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While the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program is only halfway done in the Greater Boston area, volunteers spent the fall and early winter delivery the program to students in Western Massachusetts. Each year the Hampden County Bar Association and Hampshire County Bar Association team up with the BBA and U.S. Bankruptcy Court to teach 100 students at Holyoke High School, Northampton High School, and Easthampton High School about the importance of making informed financial decisions.
Beyond the Billable would like to thank the volunteers who donated their time and expertise to the Program:
Honorable Henry Boroff, United States Bankruptcy Court
Janet Bostwick, Janet E. Bostwick, PC
Jennifer Butler, Weiner & Lange, P.C.
John Davis, Cooley Shrair, P.C.
Henry Geberth, Hendel & Collins, PC
Alex Hogan, Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C.
Elizabeth Katz, Law Office of Elizabeth D. Katz
Michael Katz, Bacon & Wilson, PC
Eric Kornblum, The Law Office of Eric Kornblum
Joseph Lange, Weiner & Lange, P.C.
Andrea O’Connor, Weiner & Lange, P.C.
Denise Shear, Ostrander Law Office
Spencer Stone, Hendel & Collins, PC
Christina Turgeon, The Law Office of Christina M. Turgeon
Gary Weiner, Weiner Law Firm, PC
Make sure you don’t miss Western Mass co-chair Liz Katz’s response to this week’s Voices of the Bar, asking volunteers why they participate in the Financial Literacy Program
The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program kicks off on Monday with sessions at New Mission High School and Boston Community Leadership Academy. Even though the program is about to get started, the BBA is still looking for volunteers to help meet the demand. That’s why Beyond the Billable checked in with one of our Financial Literacy Co-Chairs, Janet Bostwick (Janet E. Bostwick, PC); to hear the four best reasons you should volunteer for the program. Here’s what she had to say:
(1) Because you don’t know the fun you are missing. I have received numerous calls from volunteers after teaching their first class, who tell me they can’t wait to sign up again. Volunteers enjoy going to the classroom and interacting with the students, while teaching them about budgeting, credit cards or buying a car.
(2) Because as little as five hours of your time will make a big difference in the lives of the students. From start to finish (training, preparing, travel, and class), the time commitment is typically five hours or less. Helping the students learn the basics about personal finance and credit will provide them with skills they will use for the rest of their lives.
(3) Because you wish someone had told you about credit and personal finance when you were their age. Maybe it was your first paycheck (when you saw how little you took home). Maybe it was that first car you bought (when the salesman talked you into a pricier model.) Or, maybe it was juggling that first credit card and the minimum payments. We all had to sort through personal finance and credit issues at some point in our life, but often on our own. You can help provide these students with the information now, and prepare them for those crossroads.
(4) Because you will be an ambassador for your profession. This spring we are in 15 schools in Boston, Greater Boston, and Worcester. Some of our students had little prior contact (or positive contact) with attorneys and the legal profession. Your presence and involvement will help them have a better understanding about our profession. (And, maybe you will be the spark for one of them to consider becoming a lawyer in the future.)
Are you convinced? Click here to sign up for an open volunteer session.
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.
At Liberty Mutual’s Law Department, engaging in pro bono activity is a way of life. More than 50 attorneys in the legal department take part in pro bono work in areas including housing, unemployment compensation, social security, and domestic violence. That’s just one of the many reasons they will be honored with the Thurgood Marshall Award at the BBA’s Annual Meeting this Friday.
Specifically, Liberty Mutual has shown commitment to many of the BBA’s public service and pro bono initiatives. This year alone, their attorneys accepted pro bono cases through the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program, helping the program assist over 1,100 landlords and tenants. When the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program more than doubled in size last year, the legal department stepped up to the plate and adopted a classroom at Boston Community Leadership Academy. To learn more about Liberty Mutual legal department’s commitment to pro bono work, please click here.
This morning, the BBA’s Claflin Center was abuzz with Summer Jobs students exchanging stories about their summer positions, including interesting office projects and recent courtroom experiences at the BBF Summer Jobs breakfast. Thanks to donations from a number of local law firms, the BBF increased its support of the Summer Jobs Program by funding 13 positions at nonprofit and government agencies this year. In order to celebrate this record-breaking year and the hard work of the students, the BBF hosted a celebratory breakfast to thank the firms for their donations and congratulated the students on their hard work this summer. Last week BBF students shared their favorite experience of the summer with BBA Week, and this morning they had the chance to share with those who made their summer experience possible.
The BBF would like to thank the following firms for their generous contribution to the Summer Jobs Program:
Dain Torpy, P.C.
Hemenway & Barnes LLP
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP
Jackson Lewis LLP
Morrison Mahoney LLP
Here are a few highlights from the morning:
Last week, you heard from three attorneys who conducted training sessions for BBA interns and Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff. When we asked the attorneys why they donated their time to participate, the response was overwhelming. Here’s a look at what others had to say:
“Conducting this training provided a chance to help LRS staff better pinpoint, screen, and identify potential cases for the LRS attorney panel. It was fun to share with eager and engaged learners, and the experience energized the rest of that particular day. It was a wonderful reminder why I need to continuously share, because it’s part of the profession and part of my ongoing development/improvement as an attorney. I hope that I was able to convey to the interns that regardless of how much fear one is challenged with by the legal process, by not giving into that fear, the law and knowledge of the law will eventually help them resolve their problems. I think it’s important for the interns and potential clients to know that philosophy to sustain the spirit of moving forward.”
“I always enjoy being able to talk to these trainees and let them know that there is more to the learning process than just being in the classroom and that they should make the most of this experience of being able to deal with real life matters that are important to potential callers. I make a point of letting them know that they will be receiving calls from people who come from all walks of life. Some are very poor, homeless, and have never spoken to a lawyer and have difficulty in even explaining why they need a lawyer. They were told to get a lawyer and it is our job to figure out what they need and help as best we can. You have to establish a trusting relationship with client’s in order to be able to get the information needed and be able to properly represent them.”
“I volunteered to conduct the training session because I believe strongly in the work that the BBA LRS staff does in assisting people who need an attorney in finding the right attorney. If I can help them in any small way do that better, that is great.
I wanted the interns to know that in this day of the internet and social media, there still is no substitute for the assistance of a capable, experienced attorney to help guide one through their legal situation. Also, as an attorney, one of the greatest satisfactions lies in determining the roots of a legal problem and devising a way to resolve it.”
Joseph Sommer (Sommer & Associates) conducted a training session on Trusts & Estates.
“Fundamental changes occurred in Massachusetts Trust and Estate law within the last two years. It is important to educate referral staff regarding changes to more effectively refer cases. Moreover, I hope to inspire referral staff and interns to become more involved in Massachusetts Trust and Estate law to better the profession. I attempted to convey the importance of versatility and transparency in the areas of Massachusetts Trust and Estate law. Versatility and transparency are important concepts that could be employed in most areas of life.”
If you are interested in becoming involved in future training sessions, please contact Solana Goss, the LRS Intake Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout the month of July, volunteer attorneys conducted eleven training sessions at the BBA for summer interns and Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff about various practice areas. We caught up with some of the volunteers to see what they had to say about their participation, and asked them why they felt motivated to volunteer their time.
“The Legal Advocacy and Resource Center works closely with the BBA LRS to make the best referrals between the programs. There are many callers to the LRS that do not have enough income to hire an attorney but that have a serious legal problem and it is important that these clients get directed to an agency that is most likely to assist them. By understanding which clients should be directed to LARC and which should be directed to another agency is a valuable service to callers who often have a very difficult time navigating the legal services delivery system. I enjoy conducting the training for these students because they bring such enthusiasm and desire to help others and learn about the legal profession.”
“Family Law is an exciting and changing field of law. I am inspired to see young people interested and proactive in learning about the process and daily practice. It is never too early to get involved and begin meaningful relationships.”
Ilir Kavaja (Kavaja Law) conducted a training session on Criminal Law.
“One thing in particular that I enjoyed sharing and talking about with the trainees was the importance of helping all those in need of legal representation, regardless of the ability to afford full, or partial legal fees. I shared this tidbit with the interns because it is a cornerstone of my legal philosophy; “Justice Above All”!”
Stay tuned for part two of the LRS intern training sessions.
If you are interested in becoming involved in future training sessions, please contact Solana Goss, the LRS Intake Coordinator, at email@example.com.
As you know, the BBA is dedicated to addressing the legal needs of our military personnel, veterans, and their families through programs such as Yellow Ribbon Events and the Military Hotline. In light of that, Beyond the Billable thought this BBA Week article would be of particular interest to our readers. The article highlights two of the volunteer BBA attorneys who provided legal assistance to the 250 Coast Guard personnel at the pre-deployment Yellow Ribbon event in Quincy.
For more information on how to get involved in the BBA’s Veteran’s Initiative, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This morning, an ordinance filed by the Mayor about a curfew for young people under the age of 17 was hotly debated in the Boston City Council Chambers. The Commission on the Affairs of the Elderly, the Association of Main Street Businesses, the Mayor’s Youth Council, and Pediatricians for Peace presented their positions to the City Council Committee, which after deliberating, voted against the curfew for teenagers.
Surprised you didn’t hear about this issue in the local news? Don’t be — this was an enrichment exercise for the BBA Summer Jobs students, who debated a pretend ordinance to learn more about the legislative process. Larry DiCara, a partner at Nixon Peabody and former president and member of the Boston City Council, led the session and gave the students a firsthand look at how City Council makes decisions. We asked Larry to discuss the value of the seminar:
“Young people need to understand the importance of the legislative process. They also need to be aware of the role which interest groups play in advancing the passage of legislation. Playing the role of the Commission on the Affairs of the Elderly might not be easy for high school juniors, but is essential to their grasping how democracy works.”
After the seminar, Beyond the Billable caught up with a couple of students after the session to hear about their experience.
David Lozano, a rising senior at Boston Latin Academy and intern at Nixon Peabody, played the Council President.
“I think it was really cool to use the room. Even if the mock City Council meeting was not real, it is a good representation of what really happens. Debating the issue showed that City Council’s decisions aren’t based on one person’s position but that decisions are based on a lot of deliberation.
Julia Pan, a rising junior at Boston Latin Academy and intern at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, provided a spirited performance as the representative for the Commission on the Affairs of the Elderly.
“[The enrichment seminar] was really interactive and I liked that I got to participate throughout the session. Larry really engaged all of the students.”
Here are a few more highlights from the morning:
Next week, the students travel to another offsite enrichment seminar at the Supreme Judicial Court.
Are you a former debater looking to get more involved in the community? Beyond the Billable has the perfect volunteer opportunity for you — the Boston Debate League (BDL) is seeking mentors for the 2013-2014 program year. As a mentor, you will attend a weekly, after school debate practice and work with debaters to cultivate public speaking, critical thinking, and analytical skills.
So why get involved? Academic debate teams have a significant impact on the future of the participants. According to BDL, nearly 100% of students who participate in an urban debate league graduate from high school and more than 80% graduate from a four-year college.
Beyond the Billable reached out to current BBA mentor Stephanie Hoeplinger for a firsthand perspective of this volunteer opportunity.
What was your experience volunteering as a Boston Debate League mentor?
“I originally chose to volunteer as a mentor because I wanted to get more involved in the community. I am a big proponent of public schools, so I thought it would be a great fit. I think that, for me, it was a great volunteer experience because I got to see the kids grow and develop over the debate season, so for others looking for a long-term volunteer activity it is a great choice, as the ability to work with a group of kids throughout the year is really rewarding.”
Why do you think lawyers make good debate mentors?
“Lawyers are uniquely qualified to serve as mentors because of our skills as debaters — it is basically what we do in court on a daily basis. Students argue their side and even to cross-examine the other team. I think lawyers, in particular, can help them to think of good questions to ask and can push them to think about the issues in varying ways.”
For more information on how to volunteer, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at email@example.com.