Monthly Archives: February 2013
It’s Thursday morning in the Boston Housing Court, which can only mean one thing – the halls are crowded with landlords and tenants involved in eviction cases. One table in particular, staffed by volunteers from the BBA’s Lawyer for a Day in the Housing Court, seems particularly jam-packed. It’s no wonder. In 2012 BBA volunteers and their partners assisted more than 1,000 litigants.
You may be asking yourselves how our volunteer lawyers have the time to reach so many people each and every Thursday. The answer — through Pro Bono Limited Assistance Representation (LAR). The Boston Housing Court authorized the use of LAR in November 2010, which allows attorneys to appear in court on a limited basis without assuming full representation of the client and all the legal issues that may be related to the legal matter. The benefit is threefold: lawyers who may not have the time to take entire pro bono cases can still assist those in need, LAR provides an opportunity for attorneys to gain valuable courtroom experience and most importantly, and more people with unresolved legal issues that require representation are getting the help they need.
We think the impact of LAR is clear, but don’t just take it from us:
LAR provides an important legal service to many unrepresented litigants who appear in the Boston Housing Court. LAR attorneys represent these litigants on a specific limited matter (that sometimes enables the litigant to resolve the case that day). Attorneys entering LAR appearances gain valuable practical courtroom experience arguing a discrete matter before a judge without having to enter a full appearance. LAR attorneys have been able to acquire new fee paying clients (or new clients with claims that allow for statutory attorney fees) base upon their limited appearances.– Hon. Jeffrey Winik, Boston Housing Court Department of the Trial Court
LAR gets attorneys in the courtroom with clients–so much more effective and powerful than just giving the client advice. Because the attorney is obligated only for that one event of the case, s/he can commit to courtroom advocacy without taking on a case for full representation case that does not fit in their schedule or their practice.–Joanna Allison, Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association.
Last year, as we began our partnership with the Boston Debate League (BDL), enlisting lawyers to be judges for debate tournaments, there was a buzz of excitement throughout the BBA. In a few short months the partnership is already a resounding success.
Every month from October through March, BDL holds debate tournaments for Boston Public High School debate teams. So far this year, almost 40 BBA volunteers have been judges at tournaments. After a successful January tournament, BDL reached out to the BBA to thank us for our collaboration:
This month we had a struggle for volunteers but it all worked out. The BBA members allowed our tournament to have a good core of knowledgeable judges for our more experienced divisions (varsity/championship) and made themselves available for our divisions who didn’t have as many volunteers sign up to judge for the weekend. Thank you so much for your support.
In addition to the judges, there are also four BBA members who are mentors for BDL. These mentors spend one to two hours a week supporting a debate team in a particular high school.
The BBA’s partnership with BDL fulfills three of the BBA’s many public service goals: 1) using lawyering skills to make a significant impact on the Boston community, 2) providing BBA members with a meaningful volunteer opportunity, and 3) expanding the diversity pipeline into the legal profession.
We would like to thank our volunteers:
Catherine Drislane (Boston Latin Academy)
Greg Peterson (Charlestown)
Jessica Block ( EMK High School)
Stephanie Hoelplinger ( Irving Middle School)
Elizabeth Ybarra Crean
For more information about volunteering or the program, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout the month of January, BBA attorneys volunteered their time to conduct training sessions on a variety of legal topics for new interns working at the BBA. These interns are undergraduates in the Northeastern University Co-op program. The training sessions helped the interns sharpen their legal acumen, and gave them the tools to do their jobs effectively. This is what they had to say about the training sessions:
“The trainings gave me the opportunity to sit down and understand the legal system through the eyes of different attorneys. I started my internship at the BBA with a definite interest in law, but I wasn’t sure how I would weave that interest into my career path. Despite practicing in different areas of law, all of the attorneys had one thing in common–their desire to ensure that each client was provided with the tools to understand their rights and seek appropriate legal services. As an International Affairs major with an interest in human rights, the underlying compassion of the attorneys expressed during the trainings appealed to me. The pursuit of justice in both law and human rights helped me realize that there are many avenues I can pursue with my interest in law.
The trainings have also been a critical aspect of the progress I’ve made since beginning of my internship at the BBA and have made it significantly easier for me to streamline the intake process for the Lawyer Referral Service. The trainings provided a huge foundation of knowledge about the different areas of law; consequently, this information makes it easier for me to provide suitable referrals for each client.”
Gaciru Matathia is working in the BBA Lawyer Referral Service for 6 months. Gaciru studies International Affairs, and is pursuing a minor in Social Entrepreneurship.
“The LRS trainings with BBA members were extremely helpful to me as an intern, especially because of my plans to attend law school in the future. The attorneys who were selected for the training were all very knowledgeable in their respective fields, and the passion they exhibited for their work was even more impressive. I was able to learn about specific laws in particular practice areas, something that a lot of prospective law school students don’t have the opportunity to do. With the help of the attorneys’ advice and instruction, I feel confident in my decision to go to law school and to pursue the career I’ve always wanted.”
Alixandra Powers is working in the BBA Membership Department for the next 6 months. Alixandra is a History major, and is a cadet in the school’s ROTC program. She hopes to attend law school after graduation, and is interested in becoming a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the Military.
The trainings were organized by the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service, the largest public service program of the Boston Bar Association, dedicated to helping members of the public in need of assistance connect with attorneys. We would like to thank the following attorneys who volunteered their time to conduct training sessions for the BBA’s new interns:
Roger Bertling (Law Offices of Roger Bertling) – Bankruptcy
Dan Biagiotti (Legal Advocacy & Resource Center) – LARC & Legal Services Overview
Kyle Crossley (Audax Group) – Torts
Robin Gorenberg (Law Office of Robin Gorenberg) – Trusts & Estate Planning
Mary Lee (Mary K.Y. Lee P.C.) – Real Estate & Landlord/Tenant Law
William McLeod (United States Bankruptcy Court) – Bankruptcy
Chik Mone (Pierce, Davis & Perritano, LLP) – Torts
Dino Santangelo (Law Office of Dino R. Santangelo) – Public Benefits & Health Law
Nancy Shilepsky (Shilepsky Hartley Robb Casey Michon LLP) – Employment Law
Laura Unflat (The Law Office of Laura M. Unflat) – Family Law
If you are interested in joining the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, or becoming involved in training sessions in the future, please contact Solana Goss, the LRS Intake Coordinator, at email@example.com .
To reach the BBA Lawyer Referral Service please call (617)742 0625 or (800)552-7046 Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm; Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. You can also email us at LRS@bostonbar.org or visit us on the web at http://www.bostonbarlawyer.org.