Blog Archives

Closing the Books on Another Successful Year with Boston Debate League

A Boston Community Leadership Academy student and a New Mission High School student debate during a Boston Debate League round.

A Boston Community Leadership Academy student and a New Mission High School student debate during a Boston Debate League round. Photo courtesy of Boston Debate League.

Though the 2013-2014 debate season is wrapping up, the fun isn’t over just yet. The Boston Debate League still has what might be two of the best events of the year on the horizon. Don’t miss a great opportunity to see the students in action and recognize their hard work this year.

(1) Celebrate the debaters at the Spring Award at the Spring Award Ceremony on Thursday, March 27th from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Join over 500 BPS students, parents, teachers, and BPS administrators as we celebrate a record-breaking year. Click here to learn more.

(2) The fun doesn’t end there— join Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey for the 2nd Annual Boston City Council Debate on April 1st from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on April 1st, 2014. This is a unique opportunity to meet your Boston City Council members and see talented BPS students engage in a riveting argument over the merits of raising the minimum wage in Massachusetts. You can find more here.

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BBA Housing Court Program Reaches Over 15,000 in 15 Year History

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Busy scene at the Boston Housing Court, where  BBA volunteers have been providing legal assistance to landlords and tenants for 15 years.

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.

Attorneys at the Boston Housing Court assisting tenants

Attorneys at the Boston Housing Court on a Thursday morning assisting tenants as part of the BBA’s Lawyer for the Day Program.

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.

At Boston Housing Court, Lawyer for the Day Program volunteers Joanna Allison of the Volunteer Lawyers Project and BBA Real Estate Public Service Committee and Chris Saccardi of The Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi.

At Boston Housing Court, Lawyer for the Day Program volunteers Joanna Allison of the Volunteer Lawyers Project and BBA Real Estate Public Service Committee and Chris Saccardi of The Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi.

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.

Brighton Students Get Crash Course on Using Credit Wisely

Student’s from Another Course to College ask questions about how to build credit.

Student’s from Another Course to College ask questions about how to build credit.

On Friday, students in Jerry Howland’s law class at Another Course to College in Brighton had a crash course in credit cards. With the help of Attorneys Adam Ruttenberg (Looney & Grossman LLP) and Patricia Saint James (Looney & Grossman LLP), the students learned the basics of credit and how to build credit while making smart choices about their finances. This is the second session in the four-part M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program (you may remember this post about the personal finance and budgeting session).

Take a look below for more on the session:

Volunteer attorneys Patricia Saint James (Looney & Grossman LLP) and Adam Ruttenberg (Looney & Grossman LLP) taught the students about using credit wisely at Another Course to College.

Volunteer attorneys Patricia Saint James (Looney & Grossman LLP) and Adam Ruttenberg (Looney & Grossman LLP) taught the students about using credit wisely at Another Course to College.

Students answer questions about the difference between debit cards and credit cards.

Students answer questions about the difference between debit cards and credit cards.

Students from Another Course to College review the Financial Literacy materials on credit cards.

Students from Another Course to College review the Financial Literacy materials on credit cards.

Next up for the students is the ever popular “Buying a Car” session, which will be followed by the “Consequences” session at the US Bankruptcy Court. Stay tuned for more!

BBA Financial Literacy Program – Celebrating 10 Years of Success

Last night, program leaders, volunteers, and teachers gathered in the Claflin Center to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. The evening focused on celebrating the success of the Program, which has reached more than 4,000 students statewide with the help of over 425 volunteers since 2005. Attendees also gained a firsthand account of the impact of the program from 2013 Summer Jobs Student Ben Haideri, who has put his financial literacy into practice, opening a savings, checking and credit account since experiencing the Program.

Did you miss the event? Don’t worry, here’s a look at the evening:

: Program Co-Chairs Janet Bostwick (Janet Boswtick, P.C.), Judge Joan Feeney (U.S. Bankruptcy Court), and Mackenzie Shea (K&L Gates LLP) with Chief Judge Frank Bailey (U.S. Bankruptcy Court).

Program Co-Chairs Janet Bostwick (Janet Boswtick, P.C.), Judge Joan Feeney (U.S. Bankruptcy Court), and Mackenzie Shea (K&L Gates LLP) with Chief Judge Frank Bailey (U.S. Bankruptcy Court).

Judge Joan Feeney spoke about the history of the program and highlighted everyone who has made the program possible over the past ten years.

Judge Joan Feeney spoke about the history of the program and highlighted everyone who has made the program possible over the past ten years.

Ben Haideri, a senior at Boston Latin Academy and 2013 Summer Jobs Student, shared his experience in the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program last summer.

Ben Haideri, a senior at Boston Latin Academy and 2013 Summer Jobs Student, shared his experience in the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program last summer.

Dr. Donna Costa, Tom Higgins, Karen Sikorski, and Rosemary Slattery from Peabody High School attended the event. Tom Higgins’s Law Class has participated in the program since 2007.

Dr. Donna Costa, Tom Higgins, Karen Sikorski, and Rosemary Slattery from Peabody High School attended the event. Tom Higgins’s law class has participated in the program since 2007.

Hampden County Bar Association President-Elect Christina Turgeon (Law Office of Christina M. Turgeon) and Western Massachusetts Financial Literacy Co-Chairs John Davis (Cooley Shrair, P.C.) and Elizabeth Katz (Ostrander Law Office).

Hampden County Bar Association President-Elect Christina Turgeon (Law Office of Christina M. Turgeon) and Western Massachusetts Financial Literacy Co-Chairs John Davis (Cooley Shrair, P.C.) and Elizabeth Katz (The Law Office of Elizabeth Katz).

Volunteers Deborah Dong, Kristin McDonough (Riemer & Braunstein LLP), and John Loughnane (Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP).

Volunteers Deborah Dong, Kristin McDonough (Riemer & Braunstein LLP), and John Loughnane (Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP).

Stay tuned for more on the event. 

Financial Literacy Volunteers Share Their Stories

M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Volunteers enjoy the opportunity to give back to their community and address a real need among high school students.

M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Volunteers enjoy the opportunity to give back to their community and address a real need among high school students.

This winter is flying by and we are already halfway through the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program in the Greater Boston area. BBA Week thought it would be a great idea to reach out to the volunteers who have already participated in the program to see what they enjoyed most about their experience. The response was overwhelming, which is why we couldn’t help sharing it with our readers. If you haven’t volunteered yet, see what you are missing out on here.

Are you interested in getting involved? It’s not too late to volunteer! Click here to view available sessions.

A Firsthand Look at Volunteering for the Boston Debate League

Volunteers can support the Boston public schools by serving as judges at monthly tournaments through the Boston Debate League. Photo courtesy of Boston Debate League.

Volunteers can support the Boston public schools by serving as judges at monthly tournaments through the Boston Debate League. Photo courtesy of Boston Debate League.

As Public Service Programs Coordinator at the BBA, I get a firsthand look at the great work the BBA and its volunteers do on behalf of Boston youth, veterans, and unrepresented litigants. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to participate in a BBA Public Service Program as a Boston Debate League judge at English High School in Jamaica Plain on Friday.

While I had participated in debate during high school, it had been seven years since I had attended a debate tournament and I was not sure what to expect. When I walked into my first round, I saw two boys skateboarding in the corner and two girls chatting with each other about their weekend plans. I could barely hear the students when I asked them to introduce themselves and the teams exchanged awkward handshakes without making eye contact. The first girl who stood up to speak was so nervous that she restarted her speech three times. However, halfway through her speech the dynamic in the room completely changed. She began speaking louder and placing emphasis on her key arguments. At the same time, the two boys on the other team began furiously writing out their next speech and rustling through their folders for the evidence to counter the arguments. Both teams spent the rest of the hour long debate firing questions back and forth and discussing the pros and cons of eliminating the United States’ trade embargo on Cuba. The second round followed a similar format where the students were initially very shy and disengaged but started passionately debating the strengths and shortcomings of the Cuban healthcare system and the United States’ moral obligation to address the widespread human rights violations and political oppression in Cuba a few minutes into the round. It was clear that these students are passionate and driven and debate brought out these qualities.

As a former high school debater, I can honestly say that debate had the biggest impact on my preparation for college and professional endeavors because it helped me develop critical skills at an early age. Debate helps you improve skills, such as public speaking, research, and critical thinking, while also building confidence. Boston Debate League brings this opportunity to high school students throughout the Boston public school system who may not get this chance elsewhere.

I encourage you to see the impact of Boston Debate League for yourself by judging at an upcoming tournament. The commitment is small—just 4 hours—and you can volunteer on a Friday or Saturday depending on your schedule. Please contact me at kdangelo@bostonbar.org for more information on how to get involved.

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Katie D’Angelo is the Public Service Programs Coordinator at the Boston Bar Association.

VLP Announces Honor Roll for November and December

Volunteer attorneys provide critical help at the Boston Housing Court through the Lawyer for the Day Program.

Volunteer attorneys provide critical help at the Boston Housing Court through the Lawyer for the Day Program.

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 November and December:

Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program

Stefanie Abhar, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.
Sam Ames
Stephanie Angel, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Caryn Appelbaum
Nicholas Bentley, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.
Rose Billeci, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Cynthia Caramana
Eric Cronin, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Francis Curren IV
Alexia De Vincentis, Ropes & Gray LLP
Francesse Denis
Marissa Eisenberg, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Julia Harmatz McAneny
Barbara Horan
Rebecca Izzo, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Sharon Jones
Brian Kydd
Esther Laine
Holly Laliberte
Mary Lee
Yvonne Lee, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Chloe Major
Stephanie Marzouk, Glickman Turley LLP
James McGinnis, Ropes & Gray LLP
Michael Morales
Justin Murphy
Ken Parker
Wendy Recine
Widmine Remy
Reid Robinson
Gretchen Roin, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Jason Savageau
Brandon Scruggs, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Allison Stoddart, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Keerthi Sugumaran, Goulston & Storrs, PC
Irina Vaglica
Mark Vaughn, Ropes & Gray LLP
Michael Vito, Ropes & Gray LLP
Damon Wallace
Lawrence Wind
Michael Zalosh, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Program

Neil Berman
Roger Bertling, Harvard Legal Services Center
Angelina Bruce-Flounory
Tia Chatterjee, Brown Rudnick
Christopher Floyd, Brown Rudnick
Steven Hoort, Ropes & Gray
Marques Lipton
Jonathan Marshall, Brown Rudnick
Melissa O’Berg
Steven Pohl, Brown Rudnick
Ethan Rittershaus
Dennis Rooney
Douglas Rosner
Judith Vassilovski
Neil Warrenbrand

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.

Thank You to Our Boston Debate League Volunteer Judges

Students practice preparing & presenting their aurguments. Photo provided by Boston Debate League.

Students practice preparing & presenting their aurguments. Photo provided by Boston Debate League.

As many of our readers know, the Boston Bar has an ongoing partnership with the Boston Debate League (BDL) to help teach Boston Public High School students critical thinking, persuasive writing and effective communication skills. Part of our partnership means finding volunteers generous enough to spend their time volunteering as judges and mentors for the urban debate teams. On behalf of the BBA and BDL, we thank our volunteers who donated their time during October and November to help close the achievement gap in Boston.

Teniola Adeyemi, New England Law Student
Leonard Audaer, Rankin & Sultan
Erica Carroll, Nutter, McClennen & Fish, LLP        
Nicole Del Monte, State Street
William Fitzpatrick
Jose Gonsalez, City of Boston Law Department
Kathleen Micciche, Clark Lau LLC
Sean Nehill, City of Boston Law Department
Holly Ovington
Lei Reilley
Camal Robinson
Michael Sugar
Leslie-Anne Taylor

If you are interested in volunteering for BDL, you are in luck! BDL has two tournaments this month. Click here for more information on how to volunteer.