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Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’

This past Saturday was a day of celebration for many in Boston. An estimated 2 million made the trek to downtown Boston for a day of revelry honoring the Red Sox 2013 championship win. 15 miles north of Boston, a special group of 11 volunteers from the BBA’s New Lawyers and Environmental Law Section were involved their own celebration of “youth, food , and community” at The Food Project (TFP) in Greater Lynn. Longtime readers will have heard of The Food Project before, but if you haven’t, TSL has you covered.

The Food Project works with over 150 teenagers and thousands of volunteers to farm on 40 acres of land in different locations across Eastern Massachusetts. Food from the farms is distributed through community agriculture programs, farmers markets and local hunger relief organizations. TFP also offers and educational element and training and services, so youth and volunteers can learn more about farming, healthy eating and sustainable processes.

Turner, PhelpsBased on that description, it’s pretty clear why our lawyers decided to volunteer at the Food Project again. We reached out to one of Saturday’s volunteers Phelps Turner, of Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen (who boasts a renown environmental law practice) to get a sense of his experience volunteering.

1) Why did you decide to volunteer for the food project serve and grow program?

I jumped at this opportunity to volunteer with the Food Project’s Serve and Grow program because I’m very interested in urban agriculture as a means to increasing urban residents’ access to healthy, energy-efficient and affordable food. I was also excited to volunteer because I’m inspired by the Food Project’s mission of bringing urban and suburban youth and adults together to work on farms, to learn about the food we eat and to build a sustainable food system.

2) What did you enjoy most about the experience?

We had beautiful weather for our morning of farming. I especially enjoyed transporting compost that had been produced on the farm and using it to create planting beds, in which we planted garlic for next season. I also enjoyed meeting and working with the local youth, who have developed excellent leadership skills, and seeing old friends and new faces among the BBA volunteers.

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3) Did you learn anything new or interesting?

This is my third time volunteering with the Food Project, and I learn new things about the Food Project and the food system every time. This time, I learned, among other things, that 25% of young adults are too obese to qualify for military service, and that the average fast food meal consists of over 1,600 calories, compared to 500 in the average homemade meal. Facts like these underline the importance of increasing access to healthy and affordable food in heavily populated urban settings, which can be achieved in part by growing the food locally, at farms like the one in Lynn.

Thanks, Phelps – we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Kudos to the 11 who spent their Saturday morning making an impact on the local community… and on parade day, no less.

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Now that The Sustainable Lawyer (TSL) has been going strong for more than 5 months, it’s not uncommon to see our inbox filled with e-mails letting us know about the green initiatives that firms have taken on, public service opportunities available in the environmental field, and tips to live a more sustainable life. So when BBA President Lisa Goodheart e-mailed TSL and asked us to investigate the Massachusetts Appeals Court E-Filing program, it was a no brainer. TSL got in touch with Joseph Stanton, Clerk at the Appeals Court, to find out more.

Almost one year ago, the Appeals Court adopted two standing orders to save valuable time and money as well as help protect the environment. The first order is as simple as can be. It allowed all counsel and self-represented litigants to register with the Appeals Court to receive only electronic notifications in the appeals in which they are participating. When one signs up to receive electronic notice of actions, judgments, orders, and everything in between, they will no longer receive any paper mail. Thinking that some attorneys were worried that they might miss an important notice in their inbox, the Appeals Court also allows for a second person (who works in the same law firm or office) to receive a copy of all notifications sent to the attorney. Don’t worry about not getting your information on time, either. The Court sends out notifications four times daily (at 10:00 a.m., 1:00, 4:00, and 6:00 p.m.), meaning attorneys receive nearly immediate notification of actions on cases.

When making the decision to forgo snail mail for e-mail, the Appeals Court saved money on enveloped paper and postage. Curious how much? In March 2012 alone, the Appeals Court issued more than 3,200 e-notices, all of which would have required paper to print on, an envelope to stuff in, and postage to stick on — not to mention the countless hours of staff time saved by no longer having to stuff envelopes. The Clerk’s Office, dealing with budget cuts and understaffing, can now spend valuable time on substantive case actions rather than stuffing thousands of envelopes a month.

The second order is a bit more complicated for our non-lawyer readers. The order requires attorneys and litigants to e-mail all filings after the court issues notice that the case has been assigned to a panel of judges. Essentially, after the appeal is assigned to a panel of judges to render a decision on the merits of the appeal, all future documents must be sent to the Clerk’s Office in electronic form, which the office will then distribute to the judges via e-mail. The Appeals Court hasn’t stopped there. This winter they developed an e-notice of any cancellation or postponement of argument (thanks to the mild winter, they didn’t have to use this one very often) and they are working with the SJC and Trial Courts to adopt an e-filing platform to save counsel and litigants from reproducing and reprinting multiple copies of documents.

Too often we hear about the challenges of implementing sustainable practices. It’s nice to see that for the MA Appeals Court, sustainability and sensibility go hand in hand.

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In the professional world, sometimes driving is a necessity. But owning a car can be expensive and inconvenient, especially when the price of parking, insurance and gas is factored in. And let’s be honest, owning a car can translate into more miles driven, and a bigger carbon footprint.

Earlier this year The Sustainable Lawyer read an article in the Boston Globe about Boston Bar Foundation Society of Fellows Committee Co-Chair Jane Willis (Ropes & Gray) and her husband (MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey) who donated their car to use public transportation and the car sharing service, Zipcar. This got TSL wondering if any other lawyers in the Hub use Zipcar, and whether they believe it fosters sustainability. Fortunately for us, tracking down lawyers who use the service was pretty easy.

Before we get started, he’s a quick rundown on Zipcar:

Zipcar is a car sharing service founded in January 2000 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After signing up, (one time $25 fee) members pick the car of their choice (availability varies by location) online using a computer or smartphone, select the hourly rate or daily option, and off they go. Gas is included (and members are reimbursed for places that don’t accept the card) and there is a 180 mile maximum for 24 hours.

We caught up with three attorneys, Christopher Strang (Desmond Strang & Scott), Colin Van Dyke (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo) and Aaron Agulnek (Jewish Community Relations Council) and asked them the most simple question we could…why do you use Zipcar?

Colin: We’re a one-car household and Zipcar allows me to get to hearings and client meetings outside of Boston without inconveniencing my wife and kids. The process is simple and the cars are more conveniently located than rentals; for example, I can reserve a car near my house, in the garage beneath our office building, or near a meeting from which I need to leave to get (and drive) to another. Zipcar is typically far less expensive and, again, more convenient than using taxis. Plus, Mintz Levin now provides a Zipcar benefit that reduces the costs of my annual membership and the hourly rates. Still, it’s driving a car, the environmental impact of which is the same whether it’s my car or a Zipcar, but I suspect that if we had a second car I would drive more often, so Zipcar allows me to keep my time behind the wheel to a minimum.

Chris: The main reason I use Zipcar is to not have to deal with parking in the city. I use Zipcar for things like short court appearances outside of Boston, and for client meetings at their offices.  The added bonus is only using the car when absolutely necessary, and using more environmentally friendly transportation to and from work.

Aaron: “I work for a non-profit organization and we have a Zipcar that the staff can utilize for meetings that are outside of public transportation zones.  It clearly makes sense from an economic and convenience perspective, but we also come at it from an environmental perspective.  Our organization is committed to environmental justice and the Zipcar provides a tangible way for us to make a difference.”

Sometimes, the  impact (or the lack thereof) matters more than motivation.

And yes, they offer hybrids.

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