Category Archives: Public Service
Last Thursday, new lawyers and law students gathered at 16 Beacon to get the inside scoop on what it’s really like to work in legal services as part of the BBA’s Summer Career Series. Attendees gained insight from attorneys of diverse backgrounds with years of legal services experience, asked questions about the profession, and learned tips on how to pursue a career in legal services. Panelists also recommended pursuing volunteer and pro bono opportunities at various organizations as a means of identifying areas of law they are interested in pursuing professionally.
The all-star lineup of panelists includes:
- Yugo Nakai and D’Andre Fernandez, both attorneys from the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association, shared stories about the types of cases they handle and offered tips on how to deal with these clients, whose circumstances offer a unique and often challenging experience.
- Katharine Milton, an attorney at Casa Myrna Vazquez, emphasized that because legal service organizations do not have extensive support staff or large budgets, working in legal services calls for patience and resourcefulness.
- Sherley Rodriquez, an attorney working at a fellowship program through Suffolk University Law School, further emphasized the importance of making positive connections with other attorneys in legal services who will remember you further down the line when more opportunities and positions open up.
After the luncheon, Beyond the Billable checked in with BC Law student Caryn Sigurdson about the panelist discussion and her interest in legal services. Here’s what she had to say:
“The Legal Services panel for the Summer Career Series was informative and helpful. I have always considered working in legal services, but didn’t really have an idea of what that meant. Now I’m convinced that it is something I want to do at some point in my career. I find it frustrating that everything in law school and at networking events focuses on firms, and everyone assumes that working at a large firm is your life’s goal, so it is nice to have an opportunity to meet with other public interest-minded people whose passions are to help those in need.”
Interested in attending a Career Series lunch? Check out the final lunch called “What’s it REALLY Like Being a Real Estate Attorney?” tomorrow at 12:30 pm. Stay tuned for more career series programs in the fall!
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.
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!
As many of you readers know, the BBA just finished up its Law Day in the Schools Program, and this year, thanks to the continuing strength of the program and the work put in by our volunteers, Law Day in the Schools reached more students than ever! This year, 87 volunteers brought the program to 50 classrooms in 9 different Boston Public Schools to teach over 1,300 students of all ages about “Why Every Vote Matters.”
Beyond the Billable would like to acknowledge the attorneys, legal staff, and law students who volunteered their time to be a part of Law Day! Without their time and effort this program would not be possible. Thank you to:
For more information about Law Day in the Schools, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at email@example.com.
Monday night, over 1,400 attorneys came out for the annual Law Day Dinner held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. At the Dinner, friends, colleagues, judges, and legislators joined together to welcome Boston’s new Mayor, honor achievements, and celebrate the strength of our city.
This year, awards were presented to the Marathon Assistance Project’s volunteers, whose quick response to a tragedy through legal assistance changed the lives of many who had been affected by the atrocities and helped them to recover.
Following the honoring of the Marathon Volunteers, the BBA recognized the tireless work of the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) for their dedication to providing educational and career opportunities to Boston youth, as well as their longstanding support of the BBA Summer Jobs program. This celebration of the PIC’s commitment to students comes as the BBA’s Summer Jobs 2014 Program is about to begin: currently the PIC and BBA are working to place over 60 Boston Public High School students in paid legal positions for the summer.
Last but definitely not least, the BBA honored Bonnie Sashin, the BBA’s former Director of Communications & External Relations, for her 26 years of outstanding service and her contributions to the organization and the legal community. Bonnie received a standing ovation from attendees, while guests and people not in attendance were able to tweet their congratulations to Bonnie at #thankyoubonnie, where the messages were broadcasted live on stage.
The ceremony concluded with a speech from Boston’s mayor, Marty Walsh, who spoke to attendees about his commitment to community and equality, and how the bar and legal professionals can play a role in his vision for the city of Boston. The Mayor began by thanking all of the volunteers of the Marathon Assistance Project, emphasizing the unique role that as attorneys they were able to play in helping the city recover.
Mayor Walsh also spoke to attendees about public service, and giving back the community in which we all live or work. The BBA’s Summer Jobs program was highlighted as one of the many parts of Mayor Walsh’s personal vision for diverse youth employment in Boston, stating that “in a time of growth, no one should be left behind.”
Along with Mayor Walsh, Beyond the Billable would like to thank the Boston Marathon Assistance Projects volunteers, PIC, and Bonnie for their tremendous contributions to making the Boston a stronger, happier, and more progressive city – thank you!
As many of our members know, the BBA is hard at work preparing for the largest bench bar event in Massachusetts, Law Day Dinner 2014, which will take place on May 12th at the Boston Convention Center. While a keynote speech from Mayor Marty Walsh will headline the event, Beyond the Billable is particularly excited for the BBA to recognize the lawyers that stepped up to provide pro bono legal assistance following the tragic events of last year’s Boston Marathon.The BBA Marathon Assistance Project volunteers will receive a special award at Monday’s event, honoring them for their willingness to donate their time to help the city, its businesses, and its people rebuild after the bombing.
If you’re an avid reader of Beyond the Billable, you’ve probably seen the stats, but here they are once more just for good measure: over 200 individual lawyers, along with 26 law firms, and 3 law schools mobilized to provide critical legal assistance. Lawyers were uniquely qualified to lend their expertise in a time of crisis, and our volunteers agreed to do so at a moment’s notice.
It’s important to note, however, that the process is not over. As the One Fund prepares for the second distribution of applications, the BBA and our outstanding volunteers stand ready to offer assistance with One Fund claims, and additional legal issues that continue to arise. Just last week at 16 Beacon, we heard from a panel that included a representative of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Former Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston, a member of the Boston Public Health Commission who discussed how preparation for the marathon itself enabled the City of Boston and other service providers to respond so quickly to the events of April 15. Events like this remind us that the work is not yet finished, just as the one year anniversary of the marathon reminded us that even as we remain Boston Strong, the healing process for the city and the victims is still far from over.
If you would like to provide pro bono legal assistance through the Marathon Monday Project, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about the BBA Law Day Dinner, the largest annual bench bar event in Massachusetts here.
The BBA Lawyer Referral Service (BBA LRS) kicked off a the season of community outreach at the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance’s (MOVA) 2014 Victim Rights Conference in honor of Victim Rights Month in Massachusetts and National Crime Victim Rights Week. Last Friday’s conference brought survivors and victim service providers together at Seaport World Trade Center for a day of learning and networking via multiple workshops and exhibits. As an exhibitor, the BBA LRS spread the word about the services of the program to the conference attendees. In addition to highlighting the LRS and its reduced-fee panels, the LRS table had information about special projects for those affected by the Marathon Bombings, and the Military Legal Helpline.
If you would like more information about the Lawyer Referral Service please contact Solana Goss at email@example.com.
Last week, Beyond the Billable shared highlights from two legal offices’ experiences “adopting a classroom” through M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. While Sun Life Financial and Liberty Mutual participated in the model in the past, two new legal offices also stepped up to the plate to provide volunteers for the three classroom-based sessions at two Boston public high schools. The U.S. Security and Exchange Commission adopted a classroom at Snowden International High School and Choate Hall & Stewart adopted a classroom at Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers.
Beyond the Billable checked in with attorneys from Choate Hall & Stewart to hear more about their experience. Here’s what they had to say:
Why did Choate Hall & Stewart choose to participate in the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program?
“Attorneys at Choate are long-time participants in and supporters of the Financial Literacy Program. When the opportunity arose for the Firm to adopt a classroom this year, we jumped at the chance to expand our work with the Program. Choate is pleased to serve the youth in our community by teaching them practical lessons in effective personal financial management.” – Meg McKenzie Feist, Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
What was the highlight of the Program for your volunteers?
“As a volunteer, I was very impressed with the knowledge the students already possessed, as well as their eagerness to learn more about budgeting, saving, and credit. My group of students was engaged throughout the presentation and asked me pointed questions. It was a joy to work with the students and I look forward to engaging with a new group next year.” – Tyler Masse, Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
While students are still traveling the Boston and Worcester Bankruptcy Courts, the classroom based sessions of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program have wrapped up in the Greater Boston area. This year, four legal offices stepped up and “adopted a classroom” to help meet the growing demand for the program in fifteen schools. In this model, legal offices commit to providing 3-6 volunteers to cover each of the three classroom based sessions. In return, the legal offices were able to provide their employees with an opportunity to give back while partnering with a fellow colleague.
Beyond the Billable reached out to the legal departments of Sun Life Financial and Liberty Mutual, both of whom participated in the “adopt a classroom” model last year as well, to hear more about the experience. Sun Life Financial adopted a classroom at Joseph P. Keefe Technical School in Framingham and Liberty Mutual adopted four classrooms at Boston Community Leadership Academy in Hyde Park.
Here’s what they had to say:
Why did your legal office choose to participate in the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program?
“As in house counsel and compliance professionals in the financial services industry, supporting a financial literacy program has been a great way for us to give back to the community and utilize our skills. We selected the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Program for a few reasons. First, volunteers don’t have to be attorneys and this allows us to make the opportunity available to more people in our department. We also like being able to sponsor the same school every year. We have found that consistency of the same teacher, class format and class size every year enhances the success of the program. Volunteers know what to expect and can build off of best practices from prior years to improve upon our delivery of the program for a technical high school. Lastly, the volunteer materials provided by the BBA are very comprehensive, which helps cut down on preparation time, and are designed such that the volunteers can be flexible about deciding how to select content of an organization for a particular session.” – Michelle Greco, AVP & Senior Counsel, Sun Life Financial
“The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program provides a unique opportunity for both the students and the Liberty Mutual Insurance volunteers. Students have the opportunity to learn about finance-related topics from volunteers who have significant real-world knowledge, which we think enables the students to continue to build practical skills as they enter young adulthood. The volunteers enjoy interacting with the high school students and having the chance to make a difference in their lives. In addition, the program gives some of our volunteers with backgrounds in finance a chance to make an impact and help students avoid financial pitfalls in advance, rather than merely helping after the fact.”— Andrew Fagenholz, Corporate Counsel, Liberty Mutual
What was the highlight of the program for your volunteers?
“Spending any amount of time in a high school is like taking a step back in time. As you think about the decisions that are on the horizon for the young adults who will soon be graduating, you realize that while you may have come to talk about the specifics of buying a car, what you are really there for is to impress upon the students the important differences between what they want, and what they really need and can afford. That theme runs through the various modules, and hopefully our discussion about the realities of owning a car helped the students understand the kind of tough financial decisions they will have to make when they are on their own. The students were interested and active, which made the session a lot of fun, and I hope I can participate in this program again in the future.” — Scott Davis, SVP & General Counsel, Sun Life Financial
“Without a doubt, the primary highlight for our volunteers was the chance to provide guidance to young adults through a live, interactive classroom session with a dynamic group of students. Most of our volunteers do not regularly teach high school classes, and they reported that the experience was energizing and exciting. They enjoyed the hands-on exposure and fielding questions from their classrooms both on the finance topic of the day and other matters the students might raise.”— Andrew Fagenholz, Corporate Counsel, Liberty Mutual
Our volunteers were so excited to share their experiences that we had to turn this into a two part statement! Stay tuned for part two when we hear from Choate Hall & Stewart and the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission volunteers about their experiences.