As a comprehensive effort to provide legal assistance to small businesses in Back Bay following the devastating attacks of the Boston Marathon was well underway, new needs arose. The bar rose to the occasion again – an overwhelming number of BBA members volunteered to provide help to those in a time of need. Here's the story, as told by four volunteer attorneys:
Maura Greene - Law Office of Maura Greene
Before I had been asked to help out from the BBA, I was at the service in the South End that President Obama attended and sat next to a number of first responders – they were Longwood Orthopedic Surgeons, and I was thanking them. At the time I was thinking that they had such a skill set that that could be useful in the aftermath. I thought ‘what could I do?’ The BBA’s request finally gave me something concrete to do, a real way I could help, provide assistance and be of use following the events of the Marathon.
I represented a spectator who was so distraught by the events of the day that she could no longer work. I got in contact with the clients employer and worked on a resolution with her employer and resolved the matter to the client’s great satisfaction.
Being able to help an individual client in her time of need was gratifying, given what she had to go through.
Amy Lipman-White - Law Office of Lipman & White
When the bombing happened, besides the complete shock and sadness of it all, I felt helpless. I wanted to do something to help support people whose lives had been forever changed. When I received the e-mail from the BBA it provided me with the perfect opportunity to help someone who had been impacted by the bombing.
My client was a volunteer at the finish line with the Boston Athletic Association on the day of the bombings. The client was significantly affected by the bombing and as a result, missed numerous days of work. The lost income from work, in turn, resulted in being behind on the client’s rent. The client received an eviction notice and had a court date scheduled.
I worked with my client and the landlord and was able to negotiate an agreement between the parties. I assisted my client registering with the FBI as a victim/witness of the Marathon Bombing. Once registered, my client was able to apply for financial assistance through another local program, for which he was subsequently approved. We also found a support group to work with my client.
The most memorable part of my experience was how grateful my client was for the assistance and support I was able to provide.
Susan Baronoff - Murtha Cullina
After the bombings I was angry and felt like I needed to do something. When the BBA sent a notice I quickly volunteered.
The first thing I did was help my client with an application to the One Fund. My client was one of the many in category 4 who was only awarded $8,000 despite serious injuries. I worked with my client, state victim compensation and assistance personnel (from the AG’s Office and MOVA) on a variety of issues including victim compensation payments, and other available services and sources of benefits.
I have been in contact with social workers, medical personnel and other organizations assisting Marathon bombing victims, all of whom have been providing help to my client. One of these organizations assisted my client with an application for Social Security disability benefits. In addition, I will be assisting my client in submitting updated information to the One Fund in anticipation of further distributions in July.
The most memorable part of my experience was the initial meeting with my client, and the never ending expression of thanks for what I have done.
Christopher Strang - Desmond, Strang & Scott
I was at my office in Kenmore Square when they started diverting the runners to the new finish line, and witnessed people running away from the explosions towards Kenmore. My first instinct was to go to Copley to help people, but I knew that wasn’t possible, there was a throng of people running in the opposite direction and there was nothing I could do once I got there.
My overwhelming feeling, besides sadness for the victims, was a feeling of frustration that I couldn’t do anything to help. A friend gave me comfort that day when he told me ‘you bat third.’ What he meant was that after the first responders and the doctors, lawyers would have an opportunity to help victims of this terrible tragedy. When I got the BBA’s e-mail asking for volunteers I jumped on it. I, like many others in this town, had been looking for a way to help.
I advised a number of clients, all of whom were seeking advice on privacy issues. These victims didn’t ask for publicity but they were the center of a very public event. There is an obvious risk to dealing with privacy issues in an event that created media frenzy. In some cases, we brought in experts, prepared to litigate and seek an injunction. However, the end result of all the cases was legal advice to the clients.
I am glad the BBA was there to provide an avenue for the victims to get the help they needed. As a result of the Marathon Assistance Project, we were able to provide legal assistance to a great deal of people. The most memorable moment of the experience for me is when a client told me that her advice gave her some comfort. In a situation like that, that’s all I could ask for…. the opportunity to help these people feel a little bit better about what they are dealing with.