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2021 Pro Bono Spotlight

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Nutter Attorneys Advise Business Owners

BizGrow, a program of Lawyers for Civil Rights, held its annual conference in July 2021. This conference included legal clinics where entrepreneurs and small business owners consulted with attorneys on basic legal issues like entity formation and contracts. A team of volunteers from Nutter’s Corporate and Transaction Department participated in the BizGrow legal clinics, including Will Bernat, Kelly Dutremble, Josh French, Jeremy Halpern, Portia Keady, Mary Martin, Ellie Myers, and AJ Santaniello.

Nutter Represents Minor From El Salvador Seeking Asylum

Nutter, in association with Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), represents a client as well as his three siblings, all of whom fled persecution in their native country of El Salvador, in various immigration proceedings. Over the course of six years, the client has progressed from detention to full-time lawful employment with a leading financial services institution, in part due to Nutter’s assistance.  

Nutter has made numerous appearances before the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, the Boston Immigration Court, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). In 2019, the Nutter team of John Loughnane, Michael Leard, and Ritika Bhakhri successfully obtained a judgment of dependency under G.L. c. 119, § 39M, pursuant to which the Probate and Family Court ruled that the client was an abandoned child reliant on the court for his protection, well-being, and care. The Probate Court also ruled that it was not in the client’s best interests to be returned to El Salvador. In early 2020, the Nutter team successfully petitioned USCIS to designate the client as a Special Immigrant Juvenile, a necessary step in his path to lawful permanent residence.

In addition to those mentioned above, Gabriel Rossman, Katelyn Allen, and Tim Rennie contributed.

Nutter Assists Clients Facing Housing Insecurity Amid COVID-19

Nutter joined the COVID-19 Eviction Legal Help (CELH) Pro Bono Project to assist persons with basic legal representation in residential housing evictions pending in the Housing Court. The firm partnered with South Coastal Counties Legal Services, Inc. (SCCLS), a nonprofit corporation that provides free civil legal services to low-income families, elders, victims of crime, and people with disabilities in Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, and Plymouth Counties.

Over the past year, Nutter has handled 13 (and counting) individual cases on behalf of SCCLS. David Ferrera coordinated a team that included Sarah Kelly, John Loughnane, Ashley Paquin, Gabriel Rossman, and Mariel Smith, who helped tenants obtain rental financial assistance, assisted with early mediations and negotiated settlements, and represented clients with more advanced litigation in court hearings.

Nutter Advises Embracing Equity, Inc. on Its Formation

Phil Rosenblatt was approached by Daisy Han, an experienced Montessori educator who had developed “Embracing Equity” – curricula and programs enabling teachers to cultivate mindsets and practices necessary to create an affirming, inclusive, and equitable educational ecosystem. While Daisy’s work was being widely accepted in the field, she needed guidance on how to navigate the business and legal challenges to make her dream a sustainable reality.

Phil and Laura Marsell, along with Melissa Sampson McMorrow, Patrick Concannon, and David Rubin, teamed up to (a) formalize Embracing Equity’s existence under a fiscal sponsorship from The Wildflower Foundation, (b) form Embracing Equity, Inc. as a new charitable corporation in Massachusetts, (c) secure from the Internal Revenue Service recognition of Embracing Equity, Inc.’s status as a tax exempt 501(c)(3) entity, (d) advise Embracing Equity on trademark and copyright matters, and (e) guide Embracing Equity’s transition from its fiscal sponsorship to its free standing, independent existence as Embracing Equity, Inc. 

Nutter Attorneys Advocate for Affordable Housing

In February 2021, Ken Berman and Mariel Smith, in partnership with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and South Coast Counties Legal Services, sued the City of Fall River and the Fall River Housing Authority. The lawsuit seeks to enforce contractual obligations to develop an affordable rental housing development for very low and extremely low-income families, veterans, and elderly individuals in Fall River, MA.

Nutter Attorneys Team Up With the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance To Achieve Racial Equity

The Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA) recognizes and embraces the role that law firms, particularly when acting collectively, can play to help bring about systemic change and racial equity in the law. LFAA’s goal is simple: racial equity.

Mark Jensen, Kathy Williams, Sara Conway, Meghan Kelly, and Sarah Turano-Flores are members of some of the LFAA’s 19 working groups, with a mission to develop and expand the organization’s collective expertise on how best to help dismantle systemic racism in the law. Whether focusing on issues having to do with philanthropy, policing, housing and home ownership, or voting rights, LFAA working group members work alongside legal services organizations to conduct research and develop projects focused on the laws, policies, and procedures that sustain systemic racism.

Nutter Provides Legal Aid to Afghanistan Refugees

Melanie Woodward and Tim Rennie are working with a newly sworn-in U.S. citizen as he assists his family who recently fled Afghanistan. The client and his brother served as translators for United States Central Command officials. Due to the client’s two-plus years of service, he was able to apply for a Special Immigrant Visa (“SIV”), which was ultimately approved. His brother, on the other hand, did not meet the two-year requirement and, therefore, was unable to apply for a SIV and stayed behind in Afghanistan with the rest of his family.

In July 2021, the month before Kabul fell to the Taliban, the family escaped to Turkey, where they have temporary status. Currently, Melanie and Tim are assisting the client as he applies for humanitarian parole for his family before their temporary status in Turkey expires.

Nutter Advocates for Prisoner’s Rights

Steve Brake, Micah Miller, Ritika Bhakhri, and Tim Rennie are working with an inmate at Federal Medical Center Devens as he pursues a negligence suit against his doctors under the Federal Torts Claims Act.

Learn more about Nutter’s continued pro bono and community efforts here, here, and here.

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