This past Saturday, thousands marched in the 43rd annual Boston Pride Festival. This year’s theme, “Moving Forward…Proud, Strong, United” comes just weeks before the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.
BBA staff set up their booth at City Hall Plaza, and reached out to the community by providing information on how to obtain a lawyer from the BBA Lawyer Referral Service.
Notable Pride attendees included Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
This year marked the 43rd year of Boston Pride, which over the decades has celebrated and promoted equal rights for the area’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
BBA employees Katie D’Angelo and Solana Goss helped to staff the BBA LRS Booth.
Pride Festival attendees celebrate their inclusivity, equality, respect, and awareness in Greater Boston.
Approximately 35,000 people attended Pride Parade as participants and spectators in support of the cause.
For more information on the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service, please contact Solana Goss, LRS Intake Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last weekend, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service highlighted its commitment to community outreach by participating in the 30th Annual Mayfair, an event organized by the Harvard Square Business Association. BBA staff spoke with members of the public about how to obtain a lawyer from the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, the largest public service program of the BBA.
The current legal job market is one of the toughest the field has ever seen. The need for pro bono legal services continues to grow. More and more new lawyers are starting their own firms and looking for ways to develop their legal skills. Is there a way to reconcile all of these demands? Come to Building Your Practice Through Pro Bono and find out how three new lawyers have done just that.
Here is just a bit of what you will learn from these attorneys:
I started my landlord-tenant practice by volunteering through the BBA Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program. My first trial was a pro bono case that I accepted on the morning of trial. While I was moderately terrified to be conducting a trial with very little experience, I soon realized that my client was very grateful to have any attorney representing her, even one with limited experience. And even more surprising, the judge was also happy to deal with an attorney during the trial as opposed to a pro se litigant. Because I was clearly inexperienced, the judge was extra patient with me and as a result, not only was I able to help out a deserving client but I learned a great deal through the experience.
As I gained experience through pro bono cases, I started to build up my own caseload of paying clients, drawing upon what I learned through volunteering and taking advantage of the network of mentors and colleagues I had built up through my work.
Once my license arrived in the mail, I started the process of opening my practice. In my brief time networking with other solos, I have found most have difficulty with the business side of the practice: how to get enough clients, what to charge those clients, and where to meet them. My biggest obstacle was the product itself, what area of law to practice.
I knew what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to practice in criminal law, family law or personal injury. Not that there aren’t very deserving clients in those areas, or that there aren’t some truly amazing attorneys practicing this law, I just knew it wasn’t for me. I did, however, want to litigate. Looking back at my list of eliminations, one might notice the Venn Diagram of my options was rather narrow. From my perspective at the time, there was no overlap. Nevertheless, I began looking for pro bono opportunities to keep myself busy. Thankfully, I came across Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). Every Wednesday, VLP hosts a Fair Debt Collection Clinic at the Boston Municipal Court. Not only would they allow any attorney with a free Wednesday morning to actually represent clients in a civil litigation setting, but they train them to do it well. After my first appearance, I was hooked.
I have a large VLP caseload—three cases at a time plus I mentor two other volunteers—and, in return, the VLP staff often answer questions for me about my non-VLP cases. They also provide me templates of motions/Proposed findings/etc. for my non-VLP cases.
In addition to taking cases with VLP, their lunches are a great opportunity to network and bounce ideas off of more experienced attorneys. I attend the large lunches whenever I can, plus VLP hosts a small, monthly Family Law brownbag that I find invaluable. I have developed two mentors from that circle. Each time I come with a list of questions from my non-VLP cases, and they always get answered.
Click here for more information and to register for Building Your Practice Through Pro Bono, January 23 at 12:30 pm.
Emily Hodge, Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP, as part of Law Day in the Schools taught students about the importance of due process and access to justice at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School. In May 2012, 28 volunteers taught 580 students at 5 different schools about the field of law.
The Lawyer Referral Service (LRS), is the BBA’s largest public service program, with a specific commitment to reaching historically underserved populations. The LRS Program connects callers in need of legal assistance with qualified help from private attorneys, legal services agencies, government offices and community programs.
In its ninth year of producing young public interest leaders, the Public Interest Leadership Program selected an outstanding class of 14 up-and-coming leaders from the largest-ever applicant pool. The 2012-2013 class of the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program. L-R: Omar F. Gonzalez-Pagan, Staci Rubin, Benton B. Bodamer, Christopher T. Saccardi, Eric A. Haskell, Julia E. Devanthéry, Jacqueline Silva Anchondo, Emily F. Hodge, Meghan D. H. Walsh Raquel Webster and Daniel M. Routh.
The Mayor’s Youth Council, a partnership between the BBA, the Mayor’s Office and Northeastern University, gives young people the opportunity to reach out to other Boston teens. The BBA provides the Mayor’s Youth Council lawyer-mentors. Lisa Goodheart, Past President of the BBA with Mayor Thomas M. Menino at the 2012 Mayor’s Youth Council Reception at Northeastern University.
Larry DiCara, a partner at Nixon Peabody and former President of the Boston City Council conducted a mock City Council hearing with the 2012 Summer Jobs students. L-R: Tatenda Mundeke, Aubrey Griffin, Raymond Cen, Ashley Dixon, and Samantha Argon.
BBA President James D. Smeallie talked with 8th and 9th graders at Quincy Upper School during the Principal for A Day program on Tuesday, November 13th. The program allowed public and private sector leaders to better understand improvements and remaining challenges in the Boston public school system.
Steve Stein, Executive Director of Boston Debate League trained BBA volunteers to be judges at debate tournaments. The BBA entered into a partnership with Boston Debate League earlier this year.
Each week we talk about the valuable work our volunteer and pro bono lawyers are doing in the community. They advocate for clients of limited means, mentor students, teach life skills and assist unrepresented litigants. Our programs are successful because of the time and energy that our volunteers dedicate each year. However, it takes more than lawyers to create successful programs.
Over the past year, the BBA’s staff’s hard work and dedication has given us much to be proud of. Through the BBA’s unique relationship with the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) we have been able to grow the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program (Financial Literacy). This past summer Financial Literacy expanded to include students working at Sovereign and Citizens Banks. In addition, this spring, with the help of PIC, Financial Literacy will add an additional five Boston Public High Schools whose students are participating.
Staff worked tirelessly to cultivate the very productive partnership with the Boston Debate League (BDL). This partnership has led to meaningful, new volunteer opportunities for BBA members. For BDL, the partnership with the BBA has helped them recruit talented judges and mentors for their urban high school debate teams. The partnership has truly benefited both organizations.
The department is staffed by four people: a Manager, a Public Service Programs Coordinator, a LRS Intake Coordinator and a LRS intern.
Sonia Shah, the Public Service Manager is a former legal services attorney with deep connections to the legal services and Greater Boston non-profit community.
Katie D’Angelo, the Public Service Programs Coordinator, recently joined the BBA and provides daily support for all of our programs.
1. The Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) is the largest public service program of the Boston Bar Association. Over the years it has grown and now the LRS staff screens over 100,000 calls per year connecting members of the community to lawyers and legal resources for advice, representation and information on legal issues.
2. The BBA LRS is the only ABA-accredited Lawyer Referral Service in Greater Boston. In order to become approved by the American Bar Association, the BBA LRS complies with standards established by the ABA, including the creation of objective experience requirements for the attorneys on each practice area panel. Furthermore, LRS staff conducts daily quality assurance calls with callers about the referrals made, and each month all of the attorneys on the panel are individually verified that they are in good standing with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.
3. The BBA LRS receives requests from over 600 organizations, including courts, libraries, and hospitals to receive marketing materials. A few times per year, the LRS sends brochures in English and Spanish that highlight our referral process, as well as bilingual tear sheets that have our contact information. These organizations share our information with their patrons that they cannot assist. The LRS receives many calls from people who found our contact information at a library, or other non-profit organization.
4. Our attorneys can do well by doing good. Consider the following…An 85 year old woman called the BBA LRS when injured trying to enter a business establishment with her walker. A patron held the door open for the client, but the large door struck her as it was closing, resulting in substantial injuries and other health complications. The BBA LRS referred the caller to Petrucelly, Nadler & Norris P.C. Due to the client’s age and disabilities, partners Jeffrey Petrucelly and Jennifer Norris along with associate Daniel McCabe visited the client extensively at her home, completing depositions and arranging meetings. The firm found that the door did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements or Massachusetts disability guidelines. Ultimately, the firm obtained a $200,000 settlement on behalf of the client. In addition, another important and meaningful result was achieved when the company’s representative and attorney met with the client’s family to apologize and express their sympathy about the unfortunate accident.
5. The BBA LRS Conducts extensive outreach. Throughout the year, the LRS staff attends approximately one community and outreach event per month, connecting with many neighborhoods and populations in the Greater Boston area. LRS staff speak to hundreds of people who wanted to learn more about the service and how they can get in touch with an attorney. For example, last Sunday the BBA LRS joined in the festivities at the 20th annual Cambridge Carnival.
Solana Goss, LRS Intake Coordinator and Alison Kuba, LRS Intern at the 20th Annual Cambridge Carnival.
This past Sunday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff joined thousands of others at the India Association of Greater Boston‘s (IAGB) annual India Day. The event, held at the DCR Memorial Hatch Shell, celebrated the 65th anniversary of India’s independence, and marked 50 years of service by the IAGB to the Indian-American community of the Boston area.
LRS staff spoke with hundreds of people, making them aware of the largest Public Service program of the Boston Bar Association. The South Asian population in Greater Boston is constantly growing and the event gave BBA staff an excellent opportunity to talk with people about how to obtain a lawyer from the BBA Lawyer Referral Service.
When approached by the India Day attendees, the BBA staff was primarily asked questions pertaining to immigration and business law. The day following the event, one of the festival attendees called seeking an attorney to help him with permanent residence services. Other attendees took marketing materials, and were interested in contacting the LRS about other legal issues.
In addition to speaking with individuals, the LRS staff was also able to enjoy the festivities including, cultural performances and vendors selling South Asian foods and goods.
India Day is just one of the many annual outreach events the LRS participates in. If you would like more information on future events, please contact Solana Goss, the LRS Intake Coordinator, at email@example.com.
To reach the BBA Lawyer Referral Service please 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. You can also email us at LRS@bostonbar.org or visit us on the web at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.