By Jane Whitehead. “We’re always on high alert here,” says Janet Donovan, JD ’89, as she greets a visitor at the secure entrance to the offices of Casa Myrna Vasquez. Since 1999 she has managed the Legal Advocacy Program at this multi-service agency for battered women and their children in Boston.
On an April afternoon, Donovan reviews a typical day’s work: checking in with a student intern about an ongoing family court matter, a half-hour crisis call exploring options with a client who reached the legal helpline in “a fairly lethal situation,” supervisions with two staff attorneys, and sending out a notice to the Casa Myrna Facebook page about a gathering at the State House in response to new regulations governing access to shelters for homeless people. Continue reading
2013 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1963 unanimous ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright that gave poor people accused of crimes the right to counsel, regardless of ability to pay. Anthony J. Benedetti, Chief Counsel for Massachusetts’ Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), the state agency that provides legal services to the indigent, reflects on twenty years of public service.
By Jane Whitehead. “I’ve always bristled at unfairness, at people being treated a certain way because of how they look, how they dress, or how much money they have,” says Anthony Benedetti, 47, during a recent interview in his corner office at CPCS headquarters, a couple of blocks from Boston Common. His entire career with CPCS has been dedicated to the proposition that everyone, no matter how poor or how horrendous the accusation against them, has the right to due process and a fair shot at receiving justice. Continue reading
Cecilia Ugarte Baldwin, Rappaport Fellow in Law and Public Policy 2007
by Jane Whitehead
The most predictable part of Cecilia Ugarte Baldwin’s day may be her early morning run. Baldwin, 33, Deputy Director of Cabinet Affairs in the Executive office of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, is a marathon runner who gets up around 5.45 most mornings to fit in a training run before work. Once she reaches her cramped quarters under the eaves of the historic State House, says Baldwin, an Arizona native, “there’s no such thing as a typical day.” Continue reading
Eric Batcho, Rappaport Fellow in Law and Public Policy, Summer 2008
by Jane Whitehead
Eric Batcho’s commute is a five-minute walk from his Beacon Hill apartment to the Tip O’Neil Federal Building. Since August 2010 he has worked there as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.)
In Batcho’s ideal world, short, car-free commutes would be the norm. From the time he entered the Master’s Program in Urban Planning at Harvard Design School, to his graduation from Boston College Law School in 2010, he has been intrigued by policies and regulations that shape the built environment, and by learning how they can create “a livable environment more suited to pedestrians and bikes.” With the support of a Rappaport Fellowship in Law and Public Policy from May-August 2008, between his first and second years in law school, he was able to explore the world of land use and permitting issues as an intern at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP.) Continue reading
Sara V. Pic, Rappaport Fellow in Law and Public Policy, Summer 2004
by Jane Whitehead
Four blocks from Sara Pic’s house in New Orleans is a former hospital building, destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005. It has been a constant reminder of the devastated infrastructure that Pic returned to her hometown in 2007 to help rebuild. Since February 2010, Pic, a graduate of Smith College and Northeastern University School of Law, has served as Litigation Director for Health Law Advocates of Louisiana, a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to improving access to health care services for the state’s middle- and low-income residents.
“What I’m doing now absolutely connects right back to my Rappaport Fellowship,” said Pic, whose fellowship in summer 2004 enabled her to work on immigrants’ rights issues at the Boston-based Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI). Continue reading
In a new Rappaport Center podcast, Monika Bandyopadhyay JD ’11 discusses her experience as one of the sixteen Suffolk Law students who participated in the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project in 2010-2011. “The students we taught grew tremendously,” says Bandyopadhyay. The experience also complemented her coursework at Suffolk. “It forces us to think about how the law affects people’s lives, and how to break the law down so a high school student can understand and appreciate it.” In August, Bandyopadhyay begins a Presidential Management Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Education.
The nation of South Sudan will attain formal independence on July 9. Dan Ryan (JD ’09) has been helping South Sudanese legislators to prepare for independence. Here are excerpts from a June 30 interview with Dan. Listen to the entire interview on Legal Talk Network.
Rappaport Center: Dan, why don’t we start by telling us a bit about what first took you to South Sudan.
Dan Ryan: Well, after I finished law school in 2009, both my wife and I were looking to return overseas. We both worked overseas for about six or seven years prior to school. I went to law school, and my wife went to nursing school, but prior to that, we worked overseas for years. We were interested in going back and applying our new degrees to working in either humanitarian or development work.
South Sudan was a good place for us to go and find opportunities to use our skills. South Sudan recenty concluded a peace agreement with the north that ended their civil war of over twenty years. There was a tremendous amount of reconstruction work, development work, and humanitarian assistance. . . . We came over here, and my wife got a job with Save the Children as a health manager. Shortly after that, I was able to join Mercy Corps, which is a US organization working with the local government, building the capacity of local government in the autonomous region of South Sudan.
In a new Rappaport Center podcast, Suffolk Law student Jen Bonar JD ’12 (Photo, right) talks about her summer internship working with Defenders of Wildlife in Anchorage, Alaska on policies relating to wildlife management and predator control. “I’ve seen firsthand the importance of building and mending relationships, not only with local groups, but with state and federal agencies,” says Bonar. “I’ve also found it interesting to see how an organization determines its position on particular issues.” Jen’s work is supported by a fellowship from the Suffolk Public Interest Law Group. Bonar is also the incoming President of Suffolk’s Environmental Law Society.