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One Year Later: The BBA Military & Veterans Legal Help Line

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Solana Goss – Lawyer Referral Service Intake Coordinator

For the past year, I have had the opportunity to work firsthand expanding the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service’s reach to service members, veterans and their families through the Military & Veterans Legal Help Line. September marks the one year anniversary that the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) has housed the help line, which was developed in 2011 to connect this underserved population with the legal resources they need.  As the Intake Coordinator of the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service, I connect hundreds of callers per week with attorneys, legal services, and community organizations. Whenever I pick up the phone and the caller identifies as a disabled veteran struggling to pay their mortgage, or an active duty military member facing family law disputes, I am reminded of the strength, courage, and dedication that these individuals put forth to serve our country.  That this need exists so prevalently in our society helps motivate me to do what I can to improve access to legal services for the individuals and their families who served our nation.  I leave each call remembering that there is more than we can do for veterans. Instead of just thanking veterans for their service, I am fortunate enough to show my thanks by offering and connecting them with assistance. The legal community has the opportunity to show their thanks and appreciation for the sacrifices of service members in another way – by agreeing to take cases on their behalf.

Goss_Solana2The BBA and the Lawyer Referral Service has made considerable progress through the Legal Help Line this year. Since September 2013, we have connected 340 active-duty military, veterans, and their families to lawyers and legal services, a 161% increase in the amount of individuals that we were able to serve than the year prior. The LRS maintains a panel of attorneys who are trained to understand the nuances of representing this population, and our Active Duty, Family Members and Veterans Committee is ready to address new challenges in the year ahead.  Despite this great success, we still need more attorneys to take cases. If you are an attorney who wants to help support the BBA’s Military & Veterans Legal Help Line, contact me at sgoss@bostonbar.org, or the BBA’s Public Service Manager Sonia Shah at sshah@bostonbar.org.

The BBA has an ongoing commitment to support service members and their families…so what’s next? On September 23rd the BBA will host the first part of a two-part series to raise awareness about the critical issue of military sexual assault.  U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas will be lending her expertise on the issue and her highlighting her work fighting against sexual assault in Congress.  For more information and to register, click here.

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BBA LRS Joins the Party – Celebrates Diversity at Cambridge Carnival

BBA staff set up shop in Kendall Square along with other non-profits and vendors.

BBA staff set up shop in Kendall Square along with other non-profits and vendors.

This past Sunday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) joined in the festivities at the 21st annual Cambridge Carnival International, a celebration rooted in African traditions that brings together the area’s diverse community. This year’s festival drew an estimated 150,000 people, making it the largest festival in Cambridge.

Carnival attendees who stopped by the BBA’s booth learned about the BBA and how to receive a referral from the BBA LRS, only ABA-approved lawyer referral service in the greater Boston area.  This is the 4th year that the BBA staff had a booth at this event.  Attending events around greater Boston is one way that the LRS reaches out to the public about services available to them, including reduced-fee referrals, attorneys who practice Limited Assistance Representation, and the Military Legal Help Line.

Take a look below for more images from the day:

The colorful parade is a highlight of the annual Cambridge Carnival International.

The colorful parade is a highlight of the annual Cambridge Carnival International.

 

Parade participants draw from African & Caribbean roots with their costumes.

Parade participants draw from African & Caribbean roots with their costumes.

To refer clients to the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, please have them call (617)742-0625 or (800)552-7046 Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.  Clients can also visit us on our bilingual English/Spanish website at www.bostonbarlawyer.org to submit a request online.

 

Volunteer Lawyers Give BBA Summer Jobs Interns Legal Lessons

Mirna Diaz  (Diaz Law Group) spoke with the Summer Jobs interns and LRS intern about family law as part of the LRS training series.

Mirna Diaz (Diaz Law Group) spoke with the Summer Jobs interns and LRS intern about family law during an LRS training session.

The two Boston public high school students interning in at the BBA’s 16 Beacon Street headquarters through the BBA Summer Jobs Program have been in high demand this summer. In between their long list of projects, office duties, enrichment seminars, and field trips, Alejandra and Harmoun have also been receiving legal lessons from members of the BBA Lawyer Referral Service on various areas of law.

Beyond the Billable checked in with Alejandra and Harmoun to hear more about the trainings. Here’s what they had to say:

Alejandra Bautista

“I honestly loved all of them because I learned so many new things that I’ve never heard of. I feel grateful because I am going to leave this internship having a lot of knowledge about law, especially the family law one and the public benefits one. I found a little bit of my passion in these trainings.”- Alejandra Bautista, rising junior at Boston Community Leadership Academy

“All of the LHarmoun TaibRS trainings were extremely helpful. I learned a variety of different laws that I have never heard of before. I also had the pleasure to meet different attorneys from local law firms. The LRS trainings gave me a better understanding of different areas of law and the type of law I would like to pursue as a career. My favorite training was on immigration law. I emigrated from another country and I would like to help other immigrants because I think they need to have a second chance.” – Hermuna Taib, rising senior at East Boston High School

BBA LRS Expands Reach to Hispanic Community

LRS ESPANOL Last week, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) launched a new Spanish-language website.   The website provides all of the same features found on the main site, and has a fully responsive design to mobile and tablet technologies. The BBA LRS has been committed to connecting historically underserved populations with lawyers and legal resources for over 50 years.  The LRS has a bilingual staff member and developed the site in response to the increase of Spanish callers over the years.

Beyond the Billable reached out to Solana Goss, the coordinator of the Lawyer Referral Service, to learn more about the website expansion. Here’s what she had to say: “We have recognized the language barrier gap for many Spanish speaking callers seeking legal assistance.  Ensuring the Spanish-speaking population has access to our information on how to connect with legal resources is vital to our goal of increasing access to justice.  I think it is important that we empower people from the public to stick up for their legal rights by making them aware of their options and how to access help.”

Check out the Lawyer Referral Service’s new Spanish site directly at www.bostonbarlawyer.org/es or through the language toggle option located at the top of www.bostonbarlawyer.org.

If you are a bilingual attorney interested in joining the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, please email LRS Intake Coordinator, Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.   Members from the public can call the LRS at 617-742-0625 or request an attorney online at any time through the website.

BBA LRS in the Community: Boston Pride Parade

A record setting 25,000 people in 200 groups marched in the annual parade, which was led by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Marty Walsh and ended with a festival on City Hall Plaza.

A record setting 25,000 people in 200 groups marched in the annual parade, which was led by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Marty Walsh and ended with a festival on City Hall Plaza.

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.

The BBA's Liz Vincensi and Ian Mitnick displayed materials on how to get in touch with the BBA Lawyer Referral Service and answered questions about the benefits of LRS.

The BBA’s Liz Vincensi and Ian Mitnick displayed materials on how to get in touch with the BBA Lawyer Referral 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/

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 sgoss@bostonbar.org.

BBA Boosts Legal Assistance for Our Troops and Veterans

Veterans Initiative Photo

It’s been a little over six months since the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service adopted the Military Legal Help Line . If you remember, this past fall we announced the expansion of our Veterans’ Initiative, by transferring the Help Line, launching our CLE series on Representing Military Members, Veterans & Their Families, and leveraging the efforts by our Active Duty, Family Members and Veterans Committee.

Here’s a glimpse of our impact so far:

  • Since September 1st, we have received calls from more than 250 military personnel, veterans and family members.
  • We successfully connected 65% more callers to lawyers and legal services than last year. Since developing a panel of qualified attorneys trained to assist with the unique legal issues facing this population, we have been able to help more clients.
  • All of the attorneys on these Military & Veterans panels accept reduced-fee cases and are generally willing to provide brief advice at no cost to the veteran or military member.
  • For more complex cases that members of our Military & Veterans panels are unable to help, we have been successful in finding other BBA members with specific expertise to provide assistance.

These successes come at the same time the state is expanding its outreach to veterans by launching the second Veterans Treatment Court, this one in Suffolk County. The court began holding sessions at the end of January and is staffed with specially trained judges, clinicians, probation officers and attorneys. The Veterans Treatment Court will hear certain criminal cases where a link has been established between trauma caused by military service and the defendant’s crime.

Can you help assist active duty military members with discharge cases? If you can or are an attorney who wants to help support the BBA’s Military Legal Help Line, contact Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

BBA LRS Joins 8,000 at Quincy Lunar Festival

Attorney Mary Lee (Mary K.Y. Lee P.C.) speaks to an attendee about the BBA LRS, the only lawyer referral service in greater Boston approved by the American Bar Association.

Attorney Mary Lee (Mary K.Y. Lee P.C.) speaks to an attendee about the BBA LRS, the only lawyer referral service in greater Boston approved by the American Bar Association.

This past Sunday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff joined 8,000 guests at North Quincy High School to celebrate the Quincy Lunar Festival as part of its ongoing community outreach. This marked the 26th year for the event hosted by the Quincy Asian Resources, Inc, and the 4th year the BBA LRS attended.

Joining LRS staff was bilingual LRS panel member Attorney Mary Lee (Mary K.Y. Lee, P.C), who answered questions and explained to attendees how to they could obtain legal representation from the BBA Lawyer Referral Service.

The dance troupe that performed the lion dance also paid the LRS table a visit.

The dance troupe that performed the lion dance also paid the LRS table a visit.

In addition to speaking with individuals, the LRS staff enjoyed the festivities, including cultural performances and vendors selling Asian foods and goods to celebrate the year of the Horse.

Many attendees visited the LRS booth, including Massachusetts State Representative for the 1st Norfolk District, Bruce Ayers, and Quincy City Councilman, Joseph Ginn.

Many attendees visited the LRS booth, including Massachusetts State Representative for the 1st Norfolk District, Bruce Ayers, and Quincy City Councilman, Joseph Ginn.

 

To access the BBA Lawyer Referral Service please call (617)742-0625 or (800)552-7046 Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. You can also email us at LRS@bostonbar.org or visit us on our newly re-designed website at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.

 

BBA Lawyer Referral Service Launches New Website

A look at the new Lawyer Referral Service Website

A look at the new Lawyer Referral Service website

The BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS), which has been connecting members of the community with lawyers and legal resources for 50 years, has announced a website redesign to better serve those seeking legal representation in Massachusetts.The LRS screens approximately 10,000 requests from the public every year, and now that the new website is fully compatible and responsive with all mobile and tablet device technologies, the BBA hopes to increase access to legal services.

The redesigned website will allow visitors to easily request an attorney online, find updates on news related to the Referral Service and the BBA, and quickly access information about the services offered by the LRS — all from a computer, phone, or tablet. For those who contact the Lawyer Referral Service and cannot afford to pay for full fee representation, LRS staff and resources are able to help these people access options suited to their needs, like limited assistance, reduced fee representation, or place them in contact with a legal service agency that deals with their specific legal problem.

The Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service is the only lawyer referral service in the Greater Boston area to be accredited by the American Bar Association. Take a look at the new website, where you can find out more about LRS Services, and special BBA Projects such as the Military Legal Help Line, and the Marathon Monday Project.

The Lawyer Referral Service website can be found here at www.bostonbarlawyer.org.

BBA Lawyer Referral Service Reaches Out to Thousands at the Massachusetts Conference for Women

BBA Interns help staff the LRS booth at the 9th Annual MA Conference For Women.

BBA Interns help staff the LRS booth at the 9th Annual MA Conference For Women.

Last Thursday, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) staff set up shop at the 9th Annual Massachusetts Conference for Women, which drew more than 10,000 women from across the state and New England.

This year’s conference, held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center featured keynote addresses and breakout sessions led by more than one hundred experts in the fields of business, philanthropy, finance, media and professional development. The theme the conference was “The Power of Us,” and gave conference attendees many opportunities for business networking, professional development and personal growth. 

Hundreds of attendees stopped by the BBA’s booth, inquiring as to how they could receive referrals through the Lawyer Referral Service, and about the BBA’s Mission and role in the community.

The Massachusetts Conference for Women is the largest outreach and marketing event of the year for the BBA LRS, who participates in approximately 10 outreach events yearly. Next on the calendar is the 26th Annual Quincy Lunar New Year Festival in February. Stay tuned for more details!