The American Bar Association Law Student Division is looking for attorneys, judges, and counselors to volunteer as mock “Supreme Court” Justices for its annual National Appellate Advocacy Competition. This year’s topic is Civil Rights Law, focusing on the First Amendment rights of a public employee and the qualified-immunity doctrine. All attorneys licensed in the US are welcome to judge, and there is no requirement to have previous appellate experience. The ABA Law Student Division will provide a bench memorandum, the problem (record), and instructions on judging. Reviewing these materials is the only preparation needed.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, the competition will be held completely virtually, meaning that volunteer judges from all over the United States can help mentor law students participating in this prestigious competition. Competitions will be held via Zoom on the weekends of February 18–20, February 25–27, and March 4–6. Competition rounds last approximately 4 hours. For more details, please go to the NAAC Judges web page or direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the new program year kicking off, it’s a good time to consider what volunteer opportunities you might like to get involved in during the coming year! The BBA offers our members a number of ways to give back to the community while developing skills in different areas of law. Below are some of the opportunities that we are currently recruiting volunteers for. Reach out to Public Service & Grants Manager Hannah Poor at email@example.com or 617-778-1938 with questions or to get involved!
HOUSING COURT LAWYER FOR THE DAY Volunteer attorneys are needed to advise and represent low-income, unrepresented tenants and landlords in Housing Court on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. You will provide access to justice to pro se litigants through advice, mediation, and case litigation, mostly in eviction cases. Learn more here.
CORI SEALING CLINIC The CORI Sealing Clinic Pilot Project, which the BBA launched earlier this year in partnership with Greater Boston Legal Services and the Boston Municipal Court, connects low-income clients who have questions about their criminal records with volunteer attorneys who can help. The clinic is held the first Wednesday of every month at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse and clients can receive assistance with obtaining, reviewing, and, if advised, sealing or expunging their records. The clinic aims to help clients remove the barrier to housing, employment, and educational opportunities that having a criminal record can pose. Learn more here.
M. ELLEN CARPENTER FINANCIAL LITERACY PROGRAM This statewide program helps high school students across Massachusetts learn about making informed and effective decisions regarding their finances through educational and experiential opportunities. You can volunteer to present any of the three classroom modules, which cover Personal Finances & Budgeting, Using Credit & Credit Cards, and Financing a Large Purchase. The program culminates with a mock trial presentation in the United States Bankruptcy Court. Learn more here.
BAR EXAM COACHING The BBA’s Bar Exam Coaching program matches volunteer attorney coaches with applicants preparing to sit for the bar exam in Massachusetts, particularly those who are retaking the exam. Coaches guide applicants through the non-substantive elements of exam prep such as mental preparation, study tips, and time & stress management. We are currently seeking attorneys interested in serving as coaches for bar applicants sitting for the bar exam in February 2020. Learn more here.
SCHOOL DISCIPLINE KNOW-YOUR-RIGHTS As part of the BBA’s Service Innovation Project on Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline, the most recent Public Interest Leadership Program class partnered with Greater Boston Legal Services to provide community outreach presentations on school discipline rights, particularly with regards to new rights established under a 2018 settlement agreement that GBLS reached with Boston Public Schools. With the new school year kicking off, we are seeking volunteers to do more know-your-rights presentations to student, parent/caregiver, and community groups throughout Boston! Learn more here.
The BBA’s Public Service programs are made possible with the support of the Boston Bar Foundation.
October is Pro Bono Month, recognizing the valuable pro bono
contributions made by lawyers throughout the year, and aiming to increase pro
bono participation across the state in order to narrow the justice gap.
The BBA Council voted on Tuesday to recognize October 2019 as Pro Bono
Month and to “commend Boston attorneys for their ongoing pro bono
contributions, and remind all members that by engaging in pro bono work and
providing financial support they can make a significant difference in the lives
of Boston’s poor who would not otherwise have access to the legal system.”
Last year, the BBA trained over 200 attorneys to take pro bono cases in
civil appeals, veterans’ issues, housing, citizenship applications, education
law, and more. Meanwhile, more than 500
of our members dedicated their time to community service and pro bono work
through our public service programs –whether by helping clients at our monthly
CORI Sealing Clinic or by teaching elementary, middle, and high school students
about the importance of First Amendment rights and free speech in our
democracy. We are grateful to our
members for giving generously of their time and talents – and embodying the
spirit of Pro Bono Month all year round by delivering unique services to our
community that only lawyers can provide!
This year, we have a robust set of activities planned for Pro Bono Month. We hope you will think about where you might be able to lend support in the year ahead, and plug into one (or more!) of the many volunteer opportunities we will be highlighting in October. Together, we can advance access to justice for all people in Massachusetts.
PUBLIC CHARGE ATTORNEY TRAINING Wednesday, October 2, 12:00-2:00pm, at the BBA Register here.
This free, in-depth training will provide Massachusetts immigration attorneys with information about the new Public Charge regulation, which takes effect on October 15. This training will help lawyers assess how the new regulation will affect their clients and determine case strategy.
PRO BONO TRAINING : CHAPTER 7 CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY BASICS Thursday, October 10, 3:00-6:30pm, at the BBA Register here.
This program will cover all aspects of representing a low-income consumer debtor in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case, and will qualify participants to take on chapter 7 cases pro bono through the Volunteer Lawyers Project.
PRO BONO RECRUITMENT FAIR & OPEN HOUSE AT SUFFOLK LAW Tuesday, October 15, 4:30-6:00pm, at Suffolk University Law School Register here.
The Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House, sponsored by the Boston Bar Association and Suffolk University Law School, is open to law students and attorneys of all levels. Join us to learn about pro bono opportunities with local legal services organizations.
PIZZA AND PRO BONO: MASS LEGAL ANSWERS ONLINE BLITZ Tuesday, October 22, 5:30-7:30pm, at the BBA Register here.
Join us for a pro bono pizza party while we work with volunteer attorneys from Massachusetts Legal Answers Online and the Volunteer Lawyers Project to answer legal questions for low-income Massachusetts residents through the Mass Legal Answers Online website.
FINANCIAL LITERACY PROGRAM VOLUNTEER INFO SESSION Wednesday, October 23, 3:00-5:00pm, at the BBA Register here.
Learn about how you can volunteer with the BBA’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program and help high school students across Massachusetts build the foundational skills to make informed and effective decisions regarding their finances.
PRO BONO TRAINING FOR ATTORNEYS TO HELP CLIENTS SEAL THEIR CORI RECORDS Monday, October 28, 3:00-5:30pm, at the BBA Register here.
Learn the skills needed to volunteer at the BBA’s monthly CORI Sealing Clinic and help low-income clients who have questions about their Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) records. CORI Records can pose significant barriers to housing, employment, and educational opportunities, so advising on sealing and expungement is an important way for lawyers to help.
Boston Bar pro bono and public service projects are made possible by funding from the Boston Bar Foundation.
Over the summer, the BBA’s most recent Public Interest Leadership Program class and other dedicated volunteers were busy making presentations on school discipline rights to a number of community organizations as part of the Service Innovation Project on Dismantling the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline. These presentations covered due process rights that Boston Public Schools students are entitled to when faced with a suspension or expulsion, and focused particularly on new rights established under a 2018 settlement agreement between Greater Boston Legal Services and Boston Public Schools.
Volunteers made presentations at the following organizations, reaching over 150 service providers and middle and high school students.
Bird Street Community Center Boston Children’s Hospital Boston Youth Sanctuary Bridge Over Troubled Waters Brookview House DotHouse Health Italian Home for Children Justice Resource Institute North End Waterfront Health South Boston Community Health Center
Volunteers will be doing another round
of outreach presentations as the new school year kicks off! If you are aware of any organizations or
groups that might benefit from hearing a Know Your Rights presentation on
school discipline, or if you are interested in volunteering with the project,
please reach out to Hannah Poor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to the volunteers who made presentations this summer:
Genevieve Aguilar, Harvard University Office of the General Counsel Paula Bagger, Law Office of Paula M. Bagger LLC Erin Brummer, Fragomen Courtney Caruso, Hogan Lovells Caroline Donovan, Foley Hoag LLP Vaishali Goyal, Goulston & Storrs Hillary Harnett, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Susanna Jones, Foundation Medicine, Inc. Matthew Kane, Laredo & Smith Elizabeth Levitan, The EdLaw Project Natasha Lewis, Volunteer Lawyers Project Micah Miller, Nutter Safa Osmani, Hogan Lovells Rebekah Provost, Justice Resource Institute Payal Salsburg, Laredo & Smith Leah Segal, Goulston & Storrs Cecilia Vega, GE
BBA’s Service Innovation Project on Dismantling the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline
is made possible by the Boston Bar Foundation’s Burnes Innovation in Service
On Monday, July 21, as part of the BBA’s Service Innovation Project on Dismantling the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline, attorneys Paula Bagger (Law Office of Paula M. Bagger LLC) and Erin Brummer (Fragomen) met with middle and high schoolers at Brookview House shelter to discuss the students’ rights with regards to school discipline. In particular, the attorneys ensured that students knew that, following a 2018 settlement agreement between Greater Boston Legal Services and Boston Public Schools, the rights of students around suspension from school had been expanded.
The attorneys discussed how important it is that students
who are suspended receive a letter detailing the reasoning behind their
suspension and the length of time a suspension is in effect. They also
emphasized that students have the right to a suspension hearing and the ability
to appeal suspensions that they disagree with.
Students asked insightful questions about suspensions, such
as whether they are allowed to be on school grounds during the time of the
suspension. They also asked the attorneys about their rights around school detention
and about the consequences of being truant.
Many thanks to Attorney Bagger and Attorney Brummer for their help in spreading the word about students’ rights, and to the students at Brookview for an engaging discussion!
The BBA’s Service Innovation Project on Dismantling the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline is made possible by the Boston Bar Foundation’s Burnes Innovation in Service Fund.
Criminal records are often an obstacle to qualified individuals obtaining housing or employment. And since having a job and a permanent place to live are correlated with successful re-entry, individuals with a publicly-accessible CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) record have greater rates of recidivism.
The Boston Bar Association highlighted
the importance of reforms to the length of time that people must wait before
their CORI can be sealed, along with other key criminal justice reforms, in our
2017 report No Time to
Wait: Recommendations for a Fair and Efficient Criminal
Justice System. The report advocated
for a reduction in the amount of time individuals must wait to seal their CORI
records. In 2018 the Massachusetts Legislature, with the support of Governor
Charlie Baker, did indeed reduce the waiting time to seal criminal records; the
previous wait time of five years to seal misdemeanors was reduced to three
years, and the wait time of ten years to seal felonies was reduced to seven
This past February, the BBA launched a
CORI Sealing Pilot Project in partnership with Greater Boston
Legal Services. The project relies on
volunteer attorneys, who assist low-income clients in obtaining, reviewing,
and, if eligible, sealing and expunging their CORI records. So far, the CORI Sealing
Clinic has helped more than 50 individuals seeking to seal their criminal
records. This is a critical service, as sealing can remove or mitigate the
barrier that CORI records pose to obtaining housing and employment. Thank you to our partners, Pepper
Hamilton LLP and Sullivan
& Worcester LLP for collaborating
with us on this project and engaging their attorneys as volunteers.
The Boston Bar Association’s CORI
Sealing Clinic takes place the first Wednesday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00
p.m. at the Boston Municipal Court – Central Division (24 New Chardon Street, 2nd
Floor). The clinic would not be possible without the help of our volunteer
attorneys. These attorneys can have a life-changing impact when they assist in
sealing records. Volunteering also allows attorneys to connect with fellow
practitioners and gain clinic experience in a new area of law.
Volunteers will be trained in
advance on CORI laws and procedures and are able to sign up for the clinic
dates that work best for their schedules. If you are interested in
volunteering, please contact Hannah Poor at email@example.com.
The BBA wishes the best of luck to all applicants sitting for the July 2019 Bar Exam! The Exam will take place on July 30th and July 31st in Boston and Springfield.
Volunteers with the BBA’s Bar Exam Coaching Program, which matches applicants sitting for the bar exam with attorney coaches, are currently supporting 13 bar applicants as they study. Coaches provide study tips, time and stress management assistance, and moral support as the applicants prepare for the exam.
On Monday, June 24th, the Delivery of Legal Services Section and Law Student Forum hosted a Summer Kickoff Breakfast for Law Students and New Lawyers Exploring Public Interest Careers and Pro Bono Opportunities. Over 80 people attended the networking breakfast, which offered an opportunity for new lawyers and law students to talk with attorneys from non-profit organizations that provide legal services, as well as attorneys who work in government agencies and those who coordinate pro bono efforts at law firms. Whether the law students and new lawyers were considering careers in the public interest, or seeking pro bono opportunities, it was a great chance to connect with attorneys experienced in those areas. Thanks to all who attended!
The BBA’s CORI Sealing Clinic, which launched in January 2019, will have its fifth clinic date next Wednesday, June 5, at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse. This project, which engages volunteer attorneys in helping low-income clients seal their criminal records through the courts, has assisted close to 40 people over the past four months. We are excited to have volunteers from BBA Sponsor Firm Pepper Hamilton staff the clinic next week!
Such assistance is critical, as prior criminal records can create barriers to obtaining housing, employment, and educational opportunities. Massachusetts law permits people with a criminal record to have their records “sealed” from public view after a waiting period by meeting certain legal requirements. The CORI Sealing Clinic helps those who may not be able to undertake this process without the assistance of an attorney, but cannot afford to pay for counsel.
To learn more about the program, click here. If you are interested in volunteering with the clinic, please email Hannah Poor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The BBA invites those taking the Massachusetts Bar Exam in July 2019 to sign up for our Bar Exam Coaching program. We know you’ve got the academic part of your bar prep under control, but let us help with the mental, emotional, and practical preparation. We are ready to connect you with attorney-coaches from diverse personal and professional backgrounds to offer guidance on time management, effective study techniques, and stress management. Our program is designed for those who are retaking the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) in Massachusetts, but first-time takers can also be matched to a coach, based on availability.
The program has successfully helped more than 200 applicants to pass the exam. Earlier this year, we interviewed Kate Cook of Sugarman Rogers on the success of her coaching partner, a repeat bar applicant who passed the July exam. You can read that story here.