Monthly Archives: December 2013
The BBA has had a quite a year of public service. For a look back at our members’ commitment to the community, take a look at the photos below:
In January 2013, the John & Abigail Adams Benefit raised over $560,000. That amount helped to fund grants to 24 Massachusetts community organizations providing legal services in areas such as immigration, domestic violence and homelessness.
The BBA held two free Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) trainings during the winter to certify nearly 100 lawyers to accept cases for limited representation. LAR provides an opportunity for attorneys to gain valuable courtroom experience, and most importantly, more people with unresolved legal issues that require representation receive the help they need. Attorneys received certification in the Probate and Family Court, Land Court, Housing Court, and Boston Municipal Court.
In 2013, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program more than doubled in size, reaching nearly 1,300 students across Massachusetts with the help of 158 volunteers.
Lisa Menelly (Raytheon Company) traveled to Mozart Elementary School in Roslindale to teach Ms. Pearl-Haynes’s 4th grade class about the 2013 Law Day in the Schools theme “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” From May 1st-3rd, 41 volunteer attorneys traveled to seven Boston public schools to teach 782 students about the topic.
Members of the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) leveraged the resources of the bar to launch the Community Reentry Readiness Program through the Federal Court to provide information to federal probationers on key civil-legal issues that they will face when re-entering society.
After the tragic events on Marathon Monday, the BBA offered pro bono legal assistance to small business and victims affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. The BBA recruited over 200 attorneys, firms, and law schools who were eager to help. The BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service received 70 calls and through collaboration with the Mayor’s Office and Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance, the BBA volunteer attorneys assisted 63 small business owners and victims with legal matters in the wake of the Boston Marathon events. In addition, the BBF demonstrated its commitment to Boston by donating $25,000 to the One Fund to further assist victims.
On June 6th, members of the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) hosted a groundbreaking symposium addressing the emerging legal and community-based issues associated with human trafficking. The event drew in over 125 attendees and national press coverage.
This year, 32 diverse law students participated in the Diversity & Inclusion Section’s Judicial Internship Program which places students in local courts including the Boston Municipal Court, Probate & Family Courts and US Bankruptcy Court.
In its 20th year, the BBA Summer Jobs Program placed a record-breaking 58 Boston public high school students in paid positions at Boston law firms, legal departments, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. This year, the BBF increased its commitment to the program by funding paid positions for 13 students at non-profit community organizations, government offices and courts.
Pro Bono Month, which happens every October, was jam-packed with trainings and volunteer opportunities to encourage attorneys to give back to our community. The BBA held five pro bono trainings that prepared 206 attorneys and law students to engage in pro bono work and connected 250 new attorneys and law students with 28 Boston-area legal service agencies through a Pro Bono Fair.
On September 1, 2013, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service became the new home of the Military Legal Help Line, which was established to connect veterans, military personnel, and their families with lawyers and other legal resources appropriate to their needs. The service refers callers to qualified attorneys offering reduced fee and pro bono legal assistance or the appropriate government or non-profit agency. In an effort to prepare attorneys to help with these reduced fee and pro bono cases, the BBA held a four-part CLE series this fall on topics including, family law, labor and employment, Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, trusts and estates, and education benefits.
On November 20th, BBA President Paul T. Dacier joined over 150 of Boston’s leaders in visiting Boston Public Schools (BPS) to gain a firsthand look at the successes and challenges of the city’s school system as part of the BPS Principal for a Day Program. Paul shadowed William Thomas, the headmaster of Charlestown High School, for the morning. Charlestown High School is one of the largest high schools in Boston with 954, 39% of its student body is Limited English Proficient, and 46% of students qualify for free or reduced-priced school meals.
The BBA President Paul Dacier and BBA Executive Director Rich Page joined Mayor Thomas Menino along with the current representatives and alumni of the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC) at the 20th Anniversary Celebration on November 29th. As you may know, the BBA is a longstanding partner of the MYC, combining efforts with the City of Boston and Northeastern University.
Last night, the BBA held a first of its kind pro bono training which provided pro bono attorneys with the knowledge and tools to represent youth who are facing long-term suspension or expulsion. The training, a collaboration of the BBA and EdLaw Project ( a joint initiative of the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts and the Committee for Public Counsel Services – Children & Family and Youth Advocacy Divisions), included relevant Massachusetts and federal legislation and case law governing school discipline.
So why did busy attorneys take the time to attend this three hour training? These statistics explain it all:
- Suspended students are 3x more likely to drop out which triples the likelihood of incarceration later in life.
- Two-thirds of the students who experience expulsion or long-term suspension are special education students and 60 percent are low-income.
- The cases are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic students.
- The average individual benefit from preventing or recovering school dropouts is $209,200 per student.
- For a concrete example of the impact attorneys can have on an at-risk youth, read Danny’s story here.
In exchange for attending this free training, attorneys agreed to take at least one pro bono discipline case during the school year.
As you may know, the BBA has provided the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC) with lawyer-mentors since its inception in 1994. To get a better sense of their experience, we sat down with Ronaldo Rauseo-Ricupero, who represented his community of East Boston on the MYC from 1997-2000. Rauseo-Ricupero is a Government Investigations associate at Nixon Peabody and a member of the BBA’s Litigation Section Steering Committee.
Why is it important to give youth a voice in the city?
“Youth are the greatest stakeholder in the city because they are some of the largest consumers of city programs. They attend the public schools, utilize community centers, and access city services. However, they do not have the ability to vote and voice their opinion. The MYC draws on youth and engages them in dialogue with top officials about the issues that affect them.”
How did MYC influence your future education and/or professional decisions?
“Mayor Menino was a great leader and inspiration. He showed me what a government can do if it’s genuinely dedicated and brings all voices to the table to make actual change. MYC is the reason I have stayed involved in civic affairs. I learned how to do creative work when working together.”
Why are attorneys uniquely qualified to serve as mentors for the Mayor’s Youth Council?
“A lot of the work the MYC does is public speaking and advocacy… Youth have wishes, dreams, and hopes but they need help channeling them into something constructive that acknowledges the other competing issues at hand… The main role of the mentor is to help high schoolers, who know their view but have trouble with other person’s views, understand the other perspective. Attorneys are trained in negotiation skills and understanding other perspectives.”
Rauseo-Ricupero remains committed to civic engagement and his city, which he attributes in large part to what he learned from Mayor Menino and the MYC. He currently is a member of the Board of the John William Ward Public Service Fellowship, serves on the City of Boston Scholarship Committee, and assists with programming for the MYC.
For more information on how to get involved with the Mayor’s Youth Council, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beyond the Billable caught up with New England Law | Boston 2L, Krzysztof Momot, following his fall semester internship in the Boston Municipal Court to learn more about his experience working alongside Judge Ronquillo, the soon to be Chief Justice of the Boston Municipal Court. Here is what he had to say about his internship in the BMC:
“When I saw an opportunity to intern for a judge, through the BBA, I immediately applied for it. I was thrilled when I found out that I would intern for Judge Robert Ronquillo Jr. at the East Boston Division of the Boston Municipal Court. I did not know what to expect when I first started the internship. Judge Ronquillo was very open and welcoming and made me feel comfortable at the courthouse from the first day. I was introduced to the court staff and learned that they do just as much work at the courthouse if not more than the judge. He showed me a whole new perspective of how the courthouse works.
I thought the most valuable aspect of the internship was the one on one time with the judge. After Judge Ronquillo stepped from the bench and we went back to his chambers he always started the conversation by saying “Questions?” and I always had plenty. Another great part of the internship was that Judge Ronquillo always wanted my advice on things he was doing and got me involved. He gave me assignments that mattered not just for the sake of giving me something to do. Those assignments provided me with a lot of satisfaction and self-confidence after hearing positive feedback from the Judge.
Judge Ronquillo really wanted me to learn and get experience during my internship. He introduced me to other judges with whom I got to intern for a day. Over the course of my internship I got an opportunity to learn from: Judge Fiandaca, Judge Leoney, Judge Yee, Judge Karstetter, Judge Lyons, and Judge McDonald. In addition, I got to sit in on trials, jury selections, motions, mental health hearings, pleas and arraignments. To sum it up I feel the experience I got from this internship gave me the knowledge and confidence to walk into a courthouse and feel like I belong there.”
The BBA will be sending student interns to the Boston Municipal Court, District Courts, Probate & Family Court & the US Bankruptcy Court for internships for the spring semester as well as during the summer. In January and February, the BBA will be hosting Judicial Internship information sessions at law schools, so stay tuned for updates. For more information on the program, click here
Beyond the Billable has noticed there has been a lot going on at the BBA when it comes to Public Service, so we tried to make it easy for you by compiling a list of recent articles on public service initiatives that have appeared in BBA Week, the BBA website, blogs, facebook and more. Take a look below to see what’s been going on:
- Did you get a chance to meet Danny? If not, take a look at this article about a 13-year old boy with special education needs who received pro bono help from the BBF grantee organization, the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts. Once you read the article, we’re sure that you will want to sign up for the upcoming Advocating for At-Risk Youth Training so that you can help children like Danny. Click here for more information on the training.
- You probably remember this post about the 2014 Principal for a Day Program. For a more personal look at the morning at Charlestown High School, check out this article featured on the BBA President’s blog, Dacier’s Take.
- Learn the business case for hiring more than one Boston Public High School student through the BBA’s Summer Jobs Program in Matt McTygue’s op-ed in the Boston Bar Journal. Please note: a subscription is required to access the full article.
Last Friday, family law practitioners filled the BBA’s Claflin Center for the second annual BBA/MBA Conciliation Training. The training was open to attorneys with at least five years of domestic relations experience and offered them the opportunity to become certified as a conciliator. Attorneys learned how to mediate and successfully intervene early on in family law cases in order to obtain a quick and fair resolution.
Beyond the Billable reached out to Timothy Linnehan, an ADR Coordinator for the Trial Court and a trainer for the session, to hear why this training was so important. Here’s what he had to say:
“The training benefits the SERV program in Suffolk Probate Court by providing a training program for volunteers to assist the Court in serving unrepresented parties in resolving their case. The program also benefits the use and expansion of conciliation services to help parties resolve cases. This training program complies with the SJC 8-hour training requirement to be a conciliator for court-connected programs. Currently, nine local bar associations have conciliation programs in the Probate and Family Court Department.”
In exchange for a free training, attendees will volunteer as a conciliator at the Probate and Family Court.
This year’s conference, held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center featured keynote addresses and breakout sessions led by more than one hundred experts in the fields of business, philanthropy, finance, media and professional development. The theme the conference was “The Power of Us,” and gave conference attendees many opportunities for business networking, professional development and personal growth.
Hundreds of attendees stopped by the BBA’s booth, inquiring as to how they could receive referrals through the Lawyer Referral Service, and about the BBA’s Mission and role in the community.
The Massachusetts Conference for Women is the largest outreach and marketing event of the year for the BBA LRS, who participates in approximately 10 outreach events yearly. Next on the calendar is the 26th Annual Quincy Lunar New Year Festival in February. Stay tuned for more details!
As many of our readers know, the Boston Bar has an ongoing partnership with the Boston Debate League (BDL) to help teach Boston Public High School students critical thinking, persuasive writing and effective communication skills. Part of our partnership means finding volunteers generous enough to spend their time volunteering as judges and mentors for the urban debate teams. On behalf of the BBA and BDL, we thank our volunteers who donated their time during October and November to help close the achievement gap in Boston.
Teniola Adeyemi, New England Law Student
Leonard Audaer, Rankin & Sultan
Erica Carroll, Nutter, McClennen & Fish, LLP
Nicole Del Monte, State Street
Jose Gonsalez, City of Boston Law Department
Kathleen Micciche, Clark Lau LLC
Sean Nehill, City of Boston Law Department
If you are interested in volunteering for BDL, you are in luck! BDL has two tournaments this month. Click here for more information on how to volunteer.
Last Friday night BBA President Paul Dacier and BBA Executive Director Rich Page joined Mayor Thomas Menino along with the current representatives and alumni of the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC) at the 20th Anniversary Celebration. As you may know, the BBA is a longstanding partner of the MYC, combining efforts with the City of Boston and Northeastern University.
Here’s what BBA President Paul Dacier had to say about the event:
“It was such an honor to be part of the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Mayor’s Youth Council. The students selected for the program are an incredibly impressive group. I couldn’t believe what they have accomplished throughout our city in just the past year – connecting with hundreds of teens on important issues, getting the word out in every community about education and growth opportunities and working with local leaders on expanding youth initiatives. It is programs like this that truly empower the young people in our city, and the BBA is proud to be a partner.”
In addition to recognizing the accomplishments of the MYC, the event paid special tribute to Mayor Menino, who created the Council in 1994 and remains committed to Boston youth throughout his term in office.
See below for more photos from the event:
Stay tuned for more information on the Mayor’s Youth Council.