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Did you know that there are currently 21.8 million veterans of the U.S armed forces?
The BBA is proud to host a special Veterans Day Reception on Thursday, November 12, 2015, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
Led by past BBA President Jack Regan of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and William Sinnott of Donoghue Barrett & Singal, P.C. – both veterans themselves – the event brings together legal professionals who share a history of military service, a connection to military service, or a dedication to serving veterans and their families.
“Bill Sinnott and I have been involved with veterans’ issues at the BBA for years,” said Regan. “Our work together has included asking the lawyers of Boston to step up and assist veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families, with a range of urgently needed legal services. This reception is a way to say thank you to those lawyers, and to pause — in the midst of our busy professional and personal lives — to recognize the sacrifices made by Massachusetts veterans for all of us.”
“I hope that attendees gain a greater understanding of the issues that veterans confront when they suddenly transition from a structured military life and the rigors of deployment to the open, unstructured environment of civilian life and the challenges of re-entry into a competitive workplace, while trying to leave the memories of war behind,” he continued. “Attendees would also gain an insight into the extensive work being done by the lawyers of the Boston Bar Association and related legal services organizations to assist veterans with that transition.”
Click here to register
The post Calling all Veterans: BBA Invites You to Veterans Day Reception in November appeared first on Beyond the Billable.
Last week, the BBA kicked off the first of three pro bono trainings to help build the inaugural low-income taxpayer pro bono panel of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and Greater Boston Legal Services. As you may remember from this article, the Boston Bar Foundation also supports the Low-Income Tax Clinic (LITC). Beyond the Billable reached out to Keith Fogg, the Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, to learn more about the training. Here’s what he had to say:
Why should attorneys join the low-income tax pro bono panel?
It’s an easy way for them to receive pro bono case referrals. They can refer individuals seeking pro bono assistance to one of the clinics to vet, and then get the cases that meet the pro bono criteria. Aside from using the panel as a screening mechanism for handling pro bono cases, attorneys receive support on their cases from the clinicians if questions arise about facts or law in the cases they receive.
Also, working cases from the pro bono panel provides the opportunity to handle tax controversy cases the attorney might not handle in their ordinary practice, and so they can learn from the experience and gain valuable skills that might assist them in their practice.
But even without the other professional benefits mentioned, helping others who need it is very rewarding. Pro bono panels provide an opportunity to help others while using and honing the skills that tax attorneys have learned through training and practice. Rather than engaging in pro bono assistance in an area of the law in which they do not ordinarily practice, being a part of the pro bono tax panel will put their skills to use.”
What should attorneys expect in the next tax program?
Most of the clients seeking help do so because they cannot pay the liability already assessed against them. This makes the collection panel the most relevant to pro bono practice. Some of the clients with collection problems really need assistance reopening the question of whether they owe. Others have no basis for challenging the assessment but very low prospects for paying the debt. These clients need assistance pulling together their financial information in order to make a successful presentation to the IRS to obtain debt relief through an offer in compromise, debt forbearance through currently not collectible designation or debt postponement through an installment agreement. The program will explain how to work with the client and the IRS to achieve a beneficial resolution.”
Click here to learn more about the upcoming collection panel.
If you’re interested in joining the pro bono panel, please contact Katie D’Angelo at email@example.com.
The post Hone Your Skills With the Pro Bono Panel for Low-Income Taxpayers appeared first on Beyond the Billable.
The day was hectic. More than 200 people from 29 different countries arrived, some of them coming from adverse circumstances, some of them confused by the process they had to go through to apply to become a U.S. citizen.
On September 26, those gathered at the Timilty Middle School in Roxbury represented just a small part of a population with a huge unmet need – immigrants who need assistance filling out their applications for citizenship. That’s why the BBA partnered with Project Citizenship to hold a training prior to Citizenship Day in Boston, where volunteers learned how they could help.
But for Wadner Oge, Staff Attorney with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, the focus of the day quickly shifted from processing applications to facilitating conversations. Wadner, who was born in Haiti and became a citizen in 2000, volunteered to act as a translator shortly after arriving. Of the 242 applicants for citizenship that day, 76 of them were from Haiti – the highest number from any single country. Wadner immediately recognized a need for volunteers who spoke their native language.
“As a translator, I had to be able to interact with the group of the people that the service (Citizenship Day) was designed for,” he said. “There was a misconception among some of them about how the process works, so I explained it to many of them in Haitian Creole. It was a very busy day and a lot of people came. I was very happy to be in a position to help.”
Wadner said he was motivated to get involved due to the high price of an attorney to assist with a citizenship application under normal circumstances. He estimated the average attorney might charge as much as $1,000, money that many immigrants can’t spare.
To Analisa Smith-Perez, a BBA member who works at the Brooke courthouse, the most moving part of her volunteer experience at Citizenship Day was watching 175 people sworn in as citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the school.
“What I really loved about the whole day was that here, you’re helping people, and then you get to see what happens at the end of the whole process if everything goes according to plan,” she said.
Analisa volunteers actively with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition and considers herself familiar with the many obstacles those who hope to become citizens face. Events like Citizenship Day can help prevent immigrants from turning to someone for legal help who may not have a law degree and may take advantage of them, Analisa said.
“There are so many instances of fraud, especially in the immigrant community, that we need to fight against,” she said. “Sometimes these people charge an exorbitant amount of money, they don’t necessarily do a good job, and once you make a mistake on your paperwork, you get rejected. They don’t always necessarily tell you why you got rejected. It isn’t cheap, and it’s very disheartening. It can make a person just want to stop trying.”
Analisa said she would encourage anyone to get involved and volunteer with Citizenship Day and other pro bono opportunities.
“It’s important to do this type of work because it emphasizes and reaffirms why I became an attorney in the first place. I became an attorney to help people,” she said. “When you do a project like this, it reminds you so much of the human element that is always present in what we do.”
The post Pro Bono Perspectives: Volunteers Share Their Experiences from Citizenship Day appeared first on Beyond the Billable.