Though Pro Bono Month has officially ended, Beyond the Billable encourages its readers to take advantage of the BBA’s public service and pro bono initiatives year-round. If you needed any extra motivation, take a look at the four pro bono spotlights below, each of which highlights the commitment and participation of dedicated lawyers dedicated to pro bono work.
Thomas Beauvais: Lawyer for a Day Has A Lifetime Impact
Meg McKenzie Feist: Helping to Ease Burdens Through Bankruptcy
Donald Lassman: Financial Education for Service Members as a Means of Prevention
Katy Ward: Ensuring Access to Justice in Boston’s Housing Court
For a full recap of Pro Bono Month, click here. Please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at email@example.com for more information on how to get involved throughout the year.
An estimated 250 law students and new lawyers flocked to the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk Law School on Monday night to learn about pro bono opportunities throughout the city and network with public interest attorneys. The annual Pro Bono Fair, co-hosted by the BBA and Suffolk University Law Center, featured more than 25 Boston-area legal agencies.
Beyond the Billable caught up with a couple of students to hear why they decided to attend the fair. Here’s what they had to say:
“I just started doing pro bono work and I am trying to do more. It offers a lot of ways to get connected. Before you realized what you want to do, you have to figure out what you don’t want to do. Pro bono work and learning about the opportunities here can help you expand your knowledge about different areas of law and what is available.”—Eric Albright, second year law student at Suffolk University Law School
“I was really seeking pro bono opportunities and I thought coming here would give me a more global view of what I could find. In France it’s not as common to do pro bono work. So it’s part of my LL.M. experience. I think doing something productive with my skills is critical.” – Juliette Guillemot, LL.M. student, Boston University Law School
Look below for a glimpse of the event:
If you missed the event but are interested in getting involved in pro bono work, click here to view the comprehensive program booklet. For more information on how volunteers help the participating organizations, check out the Voices of the Bar piece from BBA Week last week.
As most of our readers know, the BBA recently announced its Lawyer Referral Service will house the Military Legal Help Line, which connects veterans, military personnel, and their families with lawyers and other legal resources appropriate to their needs by offering reduced fee and pro bono legal assistance.
As part of the process to build up referral resources for the Help Line, the BBA recently launched a 4 part CLE series on Representing Military Personnel and Veterans. Last month you heard from us about Part One of the Series, the training on Family Law and Domestic Relations. Part Two, tackling Bankruptcy & Consumer Finance issues, also offered guidance on representing a unique population, and shed light on some of the psychological aspects that lawyers need to think about when dealing with service members.
In the words of the program chair, Donald Lassman: “the training session provided those in attendance with excellent resource materials and expert guidance on legal issues that are unique to military service men and women in bankruptcy cases and consumer finance cases, including debt collection law suits, residential evictions, foreclosures and auto loan repossessions. Service members face unique challenges when placed on active duty that can cause financial stress and make it very difficult, if not impossible, to timely respond to creditor inquiries.”
The experienced panel included Donald R. Lassman (Law Office of Donald R. Lassman), Gail McAuliffe (Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services), Mark Rossi (Esher Rossi LLC), and Thomas Beauvais.
Stay tuned for more information about our Military Initiative. If you are interested in learning more about taking referrals through the Military Legal Help Line housed at the Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service, please contact Solana Goss, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us for the next training in the series – Representing Military Personnel & Veterans: Estate Planning, Employment Law & Landlord Tenant Law on November 7th.
The conference center at 16 Beacon Street was packed once again, this time thanks to eager volunteers looking to get involved in pro bono work in the Boston Housing Court. The Real Estate Public Service Committee and Volunteer Lawyers Project teamed up to host the annual Boston Bar Association Landlord Tenant Basics Training. Volunteers were prepped on what to expect and how to prepare to volunteer for the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program by First Justice of the Boston Housing Court Jeffrey Winik, Katy Ward (Mintz Levin), Seth Malamut (Sherin & Lodgen), and Maria Theophilis (Broderick, Bancroft & Goldberg).
Beyond the Billable caught up with Joanna Allison, a staff attorney at VLP and the coordinator of the training, to find out what she hoped attendees took away from the training. Here’s what she had to say:
“The attendees learned the ins and outs of Massachusetts summary process rules and more subtle practice pointers for the Boston Housing Court and the BBA Lawyer for the Day Program. In addition, they learned some of the more effective ways to assist a tenant facing eviction from subsidized housing. Through the wit and wisdom of Judge Winik, they learned how to navigate the evidentiary issues most likely to arise in a summary process case.”
Thanks to the training, attendees now have the opportunity to provide legal advice to landlords and tenants on Wednesday and Thursday mornings through the Lawyer for the Day at the Boston Housing Court Program. The program provides essential services to landlords and tenants in need of legal advice, but don’t take it from us. Joanna gave three reasons why attorney should get involved in the program:
“1. It is an invaluable learning experience with the opportunity to appear before the court with the support and mentoring of very experienced lawyers
2. It makes a huge difference to the court and the litigant when the litigant has advice and/or representation. It makes the courts job cleaner and makes the litigant feel enfranchised.
3. You will be a part of a community of lawyers who will support you, answer your questions and, quite possibly, become your friend.”
If you are interested in landlord tenant law, be sure to check out the upcoming training for veterans and military personnel. Click here to learn more. To support the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program, contribute to the BBF’s Vaughan Fund here.
In honor of Pro Bono Month, the BBA is shining a spotlight on some of our members who are committed to giving back to the community through pro bono work. Beyond the Billable wanted to make sure our readers saw the first spotlight featuring Thomas Beavais in this week’s BBA Week. Thomas works with VLP’s Fair Debt Collection Clinic. If you need any inspiration to get involved in pro bono work, look no further. Thomas shares a detailed account of his experience volunteering with the project, as well as highlights from his first trial as a lawyer.
Stay tuned for more pro bono attorney profiles throughout Pro Bono Month.
Pro Bono Month at the BBA continued last night with the annual Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Training, a collaboration between the BBA Bankruptcy Law Section’s Public Service Committee and the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association. Thanks to a top-notch panel, including Susan Grossberg (Grossberg Law Offices), Warren Agin (Swiggart & Agin, LLC), Emily Jarrell (Volunteer Lawyers Project of Boston Bar Association), and Adam Ruttenberg (Looney & Grossman LLP), attendees walked away with an understanding of the basics of representing a Chapter 7 debtors on a pro bono basis. In exchange for attending the free training, participants are asked to accept pro bono cases through VLP.
Beyond the Billable checked in with Adam Ruttenberg, who co-chairs the Bankruptcy Public Service Committee, about the training. Here’s what he had to say:
“I hope the attendees last night learned practical advice on how to represent a low income debtor so the case goes smoothly without surprises or delays.”
In honor of Pro Bono Month, we also asked him why attorneys should get involved in pro bono bankruptcy work:
“The gratitude shown by pro bono bankruptcy clients is very rewarding. The only written thank you notes I have ever received in my career have come from pro bono clients, and they have sent several.”
If you are interested in learning more about pro bono bankruptcy law opportunities, come to the Representing Military Personnel and Veterans CLE on Bankruptcy & Consumer Law on October 17th. Click here for more information.
Yesterday marked the first day of Pro Bono Month, 31 days committed to expanding access to legal services. Governor Patrick typically issues a proclamation, but odds are he is a little preoccupied right now (click here to see last year’s proclamation). If you are looking to dive into pro bono and public service work this month, take a look at this calendar that the BBA put together to highlight some upcoming opportunities. This calendar features events, trainings, and volunteer opportunities at the BBA and BBF grantee organizations.
Be sure to check back with Beyond the Billable for event updates and follow-ups throughout the month.
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 Saturday, Shelter Legal Services and BBA volunteers offered veterans legal assistance at the Boston Veterans’ Expo. The event brought together health care providers, social service agencies, legal professionals, and potential employers to allow veterans to access their services at one time. As you may remember, volunteers participated in a similar event in August.
Beyond the Billable asked Anna Scheelein, Co-Executive Director of Shelter Legal Services and Co-Chair of the DLS Active Duty, Family Members & Veterans Committee, about the event:
“Shelter Legal Services is proud to collaborate with the VA and the Boston Bar Association to provide essential legal services to veterans in need. This was our second Veterans Expo and it was a great opportunity to make sure that veterans in Massachusetts know that if they are facing a legal issue, from problems with benefits, to consumer debt, to family law, there are lawyers who can help.”
Please stay tuned for more updates on the BBA’s veterans initiatives.
Last night, attorneys packed into the Claflin Center to attend the annual Criminal Offender Record Information(CORI) training, a free, pro bono training run in collaboration with Greater Boston Legal Services. Agapi Koulouris (Department of Criminal Justice Information Services), Christina Miller (Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office), and Pauline Quirion (Greater Boston Legal Services) trained attorney to help clients from Roxbury, Dorchester and other low-income Boston Communities to seal their criminal records and break the cycle of poverty and unemployment. In exchange for attending this free training, participants are encouraged to take a pro bono case, staff the CORI help table at the Roxbury Court, or help with a community education event in Roxbury and other Boston locations to educate low income individual about their rights to seal their records.
To learn more about the BBA’s Public Service work, click here.