The BBA is thrilled to announce that applications are now open for our 2020 Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship. We are seeking law students who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion within the legal profession, and who will have completed their 1L or 2L year by the summer of 2020. Fellowships offer an opportunity for substantive work in a public interest law office, including supervision, skill development, and building one’s professional network. In addition to gaining work experience, Fellows attend professional development programming at the BBA and receive a mentor through the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion section. The program aims to ensure that law students from all backgrounds can gain experience in public interest law. Those interested in applying for the program can do so at this link.
In Summer 2020, three Fellowship positions will be
available: The Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, the U.S.
Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Commission
Against Discrimination. Applications to this program will be due back to the
BBA on January 16, 2020. Each host
office will select a fellow to participate. All Fellows will receive a stipend
of $5,000 for the summer. Please see each application for more details. You can
read about the experiences of last year’s Fellows here.
Funding for this program is made possible by the Boston Bar Foundation. Thank you to Pierce Atwood for their sponsorship of the Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program.
This summer, the BBA was proud to launch a new Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, aimed at providing outstanding law students with critical work experience through paid summer internships in public interest offices. In the pilot year, we were proud to partner with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts, to provide this opportunity. Funding for these positions was provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF), with the position at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office funded by a generous private donation, and the position at the Bankruptcy Court funded by the BBF’s Charles P. Normandin Fund.
The Fellowship saw a successful
first year, with law students Anna Cardoso (Boston University School of Law)
and Emaan Syed (Suffolk University Law School) contributing to the work of
these offices, participating in BBA professional development programs, and
meeting with attorney mentors. Read on
to learn about their experiences this summer in their own words!
If your office is in interested
in supporting or participating in this program, please reach out to Hannah Poor
End of Summer Reflection: Anna Cardoso Rising 2L, Boston University School of Law Summer Fellow, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
This summer, I had the pleasure
of interning in the Medicaid Fraud Division at Attorney General Maura Healey’s
Office. My division focuses exclusively on holding providers accountable for
defrauding our Medicaid system. I completed many research assignments and
attended hearings, depositions, and relator interviews focusing on evidentiary,
constitutional, and broader health law-related issues. Unique to my division, I
was asked to pick a topic to present to my bureau, which was certainly
nerve-wracking, but ended up being one of my favorite parts of the internship.
I consider my presentation to be a highlight of my summer and am particularly
proud of how many of the attorneys in my bureau emphasized that it was an
extremely difficult topic and that I had done an excellent job. The learning
curve here has been steep and challenging in the most rewarding way possible.
It is difficult to put into words how much I have learned. There has not been a
dull moment at this office or a day where I have not learned something new. I
knew I wanted to practice in the health care space, making access to care more
affordable, and my summer has affirmed my convictions. The office also had
programming for interns almost every day, and I particularly enjoyed our visit
to the Supreme Judicial Court.
This summer I attended the BBA’s
public interest summer kickoff breakfast, a program on what it is like to
practice in life sciences, and “Let’s Get Real,” a program about what it is
like to be a diverse attorney in Boston. These events have helped to set
realistic expectations and get to know attorneys and law students in Boston.
I cannot say enough good things
about either of my mentors. I was lucky enough to have one of them, Amanda
Morejon, on the same floor in a neighboring division and she has been a
constant source of support and guidance this summer. Amanda has encouraged me
all summer to exceed my own expectations and to trust in my intelligence and
capabilities as a future attorney. My other mentor, Gina Kwon, is one of the
prosecutors working on the largest opioid trafficking takedown in our office
and has taught me that there are no dumb questions, and all questions are worth
asking. Both my mentors are women lawyers whom I look up to and will maintain a
relationship with even after this summer.
Diversity and inclusion will
always be a goal that I am looking for ways to advance. Being a Latina in the
legal field means that when I become an attorney, my presence as a female
Latinx attorney will account for less than two percent of attorneys in the
United States, according to the Hispanic National Bar Association, a number
that can be disheartening at best, and frustratingly lonely at worst. Having
positions like this fellowship that I was fortunate enough to receive means
that Boston cares and wants to change this statistic. The sense of community
and the network that I have built in this office makes me confident that Boston
is changing into a better, more welcoming, and increasingly diverse place. I
know that I will soon be stepping into the role of mentoring first-year law
students and that doing my best work here has given me the knowledge and the
credibility to help other students get where I am, and to continue to pull them
up with me wherever I go next. I would like to thank everyone at the AGO, the
Boston Bar Association, and the Boston Bar Foundation for making this summer
possible—it has been amazing.
End of Summer Reflection: Emaan Syed Rising 3L, Suffolk University Law School Summer Fellow, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts
Through the BBA Diversity and
Inclusion Summer Fellowship, I interned for Judge Melvin S. Hoffman at the U.S.
Bankruptcy Court in Boston this summer. I was a judicial intern and conducted
legal research and analyzed diverse issues arising under the bankruptcy code. I
also drafted memoranda and observed Bankruptcy Court hearings, trials, and
proceedings that occurred multiple times a week.
I was able to learn a lot about
bankruptcy law, and from my courses, was able to see much of what I learned in
class, in real time in court hearings. I learned that bankruptcy law ties many
other aspects of law together, such as family law, real estate law, IP law, and
every other possible field of law that exists. Each case heard is unique; I
especially enjoyed seeing and conducting research for cases on matters that do
not have much ruling or background, that require further research and understanding
of bankruptcy law.
I met with my BBA mentor and
discussed succeeding in my internships and my law career. I was able to learn
from my mentor on how to search and narrow in on what field of law I want to
ultimately work in. It was valuable to me to have a helpful mentor giving me
the tools to succeed in my career and understanding my challenges as a student
navigating through the legal field.
Throughout my internship, I was
able to ask the judge and his clerks about questions I had about bankruptcy law
or about the hearings I attended. I appreciated the insight of the judge and
the clerks on all matters of bankruptcy law and litigating as an attorney.
During my internship, I attended
brown bag luncheon events at the Moakley Courthouse, where all the summer
interns for the federal courts were invited to discussions on several topics.
It was great to mingle with other federal court interns and learn of their
experiences as well.
I attended Boston Bar Association
events concerning bankruptcy law due to my interest in the subject. My first
event was the 29th annual Bench Meets Bar Conference. The event
included many of the Bankruptcy Court judges and members of the bankruptcy bar
to learn about the current and recent cases the judges were working on and analyze
key issues in bankruptcy law. I got to see many attorneys that practiced
bankruptcy law, along with many attorneys of the Bankruptcy Court. The event
allowed me to hear the other judges’ observations on key issues in bankruptcy
In addition, I attended another
BBA event at the Bankruptcy Court where I got to meet and talk to bankruptcy
attorneys about their careers. A common experience that most bankruptcy
attorneys shared was how they came to ultimately work in bankruptcy law. Most
of the attorneys did not start their careers planning to go into bankruptcy
law, but on their journey, found bankruptcy law and developed a passion for the
Through my summer internship at
the Bankruptcy Court, I learned there is an underlying human aspect to the law.
I gained an appreciation for litigation, learning the qualities of a successful
litigator and the etiquette of the court, in a fulfilling internship at the
U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Two law students who were selected for the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program began working at their respective offices this month. Anna Cardoso, a rising 2L at Boston University School of Law, is working at the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, and Emaan Syed, a rising 3L at Suffolk Law School, is working at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts, under Justice Melvin S. Hoffman. Both of these students have outstanding records of academic and professional accomplishments, and have demonstrated a strong commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. To learn more about the 2019 Fellows and the program, please click here.
this winter, The Boston Bar Association announced its new Diversity &
Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, giving two outstanding law students access
to critical work experience through paid summer internships. These internships
provide practical experience in developing legal research and writing skills,
expanding professional networks, and accessing tailored programming at the BBA.
year’s summer interns are Anna Cardoso, a first-year Boston University
Law student, who will be interning at the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney
General, and Emaan Syed, second-year Suffolk University Law student, who
will be interning at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts,
under Justice Melvin S. Hoffman.
Cardoso previously interned with Bay Area Legal Aid as a JusticeCorps member, where she discovered how income equality and lack of access to healthcare, healthy housing, and support keeps domestic violence victims in a cycle of violence. She also assisted litigants with filing court forms and writing declarations in support of these forms, which helped her effectively communicate legal issues to individuals without legal experience. She noted on her application, “I am dedicated to advancing social justice and equity from all sides. Preventing health care abuse is particularly important to me because no one deserves to be exploited at their most vulnerable.”
focus is on bankruptcy law. She worked at BNY Melon as a fund accountant, where
she managed accounting and custody reporting for several billion-dollar
portfolios. She also interned at both the Massachusetts Division of
Professional Licensure and at the Massachusetts Appleseed Center, where she
researched the effects of the court cell phone ban policy on indigent clients.
From her application, she stated, “As a Pakistani Muslim immigrant, I
understand that it is of utmost importance to look at the disparity of
low-income families and individuals and address the issues the people in these
communities face. As an intern at the Bankruptcy Court, I will use my
experience to pursue a career in protecting and advocating for the
underprivileged, an opportunity that I hold as an honor in the ability to
better their lives.”
new internships supplement the BBA’s longstanding summer internship program,
which has been providing 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.
for these new 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 will be provided by the BBF’s Charles P. Normandin Fund.
Established in 2006, this fund supports the BBA’s bankruptcy law-related public
service projects, including our popular M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy
proud to expand our existing diversity initiatives, and to further support the
passion and commitment of law students dedicated to the public interest.
From teaching a record 1,700 students through Law Day in the Schools to releasing a compelling report on criminal justice reform, 2017 was a successful year at the BBA. For highlights and our favorite photos from the year, read on to see how you and your colleagues contributed to our public service initiatives over the past year.
The 2017 Public Service Award presented at the Boston Bar Foundation’s annual John & Abigail Adams Benefit Ball honored Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall in January. Chief Justice Marshall addresses the crowd at the Museum of Fine Arts, reminding every one of the importance of being good and just in their work.
MIT Bhangra, an award-winning dance group, entertained the crowd at the Adams Benefit. 2017’s Ball raised over $650,000 in support for local legal services organizations providing civil legal services to those in need. In June, the Foundation granted $960,000 to 20 such organizations.
Each January, hundreds of attorneys travel to the State House to Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. The Equal Justice Coalition coordinates this annual event to call on our legislators to adequately fund the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation through the state budget. Carol Starkey, 2016-2017 BBA President, highlights the importance of civil legal aid as noted in the BBA’s Investing in Justice report, which details that 2 out of 3 income eligible clients are turned away from legal services due to a lack of resources.
In response to President Trump’s Executive Order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, then BBA President Carol Starkey reaffirmed the BBA’s aim to “support the rule of law, as well as the core values of access to justice and diversity and inclusion, which help keep the fundamental promise that all of us will enjoy due process and equal protection under the law.” Over the course of the year, the BBA worked with many legal services organizations to connect attorneys to volunteer opportunities. Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project presented a number of Know Your Rights trainings for attorneys wishing to present to community groups about their immigration rights. Here, attorneys William Graves (Graves & Doyle) and Seth Purcell (PAIR Project) welcome over 60 attorneys to the first training at the BBA.
Paulette Brown (left, Locke Lord) accepts the Beacon Award for Diversity and Inclusion for her work as president of the American Bar Association convening the Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission. One result of the Commission’s work was the passage at the ABA of Resolution 113, an initiative designed to increase diversity in the legal profession. In November of 2016, the BBA announced its strong support for the Resolution and is working with other partners in Boston on its implementation.
Raquel Webster (right, National Grid) introduces presenter Brian McLaughlin (McLaughlin Law) to a group of probationers at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The BBA’s Reentry Education Program, which was developed by the Public Interest Leadership Program, engages with dozens of probationers annually on useful topics related to community reentry, including family law, reinstating a driver’s license, public benefits, and more.
Secretary Francisco A. Ureña (Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services) addresses the crowd at a Memorial Day reception hosted by the BBA’s Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum. The reception was held after the annual pro bono training for attorneys representing veterans in discharge upgrade cases. Since 2015, the BBA has worked with the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School to hose these trainings to support their Veterans Legal Clinic.
One night a year, the BBA is transformed from a meeting space to a casino floor. Seventeen organizations sponsored this year’s Casino Night for Summer Jobs, the proceeds of which support the Summer Jobs Program and support internships for high school students at legal services organizations, government agencies, and courts. Attendees at Casino Night celebrate beating the house and eagerly await the mystifying reveal of a magic trick.
Law Day in the Schools, one of the BBA’s most popular volunteer opportunities, introduces Boston Public School students to the legal profession and particular areas of the law. This year, volunteers including Jill Brenner Meixel (left) and Allison Belanger (right) of Krokidas & Bluestein introduced students to due process and the importance of having fair rules and laws for all. There were a record 15 schools and over 1700 students in the program this year.
Throughout the year, the New Lawyers Section’s Public Service Committee coordinates volunteer events with organizations throughout the city. In addition to serving food at the Pine Street Inn, attorneys also helped sort donations at Cradles to Crayons, keep the esplanade clear at the Charles River Clean-up, and other important volunteer initiatives in the area.
High school students convene with Chief Justice Melvin S. Hoffman (U.S. Bankruptcy Court) after listing to a mock hearing in bankruptcy court. This session, which teaches students about the consequences of filing for bankruptcy is part of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, which began in 2005. Since it began, over 5800 students statewide have been introduced to the importance of budgeting, understanding credit, and financing a large purchase.
Over 1,000 attorneys came together for this year’s Law Day Dinner in Back Bay. Congressman Seth Moulton provided keynote remarks and highlighted the importance of lawyers and upholding the rule of law now more than ever.
This year’s Thurgood Marshall Award, honoring an attorney in private practice in Greater Boston for their extraordinary efforts in enhancing the human dignity of others by providing legal services to Massachusetts’ low income population, went to Elaine Blais (Goodwin). Blais volunteers with both the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) representing both children and adults in various immigration cases.
Anne Mackin (Greater Boston Legal Services) accepts the John G. Brooks Legal Services Award, an award presented to professional legal services attorneys for their outstanding work on behalf of indigent people in the Boston area. Mackin has worked in legal services for nearly 30 years, and joined GBLS’s Immigration Unit in 2013. Since then, she has helped people from all over the world who have witnessed or experienced unspeakable tragedies and faced severe persecutions. Her efforts have ensured that many who are fleeing extreme discrimination and danger are able to seek justice and safe harbor.
Members of the Society of Fellows experience a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts’ summer exhibit, Matisse in the Studio. Each Fellows pledge supports the work of the Boston Bar Foundation’s many public service initiatives. The growing number of Fellows, now over 400, learn about the work their gifts support, including programs supporting Boston’s youth and grants to legal services organizations, at events throughout the year.
Boston Public High School students stand with Natashia Tidwell (center left, Collora) and Mark Smith (center right, BBA President, Laredo & Smith) on the morning of the first day of work with the Summer Jobs Program. The program, a partnership with the City of Boston and the Boston Private Industry Council, employs students in internships at legal offices across the city. In 2017, 52 students gained valuable office experience and were given insight into the legal profession.
Attorneys network surrounding the chocolate fountain, a staple at this year’s Boston Bar Foundation Summer Fundraiser. Guests at the event are treated to delicious dishes from area restaurants while learning about the public service programs their contribution supports.
The Public Interest Leadership Program’s class of 2016-2017 hosted their symposium, Constitutional Battlegrounds: Civil Rights in a Changing Landscape, earlier this year. The event’s speakers addressed a number of issues recently in the national spotlight, both in the media and the courts. Nearly 100 attorneys and interested members of the community packed the BBA to hear insights from the panels of experts.
This fall, the 14th Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) started their term. Twenty attorneys were selected for the program based on their experience and dedication to public service and civic engagement. The program now includes nearly 200 alumni who’ve gone on to serve the BBA in other capacities and carry their passion for serving the public interest into the community.
Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black, addressed the audience at the BBA’s Annual Meeting. Kerman, a former prisoner, discussed her work bringing prison issues to the forefront of national conversation. She also acknowledged the BBA’s report No Time to Wait: Recommendations for a Fair and Effective Criminal Justice System, which was released this fall. The report commends the reforms proposed earlier this year by Massachusetts leaders based on research by the Council of State Governments (CSG), but strongly urges lawmakers to enact broader reforms designed to further reduce recidivism, and make the criminal justice system fairer and more cost-efficient.
Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women to introduce the public to the services it offers. Thousands of requests come through each year and referrals are made out to experienced attorneys practicing nearly 350 areas of law. The LRS also houses a dedicated Military Legal Help Line, which connects veterans, military personnel, and their families with lawyers and other legal resources appropriate to their needs.
The three award recipients at November’s Beacon Award for Diversity & Inclusion stand with members of the Beacon Award Selection Committee. Brent Henry received the Voice of Change Award for his work recruiting and retaining diverse legal talent while at Partners Healthcare. The Empowerment Award went to Iván Espinoza-Madrigal for his work on civil rights issues, including racial justice, immigrant rights, and LGBT/HIV equality, as the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. Susan Alexander accepted the Corporate Champion Award on behalf of Biogen. Biogen’s legal department has developed a system of diversity metrics which the legal team uses when choosing outside counsel. Above, left to right: Brent Henry (Mintz Levin), Iván Espinoza-Madrigal (Lawyers’ Committee), Susan Alexander (Biogen), Sarah Kim (Treasurer and Receiver General of Massachusetts), Kate Cook (Sugarman Rogers), Stephen Hall (Holland & Knight), and Damon Hart (Liberty Mutual).
Hosted at Suffolk University Law School, the annual Pro Bono Recruitment Fair and Open House connects law students and attorneys to volunteer opportunities across the state. Over 25 organizations recruited at the fair this year.
BBA President Mark Smith (right) met with Principal Danladi Bobbitt of the John D. Philbrick Elementary School in Roslindale. As a participant in the Principal Partners event, hosted by Boston Public Schools, Boston Plan for Excellence, and Bank of America, the BBA President has the opportunity to visit a school and engage in meaningful conversations about the role of education in our society.
The deadline for the BBA Summer Internship Program has been extended to March 7, 2016.
The Boston Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Section’s Summer Internship application deadline has been extended to Monday, March 7, 2016. Placements are available in the following courts: Boston Municipal Courts, Land Court, Massachusetts District Courts, the Massachusetts Superior Court, the Probate and Family Court, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit. Placements are also available with the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Roxbury and Quincy offices of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS). The application period for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office placements has ended.
The BBA’s internship experiences are complemented by a series of career exploration programs at the BBA, observation in a number area courts, as well as opportunities to connect with leaders in the BBA community and our affinity bar partner organizations. Law students of all backgrounds are invited to participate in this valuable opportunity to grow in understanding of one another and to ask deeper questions about what they can expect as they move forward in the profession.
There are specific guidelines and requirements for each placement. Students are encouraged to carefully read the application requirements and specifications for each position sought before submitting your application. Application instructions are available on our program website along with instructions for how to apply.
The Judicial Internship Program offers law students valuable work experience. The 2015 Judicial Interns worked at nine courts in Greater Boston for a total of over 4,100 hours throughout the summer.
Are you – or do you know – a law student looking to spend their 1L or 2L summer gaining professional legal experience? The BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section’s Internship Program is an unpaid, non-credit internship in which students work directly with a judge or public agency legal team during their 1L or 2L summer. The program provides law students with the valuable mentoring and professional experience needed to succeed after graduation. The program also has a long-term goal: to bolster efforts to retain a diverse and inclusive population of young lawyers here in Boston. Throughout the course of the summer, interns observe courtroom proceedings and enhance their legal research and writing skills. In addition to their work, they engage with BBA Members and one another at professional development seminars and career exploration programs held at the BBA.
The Diversity & Inclusion Section launched the Judicial Internship Program in 2010, and for six years has facilitated this unique opportunity for Boston area law students to gain access to internships in the Boston Municipal Courts, Massachusetts State District Courts, the Massachusetts Superior Court, the Probate and Family Court, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit. More than 100 law students have participated in this program since 2010.
This year we are expanding the program to include placements in state government. Interns may apply for the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section’s Internship Program, with placements in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Roxbury and Quincy offices of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS).
To apply, students must have completed the 1L or 2L year (or the equivalent) and must be able to work a minimum of 15 hours per week for a total of 8 weeks for most placements. There are specific guidelines and requirements for each placement. Students are encouraged to carefully read the application requirements and specifications for each position sought before submitting your application.
An information session will be held on Friday, January 22, 2016 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm at the Boston Bar Association. Click here to register.
Details about the following internship placements for these internships are available on our program website along with instructions for how to apply.
Thank you to these courts for their ongoing participation: The Boston Municipal Courts, the Massachusetts State District Courts, the Massachusetts Superior Court, the Probate and Family Court, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit. And a warm welcome to our new internship providers: The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) – Quincy, the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) – Roxbury, Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS), and the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General.
Law students may contact our program administrator, Joe McKenzie firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns.
We invite government agencies, legal services offices, and courts seeking talented law student interns to connect with us to get involved engaging students through this initiative. Please contact our Diversity & Inclusion Section’s Pipeline and Recruitment Committee Co-Chairs, Sarah Kim, General Counsel to the Treasurer and Receiver General of Massachusetts and Redi Kasollja of Foley & Lardner LLP.
The Strategies for Success Luncheon brought together diverse summer associates, summer interns, and New Lawyers to gain career advice from a diverse panel of Boston-based lawyers.
Wednesday, July 8th marked the 17th annual “Strategies for Success Luncheon for Diverse Summer Associates, Summer Interns, and New Lawyers,” where a diverse panel of Boston-based lawyers met and spoke with an audience of seventy new and future attorneys about their own individual journeys and experiences within the legal profession.
The panel offered encouragement and valuable insight to these undergraduates, law students, and new lawyers as they face difficult career decisions. This year’s panelists included Adrian Bispham, an Assistant District Attorney in the Major Crimes Unit of the Suffolk County DA’s office, Christina Chan, an Assistant Attorney General, Salomon Chiquiar-Rabinovich, an attorney at HUD and also the current President of the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys (MAHA), Jennifer Fang, an Associate at Goodwin Procter LLP, and Jennifer Watson, who serves as Corporate Counsel at Liberty Mutual. Kevin Nolan of Proskauer Rose LLP chaired the program for the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section. The lunch and discussion was expertly moderated by Marguerite Fletcher of Fletcher Legal Consulting. Those in attendance learned that despite the challenges sometimes associated with the expression of one’s personal identity; including race, gender, and sexual orientation, each one of the panelists have been able to find success as lawyers in the Boston area.
The first topic to be discussed by the panel was to describe why the Boston area is a great place to practice. Since none of the panel members were native to the city of Boston, the audience was introduced to diverse opinions and point of views on their adopted city. Each panelist happily agreed that Boston is now much more diverse than they could ever have imagined and that the size and culture of this city has created an appropriately-sized legal community where reputation, connections, and personality truly matters. Jennifer Fang pointed out that Boston’s pace matches extremely well with the legal profession when compared to the laid-back lifestyle of California or the stress-filled life of New York City. Christina Chang made a note that Boston has always been at the forefront of education, innovation, and legislative changes, making it “a truly exciting place to be an attorney.”
When asked to discuss the challenges associated to their personal identities within the legal profession, the panel opened up about personal obstacles they have faced and the best way to overcome them. Whether these challenges related to race or gender, the entire panel agreed that making as many connections as possible is the best course of action to feel less isolated in the workplace. “Talking to people allows you to get to know someone on the individual level,” Adrian Bispham pointed out, “try not to perceive people a certain way without first getting to know them. You never know, you might have more in common than you can believe.” Moderator Marguerite Fletcher explained that while equality has been improving and will continue to do so, it is up to each individual to make the difference by networking and communicating about perceived social injustices with people similar to you in an attempt to help fix them.
Since most in attendance had yet to graduate from law school, Fletcher took time to ask the panel to give advice on the transition from school to practice. In general, the panel discussed that you truly need to understand what part of law you want to focus on. Christina Chan who graduated from Northeastern University School of Law described that Northeastern’s unique Co-Op program, which allows law students to participate in four paid or non-paid internships, allowed her to gain a sense of direction. Her advice: no matter which law school a student attends, apply to as many internships as possible—even if it extends the time it takes to graduate. Networking in and out of school was also heavily discussed.
As the event came to a close members of the audience began to ask their questions. With no surprise the students and recent-graduates all asked questions revolving around the same topic: How exactly do I get a job? Salomon Chiquiar-Rabinovich explained that while grades are extremely important to an interviewer, job-seekers need to act calmly and be themselves while interviewing. Extracurricular activities, Fletcher pointed out, are great ways to connect with the interviewer since they can provide potential discussion topics. Fang, who has served as an interviewer herself for some time, explained that “if you cannot advocate for yourself, how can I expect you to do the same for your clients?”
The 17th annual Summer Associates Luncheon was a great success and the guests left with useful and encouraging tips for taking on a legal career in Boston.