Blog Archives

Lawyers Learn the Ropes Before Law Day in the Schools Experience

Emily Hodge (Choate Hall & Stewart LLP), pictured above volunteering for the 2012 Law Day in the Schools Program,  led the training and helped prepare volunteers for their upcoming visit with students as part of the BBA Law Day in the Schools Program.

Emily Hodge (Choate Hall & Stewart LLP), pictured above volunteering for the 2012 Law Day in the Schools Program, led the training and helped prepare volunteers for their upcoming visit with students as part of the BBA Law Day in the Schools Program.

What’s the best technique to get five year olds to quiet down? How do you get a group of 16 year olds to understand the difference between restrictive and expansive voter requirements? If you’re surprised to hear these types of questions coming from a program at 16 Beacon Street — don’t be — our lawyers were learning the ins and outs of conducting an effective Law Day in the Schools presentation to Boston public school students. The training, led by program vet Emily Hodge (Choate Hall & Stewart LLP), walked volunteers through the curriculum and offered helpful tips and hints on keeping students focused and engaged with this year’s theme – “Why Every Vote Matters.” As part of the program, which begins today, more than 75 volunteers will present to more than 1,300 elementary, middle and high school classrooms across Boston – an all-time high.

Stay tuned for more.

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BBA Preps Attorneys to Handle Arts and Culture Cases

Ken Parker (Parker Keough LLP) and Megan Low (Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts) walked attorneys what they need to know in order to help arts and cultural organizations.

Ken Parker (Parker Keough LLP) and Megan Low (Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts) walked attorneys through what they need to know in order to help arts and cultural organizations.

The BBA New Lawyers and Intellectual Property Sections teamed up with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts to train attorneys on ways that they can help art and cultural organizations. The event was a primer on topics such as common art law issues, understanding the legal needs of artists and how to build a client base.

After the training, Beyond the Billable checked in with Ken Parker (Parker Keough LLP), who organized the training, to learn more. Here’s what he had to say:

What do you hope attendees learned at the training?

“Megan Low did a fantastic job of describing the wide range of legal services needed by the arts community and some of the particular challenges of representing artists. I hope that attendees learned about these needs and challenges, as well as about how their legal expertise matches up with the needs of the arts community.”

Why should attorneys get involved in efforts to provide pro bono assistance to arts and cultural organizations?

“Providing pro bono legal assistance to artists and cultural organizations is a great way to get experience solving interesting legal problems while giving back to the community. It can be fun and inspiring to work with creative professionals and it is an opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Prepping Volunteers to Offer Financial Literacy Education to 15 Schools

Janet Bostwick (Janet E. Bostwick, PC)

Janet Bostwick (Janet E. Bostwick, PC) discusses her experience volunteering for the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program with new volunteers.

Volunteers braved the pouring rain on Tuesday night to attend the annual M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program Training. Judge Joan Feeney (U.S. Bankruptcy Court and Jeanne Darcey (Sullivan & Worcester LLP) joined ), Janet Bostwick to walk the packed room through the volunteer materials and discussed tips for engaging high school students.  As you may have heard from this article, 15 schools have signed up for the program, which means one thing—we need lots of volunteers.

Are you interested in volunteering? Click here to view the available sessions.

Kicking Off the New Year by Taking Pro Bono Unemployment Cases

Brian Flynn (GBLS) taught attorneys the basics of unemployment law to prepare them for pro bono cases.

Brian Flynn (GBLS) taught attorneys the basics of unemployment law to prepare them to take pro bono cases through VLP.

Last Thursday, attorneys started out the New Year by attending a pro bono unemployment training at the BBA. Now that the attorneys have learned the basics of unemployment law they can volunteer to take pro bono cases through the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP). Beyond the Billable checked in with Brian Flynn (Greater Boston Legal Services), who ran the training with Lynn Girton (VLP), to hear more about the training and volunteer opportunities. Here’s what he had to say:

What do you hope that attorneys learned from the training?

“Unemployment benefits for our clients can make the difference between being able to support themselves and their families during this critical time when jobs are scarce. We have had countless clients who have been able to prevent eviction, foreclosure and homelessness because they secured representation. For many clients an unemployment hearing is the first time that they have ever been in an adverse relationship with a state agency and they are often scared and uncertain how to proceed. Having a representative on their side can make all the difference between winning and losing.”

Why should attorneys get involved in pro bono unemployment benefit efforts?

“In all my years of doing this work, I have never heard anyone report back that it was not a positive experience. Some lawyers report back that it is one of the more memorable experiences of their career because of how appreciative the client was for their help. Additionally unemployment insurance representation is the perfect pro bono opportunity because it is a limited time commitment, but during the courts of representation, you draw upon many legal skills: client counseling, factual and legal investigation, cross-examination. Finally, VLP offers a tremendous support system for volunteer attorneys who take these cases and Greater Boston Legal Services is also committed to offering any additional back up support.”

Here’s what Lynn Girton added:

“These are absolutely great cases to work on: they are time limited and you get to explore all the aspects of preparing a hearing. As Brian indicated, these are life-sustaining benefits for clients, and if they win these benefits, their lives will remain stable and not fall apart. Clients are enormously grateful for the lawyer’s assistance. Additionally, we are often able to identify other employment issues for the clients that can be pursued either by the lawyer for the unemployment matter or referred back to VLP or GBLS. ”

If you are interested in future pro bono trainings, please contact Katie D’Angelo at kdangelo@bostonbar.org.

The New Year Means New Reasons to Give Back

The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program is one way to give back in 2014.

The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program is one way to give back in 2014.

Is your New Year’s resolution to get more involved in the community this year? Beyond the Billable is here to help. Take a look at this list of upcoming public service trainings and events during the month of January to get you started:

Representing Clients Pursuing Unemployment Benefits
Thursday, January 9, 2014 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM

The BBA is partnering with the Volunteer Lawyers Project and Greater Boston Legal Services to train attorneys of all experience levels to provide pro bono representation to clients who are pursuing unemployment benefits.

Public Interest Leadership Program Information Session
Monday, January 13, 2014 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Are you an up-and-coming leader in the legal community or in the BBA? Interested in connecting with other civically engaged lawyer leaders? Come learn more about the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program and how to apply.

M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program Training Session
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM

If you are looking for an opportunity to work with students, don’t miss the upcoming M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Training. After completing this training, volunteers go into high schools and educate students about the importance of making smart financial decisions. Each class is designed to last approximately one hour and you can sign up for a time and location that works best for you.

Limited Assistance Representation Training and Breakout Sessions
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Come to the annual LAR certification training to learn the basics of going into court for a single event in a case. After the main training, you can choose to attend a breakout session on LAR in the Boston Municipal Court or the Housing Court. Are you already certified? Just sign up for one of the breakout sessions.

BBA and MBA Join Forces to Hold Free Conciliation Training

Conciliation training participants tested out their new skills during role plays.

Conciliation training participants tested out their new skills during role plays.

Last Friday, family law practitioners filled the BBA’s Claflin Center for the second annual BBA/MBA Conciliation Training. The training was open to attorneys with at least five years of domestic relations experience and offered them the opportunity to become certified as a conciliator. Attorneys learned how to mediate and successfully intervene early on in family law cases in order to obtain a quick and fair resolution.

Beyond the Billable reached out to Timothy Linnehan, an ADR Coordinator for the Trial Court and a trainer for the session, to hear why this training was so important. Here’s what he had to say:

“The training benefits the SERV program in Suffolk Probate Court by providing a training program for volunteers to assist the Court in serving unrepresented parties in resolving their case.  The program also benefits the use and expansion of conciliation services to help parties resolve cases.  This training program complies with the SJC 8-hour training requirement to be a conciliator for court-connected programs.   Currently, nine local bar associations have conciliation programs in the Probate and Family Court Department.”

In exchange for a free training, attendees will volunteer as a conciliator at the Probate and Family Court.

BBA Releases 2013 Public Service Report

Expanding Our Reach

Beyond the Billable is excited to announce the release of the 2013 BBA Public Service Report. The report, which is titled Expanding Our Reach, focuses on the growth of many of the BBA’s public service programs over the past year. From the Marathon Monday Project to the Summer Jobs Program, it provides a comprehensive look at the impact of our programs and the partners and volunteers who help make them possible.

Click here to see how we expanded our reach.

Pro Bono Month Kicks Off With Full Calendar of Events

The Pro Bono Fair, organized by Suffolk Law School and the BBA, is one of the events you can participate in during Pro Bono Month.

The Pro Bono Fair, organized by Suffolk Law School and the BBA, is one of the events you can participate in during Pro Bono Month.

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.

BBA Kicks Off CLE Series on Representing Military Personnel and Veterans

Attorneys attended the first CLE in a the Representing Military Personnel and Veterans Series on Thursday to learn about family law issues affecting our servicemembers.

Attorneys attended the first CLE in a the Representing Military Personnel and Veterans Series on Thursday to learn about family law issues affecting our servicemembers.

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 sgoss@bostonbar.org.

Trained to Make a Difference – Attorneys Prepped on Judging Debate Tournaments

BDL Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Amaral spoke with BBA volunteers about the organization and key tips for being an effective volunteer judge.

BDL Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Amaral spoke with BBA volunteers about the organization and key tips for being an effective volunteer judge.

On Tuesday evening, attorneys came to 16 Beacon Street to get the low down on volunteering as a judge for the Boston Debate League (BDL). The BDL has drastically expanded its reach over the last few years, so the demand for qualified volunteers to judge Boston Public High School debaters is at an all-time high.

By acting as a volunteer judge at monthly tournaments the BDL, you can make a significant impact on a high school student’s future. Check out this stat from BDL: nearly 100% of students who participate in an urban debate league graduate from high school and more than 80% graduate from a four-year college.

Even if you couldn’t make the training on Tuesday, BDL is looking for volunteer judges for an upcoming tournament on October 18th and 19th. For more information on how to get involved in the Boston Debate League, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at kdangelo@bostonbar.org.