Addressing issues facing an increasingly global practice

From Beyond the Billable: Use Pro Bono to Build Your Practice

Monday, January 21, 2013

The current legal job market is one of the toughest the field has ever seen. The need for pro bono legal services continues to grow. More and more new lawyers are starting their own firms and looking for ways to develop their legal skills. Is there a way to reconcile all of these demands? Come to Building Your Practice Through Pro Bono and find out how three new lawyers have done just that.

Here is just a bit of what you will learn from these attorneys:

Christopher Saccardi, The Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi 

I started my landlord-tenant practice by volunteering through the BBA Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program. My first trial was a pro bono case that I accepted on the morning of trial. While I was moderately terrified to be conducting a trial with very little experience, I soon realized that my client was very grateful to have any attorney representing her, even one with limited experience. And even more surprising, the judge was also happy to deal with an attorney during the trial as opposed to a pro se litigant. Because I was clearly inexperienced, the judge was extra patient with me and as a result, not only was I able to help out a deserving client but I learned a great deal through the experience.

As I gained experience through pro bono cases, I started to build up my own caseload of paying clients, drawing upon what I learned through volunteering and taking advantage of the network of mentors and colleagues I had built up through my work.

Thomas Beauvais, Attorney at Law 

Once my license arrived in the mail, I started the process of opening my practice. In my brief time networking with other solos, I have found most have difficulty with the business side of the practice: how to get enough clients, what to charge those clients, and where to meet them. My biggest obstacle was the product itself, what area of law to practice.

I knew what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to practice in criminal law, family law or personal injury. Not that there aren’t very deserving clients in those areas, or that there aren’t some truly amazing attorneys practicing this law, I just knew it wasn’t for me. I did, however, want to litigate. Looking back at my list of eliminations, one might notice the Venn Diagram of my options was rather narrow. From my perspective at the time, there was no overlap. Nevertheless, I began looking for pro bono opportunities to keep myself busy. Thankfully, I came across Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). Every Wednesday, VLP hosts a Fair Debt Collection Clinic at the Boston Municipal Court. Not only would they allow any attorney with a free Wednesday morning to actually represent clients in a civil litigation setting, but they train them to do it well. After my first appearance, I was hooked.

Alison Silber, Law Offices of Alison Silber

I have a large VLP caseload—three cases at a time plus I mentor two other volunteers—and, in return, the VLP staff often answer questions for me about my non-VLP cases. They also provide me templates of motions/Proposed findings/etc. for my non-VLP cases.

In addition to taking cases with VLP, their lunches are a great opportunity to network and bounce ideas off of more experienced attorneys. I attend the large lunches whenever I can, plus VLP hosts a small, monthly Family Law brownbag that I find invaluable. I have developed two mentors from that circle. Each time I come with a list of questions from my non-VLP cases, and they always get answered.

Click here for more information and to register for Building Your Practice Through Pro Bono, January 23 at 12:30 pm.

International Law Committees

  • Foreign Lawyers Committee
    This committee was developed through the BBA International Law Section to provide professional development opportunities to foreign lawyers in the Boston area. Its goal is to facilitate interaction, professional development and mentoring among its members. Membership in the FLC is open to attorneys who are trained and/or licensed to practice in other countries, living and practicing in Greater Boston and/or attending a graduate law program in the area. The FLC is also open to lawyers who have an interest in topics of international law discussed at its meetings. The FLC holds regular meetings to discuss current topics in international law and foreign law, with presentations by attorneys who are licensed to practice in other countries or have first-hand knowledge of the laws of other countries because of work experience.

    Contact Information

    Shaun Khan

    Metaxas Brown Pidgeon LLP

    Royston H. Delaney

    Delaney Kester LLP

  • International Environmental Law Committee
    This committee is for members interested in international environmental issues and the laws of foreign countries.

    Contact Information

    Cicely Ott Parseghian

    Foley Hoag LLP

    (617) 832-3038

    Stuart L. Canton

    (781) 652-0135

  • International Intellectual Property Law Committee
    This committee brings together practitioners and others concerned with the state of IP in multiple countries and pursuant to multinational accords. Areas covered include perfection and protection of IP rights, defenses against IP abuses, technology transfer and other licensing and venture transactions, as well as collateral affecting IP development and exploitation.

    Contact Information

    Hsuanyeh Chang

    Burns & Levinson LLP

    (617) 345-3218

    Asya Calixto

    Prince Lobel Tye LLP

    (617) 456-8110

  • International Public Law, Policy and Human Rights
    This committee addresses public international law and human rights, with a particular focus on parts of the world that have witnessed long-standing conflict.

    Contact Information

    Elizabeth Holland

    Foley Hoag LLP

    (617) 832-1178

    Lisa Laplante

    New England Law Boston

    (617) 451-0010

  • International Tax Committee
    This committee covers international taxation issues. Treasury and IRS officials periodically are invited to address the committee.

    Contact Information

    Nelson Suit

    Burt, Staples & Maner, LLP

    (202) 783-1500

    Laura Thompson

    KPMG, LLP

  • International Transactions Committee
    This committee deals with issues related to both international commercial business transactions and international financial transactions.

    Contact Information

    Veronica Himmel

    (508) 282-9828

    Gina Plata-Nino

    Massachusetts Appeals Court

    (973) 800-6681

  • Steering Committee
    The leadership committee of the Section organizes programs and discusses policy. To inquire about opportunities, please contact the Section Co-Chairs.