Category Archives: Uncategorized

Raising Awareness on the Impact of Background Checks


Persis Yu, National Consumer Law Center, James Ianiri, Ianiri Law LLC, and Renay Franel, Committee for Public Counsel Services-Somerville, spoke to atendees about the impact of criminal cases and DCF records on job applications.

Persis Yu, National Consumer Law Center, James Ianiri, Ianiri Law LLC, and Renay Frankel, Committee for Public Counsel Services-Somerville, spoke to attendees about the impact of criminal cases and DCF records on job applications.

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.

PILP 10’s Lasting Impact – the Court Service Center Project


The PILP ’10 Class worked to develop materials for the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse’s Court Service Center to help bring further access to justice in Massachusetts.

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.

BBA LRS Intern Shares Co-Op Experience

Every six months, the Boston Bar Association hires a co-op student from Northereastern University to work with the BBA Lawyer Referral Service. We asked Samantha Odreman, who is currently five months in to her co-op, to share her experiences with our readers.


My Co-op Experience
Samantha Odreman – LRS Intern
Northeastern University, Sophomore
International Affairs with French, Psychology and Social Entrepreneurship Minors
From: Venezuela

 Five months ago I began my first Cooperative Education (Co-op) experience working as an LRS Intern at the Boston Bar Association. When I started working for a bar association, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure what exactly I would be doing, or what the role of a bar association was in the community. As I near the end of my internship, I realize what an opportunity I have been given to explore and analyze different career paths and make informed decisions about my future.

From the theoretical world of school and books, I have come face to face with the legal profession and its many different facets, and have decided that someday, after much more preparation and experience, perhaps I could become a part of that world as a successful attorney. As an LRS Intern I have learned how important it is to carefully listen to issues and how equally important it is to analyze them in order to help people get to the appropriate legal assessments and resources. The LRS is a dedicated public service that works to reduce the gap between the underserved communities and the legal world. Each year, the Lawyer Referral Service helps thousands of people by connecting them to attorneys and other legal services that can assist with their needs. As the largest public service initiative of the Boston Bar Association, the LRS has attorneys that practice in more than 350 areas of law who also offer a variety of fee structures. In addition, the LRS also works with other community organizations to make sure everyone has the chance of getting legal assistance no matter what their financial situation might be.

During my experience at the BBA, I have learned to work hard by following the example of a wonderful group of people who give their best each and every day to achieve their goal and help the BBA increase the number of people that it can help each year.* This opportunity gave me the confidence to pursue my own goal as I continue my studies. I want to do productive and meaningful work that will contribute to alleviate the many needs of society. The Boston Bar Association is a leader in serving the community and I am so grateful to have been a part of it for a little while. I really don’t think I could have had a better first experience in a better place than here at the BBA where people are committed and ready to serve and who want to improve access to justice for all.

*We promise we didn’t force Samantha to say this!

New Lawyers Public Service Committee gives back to Greater Boston Food Bank

btb 5.14


Last Saturday, the BBA’s New Lawyers Public Service Committee took time out of their busy weekend to spend some time at the Greater Boston Food Bank, the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. The lawyers inspected, sorted, and packed food and grocery products. The group’s efforts helped put together 4, 509 meals for local families. We reached out to some of the New Lawyers to get their take on this event and other public service events they participate in – here’s what they had to say:

“Under the strong leadership of Margaret Caulfield and Sara Shannon, the BBA New Lawyers Section’s Public Service Committee has cemented its role as the preeminent vehicle for new and experienced attorneys alike to work together in serving the community in the Greater Boston area.  The volunteer event at the Greater Boston Food Bank was one of many examples this BBA year where BBA members and their guests had the opportunity to interact in casual, collaborative settings while helping those in need.” – Paul Connors, Corporate Counsel, athenahealth

“Volunteering at the GBFB with the BBA is something we look forward to every year.  It is always a fantastic event.  However, it is just one of the many public service opportunities Margaret and I planned this past year.  To name a few, we worked with the Environmental Law Section to clean up Franklin Park.  We also volunteered at Cradles to Crayons, helping to put together book packets for kids around Boston.  In December we teamed up with the Social Committee of the New Lawyers Section and promoted the Toys for Tots Program by gathering gifts for children for the holidays.  We also volunteered with the Prison Book Program by sorting and sending books to various state prisons in the Commonwealth. We also continued our tradition in assisting with the Earth Day Cleanup by volunteering our time (rain or shine) to pick up trash on the Charles River organized by the Esplanade Association.

Not only are these public service events wonderful for networking with other attorneys, but they are also rewarding and a lot of fun.” – Sara Shannon, Assistant Attorney General, Environmental Crimes Strike Force

Lessons from Law Day – Junior Fellows Reflect

John McBrine, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP,   helping a student work on her Law Day poster

John McBrine, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP, helping a student work on her Law Day poster

Over 80 volunteers visited 1,300 students at ten Boston elementary and high schools during Law Day in the Schools this past week, the largest program in recent history. That’s not the only good news – this year we noticed a significant uptick in Law Day in the Schools volunteers from Junior Fellows (of the BBF Society of Fellows Program) and past/present BBA Public Interest Leaders. We reached out to three of them to hear about their experience teaching about this year’s theme “Why Every Vote Matters” and the importance of community outreach as a Fellow and Public Interest Leader. Here’s what they had to say:

McBrine, John“The first graders at Samuel Adams Elementary School in East Boston were just wonderful. We all had a great time exploring how our democratic system of government works. I was amazed at the depth of their curiosity and sense of fairness. One student even asked a question about Justice Sotomayor. I don’t think I knew my phone number in first grade. Overall, the experience provided a great opportunity to reach out to the Boston community and expose youth to the law. As a Junior Fellow and a member of PILP, I believe it’s very important to give back and I encourage all Fellows and BBA members to participate in public, as they able.”– John McBrine, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP, Boston Bar Foundation Junior Fellow & PILP 10


Lieberman, David W.“Law Day in Schools was a great way to spend my lunch hour. I went to Ms. Abid’s fourth grade class at the M.E. Bradley Elementary School in East Boston and all of the kids were really excited to meet me and engaged in our project. We talked for a bit about the importance of voting and then we held an election for the official class candy (Peppermint Patties just barely edged out Twizzlers for the win). At the end, the kids asked some of their burning legal questions like “can you be president if you aren’t born in America?” and “what happens if your parents give you a bad word as a name?” In the end, a great time was had by everyone, and I think everyone learned a little (especially me and my partner).” –David W.S. Lieberman, Day Pitney LLP, Boston Bar Foundation Junior Fellow & PILP 11



“As part of the BBA’s Law Day in the Schools Program, I had the privilege of spending time with a group of energetic second graders at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School talking about why every vote matters. When we discussed the nature of our government and what it means to vote, the students enthusiastically offered tales of accompanying parents to the polls, seeing votes cast behind screens to protect the voter’s privacy, and watching ballots being whisked away into ballot machines. It was inspiring to watch the students engage with the concept of voting and the importance of participation. They were able to recognize the value in voicing their opinions and casting their votes whenever they have the opportunity.”– Emily Hodge, Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP, Boston Bar Foundation Junior Fellow & PILP 9

Are you interested in becoming more involved as a Junior Fellow or participating in an upcoming public service activity? Please visit the Society of Fellows webpage or the BBA Public Service webpage to learn more.

BBA LRS Honors Victim Rights Month at MOVA Conference

Liam Lowney, MOVA’s Executive Director opens the conference with remarks about the 30th Anniversary of the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights and the federal Victim of Crime Act.

Liam Lowney, MOVA’s Executive Director opens the conference with remarks about the 30th Anniversary of the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights and the federal Victim of Crime Act.


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

Summer Jobs Support Youth – But Don’t Just Take it From Us

Edward Wildman Palmer hired four students through the BBA Summer Jobs Program last year and the firm plans to do the same this year as well.

The BBA partners with the City of Boston and the Boston Private Industry Council to run the Summer Jobs Program each year.

While our readers always hear us talking about the benefits of summer employment for local Boston teens, the conversation is much more widespread. Take a look at this article that appeared in the Atlantic that advocates for the importance of summer jobs for high schoolers and highlights our partner for the BBA Summer Jobs Program, the Boston Private Industry Council. While Boston is lucky to have the PIC and its dedicated employers fighting the high teen unemployment rate to secure summer jobs for teens, there is still work to be done to ensure that Boston public high school students have the opportunity to gain professional experience and earn a pay check each summer. The BBA has secured 63 student positions—more than ever before—but we are still working hard to recruit additional firms to hire students. Would you like to support the future workforce of our city? Click here to learn more about the BBA Summer Jobs Program.

If you’re interested in hearing more about our partnership with the PIC, come to the BBA’s upcoming Law Day Dinner where we will honor the PIC for the 21 year relationship that has helped place more than 700 Boston public high school students in meaningful legal summer jobs since 1993. Click here for more information.

Lawyers to Talk Voting Rights with More than 1300 BPS Students for Law Day in the Schools

Through the BBA Law Day in the Schools Program, attorneys travel to Boston public high schools to teach students about the legal field.

Through the BBA Law Day in the Schools Program, attorneys travel to Boston public high schools to teach students about the legal field.

Demand for the BBA’s Law Day in the Schools Program has skyrocketed this year with 1340 students from nine Boston public high schools signed up to learn “Why Every Vote Matters” on May 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th. Volunteers have stepped up to meet the demand and volunteer spots are filling up quickly – so click here to view the available sessions.

Why volunteer? The Law Day in the Schools Program is a great way for attorneys to engage in their community and teach students of all ages important lessons in civics – with a minimal time commitment. The sessions last no more than an hour and the BBA provides volunteers with all of the necessary materials.

Volunteers can choose the classrooms and age groups they volunteer for, so don’t delay in signing up here.

Closing the Books on Another Successful Year with Boston Debate League

A Boston Community Leadership Academy student and a New Mission High School student debate during a Boston Debate League round.

A Boston Community Leadership Academy student and a New Mission High School student debate during a Boston Debate League round. Photo courtesy of Boston Debate League.

Though the 2013-2014 debate season is wrapping up, the fun isn’t over just yet. The Boston Debate League still has what might be two of the best events of the year on the horizon. Don’t miss a great opportunity to see the students in action and recognize their hard work this year.

(1) Celebrate the debaters at the Spring Award at the Spring Award Ceremony on Thursday, March 27th from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Join over 500 BPS students, parents, teachers, and BPS administrators as we celebrate a record-breaking year. Click here to learn more.

(2) The fun doesn’t end there— join Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey for the 2nd Annual Boston City Council Debate on April 1st from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on April 1st, 2014. This is a unique opportunity to meet your Boston City Council members and see talented BPS students engage in a riveting argument over the merits of raising the minimum wage in Massachusetts. You can find more here.

Financial Literacy Volunteers Share Their Stories

M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Volunteers enjoy the opportunity to give back to their community and address a real need among high school students.

M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Volunteers enjoy the opportunity to give back to their community and address a real need among high school students.

This winter is flying by and we are already halfway through the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program in the Greater Boston area. BBA Week thought it would be a great idea to reach out to the volunteers who have already participated in the program to see what they enjoyed most about their experience. The response was overwhelming, which is why we couldn’t help sharing it with our readers. If you haven’t volunteered yet, see what you are missing out on here.

Are you interested in getting involved? It’s not too late to volunteer! Click here to view available sessions.