A few weeks back TSL highlighted a few environmental pro bono opportunities for lawyers that our friends at ACE (who run the Massachusetts Environmental Justice Assistance Network) organize. Not to be outdone, the BBA’s New Lawyers Section Pro Bono Committee has helped round up volunteers to participate in the upcoming 13th Annual Charles River Cleanup, held on April 21st. TSL sat down with New Lawyers Pro Bono Co-Chair Jamie Charles, who spearheaded this program (along with fellow Co-Chair Lucas Burke) to learn a little bit more about the cleanup and why the BBA got involved.
Why did the New Lawyers Section decide to participate in the Charles River Cleanup?
Jamie: The Charles River Cleanup is a fun, energetic event that not only allows our members to get together and enjoy the Spring weather Boston has to offer, but also helps to beautify the city that many of us call home. I think if we polled our members a majority would acknowledge that they use the Esplanade or the Charles River in one form or another, and so I think it’s the least we can do to help ensure its enduring beauty.
How many lawyers have participated in the past/how many are you expecting this year?
Jamie: This is the first year we’ve participated in the event through the BBA, but we’re extremely pleased with the turnout to date. We already have over 30 RSVPs, and we may actually have to cap participation as the Cleanup may not be able to handle that many lawyers all at once. But in all seriousness, it’s surprised even me how many of our members are willing to donate their time on a Saturday morning. Lucas and I find this show of support to be very gratifying.
What message does participating in this event send?
Jamie: I think it’s twofold. First of all, as I noted above, it shows how important it is for members of a community to do their part in keeping it clean and beautiful. We are fortunate to live in a breathtaking, historic city and sacrificing one morning on a spring weekend is the least we can do to ensure that continues to be the case. Secondly, I think it shows that lawyers can give back and help their communities in more ways than one. While it is admirable for young attorneys to take a pro bono housing case or help a nonprofit incorporate, participating in events such as the Cleanup can be equally valuable and rewarding.
The BBA contingent is just a small part of 3,000 volunteers from various neighborhood, school and professional organizations who will help clear trash, debris and other harmful items from the banks of the Charles River. Though registration is capped for the BBA’s volunteers, there are still some cleanup sites that could use help.
It is great to see Boston’s community (and Boston’s lawyers) coming together to make Boston a cleaner and healthier city to live. Plus, you get a pretty cool t-shirt.