Monthly Archives: June 2014
The BBA’s Summer Judicial Interns have started off their summers strong, not only putting in the hours in the courtroom but also getting first-hand knowledge of the profession thanks to BBA enrichment programs. Earlier this month they got their first taste of the BBA’s Summer Career Series, designed to give the interns a better sense of what lies ahead for them after graduation. In addition to volunteering at least 15 hours per week in the courts, they are taking part in numerous enrichment activities put on by the BBA. A particularly engaging day of enrichment activities for these law students took place early this month to expose the students to the practice of criminal law.
The series kicked off with “What’s It Like to Practice Criminal Law,” featuring speakers Christina Miller (Chief of District Courts and Community Prosecutions at the Suffolk County DA’s Office) and Lisa Medeiros (Committee for Public Counsel Services Supervising Attorney for Roxbury, Dorchester and West Roxbury), sharing stories about their respective career paths and cases they had worked on “while in the trenches.”
Beyond the Billable wouldn’t be doing our duty if we didn’t check in with our interns to see how the session was, so we asked Boston University School of Law student Chris York for some feedback on the talk:
“It was interesting to hear their humorous, candid, and differing views on the judicial process and their respective roles in it.”
We have more judicial intern takeaways from the talk here.
While others might have called it a day after that session, our interns did the opposite – they took a walk to the John Adams Courthouse to observe and also serve as jurists for the 2014 Advanced Trial Training Program’s final competition. Initiated by Judge Robert N. Tochka, the Program pairs newer prosecutors and defense attorneys from across Massachusetts with seasoned mentors for a trial advocacy skills competition (it’s friendly, we promise). Essex County, Norfolk County, Suffolk County, and Worcester County with seasoned mentors for friendly competition on trial advocacy skills.
Our interns observed and judged opening statements through direct and cross examinations, the two-person advocacy teams argued the mock case, “Commonwealth v. Green” with students from the Another Course to College charter school making a guest appearance as witnesses.
Silvia Stockman, a law student at Boston University, gave Beyond the Billable her impressions of the experience:
“The event was an entertaining way to observe real lawyers engaging in a colorfully written case, followed by a very moving reception that honored two fallen members of the legal community. It was a great way to bond with our fellow interns and do some networking with the competitors and audience members!”
As you can see, our Summer Judicial interns have a packed summer ahead of them, so be sure to check Beyond the Billable regularly for updates!
On Monday, three of the BBA’s Sections, Delivery of Legal Services, Criminal Law and Employment Law, teamed up to sponsor a panel discussion on background checks and DFC records. Attorney James Ianiri (Ianiri Law LLC) and Persis Yu (National Consumer Law Center) shared critical information with attendees both on the importance of background checks and (perhaps most importantly) how clients can be affected by them, especially when applying for employment.
Beyond the Billable attended the program and thought our readers should take in a few key facts we found particularly notable:
- 93 percent of companies and organizations use background checks and DCF records as tools to decide who is welcome to become a member of their staff and who is not.
- The issue arises when companies use external third party industries to access background checks and past records. These third party industries act as facilitators making records easily available to anyone. Over the years it has become more difficult to regulate these third party industries and ensure that they are actually doing the job right.
- Records are often misplaced, incomplete and sometimes even inaccurate, making it very difficult for an applicant to trust the system to protect him or her from being rejected on this basis.
Special thanks to Samantha Odreman who attended the session on Beyond the Billable’s behalf.
Over the last several months, PILP 10 has been hard at work developing materials for the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse’s Court Service Center (CSC). The culmination of their hard work was a meeting last week with Judge Dina Fein (Massachusetts Housing Court, Western Division) and Access to Justice Coordinator Erika Rickard (the Massachusetts Trial Court) to discuss their project and to hear how the Commonwealth can best serve unrepresented litigants.
Before we get to that meeting, here’s a little background on PILP 10’s project. This class spent the past year drafting materials for the Edward W. Brooke Court Service Center (CSC). The CSC will have a grand opening later this summer. It was created with the hope of being a central court hub for self-represented litigants. Visitors to the Brooke Court can go to the CSC for clarification on forms needed for legal action, connection to existing legal and social services, and language translation assistance. The PILPers put together materials and resources to help the staff and volunteers most effectively serve self-represented litigants.
Additionally, as part of their project, the class will be hosting a brown bag program in September to discuss the workings of the CSC and how BBA members can get involved. Of course, Beyond the Billable will keep you up-to-date on program logistics.
At the meeting, the PILPers participated in a fruitful discussion about how the Commonwealth can best serve unrepresented litigants. Beyond the Billable caught up with a few members of the PILP class after the meeting to see how it went. Here’s what they had to say:
“It was incredibly rewarding to hear about how our work has been utilized by the Court Services Center so far. I also thought that Judge Fein and Erika Rickard were fantastic advocates for the CSC program and their enthusiasm made us all the more committed to support the new CSC and serve as a resource in any way we can.” — Caroline Simons, Fish & Richardson P.C.
“When our PILP class first engaged in the idea of assisting the first-ever Court Service Center in MA as our year’s PILP project, I don’t think we really grasped the impact that the CSC would have on people interacting with the court system. The CSC has only been open a few weeks, and it has already helped hundreds of people going through the Brooke Courthouse get answers to their questions. I hope PILP’s small contributions to assist the CSC get up and running will allow them to help even more people, and I hope our PILP class will stay involved with the CSC going forward.” –Merritt Dattel McGowan, Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority
Stay tuned for more on PILP 10’s CSC project.
With the start date of the BBA Summer Jobs Program fast approaching, the students’ supervisors from the various law firms and offices gathered at 16 Beacon yesterday morning to prep for a great summer. With the help of Boston Private Industry Council Career Specialists Teresa Alleyne and Rose Delorme, attendees learned more about the variety of the students’ backgrounds (which we addressed in this post) and how to help high school students excel in their first professional job. Veteran Summer Jobs employers Matt McTygue (Edwards Wildman Palmer), Christina Miller (Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office), and Elaine Carmichael (DLA Piper) also presented, offering suggestions on potential projects and enrichment opportunities so employers can help students maximize their summer.
Interested in learning more about the exciting opportunities that our employers provide to their interns? Check out a few highlights below. This summer, students will:
- Research a Supreme Court case and present the key facts to partners at their firm.
- Learn to network by striving to collect 100 business cards from legal professionals throughout the summer.
- Summarize cases and write legal memos.
- Work with their employer to fill out the Common Application for college.
Don’t worry. We’ll be keeping our loyal readers updated on all of the exciting projects our students will be working on this summer.
This past Saturday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) joined thousands of participants and spectators at the 44th Annual Boston Pride Parade to support the LGBT community.
As the BBA’s largest public service program, the LRS was present at City Hall to reach out to the community at large and share information with the public on how to protect their rights. Staff members provided general information about the LRS and details about how those in need can connected to the right attorney or legal service.
Beyond the Billable checked in with LRS intern Samantha Odreman (who recently authored this post) to get her impressions on the event. Here’s what she had to say:
“It was amazing to watch so many people come together and stand up for love and respect. It was great seeing how many people were present from different schools, colleges and parts of the city. This was a great opportunity to join reach out to the public and spend the day surrounded by wonderful people!”
Do you need legal help? Contact a referral specialist at 617-742-0625 Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and Fridays from 8:30pm to 5:00pm; or by filling an online request here: http://www.bostonbarlawyer.org/
While our readers know about the Boston Bar Foundation’s impact in our community, you may be less familiar with the group of people who make this work possible—the BBF’s Society of Fellows Program. The Fellows are a community of philanthropic lawyers dedicated to advancing the BBF’s mission of increasing the availability of legal help to those in need, supporting innovative legal services projects and programs, and providing meaningful ways for lawyers to connect with our community. We’ve noticed amazing growth from the Fellows Program since the beginning of this year, so we crunched some numbers to calculate how the Society of Fellows impacts the BBF.
As of today, 45 Fellows have either joined or upgraded their memberships for this year alone, pledging a total of $335,000. This support has allowed us to use fundraising revenues for specific causes. For example:
- This year, 100 percent of the proceeds from Casino Night will be dedicated to the BBA’s Summer Jobs program, helping to provide paid summer employment for Boston teens. In addition, the upcoming Passport to Pairings event (formerly Justice is Sweet) will be dedicated to funding the full portfolio of BBA public service programs.
- The BBF devoted $300,000 in Adams Benefit proceeds this year to legal service grants that advance access to justice for those in need, including immigrants, victims of domestic violence and low income children and families – a need that continues to grow as IOLTA funding continues to decline.
- The BBF is only $1.4 million away from its long-term goal of $5 million for the endowment, which will provide invaluable long term support for the BBF’s efforts.
Don’t just take it from us. Hear firsthand from some of the individuals who have joined this year on why they made the decision to pledge as a Fellow:
“The BBF’s mission to support pro bono work and access to justice for Boston’s needy is so critical to us as lawyers and citizens, and I am really grateful and excited for the opportunity to work with the BBF and the Society.” – Karen M. O’Toole, Fidelity Investments
“Each day, too many of our fellow citizens must face serious legal issues – from the loss of disability benefits to eviction – while being unable to afford having a lawyer at their side. I am proud to support the Boston Bar Foundation’s mission of expanding legal service, assistance and access to all in our communities.” – Scott A. Roberts, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP
“All lawyers have a professional responsibility to assist those with limited means. I admire the work of the Boston Bar Foundation and the tangible, positive impact of the Foundation in the lives of those who most need its help. I am proud and thankful to be a Junior Fellow and to assist in this work.”—Kimberly Butler-Rainen, Tamkin & Hochberg, LLP
Don’t miss out on the Boston Bar Foundation’s newest event, Passport to Pairings, next Thursday! Not only will the event be fun and delicious, but 100% of the proceeds are going to a great cause all of the—BBA public service programs!
It goes without saying (as the BBA’s Public Service Blog) that Beyond the Billable is pretty excited about this event. Here’s a sneak peek at what guests can expect on June 26th:
- The event will feature gourmet food and beverage pairing stations celebrating the BBF’s partnership with the BBA.
- Some of the Pairings stations include sushi & Saki, craft beer & gourmet hot dogs, artisanal donuts & specialty coffee, and much more.
- Each ticket gets you access to deluxe food & beverage stations, beer & wine, live music and our raffle, so don’t miss out on all of the fun!
BBF Events like Passport to Pairings make it possible for the BBA to continue to strengthen and expand our public service efforts, including the Marathon Assistance Project, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, the BBA Summer Jobs Program, and the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program. Thanks in large part to the support of the BBF (our partner in public service) this year marked a very successful year for the BBA’s programs. The numbers below are all the proof you need:
- 23 pro bono trainings trained nearly 600 attorneys to take cases ranging from special education appeals to veterans benefits.
- 64 Boston public high school students were placed in summer internships in local Boston law firms and offices through the BBA Summer Jobs Program.
- 1,300 Boston public school students learned about the importance of voting through our annual Law Day in Schools program.
- 18 schools state wide received Financial Literacy Training in the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program’s 10th year.
- 275 calls were fielded from active duty military members and veterans since the BBA began hosting the Veterans helpline in September.
- Continued to assist individuals and businesses that were affected by the tragic events on Marathon Monday in areas, including employment and tax issues. Since the program began last year, 84 attorneys have helped over 70 individuals and small businesses owners.
Convinced? The event will take place on Thursday, June 26th at 6pm at 16 Beacon Street. Buy your ticket today to the maiden voyage of this event and help us continue to grow our public service programs!
Last week, Beyond the Billable shared some amazing responses from three of our future Summer Jobs students on why they wanted to participate in the program. Those weren’t the only student we heard from, but the responses we so good that one Beyond the Billable post couldn’t contain them. In part 2 of “Straight from the Students,” we’re sharing three more responses from this year’s students.
Take a look below:
“I am considering a career in the legal profession because I know that as a Lawyer, I would be able to confront many unjust actions and help maintain a balance in society. I am an immigrant from a country called Bangladesh. From my experiences in Bangladesh, I remember all the wrongs in society I have witnessed…In Bangladesh, I used to think such chaos was normal, but being in the USA, I have changed that perspective, and I want to help others to recognize it too. The laws and rules keep a balance in society which inspires me to consider a profession in the field of law.”– Romana Hussain, rising junior, Boston Latin Academy
“I think my experience so far in life has really shown me how important a legal professional can be in someone’s life. I was not born in the United States. I was born in a Sudanese refugee camp. But, my family is from another country in Africa called Eritrea. My family left Eritrea because of the violence and political problems. Sudan is also a place that has a lot of issues and instability. In both of these places I have seen a lot of hate and violence against people because they have different ethnicities, religions, and races…And, this all has happened because there was no law to protect the people from such injustice. One day, I want to work with the law to be able to help people from my country and communities have peace, justice, and a better life.”— Hermuna Taib, rising senior, East Boston High School
“This Summer Job opportunity would provide me not only with the chance to experience what working in a legal office may be like, but also with the chance of discovering what truly interests me and to discover the means of getting myself here. It will also give me insight on what I would like to focus on: do I want to be a lawyer for a transactional firm or a civil litigation firm?”— Margaret Peña, rising senior, Boston Latin School
Stay tuned for more on the 64 Boston public high school students participating in the program this year.
Our longtime readers are very familiar with the BBA’s Summer Jobs Program. They know all about this year’s 64 students and the amazing diversity they represent in our city. They’ve followed past students through their first day of work, weekly enrichment seminars and graduation. One thing we haven’t talked as much about is the impact Boston Bar Foundation funds have on the program.
This year, 14 students will benefit from paid summer internships at legal service and government agencies across Boston thanks to the BBF. In the past, these students have had some pretty incredible experiences.
We thought Beyond the Billable was the perfect place to clarify the BBA/BBF Summer Jobs relationship as we get ready to kick off an amazing summer. We’ll keep it pretty simple. The BBA runs the program, which includes organizing enrichment seminars, the Kickoff and graduation, working with the PIC and Boston Public Schools to select the students, and recruiting law firms and offices to fund positions for the students. The BBF funds additional job placements in legal service and government agencies thanks to the generosity of area law firms, businesses and individuals, as well as the support of the sponsors and attendees from the BBF’s Casino Night fundraiser.
This year’s BBF students will gain experience in a professional setting and participate in enrichment seminars on professional development, financial literacy, and student loans. Check out where the BBF funded students will be working below:
Committee for Public Counsel Services, Palmer Roxbury
Committee for Public Counsel Services, Roxbury
Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards
Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts
Legal Advocacy and Resource Center
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
United States Bankruptcy Court
United States District Court
Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association
We’ll be following the BBF students closely this summer, so make sure to keep checking Beyond the Billable for more. To learn more about how the BBF supports the Summer Jobs Program, please visit the BBF’s website here.
The BBF would like to thank Hirsch Roberts Weinstein, Hemenway & Barnes, Arrowood Peters LLP and Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Weist & Garner, P.C. for their generous donations to the BBF to fund Summer Jobs positions.
Nonprofit employers gathered at 16 Beacon to learn about the new Employment Law Pro Bono Project, a partnership between Lawyers Clearinghouse and the BBA’s Labor & Employment section.
The BBA’s Labor & Employment Section has teamed up with BBF Grantee Lawyers Clearinghouse to help nonprofits address employment issues. The “Employment Law Pro Bono Project” will help provide cash strapped nonprofits with legal assistance on essential employment law issues, including:
- Wage and Hour Law
- Wage Payment
- Personnel Policy Development
- ADA Awareness
This new partnership seeks to address both the increasing need for such services by nonprofits and the lack of pro bono opportunities for employment lawyers by matching the two together.
We caught up with Labor & Employment Section Co-Chair Mark Burak (Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak, & Stewart, P.C.), to get a little more background on the origins of the program. Here’s what he had to say:
“The primary drivers for the initiative was: (a) the glaring need non-profits have for legal assistance in compliance with employment laws and (b) the lack of opportunity for many management-side lawyers to engage in pro bono work (as they are often limited by firm policies that do not allow representation of employee side clients, pro bono or otherwise). The BBA L&E committee saw a real opportunity to assist smaller non-profits while providing a great outlet for pro bono work for both management and employee side lawyers.”
We’re excited to report this new development and will be updating you with more information and specifics as the program gets underway. In the meantime, kudos to the BBA’s Labor & Employment Section and Lawyers Clearinghouse for spearheading this important initiative.