In October, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from George Lester, Partner at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewry, LLP. George has 25 years of experience practicing in the field of U.S. immigration and nationality law, and he advises diverse U.S. and multinational companies seeking to hire foreign professionals, scientists, business persons, and artists and represents them in all procedures to obtain temporary or permanent immigration status before relevant U.S. government agencies.
With immigration playing a major role in the 2016 presidential campaign and 2018 mid-term elections, changes to U.S. immigration law and policy impact not only refugee admissions and humanitarian issues, but have significant business consequences as well. George focused his remarks on how the federal government’s changing immigration priorities have had immediate effects on corporations dependent on high-skilled immigrant labor.
George discussed various legislative proposals to overhaul the current immigration system, their projected efficacy in addressing the current system’s shortcomings, as well as obstacles to their implementation. George also examined executive actions and reform initiatives that the Trump administration has taken or is expected to take, which do not require action from Congress.
The PILP class welcomed the opportunity to learn about an often overlooked piece of the immigration system and the impacts of recent policy changes on businesses in the U.S. George encouraged lawyers to submit public comments to proposed regulation changes which, he said, would likely have an overall detrimental effect on the U.S. economy.
Meeting recap provided by PILP Member Genevieve Aguilar (Choate).
In July, the PILP class heard from speakers about issues concerning women’s rights.
First, PILP met with Lauren Stiller Rikleen, founder and president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership. Ms. Rikleen spoke to the PILP class about the Survey of Workplace Conduct and Behavior in Law Firms, which the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership developed and distributed this year in partnership with the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts. Ms. Rikleen discussed the results of the survey and trends identified in participants’ responses, and the manner in which the data collected from the survey will be used to increase awareness of the range of behaviors that have negatively impacted the workplace experience of individuals working in Massachusetts law firms. Ms. Rikleen also discussed recommendations for addressing inappropriate conduct in the workplace, and strategies for engaging people in positions of leadership and developing systems of accountability within law firms.
Next, Jamie Sabino spoke to the PILP class about reproductive justice and access to abortion for women. As an active member of Planned Parenthood since 1981, serving as Board Chair for both PPLM and the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, and chair for the Judicial Consent for Minors Lawyer Referral Panel, representing minors forced to seek judicial authorization for abortion, Ms. Sabino brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the discussion around reproductive justice. In particular, Ms. Sabino explained the legal and social history of abortion issues in Massachusetts, looking through both state and federal lenses. Ms. Sabino also discussed the current battles being fought in the reproductive justice sphere, including the threat of defunding planned parenthood through Title X and Medicaid cut-backs. Ms. Sabino encouraged PILP members to learn about and support current legislation such as the Healthy Youth Act, which would ensure that public schools in Massachusetts provide medically-accurate, age-appropriate, and LGBTQ-inclusive sex education curriculum to students.
In March, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from Erin Miller, Manager of the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Erin Miller presented on understanding the dynamics of trauma and trauma-informed legal advocacy.
Miller addressed the neurobiology of trauma and how trauma and particularly long-term chronic trauma, can affect the brain and subsequently our clients’ behavior and presentation in court and meetings. Although Miller works specifically with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, her presentation was relevant to working with survivors of trauma in many different contexts.
Below are some tips and tricks Miller shared for working with clients experiencing trauma:
Let the client know up front how you are going to approach the meeting. Explain why you are going to ask him or her certain questions and how long the meeting will be. This way, your client can prepare for what is ahead and any triggering or personal questions you may have to ask.
Let the client have control of the meeting as much as possible. Let him or her decide where to sit, whether you can take notes, how the temperature in the room is, etc. Letting the client know that he or she has agency in the attorney-client relationship can go a long way in building trust.
Validate the client’s feelings and experiences and make sure his or she knows you are listening. Thank your client for sharing his or her experience and acknowledge that it is not an easy thing to do. Make sure that your client feels heard and understood.
Miller also addressed secondary trauma and vicarious trauma and the emotional toll that working with survivors of trauma can have on attorneys. She stressed how important it is for attorneys to practice the same self-care that they would encourage their clients to practice.
Last month, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard a presentation from Judith Jacobson, Calandra Clark, and Tom Hopper of Massachusetts Housing Partnership (“MHP”), where Jacobson is the Deputy Director and General Counsel, and Clark and Hopper are the Co-Directors of MHP’s Center for Housing Data. MHP is a statewide public non-profit that works in concert with the Governor and the state Department of Housing and Community Development to increase the supply of affordable housing in Massachusetts.
Jacobson began by providing an overview of MHP, its history, and the reach of its projects. MHP was established in 1985 to increase the Commonwealth’s overall rate of housing production and to work with municipalities to meet the growing need for affordable housing. In 1990, the Massachusetts legislature passed legislation that requires companies acquiring Massachusetts banks to make funds available to MHP for affordable housing. Since its creation, MHP has provided assistance for affordable housing in over 330 Massachusetts communities. That includes more than $1.1 billion in loans and commitments for the financing of over 23,000 units of rental housing. Those financial resources have gone toward new construction as well as renovations of existing properties.
Clark and Hopper then discussed the affordable housing problem in Massachusetts in more detail, noting that annual production of housing has been in decline in Massachusetts since the 1960s. Housing prices have surged, resulting in Massachusetts having the 7th highest rents in the country and the Metro Boston area having the 4th highest rents after San Francisco, San Jose, and New York. Vacancy rates are incredibly low statewide, not just in the more densely populated counties like Suffolk and Middlesex, but also in western counties with smaller populations, like Hampshire and Franklin, both of which have rental vacancies below 2% and homeownership vacancies of less than 1%. MHP estimates that Massachusetts needs 38,000 housing units to meet current statewide demand.
One of the issues preventing the construction of that housing is restrictive zoning laws, according to Clark and Hooper. Many communities in Massachusetts have enacted zoning laws that make it difficult if not impossible for developers to build affordable housing. On a related topic, many zoning ordinances require new housing that looks little like the current housing in those municipalities. For example, only 22 residential buildings in Somerville meet the current zoning code. The others are too dense, too close to the road, too tall, etc. The meeting ended with a question and answer session, as Jacobson, Clark, and Hooper discussed how to get involved locally and what statewide measures were under consideration within the legislature to address affordable housing.
The Boston Bar Association is pleased to announce the members of its 15th Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) Class. PILP participants connect with prominent community leaders at meetings and events, learn about the challenges confronting local organizations and take part in efforts to address specific community needs. After completing the 14-month program, graduates enter a growing network of over 180 accomplished alumni who provide mentoring and support to their successors. We look forward to working with these impressive attorneys over the coming year!
Genevieve Aguilar Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
Genevieve Aguilar focuses her practice on representing corporations in a wide range of litigation matters, with primary emphasis on complex trial and appellate litigation, labor and employment issues and government investigations. Ms. Aguilar also maintains an active pro bono practice representing clients in a range of matters, including asylum, housing, and sealing criminal records. Ms. Aguilar has been named a Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Star.
Ms. Aguilar serves on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys. Additionally, Ms. Aguilar volunteers with Citizen Schools, coaching a mock trial program for middle school students at underperforming Boston schools. Ms. Aguilar also serves as a mentor to first-year law students through Boston Lawyer’s Group, whose mission is to support the efforts of its member organizations to identify, recruit, advance and retain attorneys of color.
Prior to joining Choate in 2014, Ms. Aguilar worked in the Homicide Unit of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, where she assisted in the prosecution of homicide cases.
Ms. Aguilar received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she received the Earle K. Shawe Labor Relations Award, and her B.A. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Colorado College.
Erin Brummer Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP
Erin is an Associate in Fragomen’s Boston office, where she works with clients across a variety of industries, including premier high-technology corporations. She has represented corporate and individual clients on a wide array of immigration matters, encompassing nonimmigrant petitions for a number of visa categories, and employment and family-based immigrant visa applications. Prior to joining Fragomen, Erin was an Associate in the immigration department of Mintz Levin, where she focused on preparing extraordinary ability and outstanding researcher petitions, national interest waivers, nonimmigrant visa petitions and adjustment of status applications. She has experience working with clients spanning a broad range of industries, including healthcare, research and development organizations, and multinational retail companies.
Erin is also the Pro Bono Coordinator in Fragomen’s Boston office, where she works with several organizations to provide representation to individuals needing immigration assistance. This includes representing unaccompanied minors in proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and helping unaccompanied minors and domestic violence survivors obtain permanent resident status. Erin has also coordinated citizenship clinics, staffed “Know Your Rights” community events, and held immigration compliance workshops for small business owners.
Erin received her B.A. from Alfred University and J.D. from New England School of Law, where she competed as a member of the Jessup International Law Moot Court team.
Christopher Dodge Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Chris Dodge is a senior associate at WilmerHale who focuses on complex litigation matters, including commercial and intellectual property trial litigation and appellate litigation. Chris maintains an active pro bono practice focusing on LGBT, voting rights, and electoral reform issues. He is a frequent volunteer at the Massachusetts Civil Appeals Clinic run by the Volunteer Lawyers Project. Chris is an active member of the Massachusetts LGBT Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association, where he serves on the steering committee of the Senior Associates Section.
Prior to working at WilmerHale, Mr. Dodge clerked for the Hon. Alison J. Nathan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and for the Hon. Chester J. Straub of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He obtained his B.S., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University and his J.D., also magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law.
Caroline Donovan Foley Hoag LLP
Caroline Donovan is a litigator at Foley Hoag whose practice focuses on complex civil litigation in state and federal courts, where she regularly represents clients in cases involving contract disputes and business torts. In this capacity, she has successfully represented clients through trial, mediation, and arbitration. Caroline also advises clients in connection with internal and government investigations. She works with public companies, closely held corporations, and individuals, in a diverse array of industries.
Janette Ekanem Greater Boston Legal Services
Janette A. Ekanem is an attorney in the Employment Law Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) where she represents individuals in a variety of employment litigation matters in state and federal courts, and provides legal counsel for worker-owned cooperative businesses. Prior to joining GBLS, Janette practiced commercial real estate law at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong LLP. During law school, Janette served as a judicial intern to the Honorable Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland (Ret.) of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and as a law clerk for the United States Attorney’s Office.
Janette is the Vice President for the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys Association and serves on the Board of Directors of the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston as Chair of the Litigation Committee. Janette also serves on Clark University’s President Leadership Council, and as a judge for Intercollegiate Mock Trial Tournaments. Additionally, Janette has served multiple terms on the Steering Committee of the Real Estate Section of the Boston Bar Association, the Boston Bar Foundation’s Summer Jobs Fundraising Committee, and the Community Service Committee of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association.
Janette holds a B.A. in Government and International Relations, Magna Cum Laude, and a Master of Public Administration from Clark University. She received her Juris Doctor from Northeastern University School of Law.
Lynda Freshman BlueWave Solar
Lynda Freshman is Senior Legal Counsel at BlueWave Solar, a solar development and fintech company. She advises BlueWave on proactive compliance with laws and regulations applicable to community solar, consumer lending, data privacy, and business operations. In addition, Lynda analyzes regulatory requirements for expansion into new markets, designs products to meet strategic initiatives, negotiates commercial transactions, and enhances the company’s policies and procedures for a comprehensive compliance management program.
Prior to joining BlueWave, Lynda spent time in government as an Assistant Attorney General with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and as an intern with the Department of Justice, the Honorable Denise J. Casper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the U.S. Department of State.
Lynda is also an active volunteer in the Boston community. On Saturday mornings, she can be found volunteering at the Boston Public Library, where she teaches English as a Second Language. In addition, she serves as a mentor for law students and undergraduate students through the Boston Lawyers Group, and is a member of the Boston Bar Association, Women’s Bar Association, and New England Women in Energy and the Environment.
Lynda is a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) through the International Association of Privacy Professionals. She received her B.A., cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania, M.A. from Stanford University as a Hugh & Josephine Knowles Fellow, and J.D., cum laude, from Boston University School of Law.
Alexander Gray Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, City of Boston
Alex joined the Administration of Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the City of Boston in 2014. He is currently the Senior Policy Manager in the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development. Previous to this, he served as a Policy Analyst for Mayor Walsh’s Chief of Policy. Prior to his time in the City, Alex served as a Policy Analyst for Governor Deval L. Patrick. He is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School and Boston College.
Alex grew up in North Quincy, MA, and now lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife, Lauren. Lauren and Alex met in Sacramento, CA, while the two were completing their service in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps where they worked with homeless individuals at a local Non-Profit Organization, Loaves and Fishes. They are proud season ticket holders of the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, and Boston College Football. Alex and Lauren are also active theater-goers and enjoy taking in shows in Boston and New York. For the past two years, Alex has served as the Chair of The Sports Museum’s Young Leaders Council.
Sophia Hall The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
Sophia joined the Lawyers’ Committee as a Staff Attorney in July 2016. As an experienced litigator, Sophia handles a broad range of civil rights matters. Sophia actively represents people of color and immigrant women to protect their rights in the workplace and in the community. Most recently, she filed a landmark sexual harassment lawsuit against a prominent national restaurant chain expanding #MeToo to #YoTambien. She also successfully resolved a precedent-setting racial profiling matter creating a blueprint for police departments across the country to implement comprehensive implicit bias and search/seizure training. Additionally, Sophia has a growing practice focused on dismantling barriers to diversity in public agencies. Her work is regularly featured in publications such as the New York Times and the Boston Globe.
Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Sophia was a Staff Attorney with AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, New England’s largest HIV/AIDS service organization. There, she represented low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS in a wide range of issues and advised the organization on legal matters.
Sophia is a graduate of Boston College Law School, where she served on the National Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team. She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Emory University. Sophia currently serves as the chair of the Women of Color Committee for the Women’s Bar Association, and the secretary of the Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association. She is also a member of the Boston Chapter of the NAACP.
Hillary Harnett U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Hillary Harnett is an attorney with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Office of Regional Counsel in Boston. Hillary represents HUD in a wide array of affirmative and defensive cases including fair housing enforcement actions, federal tort claims, breach of contract disputes, and employment litigation. She also provides legal advice on HUD’s multifamily housing, public housing, fair housing, community development, and health care programs.
Prior to joining HUD, Hillary served as a law clerk to Justice Mark Green of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Hillary received her law degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where she was a managing editor of the Harvard Environmental Law Review. She graduated magna cum laude from Brown University.
Nicholas Hasenfus Holland & Knight LLP
Mr. Hasenfus graduated from Suffolk University Law School (summa cum laude) where he taught constitutional law to inner-city high school students as a Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Fellow, as well as privacy education to middle school students in Cambridge, Mass. He also represented indigent juveniles as a Rule 3:03 student attorney through his participation in the Juvenile Defenders Clinic.
Prior to attending law school, Mr. Hasenfus was a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps where he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently volunteers as a mentor to veterans participating in treatment at the Boston Veterans Treatment Court and actively provides pro bono representation to service members, veterans and their families with the unique legal challenges they face before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and with state law issues.
Within the Holland & Knight, Mr. Hasenfus serves on the Boston office’s Hiring Committee and as national co-vice chair of the firm’s Veterans Group.
Previously, Mr. Hasenfus was a law clerk to the Honorable Joseph A. Trainor of the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
Susanna Jones Foundation Medicine, Inc.
Susanna A. Jones is a Compliance Associate at Foundation Medicine, Inc., a medical device company offering comprehensive genomic profiling services for individuals diagnosed with cancer. She specializes in diverse corporate and healthcare matters, including HIPAA conformity, fraud and abuse compliance, risk management, data privacy, internal audit, promotional review, patient advocacy, risk assessments, and transparency reporting. Prior to joining Foundation Medicine’s Compliance Department, Ms. Jones held various finance, accounting, and general corporate compliance roles for local biotechnology companies, in both the private and post-IPO environments.
Ms. Jones has devoted substantial time to volunteer and pro bono projects in the United States and internationally. After her second year of law school, she lived in Kampala, Uganda, working for a legal non-profit which represented juveniles held in detention centers. She has worked on disaster relief projects domestically and in the Philippines. Ms. Jones has also worked with local non-profits, schools, small businesses, and orphanages in Haiti, South Africa, Colombia, and Guatemala. Additionally, she traveled to France to volunteer with a humanitarian NGO in its efforts to support the refugee and migrant community in Calais. Most recently, she worked in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and its surrounding communities with a local non-profit committed to empowering and educating vulnerable women and children.
Ms. Jones is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where she received her B.A. in Political Science, cum laude with Honors in the Liberal Arts. She received her J.D. from New England Law | Boston and her M.B.A. from Suffolk University.
Noah Kaufman Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Noah J. Kaufman is an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, where he advises clients in appellate, antitrust, and general litigation matters. Prior to joining Morgan Lewis, Noah served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Noah also previously served as a member of the adjunct faculty at Northeastern University School of Law and Suffolk University Law School, where he taught Legal Research and Writing.
Noah maintains an active pro bono practice and regularly represents survivors of domestic violence in trial and appellate proceedings against their abusers.
Elizabeth Levitan The EdLaw Project
Elizabeth is a Skadden Fellow with the EdLaw Project, a partnership between the Youth Advocacy Foundation and the Committee for Public Council Services that provides educational advocacy to court involved youth in Massachusetts. Prior to law school, Elizabeth ran a high school transition program that supported young people in north Philadelphia with their high school applications and soft skill development. During law school she founded the Penn Law Youth Advocacy Project, which provided mitigation and reentry support to young people being charged in the adult criminal justice system. She joined the EdLaw project in September, 2017. As a Skadden Fellow with EdLaw Elizabeth provides young people involved in the juvenile delinquency system with post-disposition representation on matters such as school discipline, academic failure, and undetected specials needs. She earned her J.D. from University of Pennsylvania Law School and her B.A. from Haverford College. She is the recipient of the Toll Public Interest Excellence in Leadership Award and the Benjamin Jones Award for Humanity and the Law.
Natasha Lewis Volunteer Lawyers Project
Natasha Lewis is a staff attorney at the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP), where she is a supervising attorney at Eastern Region Legal Intake (ERLI). At ERLI, she supervises advocates who provide intake, information, referrals and advice to low-income clients in the greater Boston area in a myriad of civil legal aid areas, including housing, family, consumer, employment and public benefits law. She finds the work she does to be selfishly rewarding because while she has the incredible opportunity to educate clients and provide them with services they otherwise would not have and inform them of their rights, she is also educating herself. Natasha participates in both the Family Law and Guardianship Clinics that VLP offers, as well as provides representation in 209A Abuse Prevention Order hearings and Unemployment Insurance hearings.
She graduated magna cum laude from Fitchburg State College and worked as a Program Manager in the electronics field for seven years before pursuing her dream of becoming an attorney. Natasha attended New England Law| Boston and was the recipient of the President Anna E. Hirsch Award for ‘dedicated service to fellow students, the law school, and the legal profession’ at graduation. During law school, she was a Barbri representative, became the Chair of the Communications Committee of the Student Bar Association and was the Day Vice President of the Student Bar Association in her third year. She also interned with Greater Boston Legal Services in the Family Law Units’ Divorce Workgroup working with victims of domestic violence providing representation in domestic relations matters including divorce, child support, custody and visitation.
Currently, Natasha manages both the Annual and Summer Unemployment Insurance Project in collaboration with Greater Boston Legal Services. She also manages the advice panels at ERLI, which include client consultations by volunteer attorneys in the areas of family law, housing, employment and trust and estates. Natasha is VLPs’ chairperson for the state-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. Outside of the office, she is working toward learning how to be successful in the world of real estate as she recently obtained her Attorney Broker license.
Joseph Lucia Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Joe Lucia is an Assistant Attorney General in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office’s Trial Division where he defends lawsuits brought against the Commonwealth and its agencies. Prior to being sworn in as an AAG in 2014, Joe worked for four and a half years as an Associate in the Litigation Department of Foley Hoag LLP. Joe has served as a law clerk to both the Honorable Ariane D. Vuono of the Massachusetts Appeals Court and the Honorable Margaret Hinkle of the Massachusetts Superior Court. A native of Dorchester, Joe is a 2008 graduate of Boston College Law School, a 2003 graduate of Williams College and a 1999 graduate of Boston Latin School.
Micah Miller Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Micah is an associate in Nutter McClennen & Fish’s Litigation Department. He represents clients in a variety of litigation matters, particularly in intellectual property litigation. He also has experience assisting clients with patent prosecution, intellectual property portfolio development, and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office post-grant proceedings. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he was a software engineer at IBM, where he developed hardware management functions within the i5 operating system. Micah is also committed to pro bono work. Working with the Victim Rights Law Center or the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Pro Bono initiative, he has assisted several pro bono clients in obtaining abuse prevention orders. In addition, he has represented clients in immigration and asylum proceedings. Micah attended Stanford University and Washington University School of Law.
John Moreschi Office of Senate Counsel, Massachusetts Senate
John is an Assistant Senate Counsel in the Massachusetts Senate, where he reviews legislation to ensure that it is constitutional and legally sound and advises Senators on legal and legislative matters as they arise. Prior to his time in the Office of Senate Counsel, John served as Counsel to Congresswoman Katherine Clark in both the Massachusetts Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, helping her to draft and pass legislation to protect children from abuse, to improve the criminal justice system and to ameliorate the harm caused by the opioid crisis.
John lives in Malden with his fiancée, Lauren Fowler, where he serves on the board of the Malden Teen Enrichment Center, as a trustee of the Malden Public Library and as Ward 1 Chair for the Malden Democratic City Committee. He received his B.A. in English from Merrimack College and his J.D. from Boston College Law School.
Emily Oldshue Ropes & Gray LLP
Emily Oldshue is an associate in the capital markets group at Ropes & Gray. Emily focuses primarily on advising public and private companies, investment banks and investment funds in mergers and acquisitions and private equity and capital markets transactions. Emily also advises clients on corporate governance, commercial law matters and securities law compliance and reporting. Emily represents clients in a variety of industries, including life sciences, healthcare, energy, technology, manufacturing and retail.
Emily also spends significant time on pro bono matters, including representation of clients through Ropes & Gray’s partnership with Medical Legal Partnership | Boston and as a leader of the firm’s Transgender ID Project, in which the firm has partnered with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) to represent clients as they navigate the process of obtaining legal name change orders and updating their state and federal identification documents.
Emily is a graduate of Wellesley Colley and Yale Law School and was recently named one of the National LGBT Bar Association’s Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.
Rebekah Provost JRI Health Law Institute
Rebekah is a Staff Attorney at JRI Health Law Institute where she represents individuals living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS with the goal of improving client health. JRI Health Law Institute is a statewide nonprofit that provides free legal assistance in partnership with individuals and the community to achieve the health and justice we all deserve. Rebekah strives to provide culturally competent, client-centered, trauma-informed legal services to all clients. Rebekah’s practice is primarily focused on helping clients with SSI/SSDI appeals, public benefits, eviction defense, fair housing litigation, CORI sealing and estate planning.
Prior to joining JRI Health Law Institute, Rebekah worked at Community Legal Aid, first as an AmeriCorps Attorney and later as a Staff Attorney in the Housing Unit. At Community Legal Aid Rebekah was a medical legal partnership attorney for a Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund grant, where she partnered with medical providers and community-based organizations in an effort to address and reduce pediatric asthma in the City of Worcester. She received her B.S. from Bryant University and J.D. from Suffolk University Law School.
Abbigail W. Shirk MetroWest Legal Services
Abbigail W. Shirk is a Staff Attorney at Metrowest Legal Services where she specializes in domestic violence advocacy in family and immigration law matters. Prior to MetroWest Legal Services, Abbigail worked as a staff attorney for DoVE Inc. (Domestic Violence Ended) and Greater Boston Legal Services where she won her first trial during law school. As a Program Manager for Thurston County Family Justice Center in Olympia, Washington, she managed comprehensive, multi-disciplinary team of professionals serving survivors of domestic and sexual violence in housing, advocacy, and criminal justice matters. During that time, she chaired the Thurston County Domestic Violence Task Force and ensured federal grant compliance with the Office of Violence Against Women. She also helped launch the first camping and mentoring initiative in Washington state for children exposed to domestic violence, as part of Camp HOPE America.
Abbigail is a graduate of University of Southern Maine where she studied political science and was awarded the Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship to study in Stellenbosch, South Africa. She later studied Arab-American relations in Amman, Jordan, and served as an NGO Observer for the National Institute of Military Justice in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She is a graduate of New England Law | Boston, where she graduated cum laude and was a Sandra Day O’Connor Merit Scholar. Abbigail is licensed in Massachusetts and Washington state.
Jared Shwartz Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP
Jared is an associate in the corporate and health care practice groups at Hinckley Allen. He advises large and small businesses on mergers and acquisitions, contract negotiation, and commercial leasing matters. Jared also serves as outside counsel to medical and dental practices, providing guidance on buy-sell arrangements, regulatory issues, and transaction structure. He is an active member of the Boston Bar Association’s Health Law and New Lawyers Sections, and a member of the Boston Bar Foundation Junior Fellows Society. Additionally, he volunteers with the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, and is a member of the Executive Board of Boston Young Healthcare Professionals.
Jared received his J.D. from Boston University School of Law. While in law school, he served as a legal intern to the pro se law clerk of the Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court, to the Elder, Health, and Disability Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services, and to the office of the General Counsel at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs. An active member of the law school’s Student Government Association (SGA) and President of the SGA during his third year, Jared received the Sylvia Beinecke Robinson Award for significant contributions to student life. Most recently, he chaired the Student-Alumni Relations Committee of the Boston University School of Law Young Alumni Council.
Prior to law school, Jared worked in senior care administration and operations at an Assisted Living Residence and Specialized Care Residence in the Greater Boston area. He received his B.A. from Emory University, and is a proud native of Peabody, Massachusetts.
Ying Wang State Street Bank & Trust Company
Ying Wang is Associate Counsel at State Street Bank & Trust Company, where she practices financial services law and specializes in contract drafting, review, negotiation, and distribution services. She is also a Judge Advocate General (JAG) Officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, providing legal assistance to military service members on a diverse range of topics as well as supporting legal operations to national strategy during peacetime, contingencies, and war.
Ying grew up in Boston and remains active in her community. She currently volunteers for Boston’s Community Preservation Committee, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s SPARK Boston Council, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Asian American Commission, and New Leaders Council. Ying is a graduate of Boston Latin School, Emerson College (magna cum laude), and New England Law | Boston, where she was Editor-in-Chief of “Due Process” and received the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship for demonstrated commitment to public service and providing legal assistance to underrepresented individuals and communities in the state.
Lavinia Weizel Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Lavinia is an Associate in the litigation section of Mintz Levin where her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation across a variety of areas, including securities litigation, shareholder suits and insurance disputes in both state and federal court. Lavinia is also active in the firm’s pro bono practice, focusing on representing survivors of human trafficking in criminal matters and post-conviction relief proceedings. Lavinia recently assisted in advocating for the passage of legislation in Massachusetts to streamline the procedure for human trafficking survivors to seek to vacate criminal convictions related to their trafficking. She is the current co-chair of the BBA Human Trafficking Sub-Committee of the Delivery of Legal Services Steering Committee.
Prior to joining Mintz Levin, Lavinia was a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Bruce M. Selya of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and before that clerked for the Honorable Francis X. Spina of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Lavinia graduated first in her class from Boston College Law School and upon graduation received the Philip Joseph Privitera ’95 Award for outstanding scholarship and exceptional contribution to the law school community.
Prior to law school, Lavinia worked first as the community education and youth violence prevention program coordinator and later as the development director for WISE, a New Hampshire–based nonprofit serving victims of domestic and sexual violence. Lavinia is a 2004 graduate of Dartmouth College where she earned her B.A. in Philosophy.
Last month, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from James Matthews and Catherine LaRaia, Clinical Fellows in Suffolk University Law School’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program (HDTP). The HDTP studies trends in discrimination, provides training on rights and responsibilities in rental housing, and participates in the enforcement of fair housing laws.
Matthews and LaRaia began by giving the class an overview of the Fair Housing Act and the housing-related protections afforded under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B. They identified and explained the various protected classes under both Federal and Massachusetts law, as well as the scope of a landlord’s obligation to make reasonable accommodations for renters with disabilities. They discussed the impact of the Massachusetts Lead Law, which requires landlords to remove lead paint in units with children under the age 6, as landlords sometimes try to avoid the expense of de-leading (which can be substantial) by steering families with young children away from their units. The expense of de-leading does not, however, excuse a landlord from complying with its legal obligation not to discriminate on the basis of familial status. Relatedly, Matthews and LaRaia discussed trends in housing discrimination, such as the use of coded language, which may make unlawful practices more difficult to spot. For example, advertisements targeting “graduate students or young professionals,” while seemingly innocuous on their face, may signal an intent to discriminate on the basis of familial status, age, or other protected classes.
One tool for flushing out discriminatory intent is testing, which involves sending trained individuals into the community to pose as renters in order to collect information on whether housing discrimination is occurring. HDTP researches rental advertisements and, after identifying potential violators, arranges for both “protected” and “control” testers to inquire about renting the advertised unit. The testers then report their experiences, which HDTP staff evaluates to determine whether the landlord may be discriminating among rental applicants based on protected characteristics. Matthews and LaRaia concluded the class with a robust question-and-answer session, ranging on topics from enforcement options to problems arising from roommate situations.
The Boston Bar Association is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for its 2018-2019 class of Public Interest Leaders. The BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) is a unique leadership program for new lawyers that promotes civic engagement and public service by advancing the leadership role of lawyers in service to their community, the profession and the Commonwealth.
If you’re interested in the program, we invite you to join us on Tuesday, March 13th from 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM at the BBA to learn more. The information session will feature PILP alumni who will provide insight into the program, discuss the application process, reflect on their experiences, and answer questions. If you’d like to attend, please register here.
Eligible applicants are BBA Members who have graduated law school within the past 10 years and demonstrate a commitment to public service and their community. The Program has four specific purposes:
To identify and recognize present and future leaders in the BBA and the Boston legal community.
To contribute to the professional and leadership development of promising young attorneys.
To integrate young leaders into the BBA and its public service landscape — at the same time significantly contributing to the public interest.
To build a powerful alumni network of lawyer leaders who, by their actions, demonstrate that part of being a successful lawyer is giving back to the community.
This past 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 over 160 alumni who’ve gone on to serve the BBA in other capacities and carry their passion for serving the public interest into the community.
Last month, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from Professor Leo Beletsky (Northeastern University School of Law and Bouvé College of Health Sciences) on the public health and civil rights implications of Massachusetts’ involuntary commitment law for individuals with substance use disorder (M.G.L. ch. 123 § 35, or more commonly “Section 35”).
Dealing with the Opioid Crisis, one way that Massachusetts has looked to handle the epidemic is to expand Section 35, which allows blood relatives, court officers, spouses, and medical professionals to petition a judge to “section” an individual into involuntary commitment for 30 to 90 days. But Beletsky offered another perspective, calling into question the efficacy of forced treatment, and especially the Massachusetts system. Beletsky explained that the current evidence-based medical practice to treat individuals with substance use disorder is by using “medication-assisted treatment” (a category of drugs that includes buprenorphine or methadone) which scientific studies show as the “gold standard” for treatment. He explained that multiple scientific studies show that treating substance use with medication improves outcomes, and reduces overdoses by 50 to 80 percent. But he countered that, despite these scientific studies, most individuals who are involuntary committed in Massachusetts are treated with abstinence-based methods, which, not only have less effective outcomes, and in some situations could increase the likelihood of future overdose. He then went on to discuss how studies show that forced-treatment like Section 35 does not work for everyone.
Beletsky highlighted that for some families, Section 35 is being billed as the only option, and that a desperate parent or spouse will rely on it, hoping that their child or partner will finally receive treatment. But he painted a stark picture of what that treatment actually entails, as he discussed the need for reform.
For a deeper look into Section 35, read the BBA’s Issue Spot Blog post regarding the issue here.
Meeting recap provided by PILP Member Gregory Dorchak (United States Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts).
In November, the Public Interest Leadership Program (“PILP”) continued its programming relating to transgender rights. The PILP class heard from Blake Liggio, a partner in the Real Estate Industry Group at Goodwin Procter LLP. He is one of the first transgender partners in the Am Law 100.
Liggio spoke to the PILP class about his experience being transgender in the private law firm setting. Specifically, he discussed how he had worked at Goodwin as a summer associate in 2008 before returning two years later as a first-year associate. Before his return to Goodwin, he began the process of transitioning.
Liggio described his interactions with his clients and coworkers, including how he communicated his transition to his coworkers at the firm. He detailed how Goodwin developed a policy to support transgender employees, and how Goodwin worked closely with him to create a specific plan that reflected his transition. Goodwin’s policy has since served as a model for other law firms. Liggio also discussed the role he plays as a mentor to transgender law students, and the importance of allies in achieving transgender equality. Finally, Liggio highlighted the importance of speaking up and how taking an active approach is key to ensuring that employers adopt transgender inclusive policies.
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.