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.
Posts Tagged: Bankruptcy Section
Since 2005, the BBA’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program has been providing high school students in Massachusetts with the tools to make informed financial decisions. Through classroom presentations and a visit to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, over 5,800 students have been reached by our volunteers. Topics include Finance & Budgeting, Using Credit & Credit Cards, Financing a Large Purchase, and the final session, Consequences of Poor Financial Management.
If you’re interested in volunteering, the session dates and times for 2018 will be released prior to the new year and will be available for sign-up online. As a volunteer, you will present at least one classroom session lasting about an hour and will receive training and resources prior to visiting the school. Participating high schools are located in the Greater Boston, Worcester, and Springfield areas. This volunteer opportunity is available to lawyers and law students.
To be included on the program notification email list and to be alerted when sign-up has begun, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].
Start your new year by attending one of the BBA’s upcoming public service programs. From pro bono trainings to informational brown bags, there’s sure to be a program that interests you. Take a look below!
No Buyers, No Business. Combatting Human Trafficking by Targeting the Demand
Monday, January 23, 2017, 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
At this program, you’ll learn the role of demand reduction in combatting commercial sexual exploitation, the scope of the issue of commercial exploitation in Boston, local efforts deployed by CEASE Boston to combat demand, and the role prosecutorial innovation can play in support of efforts to increase the consequential penalties for the purchase of illegal commercial sex by buyers.
Pro Bono Training: How to Prepare a Bankruptcy
Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 3:30 PM to 7:00 PM
This training will inform attendees how to take on pro bono bankruptcy cases and represent pro bono debtors.
Pro Bono Training: Representing Debtors in Small Claims Court
Thursday, February 9, 2017, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
The panelists will discuss the launch of the Lawyer for the Day Fair Debt Collection Clinic in Small Claims Court at the Boston Municipal Court Central Division and how attorneys can volunteer at the clinic.
On Thursday, October 6th, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts held its Fourth Annual Pro Bono Awards Ceremony. The Bankruptcy Judges presented the Pro Bono Publico Awards, which are given for exceptional devotion to pro bono work in each of the state’s regions. The Boston Bar Association congratulates all of the awardees and distinguishes Janet Bostwick for receiving the District of Massachusetts Award.
While presenting the award to Bostwick, Judge Joan Feeney noted that the District of Massachusetts Award is not given every year, but Bostwick’s dedication to pro bono and the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program are deserving of the award. Bostwick was also recently honored at the Boston Bar Association for her work on the Financial Literacy program after she stepped down as Co-Chair of the Financial Literacy Committee after 12 years of service. You can read more on that honor here.
Following the Pro Bono Publico Awards, the 2016 Pro Bono Honor Roll certificates were presented to attorneys meeting the Honor Roll criteria outlined by the Court’s Pro Bono Legal Services Advisory Committee. The Boston Bar Association congratulates those awardees and thanks them for their service to the community.
Pro Bono Publico Awards:
Western Division Award – Henry E. Geberth, Jr.
Central Division Award – Judith Vassilovski
South Coast/Cape & Islands Division Award – David B. Madoff
Eastern Division Award – Neil D. Warrenbrand
District of Massachusetts Award – Janet E. Bostwick
Kermine S. Akoglu
William R. Baldiga
Joseph H. Baldiga
Elaine M. Benkoski
Janet E. Bostwick
Christopher M. Candon
David R. Chenelle
Michelle L. Cote
N. Lee Darst
John W. Davis
Michael P. Dube
Kellie W. Fisher
Jesse N. Garfinkle
Henry E. Geberth, Jr.
Jonathan R. Goldsmith
Maegan L. Hurley
Jeffrey L. Jonas
Elizabeth D. Katz
Sarah J. Long
John G. Loughnane
Heather J. Lynham
Jonathan D. Marshall
Wendy M. Mead
Richard E. Mikels
Kate E. Nicholson
Andrea M. O’Connor
Gina Barbieri O’Neil
William J. O’Neil
David W. Ostrander
Nina M. Parker
Steven D. Pohl
David G. Prentiss
Richard S. Ravosa
Alex M. Rodolakis
Deborah G. Roher
Adam J. Ruttenberg
Denise M. Shear
Mary Jeanne Stone
Andrew P. Strehle
Christina M. Turgeon
Adrienne K. Walker
Kevin J. Walsh
Neil D. Warrenbrand
Thomas N. Wilson
Keri L. Wintle
Though Pro Bono Month has officially ended, Beyond the Billable encourages its readers to take advantage of the BBA’s public service and pro bono initiatives year-round. If you needed any extra motivation, take a look at the four pro bono spotlights below, each of which highlights the commitment and participation of dedicated lawyers dedicated to pro bono work.
Thomas Beauvais: Lawyer for a Day Has A Lifetime Impact
Meg McKenzie Feist: Helping to Ease Burdens Through Bankruptcy
Donald Lassman: Financial Education for Service Members as a Means of Prevention
Katy Ward: Ensuring Access to Justice in Boston’s Housing Court
For a full recap of Pro Bono Month, click here. Please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at [email protected] for more information on how to get involved throughout the year.
Over 100 volunteers have signed up to teach the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program— a public service partnership between the Boston Bar Association and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts – to local high school students. The program is about to begin its most exciting year ever. Starting next week, the program is slated to reach over 1,000 students in 13 Massachusetts Public Schools. As the program expands to serve more students, the dedication of returning volunteers and new volunteers grows stronger.
What would compel intelligent adults to willingly enter a classroom of teenagers? We asked posed that question to three of our volunteers:
Bernie Schilling, Liberty Mutual
I’ve been a volunteer for the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program because I believe in what the program represents – educating our students to the world of finance. I feel there is a void in educating students to make good choices and I want to make a difference in sharing my bumps in the road.
Meghan Roche, Law Office of Meghan Roche
I continue to be a volunteer because I think these skills that are taught in the class are vital to a successful financial future. I truly believe that they should be part of every schools’ curriculum and that the lessons are useful to all students whether you become a doctor, a teacher or a plumber. Explaining the differences between wants and needs and exploring how to use credit wisely can be valuable lessons for kids today. I think this program is such a great opportunity for high school students to learn something that will help them to be financially responsible adults.
I am delighted to volunteer for the BBA’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program because it is an important initiative to educate teens about financial responsibility and to provide them with some basic tools and essential information needed to successfully manage their finances as adults in order to avert financial hazards such as foreclosure and insurmountable debt. Through its interactive co-teaching platform, the program is also a great opportunity to work with other volunteer members of the community to effectively engage students in the discussion.
To view available volunteer sessions, please click here and log in. For more information about volunteering or the program, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at [email protected].
As 2012 comes to a close, we begin to shift our focus to the New Year with anticipation. For those of you looking to get more involved and give back to the Greater Boston Community in 2013, the BBA is offering a number of public service trainings and programs in January to give you a head start. Here are a few ways you can get involved:
• Receive Limited Assistance Referral Certification at the training on January 9th from 3-4:30 pm. You can sign up for the certification here. This program will certify participants as LAR attorneys and teach them the basics on going into court for a single event in a case. The training will be followed by two separate breakout sessions on Family and Probate Law and Land Court. You can sign up for the Probate and Family Court session here or the Land Court session here.
• Attend the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program training on January 14th from 4-6 pm. The program is partnership between the BBA and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts and teaches high school students how to make smart financial decisions. This opportunity offers volunteers of all backgrounds an opportunity to get involved in the community by teaching classes on topics that include personal finance, budgeting and using credit. The time commitment is just a few hours but the impact on these students is substantial. Sign up for the training here; however, the training is not mandatory.
• Join the New Lawyers and Tax Sections for an accelerated training session for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program on January 16th from 4-8 pm. The program is coordinated locally by the Boston Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition and annually trains volunteers to prepare income tax returns for low income taxpayers at community sites in the greater Boston area. No previous experience is required and non-attorneys are welcome to participate. Please note that volunteers will need to complete the certification test separately. Please sign up for the training here.
• Learn how to build your practice while helping your community at the upcoming “Building Your Practice Through Pro Bono” event on January 23rd from 12:30- 1:30 pm. Please sign up here.
• Join the Bankruptcy Public Service Committee for the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Training on January 24th from 4-7 pm. The program will cover the basics of preparing and filing a Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy case for a pro bono debtor. The topics covered will include pre-filing considerations, preparation of the petition, schedules and statements, the 341 meeting of creditors, practice pointers and advice about handling a pro bono consumer bankruptcy case. Please sign up here.
For more information on the programs, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator at [email protected].
Over the past ten years I have represented about a dozen debtors pro bono in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases referred to me through the Volunteer Lawyers Project. The cases have ranged from the simplest of no asset cases to more complicated matters involving the threat of liens on a debtor’s residence or failed business. With the help of the Boston Bar Association Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Pro Bono Volunteer Lawyer Training, you could take on these cases too.
A VLP referral is an excellent way for a lawyer just starting out to gain the experience of handling a bankruptcy case from start to finish. The trustees know from statements filed by the attorney that the representation is pro bono (and I usually state specifically that it is a VLP referral), and they try to be accommodating. The first three § 341 meetings I did (where a debtor is examined by the Chapter 7 trustee) were all pro bono cases. It was eye opening to watch the trustees question debtors as they go through the fifty cases they can be assigned in one five hour day (yes, that is an average of six minutes per § 341 meeting).
Once I had a debtor who got sick soon after the bankruptcy filing. The trustee agreed to conduct the § 341 meeting by telephone, from the debtor’s hospital bed. I went to the hospital with a notary who could administer the oath to the debtor, and we proceeded. I am sure the nurses and others around us were puzzled as to what was going on.
Most of all, though, I have found pro bono debtors to be the most grateful and appreciative of clients I have had. I have often received thank you notes or small gifts, something that doesn’t seem to happen much with my paying clients. I still remember the thank you note from one of my first clients, which in addition to expressing how pleased he was told me that he had made arrangements for a special novena to be said in church on my behalf.
Adam Ruttenberg is a Partner at Looney & Grossman, LLP. Adam is a Co-chair of the Boston Bar Association Bankruptcy Public Service Committee.