Posts Categorized: Uncategorized

Do you have a WISP? – A Guide to Protecting Personal Information

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 12:15 PMBoston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

Description: Lawyers must comply with the Massachusetts regulations that became effective on March 1, 2010 that protect personal information of their clients. Bankruptcy practice requires constant use of personal information. This luncheon will provide you with the tools you need to become compliant with the new Regulation. You will hear from an IT consultant who implements programs to protect information, an attorney who went through the process and can explain first hand what is involved, and an Assistant Attorney General who will explain the problems that may arise for failing to comply.

To register click here.

Sponsoring Section/Committee(s):
Solo & Small Firm Section
Bankruptcy Law Section

Speakers:
Donald R. Lassman
Law Office of Donald R. Lassman
Shannon C. Choy-Seymour
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
O. Walter Olúwolé
BSC International

Contact: Patricia Johnsonpjohnson@bostonbar.org

Do you have a WISP? – A Guide to Protecting Personal Information

Do you have a WISP? – A Guide to Protecting Personal Information

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 12:15 PMBoston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

Description: Lawyers must comply with the Massachusetts regulations that became effective on March 1, 2010 that protect personal information of their clients. Bankruptcy practice requires constant use of personal information. This luncheon will provide you with the tools you need to become compliant with the new Regulation. You will hear from an IT consultant who implements programs to protect information, an attorney who went through the process and can explain first hand what is involved, and an Assistant Attorney General who will explain the problems that may arise for failing to comply.

Sponsoring Section/Committee(s):
Solo & Small Firm Section
Bankruptcy Law Section
Speakers:
Donald R. Lassman
Law Office of Donald R. Lassman
Shannon C. Choy-Seymour
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
O. Walter Olúwolé
BSC International

Contact: Patricia Johnsonpjohnson@bostonbar.org

Bankruptcy Law Section Kickoff Reception Welcoming Hon. Melvin S. Hoffman

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 4:30 PM

Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

Description:

Join the Boston Bar Association Bankruptcy Law Section as it kicks off the fall season with a reception to welcome Judge Melvin S. Hoffman. Find out more about the Section’s opportunities to get involved (pro bono, emergency panel, mentor, CLE programs, brown bag speakers and more!)

To register, click here

Volunteer Lawyers Project Pro-Bono Initiative

The BBA Bankruptcy Section is deeply concerned about the growing need for effective legal representation by the most needy in our community, many of which are in desperate need of chapter 7 representation. One issue that has long challenged our ability to provide more direct pro bono representation have been issues of conflicts inherent within a large law firm practice. To that end, the Bankruptcy Section previously obtained advance limited conflict waivers from a variety of financial institutions, which in most instances waived any conflicts relating to that financial institution in cases that arose through the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). Over the past several years, however, many financial institutions have become larger and several of our local banks have been merged into national banks, resulting in challenges to obtain additional advance conflict waivers.

While these advance conflict waivers are still in existence and a valuable tool, the Bankruptcy Section recognized that it needed to address the underlying conflict issues more broadly in order to enable large law firm practitioners to accept a larger volume of cases. The Bankruptcy Section’s Pro Bono Committee established a Large Law Firm Pro Bono Subcommittee (Subcommittee) to analyze different methodologies used by other bar associations to address the needs of chapter 7 pro bono debtors. The Subcommittee determined that a program in place in New York City might be useful as a guide in our jurisdiction that would allow for direct representation where a lawyer’s limited role would be in compliance with Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Subcommittee analyzed the ethical issues presented and made a request for an Ethics Opinion from the BBA Ethics Committee. As a result of these efforts, the BBA Ethics Committee issued Opinion 2008-01, which in brief allows a lawyer to represent a VLP chapter 7 debtor as long as the representation is not directly adverse to an existing client of the lawyer’s firm. For example, a lawyer would not be conflicted from representing a VLP Chapter 7 debtor merely because his/her firm represented a large financial institution and that institution issued a credit card to the Debtor and has an unsecured claim in the Chapter 7 case. To screen out whether there are special situations that might materially limit the volunteer lawyer’s ability to advise the pro bono debtor, the Ethics Opinion recommends that the volunteer lawyer run a conflict check only on the debtor and question the debtor at the initial meeting to determine the following:

(i) Does the debtor have one dominant creditor?
(ii) Does the lawyer regularly represent creditors in consumer collection actions?
(iii) Has a creditor of the debtor commenced a collection action against the debtor?
(iv) Is the debtor engaged in litigation in which the other side is represented by counsel?
(v) Has the debtor granted liens or made unusual payments during the previous 90 days?
(vi) Are there any facts indicating that a particular debt could be material to a particular creditor, such as another individual?

Depending on the answers to the above questions, the volunteer lawyer may be required to run additional conflict checks to evaluate whether a direct conflict exists with any of the debtor’s creditors and therefore whether he or she would be able to represent that debtor. However, it is anticipated that in many instances, the above screening questions would not result in a direct conflict and thus result in a greater number of lawyers representing chapter 7 debtors.

After obtaining the Ethics Opinion, the Bankruptcy Section and representatives of many of the large law firms in Boston solicited feedback from the Massachusetts Bankruptcy Bench on the scope of the proposed Initiative. After considering all of the alternatives, the Bankruptcy Section and many of the large law firms determined that it would be most beneficial to enlarge the scope of the Program such that a volunteer lawyer would represent a chapter 7 debtor for the entire case, recognizing that in most instances chapter 7 cases conclude shortly after the Section 341 meeting of creditors. If however, a conflict was not anticipated by the screening questions but nevertheless arose during the case, the lawyer would be allowed to seek replacement counsel and to withdraw from the Program.

We encourage all of our members and interested volunteers to review the full Ethics Opinion and outline of the Pro Bono Initiative. We are in the process of developing materials and will be conducting a Training Program on February 11, 2010 at 4 pm at the BBA. We hope to see many of you there. If you have any questions regarding the Ethics Opinion or the Initiative, please contact Doug Gooding at dgooding@choate.com or at 617-248-5277.

October 15th Hearings Scheduled on Amendments to Homestead and Personal Property Exemptions

Bills filed in both the Massachusetts House of Representative and the Senate to amend and update the Homestead exemption and the exemptions for personal property have been scheduled for hearing before Joint Committee on the Judiciary on Thursday, October 15th at 1:00 p.m. in Room A1.

A brief description of the bills, House Bills 1584 and 1585 and Senate Bill 1619 and links to the text of the bills are provided in a separate blog submission on this page. Members of the Bankruptcy Section are urged to express their opinion of the legislation and its effect upon consumers to the members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary listed below, on or before October 15th :

Cynthia Stone Creem of First Middlesex and Norfolk- Chair
Steven A. Baddour of First Essex – Vice-Chair
Gale D. Candaras of First Hampden and Hampshire
Jack Hart of First Suffolk
Thomas M. McGee of Third Essex and Middlesex
Bruce E. Tarr of Essex and Middlesex
Eugene L. O’Flaherty of Chelsea – Chair
Christopher N. Speranzo of Pittsfield- Vice-Chair
James H. Fagan of Taunton
Colleen M. Garry of Dracut
Marie P. St. Fleur of Boston
John V. Fernandes of Milford
Katherine Clark of Melrose
James J. Dwyer of Woburn
Danielle W. Gregoire of Marlborough
Lewis G. Evangelidis of Holden
Daniel K. Webster of Pembroke

In submitting your comments to the members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, please make it clear that your comments reflect your own professional views, and should not be construed to reflect the position of the Boston Bar Association or the Boston Bar Association Bankruptcy Law Section.

Boston Bar Association Bankruptcy Section Event

Thursday, October 22, 2009 – 6:00 pm
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street

Follow this link to sign up for this program.

RSVP

The Consumer Subcommittee of the Boston Bar Association’s Bankruptcy Section will be hosting a consumer rap session. Please join us for an informal discussion of the consumer practice from both creditor’s and debtor’s perspective. Refreshments will be provided

We look forward to seeing you at this event.

2009 Proposed Amendments to the Massachusetts Local Bankruptcy Rules

Comments are invited, and should be submitted to Chief Judge Henry J. Boroff, United States Bankruptcy Court, 300 State Street, Springfield, MA 01105 and to the Hon. Joan N. Feeney, 1101 Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Federal Building, 10 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02222, no later than October 2, 2009. Those who wish to email comments should do so at hjb@mab.uscourts.gov and jnf@mab.uscourts.gov.

· 2009 Massachusetts Bankruptcy Local Rule Amendments
· 2009 Massachusetts Bankruptcy Local Rule Amendments (Red-Lined Version)

In submitting your comments to the court, please make it clear that your comments reflect your own professional views, and should not be construed to reflect the position of the Boston Bar Association or the Boston Bar Association Bankruptcy Law Section.