Beyond the Billable recently gave you the details on BBA’s Summer Career Series geared towards new lawyers, law students, and our Judicial Interns – but if you’re wondering how our Summer interns are faring in the courts, we’ve got you covered. We reached out to Boston College Law School student Kyle Litfin to hear more about his experience in his first two weeks working in the Boston Municipal Court’s Dorchester session with Judge James W. Coffey. Here’s what he had to say:
“It has only been two weeks and I feel like I have learned more about being a lawyer in my short time at the Dorchester Court than I have my entire first year in law school. Not only has the job provided interesting research and writing opportunities, but I have had the chance to witness pre-trial conferences, status conferences, and trials from start to finish. Watching an entire case, from jury selection to a verdict is truly remarkable. More importantly, watching lawyers give opening and closing statements, seeing different techniques for witness questioning, and observing when and how lawyers decide to object to statements and exhibits is both exciting and instructional.
Having the chance to work with Judge Coffey, the clerks, and my fellow interns allows for the experience to be extremely interactive. Not only does Judge Coffey always take the time to answer any and all of my questions, but the clerks, the court officers and all of the Dorchester Court staff are there to provide information and guidance whenever possible. Each day is something exciting and new, and I always look forward to going to work.”
Stay tuned throughout the summer as we check in with our Judicial Interns.
As 25 Summer Judicial Interns finish up their busy summers, the Boston Bar Association is already looking forwards its fall program, where it will provide semester-long internships in Boston Municipal, District and Probate & Family Courts. The program offers diverse law students the opportunity to work directly with a judge, observe courtroom proceedings, enhance their legal research and writing skills and building meaningful connections within the legal community.
Take it from program founder Judge Robert Tochka of the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court:
“The positive impact the Internship program has made on the participants has surpassed all our expectations. These diverse groups of students have demonstrated their determination to enhance their lawyering skills by working diligently on their assignments. Additionally, they have eagerly jumped at the opportunity to soak up real life experiences from such diverse venues as the Bulger trial and a conference in a judge’s lobby to lunch meetings at the BBA to hear personal stories of the career trajectories of various bar members. It has been a very rewarding and enriching experience for everyone.”
Students who have completed their first year of law school and are able to work at least 15 hours per week will be considered. Diverse students are strongly encouraged to apply. A flexible schedule is available to accommodate other commitments. The internship program begins in early September and runs through the end of the semester.
Interested students should complete the application and submit it along with a cover letter, resume, and a letter of recommendation from a law school professor. Enrollment is limited so early applications are strongly encouraged. Applications will be collected on a rolling basis with priority placement given to early applicants. The application deadline is September 6, 2013. Interested students should send completed applications to Susan Helm at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available here.
On Tuesday evening, mentees and mentors from the Diversity & Inclusion Section’s Group Mentoring Program braved the sweltering heat to celebrate a successful year of group mentoring at the BBA.
The program brings together diverse Boston-based attorneys in mentoring groups composed of 10 new lawyer mentees and 2 seasoned mentors, for monthly meetings designed to address the common professional development challenges that all new lawyers face while fostering supportive professional relationships. If you are interested in participating in the program in the upcoming year, contact Susan Helm at email@example.com for more information or see the program handbook here.
On November 13, the Boston Bar Association will have the honor of presenting its third annual Beacon Award for Diversity and Inclusion to Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General (AG). They will be honored for their work in advancing marriage equality, a civil rights battle thathas its origins well before DOMA. But more on that in a moment.
The combined efforts of both GLAD and the AG’s Office have brought together an impressive network of lawyers to advance one of the most significant civil rights issues in recent history. What’s particularly meaningful for us is that the two honorees engaged the legal community as an advocate for greater Diversity and Inclusion both in Massachusetts and the nation.
This fight for civil rights for gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts could be seen in a fundamental way as starting with a single pro bono case from the mid ‘80’s, Babets v. Johnston. It began with The Boston Globe breaking a story about two brothers in the foster care system placed with a gay couple, Babets and Jean. The very same day the story broke, the Dukakis administration removed the children from their home.
The couple’s sexual orientation was the sole reason the boys were removed from their home. No issues of neglect, abuse, or any sort of mistreatment were ever raised. After the children were removed, the administration approved a new DSS policy that essentially banned gays and lesbians from being foster parents.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders started the legal fight to overturn this blatantly discriminatory policy and return the boys to their home. Today, there would be lawyers lining up around the block to help fight for this family, but in 1986, GLAD found it nearly impossible to find any support in the legal community. Attorney Anthony M. Doniger, a partner at Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C. – later to become President of the Boston Bar Association –stepped up to the challenge and represented the plaintiffs in the case pro bono all the way up to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The court rejected the claim of executive privilege asserted by the Dukakis administration in order to withhold documents related to the DSS policy banning gay and lesbians from being foster parents. This ruling allowed the plaintiffs to move forward on their suit to reverse the policy. The policy was ultimately reversed back to the “best interests of the child” standard and the initial suit was settled out of court.
The Beacon Award is celebrating the great work GLAD and the AG’s office have done to promote marriage equality not only in the Commonwealth, but across the nation. Every civil rights effort begins with small steps that, like pebbles dropped in a pond, send out ripples that ultimately can have profound impact. The Babets v. Johnston case is just one of those “pebbles” dropped just over 25 years ago.
Please join us on November 13 at 6:00 at the Liberty Hotel for the Beacon Award. The event is free but we do ask that you RSVP.
In preparation for the next program year, the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section Group Mentoring Program is proud to announce the Mentors for the upcoming program year. Each Mentoring group has two Mentors who work together to provide their 6-10 mentees with a welcoming environment to learn, ask questions and seek advice.
Mentors are chosen not only for their racial and ethnic diversity, but also for their legal diversity. This year our Mentors are partners in law firms, in-house counsel, government attorneys, small business owners, solo practioners, legal services attorneys and bar leaders. Following different paths they were able to reach their current positions in both their profession and legal communities. Having access to these Mentors of this caliber is what makes the BBA Group Mentoring Program a continued success.
Take it from June Duchesne, current Mentoring Committee co-chair and former mentor: “Mentors can be critical to the success of new lawyers. The mentors I had early in my career were invaluable in helping me navigate the ins and outs of our profession. I am excited that our new class of incoming mentors, all respected and experienced attorneys with a lot of talent and knowledge to share, will be able to do the same for so many young lawyers in Boston.”
The Victim Rights Law Center, Inc.
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Pre-Trial Solutions, Inc.
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Craig and Macauley Professional Corporation
Rosenfeld Rafik & Sullivan, P.C
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
The Law Office of Laura M. Unflat
Boston Medical Center-Office of the General Counsel
Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure
For more information on the BBA’s Group Mentoring Program contact Susan Helm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now moving into its 4th year, the BBA Mentoring Program has geared up to accommodate an increase in mentees eager to benefit from the program. BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section established the Group Mentoring Program in 2009 to promote career advancement and career satisfaction for pools of diverse new lawyers.
“I feel privileged to have been a Mentor this past year. I never would have been where I am today without the generosity of lawyers in Massachusetts who took the time to meet with me early in my career to answer my endless questions about the practice of law, to introduce me to other like-minded attorneys and to just listen to my fears about succeeding in this business. The opportunity to connect with new lawyers, to share our experiences and to learn from each other was invaluable. It reminded me why what we do as lawyers is so special and rejuvenated me in a way few things have over the course of my career. It was truly a gift.” – Mala Rafik, Managing Partner, Rosenfeld & Rafik, P.C, BBA Mentor
“The BBA Group Mentoring Program has been a fantastic experience and a wonderful resource. Initially I signed up because I wanted to find mentors who could help me navigate the workplace as a new attorney. While I wasn’t quite sure what questions or concerns I had, or what I could contribute to the Program, the small group of strangers quickly became a productive sounding board and think tank. Our group discussions ranged from work-life balance and networking, to salary negotiations and career changes, to workplace drama and resume building. The mentors and fellow mentees alike ended up providing a reliable support network to discuss, inquire, complain, laugh, and share. This year’s Program may have wrapped up, but I plan on maintaining these relationships through the summer and beyond.” – Cristina Serrano, Associate, Wayne, Richard &Hurwitz LLP, BBA Mentee
Mentoring groups meet monthly for discussions about career paths, work life balance and professional challenges, and participants also gather for program-wide seminars and networking events. The 4th program year will begin in September. Mentee applications will become available in July; interested participants are encouraged to contact Susan Helm at email@example.com for more information.
Background. . .
In the beginning it was an informal initiative designed to provide unpaid internships, introducing law students to the inner workings of the courts. The brainchild of Boston Municipal Court Judge Robert Tochka, the program helped provided needed assistance to the trial courts during a time marked by funding cuts and staff layoffs.
Over time, Judge Tochka made an effort to reach out to more law students, providing them with the opportunity to volunteer their time to him, observe courtroom proceedings and enhance their legal research and writing skills. Word of the program began to spread and other BMC judges were eager to become involved.
In 2010, the BBA Diversity and Inclusion Section heard of this internship program and saw it as a unique opportunity for the BBA to use its resources to help expand and formalize this project as a modest but important step towards providing diverse law students with valuable mentoring and professional experience, and supporting the courts.
By the spring of 2011, the BBA Diversity and Inclusion Section conducted extensive outreach to career services offices at Boston law schools to recruit candidates who could benefit from semester long internships, and helped place students with judges.
Fast forward to the May 15, 2012 meeting of the BBA governing Council. . .
Following a presentation by BBA Diversity Section Co-Chair and Choate, Hall & Stewart partner, Macey Russell, the BBA Council voted to partner with the BMC to formalize this initiative for the purpose of helping to retain a diverse and inclusive population of young lawyers here in Boston.
Students are required to work 15 hours per week, with one day being in court. In addition to completing assigned tasks from their judge, they are required to work on the Massachusetts Case Summaries blog which summarizes important Massachusetts cases.
The next session will begin in the fall; applications will be accepted in August. Interested participants are encouraged to contact Susan Helm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-778-1984.