Monthly Archives: April 2012
On Saturday, April 21st, 25 volunteers organized by the BBA’s New Lawyers Section joined in an effort to clean up the banks of the Charles River. This event ties in with the BBA’s Task Force on Environmental Sustainability, a group charged with expanding the BBA’s public service capacity to include volunteer opportunities that benefit the environment. To read more about the work of the Task Force, please visit The Sustainable Lawyer, the BBA’s blog dedicated to issues of environmental sustainability.
The event, coordinated by the Charles River Watershed Association, marked the 13th Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup. It’s estimated that some 4,000 volunteers from Milford to Boston removed 15-20 tons of rubbish from alongside the River and the surrounding areas.
When you arrive at the Boston Bar Association Housing Court Lawyer for the Day (“Housing Court”) on Thursday, one thing you can be sure of is that Attorney Chris Saccardi will be there. Since 2009, Chris has donated his time every Thursday to assist unrepresented landlords and tenants on Eviction Day. As he gained more experience and knowledge, he began to take pro bono cases for full representation and eventually focused his private practice in the area of landlord/tenant law. Chris’ consistent presence has led to him being the go-to private attorney for recruiting and supervising other attorneys in the project.
We reached out to Chris to find out — why he donates his time to this Program, what some of his most meaningful memories are as a volunteer and asked him to share any tips for new volunteers.
Why does he give his time?
A significant majority of the people we assist are low-income or disabled, frequently don’t speak English as their first language, and are often unable to afford counsel. They typically face a landlord represented by an experienced attorney and the stakes could not be higher – the potential loss of their home or their rent subsidy. I think that it is very important to try to level this playing field and I have found that a little bit of legal advice can make a big difference. I also enjoy meeting and working with a wide variety of attorneys from various types of practices. I have made a lot of lasting friendships that have been important to me both personally and professionally. Finally, I have learned a tremendous amount both by taking on challenging cases and by asking questions of more experienced attorneys. This knowledge has been immensely helpful to me in my own practice.
Chris’ most memorable experiences as a volunteer:
I have found my pro bono work at the Housing court extremely gratifying. I helped a woman with an extremely sick child stay in her apartment by explaining to the landlord that the reason for her missed rent payments was her preoccupation with the health of her daughter. By arranging for a payment plan and actively monitoring her progress, I was able to get her back on track and concentrate on supporting her daughter.
In another instance, I spoke with an elderly tenant early in the day and was able to intercept the opposing counsel before she requested a hearing in front of a judge, which would have likely not gone well for the tenant. Instead, we were able to work out a simple repayment agreement that satisfied both parties. The tenant was so happy that she actually grabbed me and gave me a hug after the agreement had been signed.
In another case, I spoke with a tenant who I quickly came to understand had exhausted her legal options and was likely to be evicted. I sat down with her and listened to her story and gave her some advice about options for requesting a bit more time from the judge before her inevitable move-out date. When we were finished speaking, I expected her to be depressed by the disheartening news I had just given her. Instead she gave me a big smile and thanked me for my time, saying that this had been the first time someone had actually sat down and took the time to listen to her. I continue to be amazed at how much of a difference a little advice or a few kind words can make to many of the litigants I speak to at the Housing Court.
Chris’ advice to a new volunteer:
I would encourage them to participate! If they do, I suggest that they try to take as active a role as possible. While it may take a few sessions for new volunteers to start to feel knowledgeable, I suggest that they start talking to clients as soon as they can. There are always more experienced attorneys available to assist should a new attorney run into an issue with which they are not familiar. I suggest shadowing a more experienced attorney and attending a mediation, which is a great way to learn about the substantive housing issues in a typical case and to see first-hand how the procedures of the Housing Court play out.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, the Volunteer Lawyers Project in partnership with the Real Estate section of the Boston Bar Association will be having a training on “Trying a case in Boston Housing Court.” The esteemed panel includes the Honorable Jeffrey Winik, First Justice of the Boston Housing Court, Stefanie Balandis, Greater Boston Legal Services, Joanna Allison, Volunteer Lawyers Project and, of course, Chris Saccardi, the Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi.
*There is no fee for this program, but we ask that attendees put their new skills to work by taking on a pro bono case through the Volunteer Lawyers Project.
To register for this training, please click here.
Under the leadership of alums from the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP), the BBA is gearing up for the annual Law Day in the Schools Program scheduled to be held on May 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Funded by the Boston Bar Foundation , this public service initiative began in 1986 — to celebrate Law Day and to introduce students to both the legal profession and the role the law has played in shaping our constitutional democracy.
Through this interactive civics program, lawyers donate time to visit classrooms throughout city, teaching elementary, middle school and high school students and leading mock trials focusing on constitutional issues.
The theme for 2012 will be “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom.” The exercise provided to volunteers will focus on due process and ensuring access to the criminal justice system amid growing state budget constraints. A highlight of the 2012 curriculum developed by the PILP alums will be a mock trial involving stolen property. Students will play the role of the victim, the accused, law enforcement, prosecutor and defense counsel.
Volunteers aim to teach the lesson within a class period, but are flexible to the teacher’s schedules. The BBA provides volunteers with all the written materials for the Program. The commitment for the Program — including preparation, travel and teaching time– is no more than six hours.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, we will be hosting a training on April 24, 2012. To RSVP, please click here.
We would like to thank the following Public Interest Leadership Program alumni for their valuable assistance in developing the Program:
Jewish Community Relations Council
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
Nicole Murati Ferrer
City of Boston
Dalton & Finegold, LLP
After visiting 7 schools, convening 52 classes and reaching over 430 students, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program has concluded its 2012 program year. This year’s program represented a high water mark in both the number of students served and the number of volunteers mobilized. 87 lawyers, law students, and financial planners donated over 420 hours to teach high school juniors and seniors in Boston, Greater Boston, Worcester and Springfield. The M. Ellen Carpenter represents a public service partnership between the Boston Bar Association and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, and is now in its 8th year.
At the heart of the program is teaching students the importance of making sound financial decisions, and avoiding the poor credit choices that can result in bankruptcy. Through interactive discussions held over the course of four sessions, the students and volunteers covered personal finance, budgeting, credit cards , financing a car, and personal bankruptcy. With support from the Boston Bar Foundation, students traveled to the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in Boston, Worcester, and Springfield for the final session, a mock bankruptcy hearing.
Hear what volunteers have to say about the students, the Program and why they donate their time:
“I volunteered because I cannot believe that a course in basic financial literacy is not required to receive a high school diploma. I was lucky to have parents who taught me the basics- like how to make a budget (i.e, how to figure out that you can’t afford even 10% of the stuff that your teenage self wants), how to live within (or even remotely close to within) your budget, how to balance your checkbook, how to save for college (or a car or a computer or a trip abroad), and how to not go crazy with credit cards. But not everyone has someone to teach them the basics. And I don’t know how we expect these kids to become functioning, let alone successful, adults without these skills. I wish that financial literacy was a part of every school’s curriculum. – Kristin Davis of K&L Gates
“I was worried that it would be like pulling teeth to get high school kids interested in credit, but they were very eager to learn and participate. I was most impressed when the students had questions or wanted to participate without being asked to do so. They seemed genuinely interested in learning the subject matter.”- Jessica Massey of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
“I would hope students understood that credit cards are more than likely going to be a part of their lives and that if used responsibly, they do provide benefits. However, at the same time, if used the wrong way, they can be very dangerous and lead to major financial problems.”- Michael Licker of Foley Hoag
“The most memorable part of the session was when the students shared with us their experiences with lending and borrowing money. For those that had borrowed from friends and family in the past, it was interesting to see how many of them had in fact been charged interest. Upon learning of the inordinately high interest that some of the students had paid to their friends, we shared a few laughs with the students as we explained “loan sharking” to them. – Shemane Amin of Brown Rudnick LLP
The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program would not be possible without volunteers committed to giving back to the children and youth in our community. A special thanks to the following volunteers for the time they have donated to planning the 2012 Program and teaching the classes:
Honorable Joan Feeney, Program Co-Chair, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Honorable Frank Bailey, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Honorable Henry Boroff, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Honorable Melvin Hoffman, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Janet Bostwick, Program Co-Chair, Janet E. Bostwick, PC
Jeanne Darcey, Program Co-Chair, Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Adam Ruttenberg, Looney & Grossman LLP
Adrienne Walker, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.
Alberto Barrera, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Alexis Theriault, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Andrea Roller, Duff & Phelps
Ann Kelley, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Anne J. Farina, Sun Life Financial
Arwen Thoman, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Ashley Quigless, Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
Benjamin Zalman, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Bernie Schilling, Liberty Mutual Group
C Kimberly Bakeberg, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc.
Christine Kuta, Kuta Intellectual Property Law LLC
Christopher Gosselin, Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Clive Martin, Robinson & Cole LLP-Boston
David Gabor, Wagner Law Group, PC
De Bellofatto, Sun Life Financial
Diane Rallis, Holland & Knight LLP
Doe Pichard, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Elizabeth Katz, Ostrander Law Office
Frederick Paulsen, Burns & Levinson LLP
Galen Gilbert, Gilbert & O’Bryan LLP
Gina Barbieri, Mirick O’Connell
Greg Dekermenjian, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Halina Magerowski, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Heather Cheney, Boston Financial Management, Inc.
Jaime D’Almeida, Duff & Phelps
James Bonfanti, Eastern Bank
James Downey, Citi
James Zuckernikm, Robinson & Cole LLP-Boston
Jennifer English, Citi
Jenny Yandell, Parker & Associates
Jessica Massey, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
John Beccia, Boston Private Financial Holdings, Inc
John Davis, Cooley Shrair PC
Jordan Baumer, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Joseph Morrissey, JSW Morrissey & Associates
Kathleen Rahbany, Craig and Macauley Professional Corporation
Kristin Davis, K & L Gates LLP
Lucy Lovrien, Attorney at Law
Lynne Xerras, Holland & Knight, LLP
Mackenzie Shea, K & L Gates LLP
Maria Grinko, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Mark Berman, Nixon Peabody LLP
Mark DiOrio, Bulfinch Companies, Inc.
Martha Claire Masinton, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Marti Kopacz, Brant Point Advisors LLC
Mary Donnellan, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Mary Sharon, U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit
Mary Sullivan, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Meghan Roche, Attorney at Law
Melissa O’Berg, Rocket Software, Inc.
Michael Licker, Foley Hoag LLP
Michael Pappone, Goodwin Procter LLP
Michele Collins, MetLife
Michelle Greco, Sun Life Financial
Natalie Sawyer, Murphy & King, P.C.
Noah Kaufman, Foley Hoag LLP
Paul Connors, Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP
Regina Brooks, U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Richard Mikels, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.
Richard Sheils, Bowditch & Dewey, LLP
Sara Meyers, Ropes & Gray LLP
Shemane Amin, Brown Rudnick LLP
Steven Pohl, Brown Rudnick LLP
Warren Agin, Swiggart & Agin, LLC