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News from the Massachusetts legal aid community.
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Volume 8, Issue 4
News in this issue...
MLAC
Equal Justice Coalition
Save the Date
Advocacy & Program Updates
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 2015.

Visit our website to read previous issues. 
MLAC
MLAC board of directors welcomes two new members

The board of directors of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) welcomes two new members, Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez and Geoffrey A. Wilson, who were recently appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court.  Dr. Gonzalez was on the board of South Coastal Counties Legal Services from 2006-2011, and is a psychiatrist in private practice.  Wilson recently retired as Presiding Justice from the Franklin County Probate and Family Court, to which he was appointed after a career in private practice in Greenfield.  He served on the boards of two programs that were consolidated into Community Legal Aid—Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) and the Massachusetts Justice Center—and was chair of the board of WMLS. Former MLAC board chair Rahsaan D. Hall was reappointed to a second five-year term on the board, based on the recommendation of the Massachusetts Bar Association.  Hall is Deputy Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, where he has practiced since 2008.
Equal Justice Coalition
Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid

Mark your calendars for the Equal Justice Coalition's annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid, to be held January 29, 2015 in the Great Hall at the Massachusetts State House.  Learn more about Walk to the Hill and how to get involved...

ABA President-elect affirms support for legal aid, pro bono service during Boston visit

The Equal Justice Coalition recently hosted a meeting with American Bar Association President-elect Paulette Brown.  During her remarks, Brown voiced strong support for legal aid and pro bono services within the legal community, saying "we all have something to give" in the fight for justice.  Read the recent Boston Globe profile of Paulette Brown here
Save the Date
November 13 - Sponsored by The Diversity Coalition, the Attorneys of Color Retreat will take place at the Massachusetts Bar Association.  Please RSVP to Lizz Matos at lmatos@plsma.org if you plan to attend.

December 4 - South Coastal Counties Legal Services (SCCLS) is holding its third annual Equal Justice Celebration.  The event will feature remarks from former Congressman Barney Frank and the announcement of the recipient of this year's Servant of Justice award.  Learn more...
Advocacy & Program Updates
The Boston Bar Association's Statewide Task Force to Expand Legal Aid in Massachusetts recently released a report detailing unmet legal aid need in the Commonwealth and calling for a $30 million increase in state funding for civil legal aid programs.  MLAC, SCCLS, Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), and MetroWest Legal Services (MWLS) were featured in media coverage of the report.  Read more in the Media Highlights section below. 

In September Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC) immigration attorney Lisa Weinberg and staff paralegal Karen Bobadilla spent a week at the Artesia detention center in New Mexico, which holds mothers and children who have been detained by the immigration service. They were successful in winning an asylum case for a mother and her two daughters from Honduras. The client, who had been severely abused by her husband, was only the third asylum grant at Artesia.  Her case was highlighted by the Huffington Post. Weinberg and Bobadilla were also successful in obtaining the release on parole of a mother whose child's health was deteriorating while at the detention center--the first release on parole from Artesia. Their advocacy efforts were profiled in Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly.

Northeast Legal Aid (NLA) is pleased to announce the hiring of attorney George K. Weber as its new executive director.  Weber is the former General Counsel to Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a nationwide non-profit corporation that assists low and moderate income individuals seeking to purchase a home or avoid foreclosure.

The newly formed NLA Board of Directors is looking to expand its membership. If you know an attorney or income-eligible individual who would be a strong contributor to the efforts of NLA to serve the Northeast, send your recommendations to George Weber at gweber@nla-ma.org.
 
In August, GBLS' CORI & Re-entry Project Lead Attorney Pauline Quirion won an important appeal, a victory that establishes a new, easier standard to seal criminal cases. Prior case law imposed an onerous burden of proof on former defendants trying to seal records that resulted in few people succeeding in sealing their records. This case is a major victory for the many individuals who have faced a stringent and unreasonably high standard when petitioning courts to seal their records.  The new good cause standard will enable countless individuals to seal their records and improve their lives and the lives of their families.
Event Recap
On October 29, Community Legal Aid (CLA) hosted a program-wide gathering at Tuckerman Hall in Worcester to celebrate the coming together of legal aid services in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Nearly 200 supporters from across the state attended, and the event featured several special guests, including 2nd District Congressman Jim McGovern and video remarks from Senator Elizabeth Warren. The event celebrated the contributions of volunteers, donors, staff and partners in providing equal access to justice for all people in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Pictured above are Mike Angelini, chairman of Bowditch & Dewey, CLA Executive Director Jonathan Mannina, Board President Charlie Casartello and Congressman Jim McGovern. 
People
Denise Brewer joined CLA as the paralegal for their Worcester Uncontested Divorce Project. Denise comes to CLA after serving as an AmeriCorps member at Iowa Legal Aid.  Billy Peard, who previously worked at Georgia Legal Services, is CLA's new farmworker attorney, working out of Central West Justice Center’s (CWJC) Springfield office.  He is already very busy visiting farms and making community connections. Hilary Thrasher and Mary Johnson are joining CWJC’s Springfield office. Hilary will be working on immigration law matters and Mary will be doing public benefits work. At the Worcester office, Claudia Castro is the new receptionist and Evelyn Velasquez has returned as a part-time receptionist. In addition to front desk coverage, part of Claudia’s and Evelyn’s time will be devoted to screening clients and to supporting CWJC’s staff.  CLA also has a new grants manager, Andrew Felper, who comes from the grant-writing team at Action for Boston Community Development.  Staff attorney Courtney Clemente is now working in the Springfield office, focusing on foreclosure cases. Rebekah Provost is now a staff attorney in Worcester focusing on housing.  Lerae Kroon joins CWJC’s Worcester office as a Harvard Fellow to work on immigration.  CLA has also added a number of new AmeriCorps attorneys: Kristen Williams works on housing in CLA’s Northampton office; Catherine Ady-Bell works on housing out of CWJC’s Springfield office; and James Racine works on employment in CWJC’s Worcester office.  Last, but not least, CLA has also launched a new education law practice, with Alina Nir as an AmeriCorps attorney working out of the Worcester office. Alina previously worked for Choate, Hall & Stewart in Boston and for Rhode Island Legal Services.

CLSACC welcomes Jeff Wolf as an Access to Justice Fellow this year.  Jeff was formerly CLSACC's Legal Director, and a staff attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.  He is focusing on family law and domestic violence initiatives in the community.

The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) is pleased to announce that Dick Bauer has joined NCLC as Of Counsel. In this role, Dick will serve as a project supervisor for the HomeCorps program. Most recently, Dick served as a senior attorney at GBLS, where he practiced housing law for more than 25 years. Read more about Dick's impressive legal career.

Jared Nicholson has joined NLA as a Skadden Fellow. Jared will be spending the next two years working with Lynn and Lawrence residents looking to start or expand a small business. Jared has begun holding community presentations.  A list of his presentations are available on the NLA Facebook page.  NLA also welcomed Kristen Parent, AmeriCorps Attorney, who is working with the NLA Housing Unit and their Housing Mediation Project in the Lynn and Lawrence sessions of the Northeast Housing Court.  Nicole Summers, a Harvard Fellow with extensive housing/foreclosure experience, will be working in the Northeast Justice Center (NJC) assisting the Housing and HomeCorps Units over the next year.  Heather Stoloff, AmeriCorps Paralegal, has also joined the staff of the NJC working with the Family Law Unit on a variety of domestic violence cases and assisting with the Pro Se Divorce clinics held in Lynn, Lawrence and Lowell.
Awards & Recognition
GBLS Equal Justice Works Fellow attorney Elizabeth McIntyre was recently awarded the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 2014 Adams Pro Bono Publico Award, in recognition of her extraordinary breadth of poverty law experience and dedication throughout her law school career.  Elizabeth’s two-year Equal Justice Works project began in September 2014 in GBLS’ Elder, Health and Disability Unit and will focus on intervening in the school-to-prison-pipeline for Boston public school students, representation in school discipline proceedings to help keep Boston Public School students in school, ensuring that kids are getting all of the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative and other mental health services that they are eligible for, and especially doing targeted outreach to kids in Department of Youth Services facilities and homeless kids to ensure that they have access to the full educational and mental health services to which they are entitled. 

Valerie Zolezzi-Wyndham, CLA’s Managing Attorney in Worcester, was selected for the “Where Health Meets Justice” Fellowship program, which seeks to increase health care expertise in the legal aid community and to promote collaboration among health and legal professionals serving low-income people. Jennifer Dieringer, CLA’s Managing Attorney for Berkshire, Franklin and Hampshire counties, was elected to be secretary of the Franklin County Bar Association. And Wendy Berg, an attorney in CLA’s Northampton office, was asked to serve on the Domestic Violence Education Task Force formed by Paula Carey, Chief Justice of the Trial Court.

Senior Attorneys Susan Hegel and Ellen Shachter of GBLS’ Cambridge and Somerville office were honored by the Cambridge YWCA as “outstanding women of Cambridge” at its dinner/fundraiser on October 22.  The dinner honors women who have advanced the Y’s mission of "eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”  

GBLS Immigration Law Unit Attorney Carla Moniz has been selected as one of 2014’s Boston Rising Stars, a list of 40 outstanding lawyers in the Boston area, age 40 or younger, by the National Law Journal & Connecticut Law Tribune.  Per the National Law Journal’s website, “Whether their expertise is in intellectual property, private equity, public sector practice, torts or elsewhere, these attorneys have accomplished big feats in their short legal careers…the attorneys on the 2014 Boston Rising Stars also are improving their communities by volunteering their sharp legal skills to a variety of nonprofit organizations.”

GBLS Board member and Brazilian Immigrant Center Executive Director Natalicia Tracy was honored with the 2014 Richard M. Fontera Memorial Award from the Arnold M. Dubin Labor Education Center of UMass Dartmouth on October 23. Tracy was honored for her dedication to improving the lives of working women and for her commitment to education and the ideals of democracy and social justice.

Ellen Wilbur, CLSACC’s Legal Director and family law attorney, was honored as one of the 2014 Top Women of the Law at an event sponsored by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on October 23.  Also honored were Rachel Brown of CLA, Robin Laukien of the Children's Law Center of Massachusetts, and Cyndi Mark of GBLS. Pauline Quirion of GBLS was inducted into the Circle of Excellence. 

Mojdeh Rohani, CLSACC’s Associate Clinical Director, received the Hubie Jones Urban Service Award from Boston University’s School of Social Work.

Nancy Kelly and John Willshire Carrera, co-directing attorneys of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic at GBLS, have won the Harvard Law School’s Dean's Award for Excellence.  They are being honored for their exceptional teaching and mentoring of students at Harvard Law School and for their leadership in developing child asylum and gender-based asylum law, as well as asylum law as it relates to indigenous Guatemalan and gang-based asylum claims.
Media Highlights
These are just a few highlights of recent media coverage.  For a full list, visit the News section of the MLAC website. 

'Condo Takeover Schemes' Can Pose New Foreclosure Threat (NBC News)
GBLS Attorneys Zoe Cronin and Nadine Cohen are quoted in this piece, which details one Boston resident's fight against the condo takeover scheme that nearly cost her her home.

With funding low, many legal cases going undefended (Boston Globe) 
The recent report from the Boston Bar Association (BBA) Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts illuminates how lack of funding forces legal aid organizations around the state to turn away eligible residents, creating a significant justice gap. 

Funding cuts hit legal aid availability (The MetroWest Daily News)
Responding to the BBA task force report's data on numbers of clients turned away by legal aid programs, MWLS executive director Betsy Soule details the challenges of providing service to clients in need while facing significant declines in funding. 

Study: Legal aid out of reach for many in Massachusetts (The Standard-Times, New Bedford)
 
SCCLS executive director Susan Nagl is quoted in this piece, which describes the importance of legal assistance for residents of the South Coast, with one client saying that a favorable outcome in his case would have been impossible without a legal aid lawyer. 
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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