Voices of the Bar 10/6/16: Members Share Meaningful Public Service Experiences

As you may already know, October is officially Pro Bono Month! At the Boston Bar Association and Boston Bar Foundation, public service is a huge part of what we do all year round. We are proud to host experts from legal services organizations to lead pro bono training session on a variety of topics. We also know that many of our members are active in various volunteer projects and pro bono activities, through the BBA and elsewhere. 

In recognition of Pro Bono Month, we’re reaching out to ask:

“What has been a meaningful public service experience for you?

Michael Denham – Lawyers for Affordable Justice
“As a law student, I helped work with Election Protection, a non-partisan election observation organization that aims to protect the right to vote. We observed polls in Boston and worked a hotline to help voters facing problems in their states. If we don’t have fair, functioning elections where every citizen has the right to be heard, then we don’t have the rule of law.”

Rebecca Cazabon – Foley Hoag
“I was staffing the Pro Bono Civil Appeals Clinic at the Appeals Court and a woman came in needing help with her housing case. She said that she was being evicted from her home, and in between sobs, told me that she and her children would be homeless, as they had nowhere else to live. She was certain that her landlord was evicting her because of the color of her skin — she is Haitian — and because she is poor. She said that her landlord had tried to evict her three times before. She felt completely defeated and didn’t think she had the strength to fight it. To make matters worse, the move-out date was scheduled for the next day! Amazingly, and thanks to quick collaboration with the Volunteer Lawyers Project, we were able to find her a lawyer to represent her. ”

Jane Tyrrell – Massachusetts IOLTA
“One project close to my heart  is the national movement to Expand the Right to Counsel in civil cases.  It has been 53 years since the passage of Gideon v. Wainwright,  establishing the right to counsel in criminal cases.   Fifty three  years after Gideon,  a woman caught shop lifting is entitled to an attorney but a woman with children who is being evicted from her home is not.”

Katherine Schulte – Casa Myrna
“I’m fortunate enough that I do public service every day in my job at Casa Myrna, a domestic violence advocacy organization. Helping survivors navigate the legal system and witnessing their courage and resilience on a daily basis is very rewarding.”

 

Daniel Heffernan – Kotin Crabtree & Strong
“I have had a number of meaningful public service experiences, including working as a legal services attorney in Central Massachusetts.  However, serving on the boards of directors, with long stints as board presidents, of Community Legal Services and Counselling Center and the Federation for Children with Special Needs has been have been deeply meaningful.  As a career litigator, it was great to work in a non-adversarial arena, helping to guide the work of two amazing organizations in challenging times. ”

Julia Huston – Foley Hoag
“Serving on the board of directors of Greater Boston Legal Services for 10 years was an amazing experience.  I have nothing but respect for the legal aid attorneys who work in the trenches every day, and it was an honor and a privilege to support their work.”

 

If you would like to respond to a future Voices of the Bar, make sure you send a headshot, and contact Lauren DiTullio at [email protected].