News, Events & Publications

License Legislation Lets Lawbreakers Lead Lives

May 18, 2016 – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently signed a law that ends automatic license suspensions for people convicted of most drugs crimes, including possession and sale of drugs.  Previously, anyone with a drug conviction automatically had their driver’s license suspended and were required to pay a fine to have it reinstated.

This law will end one barrier for former prisoners to reintegrate into society, hopefully allowing individuals more flexibility getting to and from a job and supporting their families.

Those navigating post-conviction life may need other legal support. The Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service can connect people with attorneys in several practice areas, including:

  • CORI/Record Sealing;
  • Parole Hearings;
  • RMV/License Reinstatement Hearings;
  • and Criminal Appeals.

To connect with us, please call 617-742-0625, or receive a referral by email by submitting an online request.

 

BBA LRS supports 2016 Victim Rights Conference

May 9, 2016 – Recently, Boston Bar Association staff attended the 2016 Victim Rights Conference hosted by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA).  This annual conference brings together individuals and agencies that promote victim rights and services.

As an exhibitor at the conference, the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (BBA LRS) spread the word about how individuals can receive a referral to an attorney.

The BBA LRS has been a trusted public service for over 60 years and makes unbiased referrals to qualified attorneys throughout Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts.  To see a list of the practice areas that we cover, please visit our Areas of Law page.

Individuals may contact us by phone at 617-742-0625, or through our online request form to receive a referral or to get more information about our services.

What to Know when DCF Gets Involved With Your Family

April 28, 2016 – The Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) was created to help protect children across the state of Massachusetts. Many people such as teachers, daycare workers, doctors, nurses, and social workers are required by law to report to DCF any time they think a child is experiencing abuse or neglect. Reports from other people may be anonymous.  These reports may lead to an investigation of parents and caregivers.

If DCF begins an investigation (referred to as a 51A Investigation), it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to remove a child from your custody. If DCF gets involved:

  • Don’t sign anything you don’t understand;
  • Only sign completed forms, and ask for copies;
  • Find out the specific charges against you;
  • Read over everything carefully;
  • Consult an attorney before making any decision ;
  • Take notes of anything the Social Worker says; and
  • Remember, you have the right to an interpreter if needed.

For more information about your rights during an investigation consult the Mass Legal Help page on DCF Investigations:  http://www.masslegalhelp.org/children-and-families/dss

If you would like to speak to a lawyer, about DCF, child custody issues, and other family matters, please call us today at 617-742-0625 or submit an online request.  We make referrals to attorneys who practice in a nearly 300 areas of law.

Autism Awareness April

April 19, 2016 – In April, we recognize Autism Awareness Month to support all people living with autism. For individuals with autism and their families, legal issues can often arise. Most notably, when an individual with disabilities turns 22, they are no longer eligible for special education programs, and are often limited in their access to government-funded programs. During that transition, a lawyer can be a great asset. Parents may need to create a specialized trust, fight against discrimination, or obtain guardianship of their child.

If you or somebody you know is struggling with legal matters related to someone living with a disability, the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service may be able to help you find a lawyer familiar with the following:

  • Disability Benefits,
  • Guardianship,
  • Insurance,
  • Medicaid,
  • Special Education,
  • Special Needs Trusts; and more.

To connect with us, you may speak directly with the intake staff by calling 617-742-0625, or you can receive a referral by email by submitting an online request.

For more information about Autism Awareness Month please visit the Autism Society’s website.

Know Your Rights: Employment Discrimination

April 11, 2016 – Do you feel as though you are being discriminated at your work place? All people in Massachusetts are protected against unlawful discrimination by federal and state laws, so you may have rights.

If you think you are being mistreated at your job due to certain a certain demographic status or group membership, it’s best to consult with a lawyer. Employers cannot discriminate against employees for any of the following reasons:

  • Age;
  • Disability;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Race;
  • Religion;
  • Retaliation;
  • Sex/Gender Identification;
  • Sexual Orientation;
  • And More.

The Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service can help connect you with a lawyer for a consultation. We refer callers to experienced employment lawyers for a variety of matters.  When receiving a qualified referral through our service, the initial 30 minute consultation with the lawyer will not cost you more than $25.  To connect with us, you make speak directly with the intake staff by calling 617-742-0625, or receive a referral by email by submitting an online request.

Taxation without Penalization: 2016 Tax Amnesty

March 29, 2016 – In Massachusetts from April 1st through May 31st, the MA Tax Amnesty program will be in place that allows people to file taxes without penalties. Some people avoid filing taxes if they have filed incorrectly in the past, in an attempt to avoid trouble and penalties. During this time, with some exceptions, people will only have to pay back their taxes and interest that is owed. This amnesty period applies to people who:

  • Have not registered with the Department of Revenue;
  • Have not filed a tax return; or
  • Have not reported the full amount of taxes owed on a previous return.

Individuals may want to take advantage of the amnesty period to avoid further consequences and penalties. For more information, please visit http://www.mass.gov/dor/breaking-news/amnesty/tax-amnesty-info.html

If you need to consult with or hire an experienced Massachusetts Tax lawyer, please contact us today at 617-742-0625 or online here.

When Do I Have the Right to Public Defender?

March 17, 2016 – In some criminal cases a court-appointed lawyer (public defender) is provided by the state (Committee for Public Counsel Services or CPCS) to help defend you against your charges.  The laws about when you are granted a public defender are based on the U.S. Constitution, and some laws have been amended by Supreme Court cases.  Public defenders are paid for by the state, but in order to be appointed one, you must meet the following three criteria:

  1. Be charged with a criminal offense;
  2. Face jail time or probation as a result of charges; and
  3. Demonstrate financial need.

If you do not meet these three requirements you will not be appointed a defense attorney from the court. In that case you may want to pay to hire or consult with a private attorney.  Our attorneys specialize in many different types of criminal law, including:

  • OUI
  • Traffic Violations
  • Record Sealing
  • Misdemeanors
  • District Court Cases
  • Superior Court Cases

If you would like to speak to a lawyer about a criminal case please call us today at 617-742-0625 or submit an online request.

Will I Trust the Right Lawyer with my Estate?

March 8, 2016 – Writing a will and estate plan is a daunting task, which many people put off for as long as possible. However, preparing these documents are a crucial step in ensuring that your family and loved ones receive everything you want them to have, and your wishes about your property and belongings are carried out. In addition, estate planning documents can help avoid costly legal battles and disagreements among your family.

You may have seen do-it-yourself wills and estate plans online, but it’s important that you speak with a licensed attorney who is familiar with the specific Massachusetts Laws. Even a small mistake could cause huge problems later on.  A trusts & estates lawyer can help you with:

  • Creating or updating a will;
  • Creating a trust;
  • Drafting Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy forms;
  • Estate Administration; and
  • Probate litigation.

The Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service intake staff can refer you to an experienced attorney that specializes in probate and estate law. Please call us today at 617-742-0625 or fill out an online request form.  We can refer to attorneys with a variety of payment options to fit your budget.

A Taxing Time

With Tax season fast approaching, many people are left wondering what their rights are. With many different ways to file taxes, occasionally legal situations can arise.  Some tax problems that can result in legal issues are:

  • Math miscalculations;
  • Choosing the wrong filing status;
  • Mislabeling dependents; or
  • Misusing tax deductions.

In order to prevent these problems, make sure to keep itemized records and file your taxes on time. It’s also helpful to use an online resource instead of paper. Make sure to look over everything twice before submitting your taxes, and ask the advice of a tax professional if needed.

What if back-taxes are owed to the Internal Revenue Service or the Massachusetts Department of Revenue?  An experienced tax attorney can help you understand your legal options with regards to tax debt.  Some issues that a lawyer can help you with are:

  • Tax Penalties;
  • Wage Garnishment; or
  • Tax Liens.

If you have any legal problems during this tax season, the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service is here to help. We have experienced tax attorneys working with people to help resolve their tax problems.

If you need help finding and hiring a MA tax attorney, please call us today at 617-742-0625 or fill out an online request form.

Making the Case for Expanding Housing Court: Opinion Piece From The Boston Globe

If you were facing legal case related to housing – such as eviction, dangerous housing conditions, and code violations – most Massachusetts residents would seek resolution in Housing Court. But did you know that only 69 percent of Massachusetts residents have access to this court?

In an Opinion piece for the Boston Globe, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) Chief Justice Ralph Gants stated five reasons why Massachusetts should expand the Housing Court:

  • Housing court judges devote all their time to resolving housing disputes, and they are experts in federal, state, and local housing law. Few judges in district court and Boston Municipal Court can claim this expertise; the bulk of cases they hear are criminal, domestic violence, and civil cases that have nothing to do with housing law.
  • Only housing courts have housing specialists who are available to mediate eviction cases. These specialists mediate more than half of the 42,488 cases filed in housing court. And since more than 90 percent of tenants and approximately 40 percent of landlords do not have a lawyer, these mediators are essential players in reaching an agreed upon settlement.
  • Housing courts save vulnerable people from homelessness, and also save the taxpayers millions of dollars by avoiding the need for emergency shelter. The Tenancy Preservation Program, available only in housing court, helps families and individuals struggling with substance abuse, mental health challenges, and dementia to remain in their home and avoid homelessness.
  • Because so many litigants have no attorney, the housing court has hosted innovative pro bono programs that are rarely available in the district court. Legal services organizations and bar associations sponsor Lawyer for the Day programs on “eviction day” in many housing courts, where attorneys help unrepresented tenants and landlords navigate the court system at no cost.
  • Only housing courts regularly hold special sessions to hear cases that are brought to enforce building, housing, fire, and health codes, and to respond to health and safety emergencies.

Governor Baker has recognized the need for a statewide housing court and has included in his budget $1 million and the legislative authority to make it happen.  It is our hope that this is the year that every resident of this Commonwealth gains access to a housing court.  To read the full article, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a lawyer, about housing issues, or any other legal matter, please call us today at 617-742-0625 or submit an online request.  We make referrals to attorneys who practice in a nearly 300 areas of law.