Attorney General Maura Healy welcomes conference attendees with remarks about victim services throughout the state.
Last Friday, BBA Lawyer Referral Service staff attended the 2015 Victim Rights Conference hosted by our friends at the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA). This annual conference brings together individuals and agencies that promote victim rights and services, and is held every April in honor of Victim Rights Month in Massachusetts. For the second year in a row the BBA was there as an exhibitor to highlight services offered by the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) by informing providers how to connect clients with legal resources. This is part of the community outreach the LRS does throughout the year in order to connect with the public.
Although we made many great connections, the highlight of the day was listening to an inspiring panel of survivors who have taken action to help empower victims and prevent crime. The conference kicked off with a welcome from Liam Lowney, the Executive Director of MOVA, and Attorney General Maura Healey (who will also be the Keynote speaker at the BBA’s Law Day Dinner next month!). Survivors and providers shared their stories and were honored for their service, including Congresswoman Niki Tsongas for her work to address military sexual assault, and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley who has dedicated her career to addressing violence and poverty in the city.
If you would like more information about the Lawyer Referral Service please contact Solana Goss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LRS staff connect with conference attendees, and explain the referral process to those looking for legal help.
The BBA had another year full of public service. For a look back at our members’ work in the community, take a look at the photos below:
The John & Abigail Adams Benefit raised over $640,000 last January to help fund grants to 23 Massachusetts community organizations providing legal services in areas, such as domestic violence and homelessness. The BBF honored Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino with the Public Service Award for his commitment to the City of Boston, including his efforts to find employment for thousands of Boston teens each summer.
The BBF’s popular Casino Night had a new twist this year—100 percent of the proceeds supported the BBA Summer Jobs Program. As you may remember, the BBF funds paid internships for Boston high school students in nonprofit and government agencies each summer through the program. The event raised more than $35,000 for the M. Ellen Carpenter Fund to benefit the Summer Jobs Program.
The BBA Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program celebrated its 15th year anniversary of providing legal assistance to pro se landlords and tenants at the Boston Housing Court. Since the program began, over 12,000 volunteers have helped more than 15,000 landlords and tenants navigate complicated legal issues.
In April, Boston commemorated the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. The following month, the BBA honored the volunteers who stepped up to offer pro bono legal assistance to over 80 small businesses and individuals affected by the bombings at the Law Day Dinner through the BBA’s Marathon Assistance Project.
The BBA’s Law Day in the Schools Program took off this year. Ninety-four attorneys taught over 1,300 Boston public school students from kindergarten through seniors in high school about voting rights.
In June, the BBF unveiled its newest fundraising event, called Passports to Pairings, where 100 % of the proceeds supported the BBA Public Service Programs. The event raise nearly $37,000, featured food and beverage pairings, and gave attendees an opportunity learn more about the BBA and BBF’s work in the community.
The BBA continued to step up its commitment to the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program by placing a record-breaking 64 Boston high school students in paid internships at Boston law firms, legal departments, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations through the BBA Summer Jobs Program. The BBF also increased its commitment to the program by funding 14 of these paid positions at non-profit community organizations, government offices and courts.
On September 1, 2014, the BBA celebrated the one year anniversary of the Military & Veterans Help Line’s move to the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, connecting 161% more servicemembers to legal assistance. Later in the fall, the BBA announced that four firms—Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, Nixon Peabody LLP, Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius, and Nutter McClellen & Fish LLP—had stepped up to offer pro bono assistance to servicemembers who do not qualify for traditional free legal services, but cannot afford the fees of attorneys.
The BBA welcomed Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, who discussed her work and commitment to combating military sexual trauma. This program is part of the BBA’s ongoing commitment to addressing the needs of military personnel, veterans, and their family members.
October, proclaimed Pro Bono Month, once again brought a flurry of trainings and events to 16 Beacon. The lineup included the annual Landlord Tenant Law and Practice Training, the CORI Training, the Pro Bono Recruitment Fair, and the Representing Survivors of Human Trafficking: An Introduction for Attorneys Program.
The BBA Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts released its long-awaited report called Investing in Justice, which found that the majority of clients seeking legal assistance are turned away and made the business case for an additional $30 million in civil legal aid funding.
The BBA kicked off the Community Reentry Readiness Program once again this November. The program, which was originally started by PILP 9, aims to reduce the risk of recidivism by sending volunteer attorneys to deliver civil legal education workshops to federal probations in the CARE/RESTART Program on issues that they may face upon reentry. The pilot program was such a success that the BBA and Federal Court once again teamed up to continue the program.
In November, BBA President Julia Huston spent the morning shadowing the headmaster of Mary Lyon Pilot High School in Brighton through BPE’s Principal for a Day Program. As a former teacher in special education, Julia found the program particularly interesting because every single class at the Mary Lyon Pilot High School is fully inclusive, incorporating both general education and students with emotional and behavioral impairments.
The BBA Lawyer Referral Service participated in a number of community events this year, including the Massachusetts Conference for Women which drew a crowd of nearly 10,000. These events help to raise awareness of about the largest public service program of the Boston Bar Association, which fielded over 7,900 calls last year.
In December, the BBA geared up to kick off an exciting new pilot program in the Land Court with a training on assisting homeowners facing tax foreclosure. Now that a number of attorneys are up to speed on the issue, they can volunteer to be on call to assist homeowners at the Land Court’s Thursday Tax Title Sessions and help homeowners hold onto their property.
The BBA staff explained the role of the BBA and the Lawyer Referral Service in the community to attendees, including attorneys, law students, and the general public.
Drawing a notable crowd of nearly 10,000, the 10th Annual Massachusetts Conference for Women took place last Thursday at the Boston Convention Center.
The BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) participated in this event as an exhibitor, raising awareness about the largest public service program of the Boston Bar Association. For those who aren’t familiar with the LRS – last year the program connected more than 8,000 members of the public with quality legal assistance, and became the permanent home of the Military & Veterans Legal Helpline. For more than 50 years, the LRS has been a trusted resource for those looking for legal help.
This year’s conference culminated in a keynote address from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She discussed the importance of continued progress for women socially and economically, mentioning equal pay for women and paid leave, and remarking about justice for all individuals across the globe.
The Massachusetts Conference for Women is the largest community outreach and marketing event of the year for the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service. Here is what the LRS Intake Coordinator Solana Goss had to say about the Conference:
“This is my 3rd year attending the conference with the BBA/LRS. I am always impressed with the sheer number of attendees who are there to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of women not just in the city we live in, but nationally and internationally. As an exhibitor participating in grassroots community outreach to those needing legal assistance, I was compelled to hear the real life stories of those in our community who need to access our services. It’s been a little over a week since the conference, but we have already had a few people call and specifically mention they met us at the conference. It’s gratifying knowing that we can make real connections with individuals in our community.”
Take a look below for more images from the event:
The BBA set up shop as an exhibitor. This is the 5th year that the LRS has participated.
The 10th Annual Massachusetts Conference for Women drew nearly 200 exhibitors and 10,000 attendees.
For more information on the Lawyer Referral Service, please contact Solana Goss, LRS Intake Coordinator, at email@example.com.
This Veterans Day, we remember the past and ongoing sacrifices of the men, women and their families who have served our nation.
That’s why we wanted to share this Boston Globe article that sheds light on just how difficult navigating the VA system can be not only for clients, but for lawyers as well.
The article tells the story of a 59-year old Vietnam Veteran, and his difficulty communicating with the VA about his benefits. Despite serving his country bravely and honorably during a time of war, the veteran has encountered hurdles that would leave many too frustrated to overcome. Along the way, he has been helped by a pro bono attorney Steve Veenema, who now works at Murphy & King. Despite being proactive and communicating to the VA that he was receiving Social Security benefits for an automobile accident, the veteran was penalized for a VA error that was not his fault. Even his lawyer had difficulty being acknowledged by the VA in several instances, and found that the way that his client was treated by the VA system caused needless frustration and suffering. For the full story, we encourage you to read the whole article.
So what can you do to help? We receive calls daily though the BBA Military & Veterans Legal Help Line though the Lawyer Referral Service. If you or your firm is interested in receiving referrals from this line, please contact Solana Goss at (617) 778-1978 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may have seen last week that 4 BBA sponsor firms have volunteered to accept pro bono referrals through the Help Line – hear from them why they stepped up to help military members, veterans and their families.
To read about the BBA’s impact with the military & veterans community over this past year, click here.
Solana Goss – Lawyer Referral Service Intake Coordinator
For the past year, I have had the opportunity to work firsthand expanding the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service’s reach to service members, veterans and their families through the Military & Veterans Legal Help Line. September marks the one year anniversary that the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) has housed the help line, which was developed in 2011 to connect this underserved population with the legal resources they need. As the Intake Coordinator of the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service, I connect hundreds of callers per week with attorneys, legal services, and community organizations. Whenever I pick up the phone and the caller identifies as a disabled veteran struggling to pay their mortgage, or an active duty military member facing family law disputes, I am reminded of the strength, courage, and dedication that these individuals put forth to serve our country. That this need exists so prevalently in our society helps motivate me to do what I can to improve access to legal services for the individuals and their families who served our nation. I leave each call remembering that there is more than we can do for veterans. Instead of just thanking veterans for their service, I am fortunate enough to show my thanks by offering and connecting them with assistance. The legal community has the opportunity to show their thanks and appreciation for the sacrifices of service members in another way – by agreeing to take cases on their behalf.
The BBA and the Lawyer Referral Service has made considerable progress through the Legal Help Line this year. Since September 2013, we have connected 340 active-duty military, veterans, and their families to lawyers and legal services, a 161% increase in the amount of individuals that we were able to serve than the year prior. The LRS maintains a panel of attorneys who are trained to understand the nuances of representing this population, and our Active Duty, Family Members and Veterans Committee is ready to address new challenges in the year ahead. Despite this great success, we still need more attorneys to take cases. If you are an attorney who wants to help support the BBA’s Military & Veterans Legal Help Line, contact me at email@example.com, or the BBA’s Public Service Manager Sonia Shah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The BBA has an ongoing commitment to support service members and their families…so what’s next? On September 23rd the BBA will host the first part of a two-part series to raise awareness about the critical issue of military sexual assault. U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas will be lending her expertise on the issue and her highlighting her work fighting against sexual assault in Congress. For more information and to register, click here.
BBA staff set up shop in Kendall Square along with other non-profits and vendors.
This past Sunday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) joined in the festivities at the 21st annual Cambridge Carnival International, a celebration rooted in African traditions that brings together the area’s diverse community. This year’s festival drew an estimated 150,000 people, making it the largest festival in Cambridge.
Carnival attendees who stopped by the BBA’s booth learned about the BBA and how to receive a referral from the BBA LRS, only ABA-approved lawyer referral service in the greater Boston area. This is the 4th year that the BBA staff had a booth at this event. Attending events around greater Boston is one way that the LRS reaches out to the public about services available to them, including reduced-fee referrals, attorneys who practice Limited Assistance Representation, and the Military Legal Help Line.
Take a look below for more images from the day:
The colorful parade is a highlight of the annual Cambridge Carnival International.
Parade participants draw from African & Caribbean roots with their costumes.
To refer clients to the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, please have them call (617)742-0625 or (800)552-7046 Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Clients can also visit us on our bilingual English/Spanish website at www.bostonbarlawyer.org to submit a request online.
Last week, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) launched a new Spanish-language website. The website provides all of the same features found on the main site, and has a fully responsive design to mobile and tablet technologies. The BBA LRS has been committed to connecting historically underserved populations with lawyers and legal resources for over 50 years. The LRS has a bilingual staff member and developed the site in response to the increase of Spanish callers over the years.
Beyond the Billable reached out to Solana Goss, the coordinator of the Lawyer Referral Service, to learn more about the website expansion. Here’s what she had to say: “We have recognized the language barrier gap for many Spanish speaking callers seeking legal assistance. Ensuring the Spanish-speaking population has access to our information on how to connect with legal resources is vital to our goal of increasing access to justice. I think it is important that we empower people from the public to stick up for their legal rights by making them aware of their options and how to access help.”
If you are a bilingual attorney interested in joining the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, please email LRS Intake Coordinator, Solana Goss at email@example.com. Members from the public can call the LRS at 617-742-0625 or request an attorney online at any time through the website.
A record setting 25,000 people in 200 groups marched in the annual parade, which was led by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Marty Walsh and ended with a festival on City Hall Plaza.
This past Saturday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) joined thousands of participants and spectators at the 44th Annual Boston Pride Parade to support the LGBT community.
As the BBA’s largest public service program, the LRS was present at City Hall to reach out to the community at large and share information with the public on how to protect their rights. Staff members provided general information about the LRS and details about how those in need can connected to the right attorney or legal service.
The BBA’s Liz Vincensi and Ian Mitnick displayed materials on how to get in touch with the BBA Lawyer Referral Service.
Beyond the Billable checked in with LRS intern Samantha Odreman (who recently authored this post) to get her impressions on the event. Here’s what she had to say:
“It was amazing to watch so many people come together and stand up for love and respect. It was great seeing how many people were present from different schools, colleges and parts of the city. This was a great opportunity to join reach out to the public and spend the day surrounded by wonderful people!”
Do you need legal help? Contact a referral specialist at 617-742-0625 Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and Fridays from 8:30pm to 5:00pm; or by filling an online request here: http://www.bostonbarlawyer.org/
Every six months, the Boston Bar Association hires a co-op student from Northereastern University to work with the BBA Lawyer Referral Service. We asked Samantha Odreman, who is currently five months in to her co-op, to share her experiences with our readers.
My Co-op Experience Samantha Odreman – LRS Intern
Northeastern University, Sophomore
International Affairs with French, Psychology and Social Entrepreneurship Minors
Five months ago I began my first Cooperative Education (Co-op) experience working as an LRS Intern at the Boston Bar Association. When I started working for a bar association, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure what exactly I would be doing, or what the role of a bar association was in the community. As I near the end of my internship, I realize what an opportunity I have been given to explore and analyze different career paths and make informed decisions about my future.
From the theoretical world of school and books, I have come face to face with the legal profession and its many different facets, and have decided that someday, after much more preparation and experience, perhaps I could become a part of that world as a successful attorney. As an LRS Intern I have learned how important it is to carefully listen to issues and how equally important it is to analyze them in order to help people get to the appropriate legal assessments and resources. The LRS is a dedicated public service that works to reduce the gap between the underserved communities and the legal world. Each year, the Lawyer Referral Service helps thousands of people by connecting them to attorneys and other legal services that can assist with their needs. As the largest public service initiative of the Boston Bar Association, the LRS has attorneys that practice in more than 350 areas of law who also offer a variety of fee structures. In addition, the LRS also works with other community organizations to make sure everyone has the chance of getting legal assistance no matter what their financial situation might be.
During my experience at the BBA, I have learned to work hard by following the example of a wonderful group of people who give their best each and every day to achieve their goal and help the BBA increase the number of people that it can help each year.* This opportunity gave me the confidence to pursue my own goal as I continue my studies. I want to do productive and meaningful work that will contribute to alleviate the many needs of society. The Boston Bar Association is a leader in serving the community and I am so grateful to have been a part of it for a little while. I really don’t think I could have had a better first experience in a better place than here at the BBA where people are committed and ready to serve and who want to improve access to justice for all.
Liam Lowney, MOVA’s Executive Director opens the conference with remarks about the 30th Anniversary of the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights and the federal Victim of Crime Act.
The BBA Lawyer Referral Service (BBA LRS) kicked off a the season of community outreach at the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance’s (MOVA) 2014 Victim Rights Conference in honor of Victim Rights Month in Massachusetts and National Crime Victim Rights Week. Last Friday’s conference brought survivors and victim service providers together at Seaport World Trade Center for a day of learning and networking via multiple workshops and exhibits. As an exhibitor, the BBA LRS spread the word about the services of the program to the conference attendees. In addition to highlighting the LRS and its reduced-fee panels, the LRS table had information about special projects for those affected by the Marathon Bombings, and the Military Legal Helpline.
If you would like more information about the Lawyer Referral Service please contact Solana Goss at firstname.lastname@example.org.