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News from the Massachusetts legal aid community.
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Volume 12, Issue 4
News in this issue...
MLAC
Equal Justice Coalition
Advocacy & Program Updates
Save the Date
Event Recap
People
Awards & Recognition
Media Highlights
People Pages

Want to see your news in Legal Aid Link?  Send it to the person responsible for communications and development at your organization. The next issue will be published in February 2019.

Visit our website to read previous issues. 
MLAC
Boston Bar Association to host meet and greet for MLAC's new executive director 

On Monday, December 10, the Boston Bar Association's Delivery of Legal Services Section will host a reception to welcome MLAC Executive Director Lynne Parker to the Boston legal community. The event will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Boston Bar Association office at 16 Beacon Street in Boston. Learn more and RSVP on the BBA website

Spreading the word about legal aid career opportunities

In addition to posting legal aid and public service job listings on its website, MLAC shares job postings on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you're interesting in keeping up with job postings and other legal aid news, follow our LinkedIn page!
Equal Justice Coalition
Save the Date: Walk to the Hill 2019

The 20th Annual Walk to the Hill will be held Thursday, January 24, 2019 at the State House, where our supporters will advocate for a $5 million increase in civil legal aid funding in the State's FY20 budget. We look forward to seeing you in January!

Know someone with a compelling legal aid story to share?

The Equal Justice Coalition is continuing the project it began two years ago to show how legal aid can change the lives of low-income people across Massachusetts. Online and through social media, #LegalAidChangesLives highlights the stories of legal aid clients, attorneys, and community members to educate the public about the importance of legal aid, support the EJC’s budget campaign, and demonstrate the many ways civil legal aid can help vulnerable people. If you or someone you know has a story to share, please contact Laura Booth at lbooth@equaljusticecoalition.org.
Advocacy & Program Updates
New, Free Online Training for Pro Bono Attorneys 
 
The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and the Massachusetts Legal Aid Websites Project recently launched a new online eviction training for Lawyer for the Day volunteers in Housing Court. This course is also useful for pro bono lawyers and legal aid staff who will be representing litigants in eviction matters.  
 
The free, one-hour interactive course focuses on the eviction process from beginning to end and includes links to resources, rules, and forms. Throughout the course, users are given a series of “knowledge checks” to apply what they have learned. MLRI and the Massachusetts Legal Aid Websites Project developed the course in conjunction with Community Legal Aid, North Shore Community Action Programs and the Volunteer Lawyers Project, to help prepare more pro bono lawyers to volunteer in Housing Court and to represent litigants in eviction matters. 
 
AmeriCorps Legal Advocates Welcomes New Cohort

AmeriCorps Legal Advocates of Massachusetts is excited to welcome 35 members for the 2018-2019 year, who will serve at 14 different legal services organizations, assisting low-income clients across Massachusetts in a variety of law practices. Seven members of this year's cohort served in 2017-2018, and another four members came to ALA-MA directly from other AmeriCorps programs. This year's ALA-MA members speak several different languages, including Spanish, French, Lugunda, Igbo, Czech, Mandarin, and Japanese.

Updates from the Center for Law and Education

In a November 15 briefing to Congress, the National Council on Disability provided the report School Choice: Charter Schools and Vouchers: Implications for Students with Disabilities. The Center for Law and Education authored the segment of the report on charter schools; the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates authored the chapter on vouchers.
 
CLE also worked closely with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s staff on the re-authorization of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act; CLE provided extensive comments and drafts of key statutory provisions to preserve critical language purposefully designed to meet the needs of economically disadvantaged students to receive high-quality education in “all aspects of the industry.” In addition, CLE is crafting a soon-to-be piloted tool – grounded in the Perkins Act, Title I, and civil rights laws – to assist Career Technical Education programs in identifying, analyzing, and addressing equity and quality with a goal toward students graduating college and career ready.

Greater Boston Legal Services Sues Cambridge Restaurant for Wage Theft 

Greater Boston Legal Services recently filed suit against Happy Lamb Hot Pot, a Cambridge restaurant, for failing to pay minimum wage and overtime; stealing workers’ tips; ignoring paid sick leave laws; and retaliating against employees. The nine current and former employees represented by GBLS say they are collectively owed more than $800,000 due to significant violations of state and federal wage and hour laws since the restaurant’s opening in early 2016. The workers, who served as wait staff, bussers, hosts, and kitchen staff, say they were mistreated and often worked long shifts without overtime pay. Workers routinely received paychecks with no payment issued. The restaurant’s managers also illegally took portions of the tip pool for themselves and kitchen staff, many of whom were the managers’ own relatives. “Happy Lamb Hot Pot ignored wage and hour laws and even after workers complained, many violations continued,” said GBLS staff attorney Ting Chiu. “These workers deserve the wages and tips that they have earned.” 

“We want customers to know that what’s happening at the restaurant is exploitative and unlawful,” said Huan Ning Huang, a former waiter at the restaurant. “I hope our case shows that restaurant owners will face consequences if they violate the law.”

South Coastal Counties Celebrates Re-opening of New Bedford Office and Re-location of Justice Center 

In September, South Coastal Counties Legal Services celebrated the re-opening of its New Bedford office at 21 South Sixth Street. The office, which closed six years ago due to budget cuts, was able to re-open thanks to outstanding support from SCCLS' community partners and funders. SCCLS's subsidiary, the Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts, recently moved to a new, larger office space to better accommodate clients. It is located at 62 Main Street, Suite 302, in Brockton.

Free Online Resources from the National Consumer Law Center
Legal Analysis - Digital Library Articles Reports
Issue Briefs
Additional NCLC Resources 
Automobile Fraud
Automobile Fraud (6th ed. Oct. 2018) (582 pp.) is available in print and digital formats, with the latest developments on investigating automobile fraud, title transfers, odometer fraud, undisclosed sale of wrecked and flood vehicles, lemon laundering, yo-yo sales, punitive damages, and more. Subscribers can access the digital edition now, and print subscribers receive their books in late October. The first chapter is available to all, free of charge at www.nclc.org/library. Print + Digital subscription $140 / year. 
 
Credit Discrimination 
Credit Discrimination (7th ed. August 2018) (500 pp.) is available in print and digital formats, updating the 2013 edition with the latest changes regarding ECOA, Fair Housing, and state discrimination laws, including disparate impact, reverse redlining, and rights of spouses. Subscribers can access the digital edition now, and print subscribers receive their books in late August. The first chapter is available to all, free of charge at www.nclc.org/library. Print + Digital subscription $130 / year.

Surviving Debt
Surviving Debt (2019) (278 pp.) is a new edition of NCLC’s most popular book, which provides accessible, practical, and hard-hitting advice for consumers and for those helping consumers. It covers credit card, medical, and student loan debts, debt harassment, credit reporting, mortgage modifications, car repossessions, evictions, utilities, bankruptcy, and much more. Read the first chapter for free, browse the table of contents, and learn more at the NCLC Bookstore. $20, bulk pricing available. 
Event Recap
Massachusetts Advocates for Children held its annual “Celebrating Voices” fundraiser on October 30 at Harvard Law School's Wasserstein Hall, raising over $90,000. The event brought together more than 200 leaders in legal advocacy, children's services, higher education, and more. MAC’s event shone a spotlight on its legal advocacy work and featured keynote speaker, Honorable Julian T. Houston, Retired Justice of the Superior Court of Massachusetts (pictured, right). Click here for video of the remarks and more event photos from Tony Irving




MetroWest Legal Services' first-ever Jazz for Justice Brunch was a hit, raising over $12,000! A crowd of over 70 people enjoyed cider mimosas, a delicious brunch buffet and the stylings of Jazz in the Air. Special thanks to Stan Rowin for volunteering as event photographer; see more of Stan's great photos here.


 
Save the Date
March 11 and 12: The National Consumer Law Center hosts the Fair Debt Collections Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. With introductory and advanced courses on FDCPA, debt defense, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the conference continues to offer cutting-edge approaches and information from the experts. Check conference attendance eligibility on the FDCPA Conference web page and stay tuned for registration, set to launch in January.  
People
Community Legal Aid and the Central West Justice Center welcome several new staff members: attorney Matt Lawrence, who will be working with the Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime project; Lauren De Oliveira, a family law attorney; Leigh Woodruff as litigation director; and Hallie Blashfield as development associate.

Massachusetts Advocates for Children is pleased to welcome Lisa E. Brown as director of the Racial Equity and Access Project (REAP). Prior to joining MAC, Lisa served as a Clinical Fellow at Suffolk University Law School. As Director of REAP, Lisa is beginning with school discipline reform to address racial disparities within the Boston Public Schools and working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Lisa is admitted to practice law in New York and is pursuing admission to the Massachusetts bar. (Photo credit: Tony Irving)

Northeast Justice Center recently welcomed two new attorneys. Paola Gentile-Goldental joined the Justice Center's Immigration Unit. Paola is bilingual (Spanish-English) and she previously worked for KIND assisting unaccompanied minor children. Julia Schlozman joined the Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime Unit. Julia is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and worked most recently as a law clerk in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. Julia previously worked at Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and served as a law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Detroit.

South Coastal Counties Legal Services welcomes several new staff members: bookkeeper Tom Conley, based in Fall River; immigration attorney Shantanu Chatterjee, and secretary Ana Liza Tavares, based in Brockton at the Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts. Karen Michel joined as a Bart Gordon Fellow based at the Justice Center and Andrew Bardetti as Borchard Fellow in Law & Aging in New Bedford. Melissa Kwapong, recently left SCCLS after 12 years as benefits staff attorney to join the Social Security Administration in Boston.

In September, Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee enthusiastically welcomed a group of talented and dedicated advocates: attorneys Matthew Cregor and Laura Massie, as well as Coco Holbrook, a recent law school graduate and now Boston University N. Neal Pike Disability Fellow. Chidera Onyeoziri joins MHLAC as an AmeriCorps member and Hillary Nikeyma will assist with intake, litigation support, and community outreach.

MetroWest Legal Services welcomed two members of the AmeriCorps Legal Advocates of Massachusetts program: Andrea Jennings is a graduate of Boston University School of Law, where she represented clients with employment matters in the Housing, Employment, Family & Disability Clinic. While in law school she completed an externship at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts and spent several years practicing in the areas of business and employment litigation and unemployment insurance benefits. She will be assisting elders with a variety of legal issues, including housing, benefits, and MassHealth. Oliver Sabelove recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he earned a degree in Political Science with a minor in Resource Economics. He will be working in MWLS' Private Bar Involvement Unit, focusing on family law, bankruptcy, and wills.

The Volunteer Lawyers Project has welcomed several new staff members in recent months. As pro bono manager, Miranda Black will be recruiting new volunteers, sending out cases, and working with VLP’s website and social media. Miranda is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and Northeastern University. Before joining VLP she worked in refugee resettlement. Victoria DeLaney will be working as a paralegal in the Family and Guardianship units. Victoria is a graduate of Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. She previously worked as an ESOL instructor at Mujeres Unidas Avanzando through AmeriCorps. Geraldine Gruvis-Pizarro joins VLP as a staff attorney working on housing and family law cases. Geraldine is a graduate of Interamerican University of Puerto Rico School of Law. She previously worked as an attorney at Community Legal Services and Counseling Center. Amy Anthony joins VLP as a staff attorney practicing housing and bankruptcy law. Amy is a graduate of Columbia University and American University, and before VLP, she worked as an attorney for the Northeast Justice Center. Colin Harnsgate comes to VLP as a staff attorney, practicing housing and consumer law. Colin is a graduate of Suffolk University and Suffolk University Law School after which he practiced with AmeriCorps Legal Advocates of Massachusetts for two years. Katherine Harris is the new coordinator of the Economic Fairness Project. Before joining VLP, she served two years in the Peace Corps and graduated from University of Houston with an degree in economics. Ben Silvers, a third-year undergraduate student at Northeastern University, joins VLP as an administrative legal assistant. Ben is a pre-law student with a Music Industry major and a minor in Business. VLP also welcomes several legal advocates in its Eastern Region Legal Intake call center: Taïsha Lazare, who previously worked at ERLI as an AmeriCorps member and is a graduate of John Jay College; Mikerline Paul, a graduate of University of Massachusetts Amherst who previously worked at W.E.B DuBois Library; Deyanira Gonzalez, who also worked at ERLI as an AmeriCorps member, who graduated from UC Santa Barbara and later worked with City Year Boston; Cindy de la Cruz, formerly a youth development counselor at the Roxbury Tenants of Harvard Association; and Bogyung Lim, a graduate of New England Conservatory of Music who previously worked for North Shore AmeriCorps for two years, where she tutored and mentored immigrant students and their families.
Awards & Recognition
Janine Solomon, Massachusetts Advocates for Children’s Managing Attorney and Senior Project Director, accepted the Boston Bar Association President’s Award on behalf of the Education Law Task Force (ELTF) at the BBA's annual meeting on September 28. The BBA recently launched a new Service Innovation Project whose pilot initiative is to engage BBA members in helping to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. As such, the BBA’s periodical, The Boston Bar Journal, recently published a special edition focused on the school-to-prison pipeline which includes a legal analysis of Chapter 222 from Janine and fellow MAC attorney Liza Hirsch

South Coastal Counties Legal Services attorney Ben Jaffee recently retired and was honored with the Public Service Award from the Community Services of Greater Boston for his decades of work in immigration law. Jaffee, known for his mentorship of other immigration attorneys, will be missed by all of his colleagues.

Linda Landry and Svetlana Uimenkova, senior attorneys at the Disability Law Center, received the Work Without Limits Partnership Award at the Raise the Bar HIRE! Conference, in honor of their decades of work and their "selfless sharing of their technical expertise with the network of benefits specialists throughout the state." 

North Shore Elder Services hosted an event to honor Northeast Justice Center attorney John Ford and his 50 years of dedicated service to legal aid. Northeast Legal Aid board member James Krasnoo recently received the Leadership Award from the Lawrence Bar Association.

Senior attorney Bethany Li of Greater Boston Legal Services' Asian Outreach/Employment Law Unit was selected as a National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) 2018 Best Under 40 awardee. The annual awards recognize “talented individuals in the Asian Pacific American legal community who have achieved prominence and distinction in their respective fields — be it the practice of law, academia, business, civic and charitable affairs, the judiciary, or politics — and who have demonstrated a strong commitment to Asian Pacific American civic or community affairs. Al Zabin, a long-time volunteer in GBLS' Employment Law Unit, was honored with a Massachusetts Bar Foundation President’s Award on September 27.  Awarded annually, the President's Award recognizes exceptional MBF supporters for their commitment to increasing access to justice for the most vulnerable in our state.
Media Highlights
These are just a few highlights of recent media coverage. For a full list, visit the News section of the MLAC website. 

Boston schools agree to change policies on suspensions (Boston Globe)
Boston Public Schools has agreed to revamp its discipline policies in response to a lawsuit filed almost two years ago by Greater Boston Legal Services. Chief among the promised changes is a commitment to ending suspension for kindergartners, first-graders, and second-graders, as well as no longer suspending older students for minor offenses.  

Guest Column: Increases in public funding to legal aid providers protects tenants (Cambridge Chronicle)
Cambridge City Councilor and Northeast Legal Aid attorney Sumbul Siddiqui details how public support of civil legal aid from state and local government helps legal aid programs serve low-income individuals and families in need. The City of Cambridge recently appropriated an additional $65,000 to help city residents at risk of losing their homes.

A Public School That Not Only Keeps Children Safe, But Heals (Nonprofit Quarterly)

After the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, efforts to address mental health and gun violence have intensified, with schools at the center of the debate. This Nonprofit Quarterly piece highlights a trauma-sensitive framework for helping students, a product of a sustained effort by Massachusetts Advocates for Children to change how schools approach working with students who have experienced trauma. 

ACLU sues BPD over gang database (Bay State Banner)
The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, along with the Children's Law Center of Massachusetts, Greater Boston Legal Services, the Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts, and several other organizations, recently sued the Boston Police Department to gain access to the department's gang database. The lawsuit focuses on the city's point system for determining gang involvement. Being labeled "gang involved" can have particularly severe consequences for immigrant youth and lead to detention and deportation--often returning them to violent environments in their country of origin. 
People Pages
CLICK HERE to print "People Pages," an alphabetical directory of Massachusetts Legal Services staff members and their contact information.  (Note: You must log in to MassLegalServices.org to access this list.)  You can also look up staff individually by last name using the search function on MassLegalServices.org.
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