Letter From The President Of The Boston Bar Association

2005-01-01 00:00

To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

"Thank you. BBA." One of the highlights of my year as president of the Boston Bar Association has been meeting with all of the chief judges of our state and federal courts. I have learned so much from the chief judges about the work of their particular courts. including the challenges their courts face in dealing with pro se litigants. And I have been so proud to be the representative of the BBA in receiving the heartfelt thanks of the chief judges for the pro bono programs sponsored and operated by the BBA in their courts. These programs provide more assistance to the proper functioning of our court system and the overall administration of justice than I ever imagined.

The BBA has long been committed to providing pro bono legal services to the poor. Our Sections. working with the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association and other. local legal aid organizations. have addressed these concerns in a variety of ways. Allow me to highlight a few.

The Bankruptcy Section has provided attorneys for hundreds of debtors left stranded when their attorneys have been disbarred. and regularly runs a Reaffirmation Clinic for pro se debtors. For these efforts. the Bankruptcy Section received the Adams Award from the Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services.

The Real Estate Section runs a Lawyer for a Day program in the Housing Court and the Family Law Section runs a Lawyer for a Day program in the Probate Court. The New Lawyers Section operates a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program to help low income citizens prepare their tax returns. The Business Law Section provides attorneys to nonprofit groups and low income entrepreneurs. The Litigation Section hosts a pro bono "Job Fair." Other Sections. including Trusts and Estates. have pro bono initiatives under development.

In addition to providing legal services to individual clients. over the years the BBA has also written and distributed handbooks on understanding our court system and finding available services. The most recent guide is theHow-To Guide to Children's Mental Health Services in Massachusetts . which was just published by the BBA. with support from Children's Hospital Boston.Michael Blau. a partner at McDermott. Will & Emery. served as the editor in chief of this vitally important reference tool for families of children in need of mental health services. Michele Garvin. a partner at Ropes & Gray. and Joshua Greenberg. an attorney at Children's Hospital. served as co-chairs with Michael of the BBA Children's Mental Health Task Force. I congratulate the Health Law Section and the Task Force on this important contribution.

The need for pro bono services is endless. so I would like your help. If you haven't participated in any of the BBA's pro bono programs. please visit our website and review the opportunities in your particular practice area. I know you will find a program that is right for you. If you are one of the hundreds of BBA members who have participated in one of our programs this year. I thank you and ask you to do so again.

We all have an ethical and moral obligation to provide pro bono services. But there is another reason to find the time to assist a low income client. As Sandy Moskowitz. a partner at Davis. Malm & D'Agostine P.C. and one of the initiators of the Lawyer for a Day program in the Housing Court. told those attending the New Lawyers Section's Third Annual BBA Holiday Pro Bono Reception: "Be selfish!"As Sandy explained. you should do this for yourself. You will gain a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction from giving your time to a low income client in need.

Sincerely.

M. Ellen Carpenter