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Pro Bono & Community Service

Founded by Louis D. Brandeis, whose commitment to social justice and progressive social causes remains legendary, Nutter has a 135 year tradition of active participation in pro bono representation and community service. Today, Nutter is proud to be a founding member and challenge participant in the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project. Law firms that become Signatories to the Challenge acknowledge their institutional, firm-wide commitment to provide pro bono legal services to low income and disadvantaged individuals and families and non-profit groups. Developed by law firm leaders and corporate general counsel, the Challenge articulates a single, unitary pro bono standard for the world’s largest law firms. Each year Nutter is required to certify that it has met the Challenge target of spending 3 percent of the firm’s paying client billable hours on pro bono work.

Outside of the Challenge pledge, Nutter attorneys also engage in a wide variety of civic, charitable, educational, social, and political efforts in the communities in which they live and work. They hold leadership roles in scores of non-profit organizations both locally and across the United States.

For more information about Nutter’s pro bono and community service activities, please contact Kenneth Berman, the firm’s partner for pro bono matters.

Pro Bono Representation
Nutter has in place a wide variety of pro bono programs focused on direct provision of legal services:

Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Project
Persons seeking unemployment compensation have their administrative claims heard at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Division of Unemployment Assistance. Each year Nutter’s summer associates, supervised by junior associates, represent clients in cases before a DUA hearing officer. The program continues in the fall for first year litigation associates.

Political Asylum/Immigration (PAIR) Project
Each year people flee their homeland following persecution for their political beliefs. Through the PAIR Project, Nutter attorneys prepare a refugee’s asylum application, represent clients before the Asylum Office and Immigration Court, and prepare follow up applications to bring the petitioner’s families to the United States. Nutter has represented clients from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda.

Housing Court Lawyer for the Day/Eviction Defense Project
Boston area residential landlord-tenant disputes are heard at the Boston Housing Court. Nutter participates in programs in which volunteer lawyers provide individualized advice and counseling to pro se landlords and tenants in eviction cases. The advice is offered during the Thursday “summary process trial day” (Lawyer for the Day), or for a full case representation (Eviction Defense Project).

Women’s Bar Foundation Family Law Project for Battered Women
The Women’s Bar Foundation Family Law Project for Battered Women provides pro bono legal assistance to indigent and low-income victims of domestic abuse through referrals to volunteer attorneys. Working closely with the Project, Nutter attorneys represent clients in a variety of forums to assist them through difficult times.

Medical-Legal Partnership | Boston
MLP | Boston promotes the health and well-being of vulnerable people by supporting healthcare teams in detecting and addressing health-harming legal problems. Nutter attorneys serve on a panel of private lawyers who provide substantial pro bono assistance to low-income, medically vulnerable patients treated at Boston Children's Hospital, Boston Medical Center, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Nutter pro bono contributions have spanned housing conditions, public benefits, and immigration cases, among others.

New England Innocence Project (NEIP)
The New England Innocence Project is a charitable organization established to assist inmates who claim they have been wrongfully convicted of crimes. NEIP receives applications from inmates and/or their families and refers cases to Nutter attorneys to pursue post-conviction relief through DNA testing.

Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program
The Veterans Consortium consists of four veterans service organizations - The American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, the National Veterans Legal Services Program, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America. The Consortium recruits volunteer attorneys to represent VA claimants before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington, D.C. Cases run the spectrum from World War II veterans seeking supplemental retirement income, to Vietnam veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress, to Gulf War veterans with undiagnosed disorders. Nutter attorneys have answered the call to assist those who fought for America.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The VITA Program offers free tax help to low-income persons (those whose incomes are $36,000 or less in 2005). Nutter’s tax and business attorneys help clients prepare basic tax returns at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Project
SSI is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes) to help aged, blind and disabled people who have little or no income to provide for basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. Nutter attorneys represent clients in an administrative process called an Informal Conference or a full hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA)
VLA is a nonprofit organization established to meet the legal needs of the state's artistic community. VLA provides a legal referral program, seminars and workshops to artists and arts organizations from all creative disciplines including, visual arts, music, literary arts, performing arts, and film and video. Nutter’s intellectual property attorneys have represented local members of the arts community to aid them in protecting their work.

Senior Partners for Justice
Senior members of the bar have great wisdom to share with the community. Senior Partners for Justice, a program founded by retired Judge Edward Ginsburg of the Middlesex Family and Probate Court, is designed to recruit senior lawyers to donate their time to represent clients with family law cases. Nutter attorneys have taken cases as part of Senior Partners for Justice.

Other Pro Bono Projects
Over the years, Nutter has been involved in a myriad of other pro bono initiatives listed below, along with a host of individual matters on a variety of topics. Just some of the groups with whom we have worked are:
ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts; Citizens for Affordable Housing in Newton Development Organization; Catholic Charities; Children's Law Center of Massachusetts; Community Legal Services and Counseling Center; Crime Victim Advocacy & Research Group; Elder Law Project; Family Advocacy Program at Boston Medical Center; Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders; Gerontology Institute; UMass Boston; Greater Boston Legal Services; Lawyers Clearinghouse on Affordable Housing and Homelessness; Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law; Legal Advocacy & Resource Center; Legal Advocacy for Battered Women; Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice; Massachusetts Advocacy Resource Center; Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services; MA Environmental Justice Network; Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee; Respond, Inc.; Shelter Legal Services Foundation; Tri-City Community Action Program; U.S. District Court; and Women's Bar Association.

Community Service
Nutter attorneys and staff contribute their time and expertise to a wide range of civic and community organizations:

Charitable Boards
We are proud to be affiliated with organizations that make a positive difference in the places that our clients and employees live. All our attorneys are dedicated to leadership positions within national nonprofit organizations, schools and legal service organizations, and also serve as trustees and within alumni associations for schools across New England.

Bar Association Leadership
We have a long history of leadership within bar associations on the national, state and city level. In addition to various section and committee chairmanships, we have a strong presence within the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates, Coalition for Justice Initiatives and Civil Justice Institute. We also tout two former presidents of the Boston Bar Association and the founder of its Summer Jobs Program.

Political Service
We believe in fulfilling our civic duty and helping to shape the future of local communities in which we live and practice. Several attorneys are representatives and board members of town councils, while others champion the historical preservation of Massachusetts by actively participating in preservation trusts. Founders and leaders of hometown youth athletic organizations are just as likely to be on the local Charter Review Committee, School Committee or serving as the secretary of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Business Leagues
We encourage opportunities for personal and professional growth within businesses and trade organizations, such as the Boston Chamber of Commerce, where our attorneys serve as trustees and on the board of directors.

Community Outreach
Nutter attorneys are actively involved in organizations that give back to the local communities in which we practice:

The Appleseed Big Brothers Big Sisters program was developed to provide much needed mentor support to local children who are in the Suffolk Juvenile Court system. The project is a joint venture of the Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Big Brothers of Massachusetts Bay, Suffolk County Juvenile Court, and the Mass Mentoring Partnership. It is designed with the thoughtful input of the judges and probation staff of the Juvenile Court as well as legal professionals, including Nutter attorneys in leadership positions on the board of directors of both Appleseed and Big Brothers. Both attorneys and staff now participate as Big Brothers or Big Sisters. www.bbbsmb.org  

The Boston Bar Foundation supports the pro bono and public service projects of the bar and funds legal services organizations that provide access to justice for all. Their mission is to engage lawyers in projects that improve people's lives and strengthen neighborhoods. The Society of Fellows is a group of attorneys who have pledged permanent gifts to the Foundation, providing a stable foundation of support for their work helping thousands of individuals and families through. Attesting to its strong commitment to the community, Nutter has among the highest number of members in the Society of Fellow of the top Boston law firms. www.bostonbarfoundation.org

The Mock Trial Program is an eleven week after school experiential learning program created by Discovering Justice and run in partnership with Citizen Schools. Working with volunteer attorneys, middle school students from schools in Boston and Chelsea tackle age-appropriate legal problems, engage in legal analysis, and ultimately try a case in a real courtroom before an actual judge and a jury made up of community members. For more information about both organizations, visit their websites: www.discoveringjustice.org and www.citizenschools.org.

The Walk to the Hill for Legal Aid is an annual event that brings several hundred private attorneys to the Massachusetts State House to talk to their legislators about the importance of maintaining funding for civil legal aid programs. www.equaljusticecoalition.org