Coming into my term as President of the Boston Bar Association, I knew this was a pivotal time for our Association. After the difficulties and disruptions of the past few years, it was imperative that we take the lessons learned from the pandemic and seize the opportunity to once again make 16 Beacon St. the hub of the Boston legal community. With a focus on re-engaging our members—particularly our law student and new lawyer members, whose entire education and professional careers have taken place behind a computer screen—I can proudly say that the BBA emerged from the pandemic era stronger and more vibrant than ever.
The BBA has more than 15,000 members, and this year we were able to provide a hybrid schedule of both in-person and virtual programs, conferences, and networking events offering something for everyone, regardless of seniority, practice area, or firm size. Combining the necessity of face-to-face interaction with the convenience of on-demand educational opportunities, we lived up to our mission to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession.
With a full return to in-person events, the BBA was once again able to serve as a collaborative and solutions-oriented convener, from small firms to big law, law students to senior associates and partners, and all members in between. With these events, we succeeded in bringing people together to exchange ideas, build relationships, and expand professional networks.
I am especially proud of the work we did over this past year to remind our youngest members of what the BBA has to offer, including our Law Student Reception, Bar Coaching and Prep programming, inaugural DEI Career Fair and expanded DEI Summer Fellowship program, New Lawyer Ice Breaker Bash, and many other events throughout the year. Through these programs, the BBA re-established itself as a place to nurture our next generation of lawyers and truly help them grow, both personally and professionally, following a disrupted and difficult ascension through law school and introduction to the profession. Perhaps the highlight of this year for me has been hearing from so many of these younger members how helpful, insightful, and valuable these opportunities have been for them, especially given how rare such opportunities were during the worst of the pandemic years.
Another highlight, of course, was convening with the Boston legal community at our annual events and honoring the selfless work of many within that community, including Bennie and Flash Wiley at the Adams Benefit; Mayor Michelle Wu, Citizens for Juvenile Justice, and Fidelity Investments at the Beacon Awards; and Ronaldo Rauseo-Ricupero, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, and the many attorneys who volunteered to aid in the migrant crisis on Martha’s Vineyard last fall at Law Day, where Governor Maura Healey addressed the crowd at our first in-person edition of the event in four years.
I am also proud of our active policy work throughout the year as we quickly and effectively responded to legislation both locally and nationally and provided our membership with guidance and insight into the changing legal landscape, including quickly organizing programming in response to the Dobbs decision and its effects on medical providers and in higher education. The work of our volunteers and leaders to mobilize resources against threats to civil rights and civil liberties remains an essential part of the BBA’s mission.
I look back at the past year with great pride, knowing we were able to move past the disruptions of years past and re-energize our membership and the legal community. I also look ahead at the year to come, under the expert leadership of Hannah Kilson, with great excitement as the BBA continues to build on the momentum we’ve built this past year. I thank our members, volunteers, Council and fellow Officers, and BBA staff for allowing me the chance to lead this Association, and working so diligently to facilitate access to justice, foster a diverse and inclusive profession, and serve the community at large.
One of the pillars of the Boston Bar Foundation is connection. We rely on our capacity to not only connect members of the community with the legal services they need, but to connect with that legal community to promote justice and innovation by providing resources for those legal services.
Being able to meet again face-to-face was very impactful for the BBF, which relies on such gatherings to ensure we can make the greatest possible impact while maximizing our fundraising ability. The John & Abigail Adams Benefit once again saw near-record attendance, with nearly 1,000 attendees in its second in-person iteration following pandemic-era disruptions—allowing us to strengthen our relationship with the Boston legal community while also raising nearly $1 million to help support our grantee partners and fund BBF programming and initiatives.
As one of the night’s Public Service Award honorees, Bennie Wiley, said that night,
To be fulfilled and to help build community, you need to be part of something larger than yourself.
Events like the Adams Benefit, and the funds it helps raise, allow the BBF to continue its work to do just that.
The ability to meet in-person also allowed us to add to our portfolio of offerings that focuses on helping younger attorneys find a place within the profession. We believe in fostering a diverse legal community representative of our city and our clients, and events such as our inaugural DEI Career Fair allowed non-traditional hiring parties to identify a diverse pool of future attorneys. This mutually beneficial event not only put smaller and mid-sized law firms on students’ radars, but connected those firms with students who otherwise may not be on theirs. In addition to the Career Fair, our DEI Summer Fellowship program continues to grow, reaching a new high of 11 Fellowships this summer, helping ensure that even more law students from all backgrounds can gain meaningful experience in public interest law.
And, of course, being able to gather together has had downstream positive effects for the BBF. Our renewed capability to host these fundraising events has allowed us to increase and improve our granting process, culminating in $1,375,000 in legal services funding for 2023-2024—the BBF’s highest total in more than 15 years—distributed to 39 legal services organizations—ten more than our last grant cycle.
This increased pool of funding not only allows us to reach a greater number of in-need members of the community, but to do so in more creative and long-lasting ways so that we are not just supporting, but truly partnering with, our grantee organizations on their vital work.
As we plan for the next program year, I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do with these new opportunities and partnerships with new legal services organizations. The BBF remains committed to being not just part of the legal community, but a vital and active part of the city of Boston as a whole, working to bring our constituents together to facilitate access to legal counsel in underserved communities and support the public service projects and pro bono work of all Boston Bar members.
Celebrating the Return of Law Day
Nearly 800 guests gathered at the 2023 Law Day Celebration to welcome keynote speaker Governor Maura Healey and honor Ronaldo Rauseo-Ricupero of Nixon Peabody LLC, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, and the attorneys who volunteered to assist the Martha’s Vineyard migrants – marking a triumphant return of the signature event and symbolizing the strength of our legal community.
“The BBA at its essence embodies so much of what is special about Massachusetts. It’s a combination of intellectual firepower, moral conviction, integrity, cultural diversity, and also an unrelenting work ethic. It’s a willingness to collegially and collaboratively tackle tough problems by coming together and centering always the most vulnerable in our vision and in our work.”
– Governor Maura Healey
Beacon Awards Honor Leaders in Advancing DEI in the Profession & Community
Lawyers, advocates, and business leaders from across the city joined together at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter to celebrate the 2023 recipients of the Beacon Awards for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The event recognized Mayor Michelle Wu, Citizens for Juvenile Justice, and the legal department of Fidelity Investments, for their work in advancing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community and legal profession.
“We’re working to deliver on the promise of justice for all our residents across every neighborhood. From providing pro bono services to ensuring that our communities are reflected in the workforce and in the legal field, I want to thank all of you for doing this important work and planning for the next generation.”
– Mayor Michelle Wu
Proceeds from the Beacon Awards support the diversity, equity and inclusion programs and initiatives of the BBA, including our partnerships with the affinity bars, our growing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship program, and our newly launched DEI Career Fair.
An Evening of Inspiration at the BBF Adams Benefit
Nearly 1,000 guests gathered to honor Bennie and Flash Wiley at the Boston Bar Foundation’s Adams Benefit at the MFA, celebrating their many years of leadership, service and philanthropy, as well as the significant impact they have had on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession.
“Through their personal and professional endeavors, they have touched countless lives throughout the Commonwealth and the country—mine included. I imagine you’d be hard pressed to find someone in this room who hasn’t benefitted from the tremendous work the Wileys have done in this city over the last 50 years.”
-BBF President Stephen Hall
Proceeds raised by the 2023 Adams Benefit support the work of the Boston Bar Foundation.
As part of this year’s event, the BBF also made a contribution to the Fletcher “Flash” Wiley MBLA Legacy Scholarship Award.
The Haskell Cohn Award: Highlighting Judicial Excellence
On Thursday, June 29, the BBA honored Chief Justice Roberto Ronquillo, Jr. with the Haskell Cohn Award for Judicial Excellence in recognition of his work at the Boston Municipal Court, including his time with the specialty courts, where he made a positive impact on not just litigants, but the justice system as a whole.
“The compassion that Chief Justice Ronquillo brings to some of the toughest and most heart-wrenching cases to come before a courtroom is an inspiration to all of us who advocate for fair and equal access to justice.”
– BBA President Chinh Pham
In-Person Council, Committee Meetings & Programs Feature Lively Discussions
BBA Council, Section Steering Committee meetings and programs returned to 16 Beacon Street this year, fostering in-person dialogue and collaboration and welcoming several distinguished guests and speakers.
BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program Welcomes Class of 30 with Enhanced Curriculum and Opportunities
Now in its 20th year, the BBA Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) provides intensive leadership and professional development training to a select group of new lawyers. This year’s class of 30 new lawyers attended major BBA events, and participated in monthly training sessions, discussions and debriefing sessions. Modules covered topics such as Effective Leadership, The Landscape of Legal Need in Greater Boston, and The Impact of Pro Bono and Community Service. They also met with BBA Council members, connecting directly with leadership as they continue to build their networks and careers in the legal community.
Connecting Law Students with Local Firms at Inaugural BBA Career Fair
More than 100 students from the BBA’s five partner law schools came together with local small and mid-size firms on October 20 for the first ever BBA Career Fair. Continuing the BBA’s work to build connections in the legal community and foster a more diverse and inclusive profession, the event was held in-person at District Hall and featured an evening of relationship-building between firms and a talented and diverse gathering of future attorneys.
Particularly in our efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s helpful to start getting to know people and build those connections even earlier in their careers.Christine Netski, former BBA President, Sugarman Rogers
The event was partially funded by the BBF’s Beacon Fund, which provides support for educational, outreach, mentoring, and networking programs of the Boston Bar Association that help advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession.
Thank you to the participating firms
- Burns & Levinson LLP
- Casner & Edwards, LLP
- Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch and Ford
- Hemenway & Barnes
- Krokidas & Bluestein LLP
- McLane Middleton, Professional Association
- Nolan Sheehan Patten LLP
- Peabody & Arnold LLP
- Pierce Atwood LLP
- Prince Lobel Tye, LLP
- Strang, Scott & Giroux, LLP
- Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.
- Todd and Weld
Partnering with Law Schools and Supporting Future Lawyers
In partnership with all five Boston area law schools, the BBA provided career advancement programming and networking opportunities to more than 5,000 law student members this year.
The Bar Coaching Program assisted more than 100 bar applicants this year, providing coaching, guidance and strategies for the exam.
The BBA’s Law Student Forum hosted study sessions at the BBA and on law school campuses, helping prepare students for the bar exam.
The annual Welcome Reception, Ice Breaker Bash, and mixers gave students the opportunity to meet and connect with peers and more experienced attorneys.
President Chinh Pham and other BBA leaders were on hand to speak at the swearing-in ceremonies for new lawyers in November and June.
BBA DEI Summer Fellowship Program Grows, Connecting More Law Students with Paid Internships
Eleven local law students were hired for paid summer internship opportunities in public interest settings, gaining practical experience in developing legal research and writing skills, while expanding their professional networks, connecting with mentors and participating in career development programming at the BBA. The BBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Summer Fellowship Program, which is funded through law firm sponsorships and the Boston Bar Foundation’s Beacon Fund, aims to ensure that law students from all backgrounds can gain meaningful experience in legal offices.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve been surprised by just how kind and invested in my success and professional growth the entire staff is.Grant Ford, Boston College Law School, Fellow at Massachusetts Department of Revenue
I really believe in paying it forward, and it’s been great to get these interns substantive law experience and provide the kind of mentorship that proved so helpful for me when I was just starting out in my career.Samantha Fuchs, Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of Boston Law Department
Convenient Connections: Webinars, CLE’s and On-Site Meetings
Recognizing both the necessity of face-to-face collaboration and the convenience of on-demand programming, the BBA offered hundreds of in-person meetings and virtual webinars covering dozens of practice areas and disciplines. Continuing Legal Education programs featured expert speakers and panelists on topics including: the Annual Massachusetts Tax Update; Business Litigation Session Year in Review; Cutting Edge Issues in Criminal Law; and more.
Women of Color Leadership Program
The BBA launched the Women of Color Leadership Forum this year, in a pilot program providing career and leadership development support through educational programming and networking opportunities. Through this Forum, the BBA strives to provide a place to come together to share experiences, empower our members and provide support for those who seek a place in leadership in the legal profession.
Through speed-networking events matching experienced attorneys with their younger counterparts, a panel discussion on “Paths to the Judiciary,” substantive presentations, roundtable discussions and social events, the Forum is a vibrant and active group that helps further the BBA mission of creating a more inclusive legal community.
Advancing a More Diverse Judiciary
President Chinh Pham submitted a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, in response to a proposal to expand the Probate and Family Court bench, advocating in favor of addressing the lack of diversity among Probate and Family Court judges and within the judiciary as a whole. In that letter, President Pham wrote, “The Boston Bar Association … urges all stakeholders in the appointment process to seize this moment to build upon and accelerate past efforts toward diversifying the judiciary.”
Working with our affinity bar partners, the BBA hosted a webinar featuring members of the Massachusetts judiciary and JNC Chair Abim Thomas, aiming to demystify the judicial application process. The program encouraged members of groups historically underrepresented in the judiciary to learn more about applying to, and life on, the bench.
Supporting Affinity Bar Associations
The BBA worked closely with seven local affinity bar association partners to host programs and events for our members, and supported these organizations with meeting space, administrative assistance and marketing support.
Take the first step. Fill out your applications. Especially lawyers from groups underrepresented on the courts of the Commonwealth. Aspire to the bench. Reach out to a judge you know or one you respect to talk about the job and to get advice. We will answer your questions.Hon. Deb Squires-Lee, Take A Small Step – Aspire to the Bench – Begin Your Judicial Application, Boston Bar Journal, Summer 2023 Vol. 67 #3
The Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court have created an opportunity for the Massachusetts judicial system and bar to practice inclusiveness and respect with just a few words.Joseph Stanton (he/him) and Yoshiko Taylor (they/them), Utilizing and Normalizing Personal Pronouns in Legal Filings, Proceedings, and Communications, Boston Bar Journal, Spring 2023 Vol. 67 #2
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the BBA reaffirmed our commitment to serve as an educational resource in the legal community and convened a task force of experts that developed our Statement of Principles on Reproductive Rights. In the past year, the BBA has hosted several programs discussing Dobbs’ impact on health law, colleges and universities, and criminal law, in addition to publishing an article in the Boston Bar Journal on the post-Roe legal landscape.
“Reproductive justice is fundamental to the dignity, equality, health, and well-being of every person. There cannot be full equality under the law without the presumption of reproductive autonomy, and we are deeply troubled by the potential impact of this decision on the rights of women and pregnant people across the country.”
2022-2023 Policy Statements
The BBA supports race-conscious admissions policies in both secondary and post-secondary education, a stance that is in keeping with our mission to “foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive professional community,” and strongly opposes this summer’s Supreme Court ruling that effectively ends their use. In September, we joined an amicus brief filed by Cooley LLP on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League supporting the Boston Public Schools race-conscious admissions program during the pandemic.
“This ruling only deepens our resolve to work toward a more inclusive legal community. That goal may have become more difficult to achieve in the wake of today’s ruling, but we will work with our partner law schools and our College & University Law section to help ensure that this goal can be achieved in this new environment.” – BBA President Chinh Pham
2022-2023 Policy Statements
303 Creative v. Elenis
The BBA is deeply concerned by the June 2023 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, which approves outright discrimination against LGBTQIA+ couples. The BBA has long supported the expansion of civil rights and protections for the LGBTQIA+ community. In 1989, we signed onto the first statewide anti-discrimination law in Massachusetts and were one of the first bar associations in the nation to file an amicus brief supporting equal marriage rights in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, in which Massachusetts became the first state to find that same-sex couples had a right to marry.
The BBA has stood against discrimination and advocated for LGBTQIA+ rights, and, in the face of this ruling, we affirm our commitment to supporting the rights and dignity of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“We support the LGBTQIA+ community. The BBA is deeply troubled by this ruling, which contributes to growing backlash against LGBTQIA+ individuals and their rights nationwide.” – BBA President Chinh Pham
2022-2023 Policy Statements
In April, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas enjoined the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, which has been used safely in the United States for decades—another step toward rolling back access to abortion nationwide.
As we stated at the time, the district court’s decision to enjoin the FDA’s longstanding approval of mifepristone risks restricting and creating uncertainty regarding the availability of, and access to, a safe medication that allows people to obtain abortions. This decision also threatens to interfere with the ability of health care professionals to provide safe and scientifically proven treatments that they determine to be medically appropriate for their patients.
2022-2023 Policy Statements
Home Equity Theft
The BBA and many others have been advocating for years that no homeowner should be stripped of all equity in their property over debts of any lesser amount. We applaud and support the Supreme Court decision in Tyler v. Hennepin County, Minnesota finding that home-equity theft violates the Takings Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, confirming the BBA’s long-held position.
2022-2023 Policy Statements
The BBA is deeply troubled by the enactment of the “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” rule which bans individuals who do not meet specific criteria from seeking asylum at the U.S. Southern Border. This Biden Administration rule went into effect at midnight on May 11, 2023, with the expiration of Title 42 – the COVID-19 public health measure allowing the government to halt entry of migrants at the Southern border since March 2020. The BBA submitted comments in opposition to the new rule when it was proposed, as it contravenes established law, which dictates that each and every individual entering the U.S. should have meaningful access to asylum and protection against persecution whether or not at a designated port of arrival. The rule has faced challenges in the courts, and the BBA will continue to follow this issue and speak out against policies that undermine our principles and access to justice for all.
2022-2023 Policy Statements
Automatic Sealing of Criminal Records
The BBA hailed the May decision by the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) adopting the BBA’s position that state law mandates automatic sealing of criminal records for charges if a defendant is found not guilty, a grand jury declines to indict, or a judge finds no probable cause. The BBA submitted an amicus letter in the case, Commonwealth v. J.F., making that argument. In the letter, drafted by Ryan Rosenblatt of Sullivan & Worcester LLP, the BBA noted that individuals with criminal charges “often face heightened barriers to adequate housing, employment, and other benefits that would enable them to participate fully in society. … Sealing is a central means for alleviating the adverse consequences that former defendants face.”
2022-2023 Policy Statements
Juvenile Life Without Parole
In January, the BBA joined an amicus brief in Commonwealth v. Mattis in support of extending the Diatchenko ruling, that life-without-parole sentences are unconstitutional for juveniles, to include 18-to-20-year-olds. This brief builds on our history of supporting juvenile-justice reform, including briefs filed in Lugo, which argued for individualized hearings before imposing life without parole on a juvenile, and Lutskov, which argued that imposing adult mandatory-minimum sentences on juveniles is unconstitutional.
The Boston Bar Foundation
The Boston Bar Foundation announced $1,375,000 in grants to 38 Local Organizations in the year ahead – it’s highest grant total in 16 years, and an overall increase in the number of recipients. These organizations serve the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our community, including domestic violence survivors, immigrants, prisoners, workers, veterans, children and families.
BBF grantee partners provide life-changing legal aid to historically marginalized members of the Commonwealth, including immigrants, LGBTQ+ communities, prisoners, violence survivors, and communities of color. We look forward to continuing to support our long-standing partners, but also to expanding our support into new communities and to new organizations in the year ahead.Steve Hall, President, Boston Bar Foundation
In addition to providing critical funding to legal services organizations, the Boston Bar Foundation supported the work and mission of the BBA with funding for public service programming, pro bono trainings and direct client service workshops, the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, the Career Fair, Bar Exam Coaching and more.
Partnerships that Increase our Impact
The BBA was proud to welcome individuals and families from our community who needed assistance from lawyers to overcome barriers to citizenship. Working with BBF grantee Project Citizenship, which provided volunteers, training, and real-time mentoring, BBA volunteers helped applicants complete their naturalization applications.
Members of our community navigating the immigration process were able to find help at regular workshops hosted by the BBA in partnership with BBF grantee the Rian Immigrant Center. Each month, volunteers staffed the workshops to provide assistance with basic immigration forms, citizenship applications, applications for temporary protected status, green card renewals and work permit renewals.
In-person and online trainings held in conjunction with BBF grantee partners at Veteran’s Legal Services, KIND, Volunteer Lawyers Project, the Rian Immigrant Center, and Project Citizenship equipped hundreds of volunteers to assist in pro bono matters and take cases in a variety of areas.
Part of the BBA’s mission is “to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession.”
Working with the SJC Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being, we encouraged members to take part in a survey to better understand the current climate around lawyer well-being and hosted our first Community Connections breakfast. The event featured insights from volunteer leaders on how they built their legal communities, the impact those connections have had on their careers as they navigate the ups-and-downs in a challenging profession, and steps everyone can take to create a support system in the Greater Boston Legal Community.
The Winter 2022-23 Edition of the BBJ featured a series focused on Lawyer Well-Being, including articles focused on law students, the judiciary, and a look ahead at changes within the legal profession. We also hosted several programs addressing various aspects of mental well-being, including those focused on chronic stress and imposter syndrome.
Only by understanding what we as a legal community are doing well, and where we continue to fall short, can we begin the necessary work to make sure lawyers across the Commonwealth are receiving the care and resources they need to maintain a healthy and productive work-life balance and, in turn, best serve their clients. We look forward to collaborating with the Committee to develop tangible solutions to ensure those responsible for the administration of justice know they are supported, and their voices heard.BBA President Chinh Pham
Special Thanks to our 2022-2023 Leadership Team: