Posts Categorized: Pro Bono

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Basics Training Webinar – July 23rd at 1:00 p.m.

Where: BBA Webinar – click HERE to register.

When: July 23, 2020, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Description: During these unprecedented times, your skills as an attorney are needed more than ever. Although COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on everyone’s lives, those who live below the poverty level have been hit the hardest, particularly those who have suffered a lose of income and increased debt.  It is anticipated by experts that the number of bankruptcy filings will substantially increase in the wake of the pandemic, so your volunteerism is especially crucial now.

To help meet this need, the BBA and Volunteer Lawyers Project have collaborated to offer a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Basics Training for volunteer attorneys.  This training will provide you with the building blocks of Chapter 7 bankruptcy laws and procedures, and allow you to deepen your skills for your private practice and pro bono cases.  Please join us and become part of the response effort to help lessen the financial impact of the pandemic on our most vulnerable community members.

Speakers: Natasha T. Lewis (VLP) and Kate E. Nicholson

For more information, you may contact Douglas Newton at newton@bostonbar.org

Update from the Standing Committee on COVID-19

The Committee continues to meet every Friday and has two sub-committees that are focusing on solutions to challenges that we think our practice area will likely experience as the variety of foreclosure, eviction and collection moratoriums begin to expire, demand for legal services expands rapidly, and the calendar rolls to the fall and winter months.

One sub-committee, led by Jacob Simon and Frank Morrissey, is focusing on ways in which we might be able to provide assistance to attorneys who become incapacitated by COVID-19. This group has a webinar planned for later this month addressing disaster planning and succession planning and the panel will include Jeffrey Woolf from the BBA and a consumer bankruptcy lawyer who assisted with the case load of a fellow member of the bar who had COVID-19 and was unable to attend to the practice of law for a period of time.

The second subcommittee, led by Amy Lipman-White, Kate Cruickshank and Kate Nicholson, is preparing training programs for lawyers who are interested in representing consumer debtors that meet applicable legal service agency income guidelines on pro bono basis in chapter 7 cases. MetroWest Legal Services is presenting a two part bankruptcy basics training program on June 22 and June 23 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day. Please spread the work about these training programs as they present great opportunities for new lawyers not only to gain exposure to bankruptcy practice but also to assist consumers who would otherwise be unable to obtain legal assistance to obtain a fresh start.

We are also assembling a list of mentors that those taking the training course can call on for assistance with their first consumer case. Please be in touch with Donald Lassman (Don@LassmanLaw.com) if you would like to add your name to the growing list of volunteers or are otherwise interested in participating in any of the Committee’s ongoing efforts.

BBA Bankruptcy Section Announces COVID-19 Response Committee

The Bankruptcy Section of the Boston Bar Association has formed a COVID-19 standing committee (the “Committee”) to assess the impact of COVID-19 on bankruptcy practice, to proactively monitor the anticipated rapid rise in consumer bankruptcy cases in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and to assist with the expected increase in demand for such pro-bono legal services for consumer debtors.

The Committee is currently focused on (1) reviewing the Bankruptcy Section’s current pro bono protocols and adapting them to COVID-19 situations, (2) preparing educational programs to update attorneys on recent changes to the bankruptcy code and rules, including changes to bankruptcy and relevant state laws in response to COVID-19, and (3) providing training for attorneys entering the field who are interested in volunteering to take pro-bono consumer bankruptcy cases, which are expected to rise sharply.

If you are interested in learning more about the Bankruptcy Section pro bono response, please contact Ariana Gebauer at agebauer@bostonbar.org.

The members of the Committee are Donald Lassman (Chair), Christine Devine, Macken Toussaint, Amy Lipman-White, Dmitry Lev, Jacob Simon, Frank Morrissey, Kathleen Cruickshank, and Kate Nicholson.  Other questions about the Committee can be directed to Donald Lassman at Don@Lassmanlaw.com.

Help Out, Have Fun, and Feel Good!

Need a break from bankruptcy and billable hours? Connect with your colleagues while helping out our community. Join the BBA’s Bankruptcy Section and IWIRC New England for an evening of service at the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Wednesday, March 6th from 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM at 70 South Bay Ave., Boston, MA 02118.

A few hours of your time will help the GBFB feed thousands of families in need throughout eastern Massachusetts.

To participate, sign up here!

Fine print: During the project, volunteers might be asked to load product onto a conveyor belt, inspect and sort nonperishable donations, sort produce, put nutrition labels on product, and package foods for distribution to partner agencies. Some tasks require the ability to lift up to 50 pounds, but there are a variety of tasks for all abilities. In general, the only requirement is that a volunteer stand and inspect products for a few hours. Please remember, closed-toe shoes are required while volunteering (no sandals or flip flops).

Call for Volunteers

Community Legal Aid (CLA) is seeking volunteer lawyers from eastern Massachusetts who would be able to provide pro bono legal assistance in simple Chapter 7 cases for debtors living in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties (Springfield Federal Court) or Berkshire County (Pittsfield Federal Court).  CLA has an active Volunteer Lawyers Services program but at this time has more applicants seeking  bankruptcy help than can be placed among local attorneys.  CLA has offices in Worcester, Springfield, Northampton and Pittsfield, and attorneys can arrange to meet with clients in these offices.  If you are able to help, please contact Patricia Walsh-Ollari, pwalsh@cla-ma.org or Carmen Gonzalez, cgonzalez@cla-ma.org.  CLA will also periodically be posting some of its bankruptcy cases on www.massprobono.org.

 

Bankruptcy Court Announces New Pro Bono Program — Adversary Proceedings

Earlier this month, the Bankruptcy Court announced the implementation of a court‐sponsored pro bono attorney program for unrepresented indigent litigants in adversary proceedings.  The full announcement is available here.

The program will begin accepting applications from litigants on July 1, 2015.  You can obtain the program guidelines, FAQs for attorneys, FAQs for Parties, and attorneys interested in participating on the pro bono panel can find the registration form here.

Volunteer Attorneys Honored at Bankruptcy Court Reception

On October 30, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts honored volunteer attorneys for their service at a ceremony at the John W. McCormack Post Office and Court House in Boston. In addition to the names listed in the 2014 Court’s Pro Bono Honor Roll, the judges of the Bankruptcy Court presented five Pro Bono Publico awards to distinguished attorneys.

Justin Dion of Bacon Wilson, PC in Springfield was presented with the Western Division Award for his innovative work in representing indigent debtors. As Chair of the Legal Studies department at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Attorney Dion has accepted cases from local legal service agencies and incorporated the preparation of those cases into his paralegal studies curriculum. This resourcefulness results in indigent debtors being connected to legal services they might otherwise be unable to find.

Paul Carey of Mirick O’Connell in Worcester received the Central Division Award for his tireless efforts in assisting debtors impacted by the abrupt closing of a large consumer bankruptcy practice. He helped hundreds of individuals transition to new attorneys, and worked with local bar leaders and the courts to minimize this unforeseen and unfortunate disruption in the lives of these debtors.

David Prentiss of New Bedford received the South Coast/Cape & Islands Award for his pro bono representation of debtors. He was also recognized for his time to mentoring new attorneys and serving on non-profit boards of agencies dedicated to helping the disadvantaged.

Susan Grossberg of Boston received the Eastern Division Award for her mentoring of attorneys of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association. She regularly conducted lunch programs at VLP with the goal of instilling greater confidence in them to navigate the complex legal terrain of bankruptcy.

The judges also presented the first ever District Award to Donald Lassman of Needham for his development of and participation in programs throughout the District of Massachusetts that support military veterans needing access to legal services and financial education. In addition to representing indigent parties in bankruptcy matters, his service included training attorney volunteers on such topics as mortgages, foreclosures, debt management and bankruptcy, who then help service members and their families facing financial difficulties. Attorney Lassman’s service has helped improve the quality of life for Massachusetts’ veterans and service members returning from active duty to Massachusetts.

 

BBA Blog Pic

(Photo:  Judge Henry J. Boroff presented the District Award to Donald R. Lassman)

The 2014 Honor Roll is posted on the Court’s website and attorneys attending the ceremony were presented certificates. Attorneys included on this list certified to the court that they met the volunteer criteria established by the Court with the guidance of the Pro Bono Legal Services Advisory Committee.

The October 30 ceremony was attended by the honorees and their families in addition to approximately 100 guests from across the District.   A reception followed in the 12th Floor Library.

 

 

VLP PRO BONO HONOR ROLL

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP) provides free civil legal assistance to low-income residents of Greater Boston, primarily through the pro bono services of private attorneys.  With your help, VLP makes access to justice possible for people who cannot afford a lawyer.

The following attorneys are commended for accepting a bankruptcy case from VLP during the months of May and June:

David Baker

Eric Blythe

Peter Fellman

Scott Hubbell

Marques Lipton

Henry Mitcheson

Joanna Morris

Kristofer Munroe

Nina Parker

Steven  Pohl

Adrienne Walker

Kevin Walsh

Neil Warrenbrand

Benjamin Zalman

 

BBA’s Ethics Opinion Cited Favorably in New Jersey Supreme Court Decision Approving Volunteer Lawyer Program

On July 2, 2014, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for Justice pro bono bankruptcy program does not present a conflict of interest under the Rules of Professional Conduct. Citing the BBA’s Ethics Opinion and the VLP Pro Bono Program with approval, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a volunteer attorney can represent a low-income debtor in a no-asset Chapter 7 bankruptcy matter even if the attorney’s firm represents one or more of the debtor’s creditors in unrelated matters.

A copy of the New Jersey Supreme Court decision is linked here: NJ Supreme Court Decision (BBA Post) (S0405787x7A7A4)

VLP PRO BONO HONOR ROLL

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP) provides free civil legal assistance to low-income residents of Greater Boston, primarily through the pro bono services of private attorneys.  With your help, VLP makes access to justice possible for people who cannot afford a lawyer.

The following attorneys are commended for accepting a bankruptcy case from VLP during the month of March:

Elaine Benkoski

Angelina Bruce-Flounory

Philip Howe

Nina Parker

Christopher Shannon

Douglas Snook

Neil Warrenbrand