Posts Categorized: Public Interest Leadership Program

PILP Gets Primer on Domestic Violence Law

Last week, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from Mithra Merryman (Greater Boston Legal Services) and Margo Lindauer (Northeastern University School of Law) on how the legal system works to help victims of domestic violence (DV) . After reviewing the legal definitions of violence and abuse, the presenters moved to cover more specific components faced when assisting a victim of domestic violence.

Victims may request a restraining order against their abuser, which can be applied either where the victim is living or where the majority of abuse occurred. Merryman and Lindauer shared the benefits and drawbacks of both jurisdictions and discussed instances when a restraining order may not benefit the victim. Additionally, PILP heard how domestic violence cases are impacted when the victim is an immigrant. The speakers described that many DV victims are less likely to come forward if they fear deportation and that abusers will use the threat of deportation against their victims. While the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 allows married Green Card holders to file immigrant visa petitions, unmarried immigrants are not covered by the act. The co-presenters also stressed throughout the meeting that the prevalence of domestic violence is the same across all demographics: race, age, socioeconomic status, sexual & gender orientation, etc.

If you’re interested in pro bono projects related to domestic violence, the presenters suggest looking into the below organizations*:

*All organizations listed are 2016 Grantees of the Boston Bar Foundation

PILP Meets with Juvenile Probation Officer Michael Gilraine

Rounding out the Public Interest Leadership Program’s month discussing juvenile justice, the class heard from Michael Gilraine, a juvenile probation officer at Suffolk Juvenile Court. Gilraine opened by describing the basic difference between child delinquency cases, when a juvenile is charged with a crime, and Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) cases, ones in which a child’s guardian or school files with the court on behalf of a child requiring assistance. A child may be referred to the court for a number of reasons (stubbornness, truancy, etc.) which are outlined in the Suffolk Juvenile Court’s Handbook. The Handbook also describes the various courses of action a juvenile may take after their initial meeting with a probation officer. The severity of a child’s situation generally determines the child’s plan.

Gilraine’s work is rewarding, he says. Friday is his favorite day of the week, when he visits area schools to check in with students and their teachers. He said it’s great to see when students are in school and are proud of the work they’re accomplishing.

If you’d like to work on family law issues, the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association* hosts both a Family Law Clinic and Guardianship Clinics. You can find more information on their website.

*The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association is a 2016 grantee of the Boston Bar Foundation.

PILP Kicks Off the New Year Discussing Juvenile Justice

Earlier this month, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) met with Professor Francine Sherman of Boston College Law School who has been teaching Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights & Public Policy for two decades. Professor Sherman founded and directs the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Program at BC Law and is certainly an expert on the subject, and she provided a comprehensive overview of the topic for PILP. She discussed the two approaches to juvenile justice, social welfare and social control, and the historical practices behind both concepts.

Over the past century, juvenile justice has varied from being an institutionalized system linked to criminal justice to a support system for children whose parents are unable to care for the child. More recently, from the 1990s to mid-2000s, juvenile justice took on the “do the crime, do the time” mantra and resulted in more youth entering the adult criminal justice system.  Then, Professor Sherman described the switch that’s been taking place from 2005 for juvenile justice to move back to the social welfare concept. Supreme Court cases including Roper v Simmons (2005), Graham v. Florida (2010), and Miller v. Alabama (2012), which extended Graham v. Florida all moved juvenile justice away from mirroring the adult system. Juvenile justice continues to evolve as many of laws are state/county based and after Miller v. Alabama, many states’ laws were unconstitutional. Professor Sherman also noted the movement toward “fairness” in the system and acknowledging childhood development.

Concluding, Professor Sherman noted the 3 “R’s” of supporting juveniles who’ve found themselves in the justice system: rights, remedies, and resources. From her perspective, the resources component is the most lacking. However, if you would like to support youth in need of legal aid, there are a number of organizations in the Boston area in need of volunteers and support. Two organizations Professor Sherman suggests looking into are the EdLaw Project* and Citizens for Juvenile Justice.

*The EdLaw Project’s parent organization, the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts is a 2016 grantee of the Boston Bar Foundation.

A Year in Photos – Public Service in 2016

From teaching over 1,500 students their Miranda Rights to instituting a Bar Exam Coaching Program, 2016 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 services initiatives in 2016.

Over 1,000 guests attended the 2016 John and Abigail Adams Benefit at the Museum of Fine Arts. Each year, our premier fundraiser provides support for the legal services organizations in our community. We're grateful for the over $600,000 raised in 2016.

Over 1,000 guests attended the 2016 John and Abigail Adams Benefit at the Museum of Fine Arts. Each year, our premier fundraiser provides support for the legal services organizations in our community. We’re grateful for the over $600,000 raised in 2016.

Molly Baldwin, Executive Director of Roca, accepts the 2016 Public Service Award on behalf of the organization. Roca was recognized for their work reducing recidivism and improving employment rates for young men in Massachusetts.

Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, addresses the crowd at Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. Each year, hundreds of private attorneys and civil legal aid advocates converge on the Massachusetts State House to demonstrate their support for state funding of civil legal aid.

Anuj Kheterpal, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, leads a session of the Reentry Education Program at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. Presenting on topics ranging from family law, affordable housing, and CORI sealing, the Reentry Education Program provides useful information and resources to probationers in our community.

The BBA’s Military and Veterans Committee works throughout the year to both address the legal needs of our veterans community and also provide a space for attorneys who have served or are serving in the military the chance to connect. Luncheons held throughout the year provide an informal, conversational means for veteran attorneys to connect.

One of the most anticipated events of the year is always the BBA’s Casino Night for Summer Jobs. Inside the BBA, the rooms are transformed into a functioning casino spaces for guests to enjoy throughout the building. All proceeds from the event support our Summer Jobs program. Specifically, donations allow high school students the opportunity to work at legal services organizations, courts, and government agencies that may not otherwise have the resources to hire a student.

For over ten years, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy program has taught high school students financial responsibility. Above, students from Peabody Veterans Memorial High School visit Judge Joan N. Feeney’s courtroom to learn the consequences of filing for bankruptcy.

Members of the Boston Bar Foundation’s Society of Fellows gaze at an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts last spring. The Society of Fellows is a group of over 400 attorneys who’ve pledged their support for the BBA’s public service initiatives.

An active group within the BBA, the New Lawyers Public Service Committee plans nearly monthly volunteer events for attorneys to give back to their community through direct service. Here, BBA volunteers are working with the Charles River Watershed Association to clean-up the banks of the Charles River.

As part of the annual Law Day activities each spring, the BBA hosts its Law Day in the Schools program through which attorney volunteers introduce students in kindergarten to 12th grade to the legal profession and legal issues. In 2016, Law Day in the Schools focused on Miranda Rights, which seemed especially to resonate with students during a year marked by discussion of the balance of power between law enforcement and citizens.

At the 2016 Law Day Dinner, former BBA President Jack Regan, WilmerHale, was presented the Thurgood Marshall Award for his commitment to public service. Regan has tirelessly worked to support pro bono services for military personnel, veterans, and their families.

The John G. Brooks Legal Services Award was presented at Law Day Dinner to Daniel Nagin, founder of the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. Nagin also helped start the Low Income Tax Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.

Pairings: A Gourmet Evening for Public Service supports all of the public service programs of the BBA. Guests of the event are treated to delicious dishes from area restaurants while learning about the programs their contribution supports.

Throughout the year, the BBA hosts numerous pro bono trainings on a range of practice areas. We partner with many legal services organizations to connect our members to their pro bono opportunities. Above, attorneys lead a training on how to volunteer for the Family Law Court Clinic at the Court Service Center.

Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge addresses the audience at the BBA’s Juvenile Restorative Justice Program. The symposium focused on restorative justice initiatives in the Commonwealth as particularly related to the state’s youth. This event was the culmination of the 12th Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) class’ 14-month program. PILP promotes civic engagement and public service by advancing the leadership roles of new lawyers. Throughout the program, the class examines various issues facing our community and concludes with a symposium of entirely their design.

Summer is a beloved time at the BBA because it means that law firms, courts, government agencies, and legal services organizations across the city will host high school student interns as part of our Summer Jobs Program. Students gain valuable insight into the legal profession and office work experience as they intern during their summer break. Students are also provided Enrichment Seminars, which enhance their experience and provide exposure to various legal careers, the workings of the Supreme Judicial Court, and more.

Janet Bostwick, Janet E. Bostwick, PC, was acknowledged this past year for her devotion to the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. Bostwick was appointed head of the Financial Literacy Committee by her dear and late friend, M. Ellen Carpenter in 2004 and has since grown the program to teach over 500 students a year. Bostwick stepped down from the Committee after 12 years and we’re thankful for her service.

Law students and attorneys met with various legal services organizations and government agencies as they browsed the Pro Bono Fair & Open House in October. The event draws scores of people each year and provides organizations the chance to attract new volunteers.

BBA President Carol Starkey, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP, meets with Katy Buckland, principal of UP Academy Boston. The BBA President participates in Principal for a Day each year to gain insight into the day-to-day activities of the students many of our public service programs impact.


Thank you for a wonderful year, we can’t wait to kickoff 2017 with you!

PILP Introduced to Veterans Initiatives in Massachusetts

Veterans Treatment Court Judge Eleanor Sinnott during a session.

Coinciding with Veterans Day in November, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from two prominent veterans’ advocates in the Commonwealth. First, the group met with Judge Eleanor C. Sinnott who presides over Boston’s Veterans Treatment Court. The court, which began in 2014 under her guidance, is one of five in the state and like the others, seeks to help veterans who’ve found themselves in the court system. Through the voluntary program, which accepts 15-20 cases at a time, veterans are matched with a volunteer peer veteran mentor that helps guide them through the 12-24 months. Those mentors support the veteran as they complete extensive counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, needs assessments, court hearings, and more. At this time, none of the participants have been court-involved since graduating the program. Judge Sinnott, a veteran herself, is very aware of the special needs of our veterans community. She noted the difference between military and civilian culture and the strong support system that exists amongst veterans. The mentorship component of Veterans Treatment Court is perhaps its biggest key to success. For those interested in learning more about the Veterans Treatment Court or who would like to refer a case to the court, please click here.

PILP also heard from Francisco A. Ureña, Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services. Secretary Ureña discussed their programs related to financial assistance, Soldiers’ Homes and state cemeteries, and advocacy and outreach. The department works closely with Veterans Legal Services and the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, connecting veterans to their pro bono services. Additionally, Secretary Ureña identified homelessness as one of the department’s top focus areas, as well as general outreach to the veterans population of Massachusetts to alert them of their services. The Secretary urged PILP to learn more about how they can assist veterans through pro bono work.

If you would like information on how to perform veterans pro bono work, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected]

Suffolk’s Professor William Berman Discusses Housing Discrimination


During the month of October, PILP 13 engaged in many informative discussions regarding affordable housing issues in the Boston area. Most recently, this year’s PILP class heard from Professor William Berman, Clinical Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School, Managing Attorney of Suffolk’s Accelerator Practice, and Director of Suffolk’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program.

Professor Berman discussed the history of fair housing issues in the United States, tracing housing and race discrimination back to the abolishment of slavery. It was not until 1968 with Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. that the United States Supreme Court ruled that racial discrimination related to the sale of private property violates the 13th Amendment.  In the same year, the Fair Housing Act was implemented, instituting protection against housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.

Professor Berman also spoke about Suffolk’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program’s (HDTP), which works to identify housing discrimination in the Commonwealth. For example, the Program recently issued a press release detailing their discovery of landlords refusing to rent to families with small children due to the presence of lead paint within the unit.

In accordance with the Massachusetts Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, landlords must remove lead paint if a child younger than six resides in the unit. However, HDTP’s test results revealed the widespread issue of landlords discriminating against families with small children, rather than making the necessary repairs to the unit.

By reporting landlords and realtors to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, Professor Berman hopes the research of HDTP continues to counter housing discrimination in Massachusetts.

PILP 13 Talks Affordable Housing with POAH’s Aaron Gornstein


Each month, members of the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) chair two meetings on a specific community need. This October, PILP focused on housing discrimination issues and brought in speakers uniquely knowledgeable on the subject. Last week, the group welcomed Aaron Gornstein, President and CEO of Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) and former undersecretary for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. Gornstein first spoke to the group on the work of POAH, describing their focus on providing affordable housing across the U.S. through owning and managing over 9000 homes, as well as various neighborhood transformation projects. POAH acknowledges that affordable housing alone is not the solution, only the foundation, to helping people and families succeed in their community. Through POAH’s various community services at their properties, including job training, childcare services, financial literacy trainings, etc., they hope to provide their tenants the tools to thrive.

Gornstein also explained the history of affordable housing in the U.S. and current trends toward public housing redevelopment and mixed-income housing. Finally, he noted that incentives work far better than penalties to encourage people to save and eventually own their own home.

Look for next week’s PILP meeting recap after the group hears from Professor William Berman from Suffolk University Law School on his insights into affordable housing issues.

Meet the Faculty: PILP’s Restorative Justice Symposium

pilp symposium

This post was written by David Hartnagel, Associate at Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green PA and member of the 2015-2016 PILP Class:

On June 28, 2016, the BBA will be hosting a Juvenile Restorative Justice Symposium that will bring together legislators, law enforcement, court officials, and community leaders to discuss how restorative justice is being implemented, its challenges and successes, and the prospect for its expansion in the Commonwealth.

Among the participants expected to attend will be members of the Restorative Justice Coalition of Massachusetts.  The Coalition brings together concerned citizens who practice or support restorative justice in various capacities throughout the Commonwealth.  Formed in 2009, after Senator Jamie Eldridge publicly-announced his intention to introduce restorative justice legislation, the Coalition brings together representatives from a wide array of organizations including, among others, Communities for Restorative Justice, Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ, Restorative Justice Practices New Bedford, and the Worcester Homeless Action Committee.

Jennifer Larson Sawin, former Executive Director of Communities for Restorative Justice and one of the founders of the Coalition, describes that the Coalition’s primary mission is to help craft, strategize, and advocate for restorative justice legislation that will allow for RJ to be employed more uniformly across all the Commonwealth’s communities.  Restorative Justice efforts in Massachusetts, Sawin recounts, “rose up from the grassroots but for many years were not well-known and well-spread.  But over time there has been a groundswell of interest, with efforts afoot throughout the Commonwealth, as more people understood that the ‘tough on crime’ social experiments that were being used were just not working.”

The BBA invites everyone to attend the upcoming RJ symposium and looks forward to what should be an engaging discussion on this prescient topic.

For more information about the symposium or to register, please click here.

Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel and Executive Director of JNC Speak to Public Interest Leadership Program


On April 13th, Lon Povich, Governor Baker’s Chief Legal Counsel, and Sharon Shelfer Casey, Executive Director and Deputy Legal Counsel of the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) addressed the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program. The JNC is a non-partisan, non-political Commission composed of volunteers from across the Massachusetts that have been appointed by the Governor. Historically, the JNC established through executive order, and the present JNC was established though Governor Baker’s Executive Order No. 558.

Mr. Povich and Ms. Shelfer Casey provided an in-depth description of the history of the JNC though various administrations, the minimum qualifications for various judgeships, and the application process for a judgeship. A key point that Mr. Povich made throughout the meeting was that of the immense amount of time and effort it takes on the part of the JNC to review applications. While nominated by the Governor, the JNC is a volunteer commission, and Ms. Shelfer Casey noted it is not unusual for the time commitment to be upward of ten hours per week. They ended the discussion with some insights to the nominating process in the upcoming months with the unprecedented number of vacancies expected in the Supreme Judicial Court.

The BBA would like to sincerely thank Lon Povich and Sharon Shelfer Casey for taking the time to speak to our PILP class!

Three Reasons to Apply to the Public Interest Leadership Program

The PILP program brings together a group of new lawyers committed to serving the community for a yearlong leadership development program.

The PILP program brings together a group of new lawyers committed to serving the community for a yearlong leadership development program.

Last Thursday, the BBA hosted an info session about its Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) at 16 Beacon Street, where attendees heard from four successful PILP alumni about the program. The panelists offered insight into the application process, their personal PILP experience, and how they’ve remained involved at the BBA after completing the program.

Panelists included:

Jen Doran – Partner, Hinckley Allen, PILP ‘06-‘07

Jane Harper – Vice President and Council, State Street, PILP ’10-‘11

Katherine Schulte – Staff Attorney, Casa Myrna Vasquez, PILP 13-14

Daniel Dwyer – Shareholder, Murphy & King, PILP ‘03-‘04

The panelists discussed several reasons to apply to the PILP program and we have compiled the top three reasons below:

  1. PILP is one of the most valuable tools for networking and meeting people in the profession. PILP provides the opportunity to meet and connect with prominent leaders in the legal profession that you otherwise would not encounter. As Katherine Schulte pointed out, it is not only valuable to meet leaders in the legal profession, but at young lawyers it is important to meet people outside of your field of practice as well.
  2. Members of PILP class are exposed to and integrated into BBA leadership. The program sets the stage for other types of valuable leadership roles, both at the BBA and elsewhere. As a member of PILP you’ll join 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.
  3. PILP combines leadership and professional development with service to the community. Throughout the program the PILP class designs and implements their own public service project that addresses an issue within the legal community. Past projects have included educational program for Boston Public School students, board service training programs, and contributions to law review articles and publications.

The BBA is accepting applications to the ’16-’17 Public Interest Leadership Program through Friday, February 26th. More information on PILP and the application process is available here. Please email Neha Deshpande, Membership Outreach Assistant, at [email protected] with any questions.