is an important way for lawyers to help.

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

Public Interest Leadership Program Learns About Criminal Justice Reform by Hearing from Organizations that Work Closely with Defendants and Victims

At its first meeting on September 5th, the 2019-2020 PILP Class heard from two sets of speakers on the topic of criminal justice reform.

First, the class heard from Emily Fish on behalf of Roca, which is a Boston-based organization, founded in 1988 with a unique crime-intervention program that focuses on the riskiest of at-risk residents, the community’s most troubled young men ages 17-24 who won’t take part in other programs and are the most resistant to change. Roca’s Intervention Model serves approximately 850 young men annually out of five hubs statewide – Chelsea, Lynn, Boston, Holyoke, and Springfield. Emily is the director of the Roca site in Lynn.

Emily explained in vivid detail Roca’s program of relentless outreach to at-risk youth, and the transformational relationships that Roca’s youth workers form to encourage behavioral change. She described how Roca partners with other institutional actors – courts, probation departments, police, employers, and others – to support young people who might be resistant to change or subject to relapse. She showed detailed data demonstrating the history of trauma, substance use disorder, and behavioral health problems that many Roca clients have experienced, and explained how an investment in successful programs like Roca can avoid greater costs and crime down the road by disrupting the cycle of incarceration and poverty. Finally, she explained what reforms Roca would like to see to the criminal justice system, including: raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction, reducing the number of probation conditions, creating specialized “young adult courts,” and requiring specialized trainings for police officers and prosecutors.

Second, Stephanie Friends Holt and Meagen Monahan presented on behalf of Victim Rights Law Center, which is a bi-coastal organization providing free, comprehensive legal services for sexual assault survivors in Massachusetts and Oregon.  Both Stephanie and Meagen serve as staff attorneys at VRLC, providing a wide spectrum of legal services throughout Massachusetts. 

Stephanie and Meagen emphasized the wide-ranging nature of the services needed by sexual assault survivors.  Many survivors require assistance in obtaining protection orders under M.G.L. c. 209A and c. 258E and on protecting personal privacy as part of the criminal process, but also assistance on a broad range of other matters.  Stephanie and Meagen explained that sexual assault frequently impacts survivors’ housing and employment, and requires survivors to walk a fine line between protecting their own privacy but also obtaining necessary accommodations. Survivors in various stages of the immigration process also face a wide range of ramifications that call for VRLC’s expert guidance.

For more information about Roca, visit: https://rocainc.org/.

For more information about the Victim Rights Law Center, visit: https://www.victimrights.org/.

Meeting recap provided by PILP Members David Rangaviz (Committee for Public Counsel Services) and Jeremy Meisinger (Foley Hoag).