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.”
If you are a bilingual attorney interested in joining the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, please email LRS Intake Coordinator, Solana Goss at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members from the public can call the LRS at 617-742-0625 or request an attorney online at any time through the website.
While our readers know about the Boston Bar Foundation’s impact in our community, you may be less familiar with the group of people who make this work possible—the BBF’s Society of Fellows Program. The Fellows are a community of philanthropic lawyers dedicated to advancing the BBF’s mission of increasing the availability of legal help to those in need, supporting innovative legal services projects and programs, and providing meaningful ways for lawyers to connect with our community. We’ve noticed amazing growth from the Fellows Program since the beginning of this year, so we crunched some numbers to calculate how the Society of Fellows impacts the BBF.
As of today, 45 Fellows have either joined or upgraded their memberships for this year alone, pledging a total of $335,000. This support has allowed us to use fundraising revenues for specific causes. For example:
- This year, 100 percent of the proceeds from Casino Night will be dedicated to the BBA’s Summer Jobs program, helping to provide paid summer employment for Boston teens. In addition, the upcoming Passport to Pairings event (formerly Justice is Sweet) will be dedicated to funding the full portfolio of BBA public service programs.
- The BBF devoted $300,000 in Adams Benefit proceeds this year to legal service grants that advance access to justice for those in need, including immigrants, victims of domestic violence and low income children and families – a need that continues to grow as IOLTA funding continues to decline.
- The BBF is only $1.4 million away from its long-term goal of $5 million for the endowment, which will provide invaluable long term support for the BBF’s efforts.
Don’t just take it from us. Hear firsthand from some of the individuals who have joined this year on why they made the decision to pledge as a Fellow:
“The BBF’s mission to support pro bono work and access to justice for Boston’s needy is so critical to us as lawyers and citizens, and I am really grateful and excited for the opportunity to work with the BBF and the Society.” – Karen M. O’Toole, Fidelity Investments
“Each day, too many of our fellow citizens must face serious legal issues – from the loss of disability benefits to eviction – while being unable to afford having a lawyer at their side. I am proud to support the Boston Bar Foundation’s mission of expanding legal service, assistance and access to all in our communities.” – Scott A. Roberts, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP
“All lawyers have a professional responsibility to assist those with limited means. I admire the work of the Boston Bar Foundation and the tangible, positive impact of the Foundation in the lives of those who most need its help. I am proud and thankful to be a Junior Fellow and to assist in this work.”—Kimberly Butler-Rainen, Tamkin & Hochberg, LLP
Don’t miss out on the Boston Bar Foundation’s newest event, Passport to Pairings, next Thursday! Not only will the event be fun and delicious, but 100% of the proceeds are going to a great cause all of the—BBA public service programs!
It goes without saying (as the BBA’s Public Service Blog) that Beyond the Billable is pretty excited about this event. Here’s a sneak peek at what guests can expect on June 26th:
- The event will feature gourmet food and beverage pairing stations celebrating the BBF’s partnership with the BBA.
- Some of the Pairings stations include sushi & Saki, craft beer & gourmet hot dogs, artisanal donuts & specialty coffee, and much more.
- Each ticket gets you access to deluxe food & beverage stations, beer & wine, live music and our raffle, so don’t miss out on all of the fun!
BBF Events like Passport to Pairings make it possible for the BBA to continue to strengthen and expand our public service efforts, including the Marathon Assistance Project, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, the BBA Summer Jobs Program, and the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program. Thanks in large part to the support of the BBF (our partner in public service) this year marked a very successful year for the BBA’s programs. The numbers below are all the proof you need:
- 23 pro bono trainings trained nearly 600 attorneys to take cases ranging from special education appeals to veterans benefits.
- 64 Boston public high school students were placed in summer internships in local Boston law firms and offices through the BBA Summer Jobs Program.
- 1,300 Boston public school students learned about the importance of voting through our annual Law Day in Schools program.
- 18 schools state wide received Financial Literacy Training in the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program’s 10th year.
- 275 calls were fielded from active duty military members and veterans since the BBA began hosting the Veterans helpline in September.
- Continued to assist individuals and businesses that were affected by the tragic events on Marathon Monday in areas, including employment and tax issues. Since the program began last year, 84 attorneys have helped over 70 individuals and small businesses owners.
Convinced? The event will take place on Thursday, June 26th at 6pm at 16 Beacon Street. Buy your ticket today to the maiden voyage of this event and help us continue to grow our public service programs!
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
Last week, Beyond the Billable shared highlights from two legal offices’ experiences “adopting a classroom” through M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. While Sun Life Financial and Liberty Mutual participated in the model in the past, two new legal offices also stepped up to the plate to provide volunteers for the three classroom-based sessions at two Boston public high schools. The U.S. Security and Exchange Commission adopted a classroom at Snowden International High School and Choate Hall & Stewart adopted a classroom at Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers.
Beyond the Billable checked in with attorneys from Choate Hall & Stewart to hear more about their experience. Here’s what they had to say:
Why did Choate Hall & Stewart choose to participate in the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program?
“Attorneys at Choate are long-time participants in and supporters of the Financial Literacy Program. When the opportunity arose for the Firm to adopt a classroom this year, we jumped at the chance to expand our work with the Program. Choate is pleased to serve the youth in our community by teaching them practical lessons in effective personal financial management.” – Meg McKenzie Feist, Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
What was the highlight of the Program for your volunteers?
“As a volunteer, I was very impressed with the knowledge the students already possessed, as well as their eagerness to learn more about budgeting, saving, and credit. My group of students was engaged throughout the presentation and asked me pointed questions. It was a joy to work with the students and I look forward to engaging with a new group next year.” – Tyler Masse, Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association thanks the following attorneys who accepted cases or provided consultation through the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program or Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Program in January and February:
Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program
Nicholas Bentley, Mintz Levin
Christine Dieter, Goodwin Procter LLP
Dahlia Fetouh, Goodwin Procter
Martsyl Joseph, Committee for Public Counsel Services
Jennifer Kent, Goodwin Procter
Corrine Lusic, Goodwin Procter
Kenneth Parker, Parker Keough LLP
Sarah Solomon, Goodwin Procter
Leann Walsh, Goodwin Procter
Katy Ward, Mintz, Levin
James Xu, Goodwin Procter
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Program
Richard Baldwin, Foley Hoag
Mark Berman, Nixon Peabody
Peter Bilowz, Goulston Storrs
Jeremy Coffey, Brown Rudnick
Kenneth Parker, Parker Keough LLP
Steven Pohl, Brown Rudnick
Kiersten Taylor, Brown Rudnick
Did you know that approximately 90 percent of tenants and 50 percent of landlords in the Boston Housing Court don’t have legal representation? Since 1999, the BBA’s Lawyer for the Day in the Housing Court Program has acted as a lifeline for pro se landlords and tenants, with volunteers providing more than 15,000 pro se litigants with legal assistance.
This year, the Program has been able provide representation to over 450 tenants and 100 landlords. Last Wednesday, the Program also launched a monthly initiative with Burns & Levinson LLP that will assist Section 8 clients facing eviction. As our members know, a lawyer can make all the difference for families who are facing the loss of their homes and landlords who need to better understand their rights.
Beyond the Billable checked in with Joanna Allison (Volunteer Lawyers Project) to learn more about the Program. Here’s what she had to say:
“The Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program gives a voice to so many in need. This Program is a model not only for legal professionals and law firms, but for the nation as a whole. I am proud to be a part of a program that prioritizes increased access to justice and look forward to watching the program grow and expand its reach.”
The Boston Bar Foundation Vaughan Fund covers essential materials needed to run the program, such as updated signage and nametags to allow for volunteer attorneys to be easily identified. This year the BBF has already raised over $5,000 for the Vaughan Fund. Are you interested in supporting this Program? Learn more about making a contribution or how you can volunteer.
Join us in celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program, on April 10th at 5:00 p.m. It will be an evening of food and drinks while we acknowledge the hard work of volunteers, Housing Court staff and the many others who make the program possible. R.S.V.P. online here.
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 email@example.com.
Volunteers are wrapping up the classroom-based portion of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program in the Greater Boston area. On Friday, volunteer Attorneys Steve Cohen and Eric Teasdale from Choate Hall & Stewart LLP visited Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers to teach students about the hidden costs of buying a car. Take a look below for a glimpse at the third module in the Program:
So what’s next? Students will head to the Worcester or Boston Bankruptcy Court at the end of the month for the final module in the Program called Consequences.
On Thursday, the Environmental Law Public Service Committee and the Health Law Social Action Committee sponsored a panel discussion on “Cultivating Local, Healthy Food: Urban Agriculture Initiatives & Pro Bono Opportunities.” Despite the recent cold snap, it’s not too early to plan on making your spring more sustainable. Here are four volunteer opportunities to check out.
- The Conservation Law Foundation’s (CLF) Pro Bono Legal Services Food Hub: CLF is launching a pro bono legal services network for farmers, food entrepreneurs, and food-related organizations. The focus will be in cases involving transactional issues, land acquisition/transfers, contracts, taxes, and corporate formation, among others. For more information, contact Jenny Rushlow, Director of CLF’s Farm & Food Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Green Bro Bono: Through Green Pro Bono, lawyers can help environmental non-profits, and social enterprises access legal services. For more information, visit their website.
- The Food Project Serve & Grow Program:Join your BBA colleagues on April 8th for a morning outdoors working on the farm and supporting The Food Project, a non-profit devoted to promoting sustainable food systems. For more details, please visit the event page on the BBA’s website.
- MA Environmental Justice Assistance Network (MEJAN): Find an opportunity to provide corporate and real estate support to community groups working on urban agriculture. For more details, contact Staci Rubin, Esq, Alternatives for Community & Environment, Inc. at email@example.com.