Monthly Archives: October 2013

Pro Bono Fair Draws Crowd Interested in Gaining Experience and Giving Back

Potential volunteers discussed their interests with a staff member from Prisoners’ Legal Services, a BBF grantee.

Potential volunteers discussed their interests with a staff member from Prisoners’ Legal Services, a BBF grantee, at the Pro Bono Fair on Monday evening.

An estimated 250 law students and new lawyers flocked to the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk Law School on Monday night to learn about pro bono opportunities throughout the city and network with public interest attorneys. The annual Pro Bono Fair, co-hosted by the BBA and Suffolk University Law Center, featured more than 25 Boston-area legal agencies.

Beyond the Billable caught up with a couple of students to hear why they decided to attend the fair. Here’s what they had to say:

“I just started doing pro bono work and I am trying to do more. It offers a lot of ways to get connected. Before you realized what you want to do, you have to figure out what you don’t want to do. Pro bono work and learning about the opportunities here can help you expand your knowledge about different areas of law and what is available.”—Eric Albright, second year law student at Suffolk University Law School

“I was really seeking pro bono opportunities and I thought coming here would give me a more global view of what I could find. In France it’s not as common to do pro bono work. So it’s part of my LL.M. experience. I think doing something productive with my skills is critical.” – Juliette Guillemot, LL.M. student, Boston University Law School

Look below for a glimpse of the event:

Students listened to ways to get involved in pro bono work through the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR), a BBF grantee.

Students listened to ways to get involved in pro bono work through the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR), a BBF grantee.

Staff from the Community Disputes Settlement Center gave interested volunteer more information on how to get involved in pro bono work with their organization.

Staff from the Community Disputes Settlement Center gave interested volunteer more information on how to get involved in pro bono work with their organization.

Interested volunteers picked up handouts at the table of the Victim Rights Law Center, a BBF grantee.

Interested volunteers picked up handouts at the table of the Victim Rights Law Center, a BBF grantee.

If you missed the event but are interested in getting involved in pro bono work, click here to view the comprehensive program booklet. For more information on how volunteers help the participating organizations, check out the Voices of the Bar piece from BBA Week last week.

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BBA Partners with BBF Grantee to Analyze Occupational Disease Claims

The BBA and MassCOSH hosted a program on occupation disease claims on Monday night.

The BBA and MassCOSH hosted a program on occupation disease claims on Monday night.

On Monday night, the BBA and BBF grantee the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), teamed up to host a program on occupational disease claims. The training offered a in depth look at occupational disease claims – both the legal analysis now being applied by the courts and the medical analysis applied by occupational health professionals.

Beyond the Billable reached to Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, the Executive Director of MassCOSH, to learn more about the training.

What key topics did you touch on during the training?
“The training focused on occupational health trends in Massachusetts and recent legal developments pertaining to toxic tort case law.”

What do you hope that attendees learned from the event?
“With clinicians, attorneys, labor union representatives and state agency representatives in attendance, we engaged in a rich discussion of the continuum of approaches to ensuring worker health – from preventing exposures through safety measures and effective public policy to ensuring swift treatment of occupational diseases to pursuing compensation through toxic tort cases.”

Takeaways from the Table – A Discussion on Financial Literacy in MA

Through the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, volunteer attorneys teach students how to make smart financial decisions during three-classroom based sessions and a trip to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Through the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, volunteer attorneys teach students how to make smart financial decisions during three-classroom based sessions and a trip to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Last Thursday, the BBA joined educators, financial advisors, government employees, and other nonprofit staff to discuss the status of financial literacy among high schoolers throughout the state at the Massachusetts Jump$tart! Coalition Financial Literacy Roundtable Discussion. The program taught us some important information about the state of Financial Literacy in Massachusetts and some interesting things about our own program.

Here’s what we took away:

1) Massachusetts has no mandate. Unlike other states, Massachusetts does not mandate that students learn any financial literacy before graduating from high school. The lack of a requirement, coupled with limited school resources and jam-packed curriculums, acts as a key impediment to integrating financial literacy into high school curriculum.

2) The BBA’s program meets a need. The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program helps fill the gap in financial education while working around these constraints. As you may remember, 1,300 high school students throughout the state learned how to make sound financial decisions with the help of over 150 volunteer attorneys last year.

3) Our program makes it easy. Because each module is only an hour long, the program does not interfere with lesson plans or MCAS preparations. Our volunteers relieve the burden on the teacher to learn and create new financial literacy lesson plans, plus they offer a truly unique legal perspective on the consequences of poor financial decision making.

4) We can do more. Other roundtable participants highlighted the importance of integrating interactive technology into financial literacy curriculum and closely monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of financial literacy programs. Over the next year we will be evaluating our program and looking for opportunities to strengthen it.

BBA Releases 2013 Public Service Report

Expanding Our Reach

Beyond the Billable is excited to announce the release of the 2013 BBA Public Service Report. The report, which is titled Expanding Our Reach, focuses on the growth of many of the BBA’s public service programs over the past year. From the Marathon Monday Project to the Summer Jobs Program, it provides a comprehensive look at the impact of our programs and the partners and volunteers who help make them possible.

Click here to see how we expanded our reach.

Lawyers Clean Up Franklin Park

A group of the volunteers who helped clean up Franklin Park on Saturday morning.

A group of the volunteers who helped clean up Franklin Park on Saturday morning.

More than 25 volunteers joined the New Lawyers and Environmental Public Service Committees for their annual Franklin Park Clean Up on Saturday morning.  Volunteers collected trash and helped remove buckthorn, an invasive species that deprives surrounding plants and trees of nutrients and contributes to erosion.

Beyond the Billable checked in with Environmental Public Service Committee Co-Chair Staci Rubin (Alternatives for Community & Environment) to find out why attorneys should take advantage of these community service opportunities.

Volunteers helped clean up trash and remove invasive species.

Volunteers helped clean up trash and remove invasive species.

“One-day public service activities contribute to environmental restoration, assist organizations that depend on volunteers, allow you to spend time outdoors, and provide an opportunity to meet and build relationships with other Boston-area attorneys.”

Are you interested in getting outside and giving back? Volunteer at the Food Project with the Environmental and New Lawyers Public Service Committees on November 2nd. Click here for more information.

Getting Prepared: Lawyers Trained to Aid Military Personnel in Bankruptcy Cases

Last Thursday, the BBA hosted the second training if a 4-part CLE series on Representing Military Personnel and Veterans.

Last Thursday, the BBA hosted the second training of a 4-part CLE series on Representing Military Personnel and Veterans.

As most of our readers know, the BBA recently announced its Lawyer Referral Service will house the Military Legal Help Line, which connects veterans, military personnel, and their families with lawyers and other legal resources appropriate to their needs by offering reduced fee and pro bono legal assistance.

As part of the process to build up referral resources for the Help Line, the BBA recently launched a 4 part CLE series on Representing Military Personnel and Veterans. Last month you heard from us about Part One of the Series, the training on Family Law and Domestic Relations. Part Two, tackling Bankruptcy & Consumer Finance issues, also offered guidance on representing a unique population, and shed light on some of the psychological aspects that lawyers need to think about when dealing with service members.

In the words of the program chair, Donald Lassman: “the training session provided those in attendance with excellent resource materials and expert guidance on legal issues that are unique to military service men and women in bankruptcy cases and consumer finance cases, including debt collection law suits, residential evictions, foreclosures and auto loan repossessions. Service members face unique challenges when placed on active duty that can cause financial stress and make it very difficult, if not impossible, to timely respond to creditor inquiries.”

The experienced panel included Donald R. Lassman (Law Office of Donald R. Lassman), Gail McAuliffe (Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services), Mark Rossi (Esher Rossi LLC), and Thomas Beauvais.

Stay tuned for more information about our Military Initiative. If you are interested in learning more about taking referrals through the Military Legal Help Line housed at the Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service, please contact Solana Goss, at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

Join us for the next training in the series – Representing Military Personnel & Veterans: Estate Planning, Employment Law & Landlord Tenant Law on November 7th.

Volunteers Flock to Landlord Tenant Training

Attorneys interested in volunteering for the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program attended the annual Landlord Tenant Basics Training last night at the BBA.

Attorneys interested in volunteering for the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program attended the annual Landlord Tenant Basics Training last night at the BBA.

The conference center at 16 Beacon Street was packed once again, this time thanks to eager volunteers looking to get involved in pro bono work in the Boston Housing Court. The Real Estate Public Service Committee and Volunteer Lawyers Project teamed up to host the annual Boston Bar Association Landlord Tenant Basics Training. Volunteers were prepped on what to expect and how to prepare to volunteer for the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program by First Justice of the Boston Housing Court Jeffrey Winik, Katy Ward (Mintz Levin), Seth Malamut (Sherin & Lodgen), and Maria Theophilis (Broderick, Bancroft & Goldberg).

Beyond the Billable caught up with Joanna Allison, a staff attorney at VLP and the coordinator of the training, to find out what she hoped attendees took away from the training. Here’s what she had to say:

“The attendees learned the ins and outs of Massachusetts summary process rules and more subtle practice pointers for the Boston Housing Court and the BBA Lawyer for the Day Program. In addition, they learned some of the more effective ways to assist a tenant facing eviction from subsidized housing. Through the wit and wisdom of Judge Winik, they learned how to navigate the evidentiary issues most likely to arise in a summary process case.”

Thanks to the training, attendees now have the opportunity to provide legal advice to landlords and tenants on Wednesday and Thursday mornings through the Lawyer for the Day at the Boston Housing Court Program. The program provides essential services to landlords and tenants in need of legal advice, but don’t take it from us. Joanna gave three reasons why attorney should get involved in the program:

“1. It is an invaluable learning experience with the opportunity to appear before the court with the support and mentoring of very experienced lawyers
2. It makes a huge difference to the court and the litigant when the litigant has advice and/or representation. It makes the courts job cleaner and makes the litigant feel enfranchised.
3. You will be a part of a community of lawyers who will support you, answer your questions and, quite possibly, become your friend.”

If you are interested in landlord tenant law, be sure to check out the upcoming training for veterans and military personnel. Click here to learn more. To support the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program, contribute to the BBF’s Vaughan Fund here.

Thomas Beauvais: Lawyer for a Day Has A Lifetime Impact

Beauvais_Thomas

In honor of Pro Bono Month, the BBA is shining a spotlight on some of our members who are committed to giving back to the community through pro bono work. Beyond the Billable wanted to make sure our readers saw the first spotlight featuring Thomas Beavais in this week’s BBA Week. Thomas works with VLP’s Fair Debt Collection Clinic. If you need any inspiration to get involved in pro bono work, look no further. Thomas shares a detailed account of his experience volunteering with the project, as well as highlights from his first trial as a lawyer.

Stay tuned for more pro bono attorney profiles throughout Pro Bono Month.

On the Job with Kia White—BBA LRS Intern

Posed

After three months on the job, BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) intern Kia White sat down with Beyond the Billable to share her experience thus far. Kia spends her days answering the dozens of calls LRS receives each day and helping the LRS intake coordinator with data entry, mailings, and other administrative duties that help run the service. She will be with us until the end of December before returning to Northeastern University where she studies Criminal Justice and business.

Here is what she had to say during her interview:

What has been the highlight of your first three months?

The highlight of my first three months was at the beginning of my internship when I attended the practice area trainings. This was a great opportunity for me because I gained so much knowledge in many different areas of law. This was helpful in my job here at the BBA as well as in my own personal life. Each of the attorneys that came to speak with us was very knowledgeable of their field of law.

What do you find most challenging about your internship?

Handling the LRS phone calls has taught me the importance of having patience and a sense of understanding of other peoples’ perspectives. We receive a large amount of calls a day, and everyone is different and has different situations. Some people speak other languages and it is important to be patient and try to understand them because they do need our help. I have also experienced callers who are under great amounts of stress and may come off a little hostile. By having a sense of understanding, it makes the call a lot easier. You have to understand that the caller may be dealing with a lot, and the goal is to give the caller the referral so that you can help them.

How has this co-op shaped your view of the legal field?

By listening to callers from the LRS, I have learned that sometimes it is extremely difficult to navigate through the legal system. Some people would be much better off in their legal situations if they had lawyers to guide them through and explain their rights to them. The BBA LRS provides a beneficial service to the community. We are able to aid clients in finding legal assistance that they may not be able to obtain on their own. A good number of callers are new to the legal system, and don’t know what to do. They may not know what type of case they have, what type of lawyer they need, and many other factors. Our service makes it so that we can guide them through the process of figuring out what type of lawyer they need and then connect them to some potential lawyers for their cases. It is very reassuring to know that there is a service in the community to get people started on the right track when dealing with a legal situation.

Volunteers Attend Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Basics Training

The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Pro Bono Training took place at the BBA last night.

The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Pro Bono Training took place at the BBA last night and attendees are now able to volunteer to take pro bono cases through VLP.

Pro Bono Month at the BBA continued last night with the annual Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Training, a collaboration between the BBA Bankruptcy Law Section’s Public Service Committee and the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association. Thanks to a top-notch panel, including  Susan Grossberg (Grossberg Law Offices),  Warren Agin (Swiggart & Agin, LLC), Emily Jarrell (Volunteer Lawyers Project of Boston Bar Association), and Adam Ruttenberg (Looney & Grossman LLP), attendees walked away with an understanding of the basics of representing a Chapter 7 debtors on a pro bono basis. In exchange for attending the free training, participants are asked to accept pro bono cases through VLP.

Beyond the Billable checked in with Adam Ruttenberg, who co-chairs the Bankruptcy Public Service Committee, about the training. Here’s what he had to say:

“I hope the attendees last night learned practical advice on how to represent a low income debtor so the case goes smoothly without surprises or delays.”

In honor of Pro Bono Month, we also asked him why attorneys should get involved in pro bono bankruptcy work:

“The gratitude shown by pro bono bankruptcy clients is very rewarding.  The only written thank you notes I have ever received in my career have come from pro bono clients, and they have sent several.”

If you are interested in learning more about pro bono bankruptcy law opportunities, come to the Representing Military Personnel and Veterans CLE on Bankruptcy & Consumer Law on October 17th. Click here for more information.