Finding a Way 21 Tenants and Landlords Have a Day in Court Jackie and her son received an eviction notice and were summoned to Boston Housing Court after they fell behind on their rent.They had lost their jobs, and simply didn’t have the money. When they arrived at Housing Court they met Mintz Levin’s Vita Wilson, who was moved by their story. “It was clear that in spite of their hardships, they wanted to remedy their defaults and be current with their payments,” Vita says. It helped that, by the time they came to court, Jackie’s son had found a job. Later that day, Vita represented the two in mediation, and negotiated a payback plan they could afford. Providing assistance to low-income tenants and landlords is an interest Vita developed through her association with Nick Bentley, a Mintz Levin colleague who recruited her to attend Boston’s Lawyer for the Day program, a joint effort of the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) and the Real Estate Section of the Boston Bar Association. As a law student, Nick interned in the housing department of Greater Boston Legal Services. So when his first year at the firm was deferred, he chose to work for the Legal Aid Society of New York’s Housing Help Program.There he was three parts lawyer, two parts housing wizard. If a tenant qualified for a housing grant, for example, Nick made it happen. “That wasn’t legal assistance, but it was essential for resolving the case,” he explains. For his dedication, Nick won a Pro Bono Publico Award from the Legal Aid Society. And when he arrived in Boston to take up his post at Mintz Levin, he recruited Vita and several others to join him in local housing work, starting up Mintz Levin’s VLP Lawyer for the Day Housing Court program in Boston single-handedly. In the fall of 2010, Nick, Vita, and Katy Ward began volunteering through the program, which provides pro bono services to low-income tenants and landlords on Thursday mornings. Attorneys work with clients for one day only, but in that short time provide them with significant legal assistance.To date, Nick’s team has helped more than 50 clients.They answer questions, offer advice, help complete legal forms, and provide representation by arguing motions or assisting with mediations. The team now includes additional participants, trained by Katy as well as Andrew Dean, an attorney in the Real Estate Practice who has an extensive background in housing law. “I’m glad to see that not only can Mintz Levin continue to support my work in Boston, but that other attorneys at the firm are eager to get involved as well,” Nick says. Avoiding Blind Alleys Many clients come to court with no idea of the housing rules. That’s why the Lawyer for the Day program is effective. In that short amount of time, we can say, “Here are your rights, here are your options.” In a single day, we can make a very big impact. Katy Ward Attorney Mintz Levin