Monthly Archives: May 2020

BBA Announces New Family Law Mentoring Program

How to participate (Mentors):

The Family Law Section is launching a new pilot mentoring program. We are currently seeking experienced family law practitioners willing to offer guidance to new lawyers who are practicing family law or considering practicing family law. BBA members with five years or more of family law experience are eligible to sign-up as mentors. Mentors will be matched with a new lawyer. A mentor can offer guidance on topics like networking and business development skills, resume writing or interview prep, professionalism, general information regarding the Boston legal community and what it’s like to practice family law here. Mentors are asked to commit to connecting with their mentee 1-2 times a month for a 12-month period for this pilot programming.

Click here to complete the online sign-up form. We will begin matching mentors and mentees in mid June, and continue to make matches as new mentors and mentees sign up. The Section will host a roundtable on tips and tricks for mentoring.

How to participate (Mentees):

New or aspiring family law practitioners are invited to sign up to receive mentorship through the BBA’s Pilot Family Law Mentoring Program, which connects new lawyers to the Boston area with more senior members of Bar. 

BBA members who are less than 5 years in practice are invited to sign-up. Mentees can request mentorship and guidance on specific skills, like resume writing or interview prep, or may simply be seeking to connect with a more experienced attorney to learn about the ins and outs of Boston’s legal community.

Click here to complete the online sign-up form. We will begin matching mentors and mentees in mid June, and continue to make matches as new mentors and mentees sign up.

For more information contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org

Students Selected for the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship Program

Last year, the Boston Bar Association announced its new Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, which gave two outstanding law students access to critical work experience through paid summer internships. This year, three fellowship positions were made available through generous support of the Boston Bar Foundation.

These internships provide practical experience in developing legal research and writing skills, expanding professional networks, and access to programming at the BBA. In addition, the three fellows will be paired with a mentor from the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section.

This year’s summer interns are Rosa Kim, a second-year student from Boston College Law School, who will be interning at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Farnaz Daneshvaran, a second-year student from New England Law | Boston, who will be interning at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and Donald Slater, a second-year student from Suffolk University Law School, who will be interning at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts.

During Rosa Kim’s undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, she championed the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women as the Philanthropy Chair. This helped fuel her desire for public advocacy and to bring awareness to this underground crime. Her philanthropic nature is also demonstrated by her volunteer work for the Lawyer’s Clearinghouse Clinic where she interviewed clients to assist them with finding the legal help they need for a variety of topics, including public benefits and access to subsidized housing. In her application, Rosa notes, “It is my goal to use my voice on behalf of those who do not have one. As a woman of color, in the legal field, I hope to be a fierce advocate of those who might not have the resources, the means, or the education to advocate for themselves”.

During her undergraduate studies at George Mason University, Farnaz Daneshvaran pursued a degree in Criminology and Psychology with a concentration in Law and Society. Prior to law school, Farnaz worked at a wellness clinic where she assisted in group therapy for children, refugees & asylum seekers. In addition, volunteers with New England Law’s Boston CORI initiative. She notes in her application, “With a legal degree, I can create lasting change in my clients’ lives. The invaluable experience I would obtain at MCAD would propel me to advance in this field”. Farnaz speaks four languages, and further notes, “all of my life experiences introduced me to differing perspectives that increased my awareness. They have encouraged me to lead a life that promotes inclusivity and fairness.”

During his undergrad at University of Connecticut, Donald was initially a computer science major, but transitioned to Political Science to further develop his analysis, research, and writing skills. During this, he grew drawn to finance and started an internship at Trinity College as an operations and logistics manager where he became further interested in business, contracts, and negotiations. His skills and experience in these areas has led him to be interested in bankruptcy law. In his application, Donald notes, “This is the perfect opportunity for me to gain valuable experience and exposure in fields I am interested in as well as fields completely foreign to me. This fellowship will undoubtedly develop me into a more versatile legal scholar and professional.”  Donald also notes about the opportunity to work in the courtroom in Judge Frank J. Bailey’s Chambers, “I aim to learn the intricacies of the legal process from within the courtroom and experience the critical thinking skills of a judge to understand what it takes to represent either side of a legal dispute in my field.”

These fellowships advance the mission of the BBA’s longstanding summer internship program, which has previously provided unpaid legal internships for law students from diverse backgrounds to work in courts and government offices across the Commonwealth for nearly a decade. More than 130 promising law students have participated in the program, gaining critical work experience through this unique opportunity.

Funding for these three positions has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF). A generous donation provided to the BBF will provide a $5,000 stipend to the intern at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Funding for a second $5,000 stipend for the intern working in the judges’ chambers of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has been provided by the BBF’s Charles P. Normandin Fund. Funding for the third position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination was made possible by the law firm Pierce Atwood.

Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, all three fellows will be trained and working remotely.

BBA Interview with David Colarusso, Director of Suffolk University’s Legal Innovation and Technology Lab

Practitioner-in-residence Colarusso, Director of Suffolk University’s Legal Innovation and Technology (LIT) Lab, volunteered some time to catch the BBA up on the new and exciting project the lab is working on in conjunction with the ATJC’s COVID-19 Task Force–one that has the potential to change the way we access the courts entirely. 

What is the document assembly line project? 

Simply put, Colarusso describes it as an open source coding project that creates mobile friendly court forms that can be accessed on any internet device and sent directly to the court. Colarusso, together with Quinten Steenhuis, a clinical fellow in the LIT Lab, as well as a myriad of volunteers, have created a novel digital platform to change the way pro se litigants and advocates alike access the courts. This tightly knit group of volunteers has used an assembly line method (each person completing one piece of the document and then passing it to the next volunteer in the chain) to create mobile friendly court forms that can be accessed and filled out on any internet device–including the ability to sign the document. The forms themselves will be available in multiple languages and work by guiding pro se litigants through plain language interviews so pro se litigants, and/or the advocates assisting them, can easily complete necessary court forms from any computer or mobile device. The completed forms can then be sent directly to the courts for filing. No printing, no physical signing, and no clerk’s windows. 

Learn more by watching Colarusso explain the project in this short video.

How did the project come about?

The project arose from Chief Justice Gants’s call for novel ideas, and the willingness of the Trial Court to consider outside-the-box thinking to preserve access to the courts during the pandemic. The Lab and Steenhuis built upon his previous experience creating GBLS’ MADE tool as a model for how this project could function. Colarusso mobilized twitter and social media to band together over a hundred volunteers across ten time zones, and five continents to coalesce around an idea that has the ability to knock down barriers to justice. By making the code behind this novel platform open source, volunteers can hope to see this platform utilized in their own jurisdictions–with Massachusetts leading the way. This technology allows self represented litigants who may not have printers, scanners, or fax machines, available to most practitioners, to continue to file their necessary legal documents while courts remain closed. 

How can people get involved?

While this project is well on its way, it could still benefit from volunteers–especially subject matter experts like BBA members. If you are interested in learning more about volunteering please click here, or sign up through slack. You do not need to have a software or technology background, there is a job for everyone!