On Monday evening we kicked off a week of Boston Housing Court events at 16 Beacon with “Trying a Case in Housing Court.” The BBA partnered with the Volunteer Lawyers Project to teach attorneys the ins and outs of trying a Housing Court case from opening to closing – with a special presentation on evidence rules as they pertain to eviction cases. In exchange for the free training, attorneys are expected to volunteer with the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program – which brings us to our next event.
As our readers may remember from this post, we will be celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program this Thursday at 5 pm. Be sure to join us and salute the amazing accomplishments of this program (more than 15,000 pro se litigants helped!) and thank our hard working volunteers. Be there!
Monday’s training was a great success, with more than 35 attorneys in attendance. To learn more about the experience, Beyond the Billable sat down with event panelist and seasoned veteran of the housing court Chris Saccardi (The Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi) to hear more about the training. Here’s what he had to say:
What do you hope attendees learned from the training?
“I hope that attorneys who are considering taking their first pro bono housing case feel a little bit more confident appearing in front of the Housing Court judges and potentially taking their case to trial. Our goal was to give attendees some tips on how to conduct a trial in the Housing Court and to give them the opportunity to hear from Judge Winik, who has been a big supporter of the Volunteer Lawyers Project’s pro bono programs. “
Why should attorneys get involved in pro bono efforts in the Housing Court? How can pro bono experience help attorneys build a practice?
“First, regardless of one’s practice area, taking cases at the Housing Court is an excellent way to gain valuable litigation experience. Because the vast majority of litigants are unrepresented, there are ample opportunities to appear for various motion hearings and, if participants wish, to conduct trials. Second, if an attorney is interested in taking housing cases as part of their private practice, I can’t think of a better way to gain the procedural and substantive knowledge necessary to successfully pursue such cases. Third, while these are pro bono cases and attorneys should not necessarily expect to be paid, there is the potential for an award of attorney’s fees if one wins under a statute that includes a fee shifting provision. Finally, the most important reason to volunteer is because there is a large, unmet need for representation, particularly among the low- and middle-income population that VLP typically serves. These individuals often face an attorney on the other side and the involvement of a volunteer attorney can often make a huge difference in the outcome of the case, sometimes resulting, for example, in a preserved tenancy where an unrepresented tenant might otherwise have ended up homeless.”
The BBA continued the trend of hosting pro bono trainings with BBF grantees by partnering with Lutheran Social Services for a training on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. While it was the first time we hosted the training at the BBA, it was a hit among attendees. Beyond the Billable reached out to Christina M. Borysthen-Tkacz (Lutheran Social Services), who ran the training with Tilman Jacobs (Lutheran Social Services), to hear more about the training.
Take a look at what she had to say:
What do you hope attendees learned from the training?
“We hope that our training provided a good introduction to pro bono opportunities in immigration law, and to the challenges that unaccompanied immigrant children face, as well as the legal relief available to them.”
Why should attorneys volunteer to take these types of cases?
“All of our cases, and Special Immigrant Juvenile cases especially, offer attorneys an opportunity to gain valuable litigation experience. Most importantly, attorneys should take these types of cases pro bono because they are a great opportunity to make a lasting impact on a child’s life and to give that child a chance at a successful and happy life in the United States.”
Attorneys braved the weather on Wednesday to attend the BBA’s Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) training. The free certification training taught attendees the basics of going into court for a single event in a case.
So why was this training so important? LAR provides an opportunity for attorneys to gain valuable courtroom experience by providing litigants with representation for unresolved legal issues. At the same time, it helps ease the burden on courts facing unprecedented numbers of pro se litigants. Following the certification training, attorneys learned about practicing LAR in the Boston Housing Court and the Boston Municipal Court in breakout sessions led by the Honorable Jeffrey Winik (Boston Housing Court), Honorable Raymond Dougan, Jr. (Boston Municipal Court), Attorney Lawrence Wind (the Law Office of Lawrence A. Wind), and Attorney Thomas Beauvais.
Beyond the Billable reached out to Joanna Allison (VLP), who led the certification training with Ned Notis-McConarty (Hemenway & Barnes LLP), to hear more about the training. Here’s what she had to say:
What did attorneys learn from the training?
“They learned the procedure for appearing before the court on a limited assistance representation and where to find answers to their questions and concerns about LAR. From the very knowledgeable presenters, they learned the specific practices and requirements of both the Housing Court and the Boston Municipal Court. I am grateful to Judge Raymond Dougan of the Boston Municipal Court and Judge Jeffrey Winik of the Boston Housing Court for giving their time and expertise. “
Why should attorneys become LAR certified?
“Attendees came away with a new tool in their practice that will help them make a living, while increasing the number of people who can afford access to justice. I also hope they came away with a commitment to use their new certification in their pro bono work .” This doesn’t actually answer the question. Is it actually necessary?
Did you miss this training? Don’t worry—the BBA is holding another LAR certification training on March 13th. The breakout sessions will focus on LAR in the Probate & Family Court and Land Court. Feel free to just attend the breakout sessions if you are already certified.
Save the date! On May 15, 2014 come hear nationally recognized LAR expert Stephanie Kimbro discuss about how you can incorporate LAR into your practice and how to communicate the availability of LAR to potential clients.
Last Thursday, the BBA hosted the final training in the CLE series on Representing Military Personnel and Families. Even though this training series has concluded, the BBA’s commitment to helping veterans and military personnel with the legal challenges that they face is far from over. With the adoption of the Military Legal Help Line and the BBA’s involvement in the Yellow Ribbon Project and the Massachusetts “Stand Down” event, the BBA’s support of this initiative will continue.
To encapsulate why it is important for the BBA and lawyers as a community to give back to veterans, military personnel and their families, check last week’s responses to Voices of the Bar.
Michelle Wolf (Veterans’ Disability Benefits), a panelist on last week’s training on Veterans Benefits, stated,
“We all owe a duty to those who have volunteered to serve and protect our country, especially with the growing recognition of the toll military service takes on our soldiers, veterans and their families. Lawyers can truly make a difference in the lives of these individuals and families by assisting with legal issues that might otherwise distract soldiers currently serving.”
Keep an eye on the BBA calendar for additional training opportunities this winter and into the spring. If you would like to know more about joining the Military and Veterans’ Panels for the Military Legal Help Line, please contact Solana Goss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Monday night, the BBA and BBF grantee the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), teamed up to host a program on occupational disease claims. The training offered a in depth look at occupational disease claims – both the legal analysis now being applied by the courts and the medical analysis applied by occupational health professionals.
Beyond the Billable reached to Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, the Executive Director of MassCOSH, to learn more about the training.
What key topics did you touch on during the training?
“The training focused on occupational health trends in Massachusetts and recent legal developments pertaining to toxic tort case law.”
What do you hope that attendees learned from the event?
“With clinicians, attorneys, labor union representatives and state agency representatives in attendance, we engaged in a rich discussion of the continuum of approaches to ensuring worker health – from preventing exposures through safety measures and effective public policy to ensuring swift treatment of occupational diseases to pursuing compensation through toxic tort cases.”
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.
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.
This morning, more than 100 attorneys interested in joining charitable boards filled the BBA’s conference center and tuned in online for the Tax Exempt Organizations Section’s Charitable Board Program. This annual CLE, originally created as a project of the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP), featured two all-star panels ready to provide helpful tips for finding board opportunities and an overview of the legal, financial, and compliance information necessary for becoming an effective board member.
Beyond the Billable asked Nora Mann, Assistant Attorney General of the Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General and moderator for panel one, why lawyers are uniquely qualified to serve on boards. Here’s what she had to say:
“Lawyers can offer many things apart from legal advice to a board. They’re analytical and generally not afraid to speak their minds. And lawyers tend to want to work hard and keep learning and participation or service on a charitable board is perfect for that.”
Nevertheless, she also stressed both the awards and commitments that come along with the decision to become a board member.
“I hope that lawyers came away with a sense that board service is hard and rewarding – that it’s not a throw-away, it’s not simply charity, but its support for a vital, growing economic sector and is a tremendous opportunity to anyone.”
If you missed the program but want to learn more, contact Kristen White, CLE Manager, at email@example.com to find out how you can watch the program online.
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.
Last Thursday evening, attorneys visited the BBA’s 16 Beacon Street headquarters to hear from an all-star panel on Representing Military Personnel & Veterans in Family Law and Domestic Relations. Topics included unique family law issues that military members and veterans face, such as the Service members Civil Relief Act, jurisdictional issues, and division of military retirement pay. Panelists included: Judge George F. Phelan (Norfolk Probate & Family Court), Anna Schleelein (Shelter Legal Service), and Major James Downey (Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services and U.S. Army JAG Corps).
As all of our readers know, the BBA has expanded its commitment to aiding military members, veterans, & their families this year, most recently with the adoption of the Military Legal Help Line by the BBA Lawyer Referral Service, and the aforementioned 4-part CLE series, which will encourage participants to take reduced fee and pro bono cases on behalf of veterans and military personnel.
Don’t worry if you couldn’t make the training on Thursday. There are still three more sessions in the series, so you will have plenty of time to get the experience you need to help those who have served, or are currently serving, our country. Next up is the Bankruptcy & Consumer Finance training on October 17th. Check out our brochure for more details.
For more information on how to get involved with this initiative please contact Solana Goss, LRS Intake Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.