Posts Categorized: Public Service

Lawyers Lend a Hand to Local Nonprofits

Last spring, nonprofit employers gathered at 16 Beacon to learn about the new Employment Law Pro Bono Project, a partnership between Lawyers Clearinghouse and the BBA’s Labor & Employment section

Last spring, nonprofit employers gathered at 16 Beacon to learn about the new Employment Law Pro Bono Project, a partnership between Lawyers Clearinghouse and the BBA’s Labor & Employment section


Our dedicated readers may remember this post about the launch of the Lawyers Clearinghouse and BBA Labor and Employment Section’s Employment Law Pro Bono Project last spring. If you happened to miss it, here’s the deal. This new project pairs pro bono attorneys with local nonprofits who need help with employment related issues, such as compliance, wage and hour law, and more. The program is officially underway and volunteers have been helping local nonprofits on a range of issues.

mbWhile we can’t share the specifics of the cases, we can find out more from our lawyer volunteers.  Mike Birch (Lurie, Lent & Friedman, LLP), for example, recently assisted a local nonprofit with a complicated employment termination. We asked him why other attorneys should get involved in this initiative. Here’s what he had to say:

“I believe there are many reasons to get involved with the program and assist nonprofits with employment issues.

From a professional development standpoint, it provides the opportunity to gain additional experience with employment law issues.  The employment law issues that arise in an employment lawyer’s practice and the factual settings in which they arise are almost innumerable.  The more I am able to think through employment law issues in different factual contexts, the better able I am to address them as they arise in my practice, for all of our employer clients.

Also, nonprofits often operate on limited financial resources.  Nonprofits are often spread thin and the time of the people who run them (such as Executive Directors) is limited.  These people often wear multiple hats, juggling the administration of the nonprofit and provision of the nonprofit’s valuable services to the community.  Dealing with unfamiliar employment law issues can be overwhelming, worrisome, and time consuming.  With us assisting, the nonprofit can devote its limited resources and time to doing what it does best—providing the services that are at the core of its mission.  By assisting nonprofits with their employment law issues, we are playing a meaningful part by assisting them to focus on their provision of those services.”

PILP 10 Teams Up with the Courts on Court Service Pilot Project

Panelist Tony Doniger outlines the role of the Court Service Center with fellow speakers Judge Dina Fein and Sheriece Perry (right) and moderator Katherine Schulte (left).

Panelist Tony Doniger outlines the role of the Court Service Center with fellow speakers Judge Dina Fein and Sheriece Perry (right) and moderator Katherine Schulte (left).

Each year, the BBA Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) crafts a year-long project to address needs in our community. Last week, attorneys crowded into the BBA’s Adams Room to learn about PILP 10’s project with the new Edward W. Brooke Courthouse Court Service Center (CSC), which opened in June. The Brooke Courthouse CSC is one of two pilot service centers; the other is located in Greenfield, MA. The Trial Court, the Access to Justice Commission, and Rosie’s Place teamed up to make the CSC a reality, and now it’s our job to showcase all that’s happening in Boston and in our Commonwealth.

If you missed the program last week, Beyond the Billable has you covered.  Take a look below for all the details on the program:

Who were the panelists?

  1. Judge Dina Fein – Housing Court, Western Division
  2. Anthony Doniger – Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.
  3. Sheriece Perry – Manager, Court Service Center

What happens at the CSC?

The CSC provides invaluable resources for visitors to the courthouse. Staff and volunteers help pro se litigants prepare pleadings, court forms and documents, access existing social services, public computers, workstations, and interpreters. While CSC staff and volunteers provide legal information, not legal advice, they meet unaddressed needs among community members.

How many people have visited the CSC?

Since the CSC opened on June 2, 2014, more than 1,530 individuals have visited the CSC for legal information!

How can you get involved?

Attorneys, law students hoping to get acquainted with the Boston legal community, and new lawyers are all welcome to volunteer. If interested, please send your resume and cover letter to the Manager of the CSC Sheriece Perry at [email protected].

What’s next?

More Court Service Centers! The impact that the CSC has at the Brooke Courthouse and in Greenfield – both for pro se litigants and court staff – has illustrated their importance for all court visitors. The goal is to open four more service centers within the next year at the busiest courts in the Commonwealth.

The CSC is open Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To learn more information, please click here.

The BBA and Busing in Boston

Ed Barshak and Julia Huston

Ed Barshak (Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.) received the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award at last week’s Annual Meeting Luncheon for his leadership on issues, such as the desegregation of the Boston schools through busing.

Our dedicated readers know about our partnership with the Boston Public Schools through a number of our public service initiatives, including the BBA Summer Jobs Program, Law Day in the Schools, and the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. However, you may not know that our support for Boston youth precedes these longstanding initiatives. If you were one of the 1,200 attorneys who attended our Annual Meeting Luncheon on Friday, you know BBA President Julia Huston referenced the BBA’s involvement in the City of Boston’s efforts to desegregate schools through busing in the 1970’s in her remarks about the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Honoree, Ed Barshak.  Here’s what happened: under then President Ed Barshak’s leadership, the BBA worked to educate the public about desegregation and the busing movement—a movement which fundamentally changed the structure and makeup of the Boston public schools we work with today. If you want more specifics about the BBA’s role in this issue, our friends at Issue Spot, the BBA’s Public Policy blog, offer a full rundown of events in their post, A Retrospective – The BBA and Busing, 40 Years Later.

New Lawyers Learn Ins and Outs of Legal Service Careers


Law students and new attorneys learned about legal service careers at last week's Career Series Lunch.

Law students and new attorneys learned about legal service careers at last week’s Career Series Lunch.

Last Thursday, new lawyers and law students gathered at 16 Beacon to get the inside scoop on what it’s really like to work in legal services as part of the BBA’s Summer Career Series. Attendees gained insight from attorneys of diverse backgrounds with years of legal services experience, asked questions about the profession, and learned tips on how to pursue a career in legal services. Panelists also recommended pursuing volunteer and pro bono opportunities at various organizations as a means of identifying areas of law they are interested in pursuing professionally.

The all-star lineup of panelists includes:

  • Yugo Nakai and D’Andre Fernandez, both attorneys from the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association, shared stories about the types of cases they handle and offered tips on how to deal with these clients, whose circumstances offer a unique and often challenging experience.
  • Katharine Milton, an attorney at Casa Myrna Vazquez, emphasized that because legal service organizations do not have extensive support staff or large budgets, working in legal services calls for patience and resourcefulness.
  • Sherley Rodriquez, an attorney working at a fellowship program through Suffolk University Law School, further emphasized the importance of making positive connections with other attorneys in legal services who will remember you further down the line when more opportunities and positions open up.

After the luncheon, Beyond the Billable checked in with BC Law student Caryn Sigurdson about the panelist discussion and her interest in legal services. Here’s what she had to say:

“The Legal Services panel for the Summer Career Series was informative and helpful. I have always considered working in legal services, but didn’t really have an idea of what that meant. Now I’m convinced that it is something I want to do at some point in my career. I find it frustrating that everything in law school and at networking events focuses on firms, and everyone assumes that working at a large firm is your life’s goal, so it is nice to have an opportunity to meet with other public interest-minded people whose passions are to help those in need.”

Interested in attending a Career Series lunch? Check out the final lunch called “What’s it REALLY Like Being a Real Estate Attorney?” tomorrow at 12:30 pm. Stay tuned for more career series programs in the fall!

PILP 10’s Lasting Impact – the Court Service Center Project


The PILP ’10 Class worked to develop materials for the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse’s Court Service Center to help bring further access to justice in Massachusetts.

Over the last several months, PILP 10 has been hard at work developing materials for the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse’s Court Service Center (CSC). The culmination of their hard work was a meeting last week with Judge Dina Fein (Massachusetts Housing Court, Western Division) and Access to Justice Coordinator Erika Rickard (the Massachusetts Trial Court) to discuss their project and to hear how the Commonwealth can best serve unrepresented litigants.

Before we get to that meeting, here’s a little background on PILP 10’s project. This class spent the past year drafting materials for the Edward W. Brooke Court Service Center (CSC). The CSC will have a grand opening later this summer. It was created with the hope of being a central court hub for self-represented litigants. Visitors to the Brooke Court can go to the CSC for clarification on forms needed for legal action, connection to existing legal and social services, and language translation assistance. The PILPers put together materials and resources to help the staff and volunteers most effectively serve self-represented litigants.

Additionally, as part of their project, the class will be hosting a brown bag program in September to discuss the workings of the CSC and how BBA members can get involved. Of course, Beyond the Billable will keep you up-to-date on program logistics.

At the meeting, the PILPers participated in a fruitful discussion about how the Commonwealth can best serve unrepresented litigants. Beyond the Billable caught up with a few members of the PILP class after the meeting to see how it went.  Here’s what they had to say:

“It was incredibly rewarding to hear about how our work has been utilized by the Court Services Center so far.  I also thought that Judge Fein and Erika Rickard were fantastic advocates for the CSC program and their enthusiasm made us all the more committed to support the new CSC and serve as a resource in any way we can.” — Caroline Simons, Fish & Richardson P.C.

“When our PILP class first engaged in the idea of assisting the first-ever Court Service Center in MA as our year’s PILP project, I don’t think we really grasped the impact that the CSC would have on people interacting with the court system. The CSC has only been open a few weeks, and it has already helped hundreds of people going through the Brooke Courthouse get answers to their questions. I hope PILP’s small contributions to assist the CSC get up and running will allow them to help even more people, and I hope our PILP class will stay involved with the CSC going forward.” –Merritt Dattel McGowan, Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority

Stay tuned for more on PILP 10’s CSC project.

Society of Fellows Program Grows as BBF’s Community Impact Expands

In April, members of the Society of Fellows were invited to an exclusive Spring Fellows reception to honor their contributions.

In April, members of the Society of Fellows were invited to an exclusive Spring Fellows reception to honor their contributions.

While our readers know about the Boston Bar Foundation’s impact in our community, you may be less familiar with the group of people who make this work possible—the BBF’s Society of Fellows Program. The Fellows are a community of philanthropic lawyers dedicated to advancing the BBF’s mission of increasing the availability of legal help to those in need, supporting innovative legal services projects and programs, and providing meaningful ways for lawyers to connect with our community.   We’ve noticed amazing growth from the Fellows Program since the beginning of this year, so we crunched some numbers to calculate how the Society of Fellows impacts the BBF.

As of today, 45 Fellows have either joined or upgraded their memberships for this year alone, pledging a total of $335,000.  This support has allowed us to use fundraising revenues for specific causes. For example:

  •  This year, 100 percent of the proceeds from Casino Night will be dedicated to the BBA’s Summer Jobs program, helping to provide paid summer employment for Boston teens.  In addition, the upcoming Passport to Pairings event (formerly Justice is Sweet) will be dedicated to funding the full portfolio of BBA public service programs.
  • The BBF devoted $300,000 in Adams Benefit proceeds this year to legal service grants that advance access to justice for those in need, including immigrants, victims of domestic violence and low income children and families – a need that continues to grow as IOLTA funding continues to decline.
  • The BBF is only $1.4 million away from its long-term goal of $5 million for the endowment, which will provide invaluable long term support for the BBF’s efforts.

Don’t just take it from us.  Hear firsthand from some of the individuals who have joined this year on why they made the decision to pledge as a Fellow:

“The BBF’s mission to support pro bono work and access to justice for Boston’s needy is so critical to us as lawyers and citizens, and I am really grateful and excited for the opportunity to work with the BBF and the Society.” – Karen M. O’Toole, Fidelity Investments

“Each day, too many of our fellow citizens must face serious legal issues – from the loss of disability benefits to eviction – while being unable to afford having a lawyer at their side.  I am proud to support the Boston Bar Foundation’s mission of expanding legal service, assistance and access to all in our communities.” – Scott A. Roberts, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP

“All lawyers have a professional responsibility to assist those with limited means.  I admire the work of the Boston Bar Foundation and the tangible, positive impact of the Foundation in the lives of those who most need its help.  I am proud and thankful to be a Junior Fellow and to assist in this work.”—Kimberly Butler-Rainen, Tamkin & Hochberg, LLP

If you are interested in supporting the BBF’s public service, find out more about joining the Society of Fellows here. Take a look at the current list of fellows here.

Pairing Public Service with Gourmet Food and Drinks

Pairings website banner

Don’t miss out on the Boston Bar Foundation’s newest event, Passport to Pairings, next Thursday! Not only will the event be fun and delicious, but 100% of the proceeds are going to a great cause all of the—BBA public service programs!

It goes without saying (as the BBA’s Public Service Blog) that Beyond the Billable is pretty excited about this event. Here’s a sneak peek at what guests can expect on June 26th:

  • The event will feature gourmet food and beverage pairing stations celebrating the BBF’s partnership with the BBA.
  • Some of the Pairings stations include sushi & Saki, craft beer & gourmet hot dogs, artisanal donuts & specialty coffee, and much more.
  • Each ticket gets you access to deluxe food & beverage stations, beer & wine, live music and our raffle, so don’t miss out on all of the fun!

BBF Events like Passport to Pairings make it possible for the BBA to continue to strengthen and expand our public service efforts, including the Marathon Assistance Project, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program,  the BBA Summer Jobs Program, and the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program. Thanks in large part to the support of the BBF (our partner in public service) this year marked a very successful year for the BBA’s programs. The numbers below are all the proof you need:

  • 23 pro bono trainings trained nearly 600 attorneys to take cases ranging from special education appeals to veterans benefits.
  • 64 Boston public high school students were placed in summer internships in local Boston law firms and offices through the BBA Summer Jobs Program.
  • 1,300 Boston public school students learned about the importance of voting through our annual Law Day in Schools program.
  • 18 schools state wide received Financial Literacy Training in the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program’s 10th year.
  • 275 calls were fielded from active duty military members and veterans since the BBA began hosting the Veterans helpline in September.
  • Continued to assist individuals and businesses that were affected by the tragic events on Marathon Monday in areas, including employment and tax issues. Since the program began last year, 84 attorneys have helped over 70 individuals and small businesses owners.

Convinced? The event will take place on Thursday, June 26th at 6pm at 16 Beacon Street. Buy your ticket today to the maiden voyage of this event and help us continue to grow our public service programs!

New Lawyers Public Service Committee gives back to Greater Boston Food Bank

btb 5.14


Last Saturday, the BBA’s New Lawyers Public Service Committee took time out of their busy weekend to spend some time at the Greater Boston Food Bank, the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. The lawyers inspected, sorted, and packed food and grocery products. The group’s efforts helped put together 4, 509 meals for local families. We reached out to some of the New Lawyers to get their take on this event and other public service events they participate in – here’s what they had to say:

“Under the strong leadership of Margaret Caulfield and Sara Shannon, the BBA New Lawyers Section’s Public Service Committee has cemented its role as the preeminent vehicle for new and experienced attorneys alike to work together in serving the community in the Greater Boston area.  The volunteer event at the Greater Boston Food Bank was one of many examples this BBA year where BBA members and their guests had the opportunity to interact in casual, collaborative settings while helping those in need.” – Paul Connors, Corporate Counsel, athenahealth

“Volunteering at the GBFB with the BBA is something we look forward to every year.  It is always a fantastic event.  However, it is just one of the many public service opportunities Margaret and I planned this past year.  To name a few, we worked with the Environmental Law Section to clean up Franklin Park.  We also volunteered at Cradles to Crayons, helping to put together book packets for kids around Boston.  In December we teamed up with the Social Committee of the New Lawyers Section and promoted the Toys for Tots Program by gathering gifts for children for the holidays.  We also volunteered with the Prison Book Program by sorting and sending books to various state prisons in the Commonwealth. We also continued our tradition in assisting with the Earth Day Cleanup by volunteering our time (rain or shine) to pick up trash on the Charles River organized by the Esplanade Association.

Not only are these public service events wonderful for networking with other attorneys, but they are also rewarding and a lot of fun.” – Sara Shannon, Assistant Attorney General, Environmental Crimes Strike Force

Thank you to our Law Day in the Schools Volunteers!!

Students from Ms. Gee’s 2nd grade class at Josiah Quincy Elementary School talking with attorneys Carrie Benedon and Suleyken Walker from the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General about elections and why every vote counts.

As many of you readers know, the BBA just finished up its Law Day in the Schools Program, and this year, thanks to the continuing strength of the program and the work put in by our volunteers, Law Day in the Schools reached more students than ever! This year, 87 volunteers brought the program to 50 classrooms in 9 different Boston Public Schools to teach over 1,300 students of all ages about “Why Every Vote Matters.”

Beyond the Billable would like to acknowledge the attorneys, legal staff, and law students who volunteered their time to be a part of Law Day! Without their time and effort this program would not be possible. Thank you to:

Daryl Abbas
Susan Alexander
Julia Amrhein
Kerri Ansello
Leonard Audaer
Heather Baer
Jared Barnes
Carrie Benedon
Daniel Biagiotti
Jane Biondi
Martha Born
Heidi Brewster
Stephen Cohen
Kyle Crossley
Meghan Davoren
Kathryn Day
Joan Densberger
Smita Deshmukh
Andrew Doherty
Elizabeth Duffy
Daniel Dufresne
Noah Ehrenpreis
Ely Exner
Julie Franklin
Richard Freije
Maya French
Galen Gilbert
Sugandha Gopal
Michelle Greco
Brenda Hansen
Julie Heinzelman
Kathleen Henry
Rachel Hershfang
Emily Hodge
Sheryl Howard
Kate Isley
April Itano
Richard Johnston
Elizabeth Johnston
Catherine Jones
Anne Kaczmarek
Sharon Kamowitz
Dara Kesselheim

Ellen King
Nita Kumaraswami
David Lieberman
Jessica Lieberman
David London
Stephanie Macholtz
Jenevieve Maerker
John McBrine
Bryana McGillycuddy
Rochelle Meddoff
Lisa Menelly
Mark Molter
Jason Morris
Sean Nehill
Igor Novikov
Elianna Nuzum
Michael Parran
Jessica Pettit
Rory Pheiffer
Krista Pratt
Karen Rabinovici
Nicholas Ramacher
Susanne Reardon
Parker Reynolds
Andrea Richmond
Catherine Robinson
Laura Rosi
Allison Roso
Nency Salamoun
Michael Satterwhite
Sarah Schendel
Gregory Shiferman
Jacob Simon
Gary Smith
Mary Snyder
Michael Steffany
Alex Sugerman-Brozan
Anne Thomas
Suleyken Walker
Natasha Walwyn
Alice Wang
Gregory Whittaker
Scott Zanolli
Kiersten Zaza


For more information about Law Day in the Schools, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at [email protected].

Law Day Dinner Honors the Strength of Boston!

Monday night, over 1,400 attorneys came out for the annual Law Day Dinner held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. At the Dinner, friends, colleagues, judges, and legislators joined together to welcome Boston’s new Mayor, honor achievements, and celebrate the strength of our city.

This year, awards were presented to the Marathon Assistance Project’s volunteers, whose quick response to a tragedy through legal assistance changed the lives of many who had been affected by the atrocities and helped them to recover.


BBA President Paul T. Dacier presented a special award to over 60 volunteer attorneys who provided critical assistance to victims and small business affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.

BBA President Paul T. Dacier presented a special award to over 60 volunteer attorneys who provided critical assistance to victims and small business affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.


Following the honoring of the Marathon Volunteers, the BBA recognized the tireless work of the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) for their dedication to providing educational and career opportunities to Boston youth, as well as their longstanding support of the BBA Summer Jobs program. This celebration of the PIC’s commitment to students comes as the BBA’s Summer Jobs 2014 Program is about to begin: currently the PIC and BBA are working to place over 60 Boston Public High School students in paid legal positions for the summer.


BBA President Paul T. Dacier presented the Boston Private Industry Council Executive Director Neil Sullivan, School-to-Career and Employer Engagement Director Josh Bruno, and several Career Specialists with an award for their continued collaboration with BBA on the Summer Jobs Program and their work to help Boston Public High School Students find jobs and transition into the workforce

BBA President Paul T. Dacier presented the Boston Private Industry Council Executive Director Neil Sullivan, School-to-Career and Employer Engagement Director Josh Bruno, and several Career Specialists with an award for their continued collaboration with BBA on the Summer Jobs Program and their work to help Boston Public High School Students find jobs and transition into the workforce.


Last but definitely not least, the BBA honored Bonnie Sashin, the BBA’s former Director of Communications & External Relations, for her 26 years of outstanding service and her contributions to the organization and the legal community.  Bonnie received a standing ovation from attendees, while guests and people not in attendance were able to tweet their congratulations to Bonnie at #thankyoubonnie, where the messages were broadcasted live on stage.


LDD 4 Walsh


The ceremony concluded with a speech from Boston’s mayor, Marty Walsh, who spoke to attendees about his commitment to community and equality, and how the bar and legal professionals can play a role in his vision for the city of Boston. The Mayor began by thanking all of the volunteers of the Marathon Assistance Project, emphasizing the unique role that as attorneys they were able to play in helping the city recover.

Mayor Walsh also spoke to attendees about public service, and giving back the community in which we all live or work.  The BBA’s Summer Jobs program was highlighted as one of the many parts of Mayor Walsh’s personal vision for diverse youth employment in Boston, stating that “in a time of growth, no one should be left behind.”

Along with Mayor Walsh, Beyond the Billable would like to thank the Boston Marathon Assistance Projects volunteers, PIC, and Bonnie for their tremendous contributions to making the Boston a stronger, happier, and more progressive city – thank you!