October is Pro Bono Month, and the Massachusetts Bar Association is proud to shine a spotlight on MBA members who voluntarily participate in MBA-affiliated public and community service programs. This week in eJournal we’re featuring attorney Julianna Bruce, principal of J Bruce Law LLC in Boston, who has been participating in the MBA’s Dial-A-Lawyer program since 2017.
ABOUT DIAL-A-LAWYER: Since March 1991, the MBA has sponsored a monthly Dial-A-Lawyer program encouraging members of the public to call with their legal problems and questions. This program was created in order to assist the people of Massachusetts that have fallen through the cracks of the legal and criminal justice system. The program has been run remotely, allowing volunteers to participate from their home or office via computer, since May 2020. For more information about volunteering for Dial-A-Lawyer, contact the Boston Office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEET JULIANNA BRUCEQ. Why did you decide to participate in Dial-A-Lawyer?Julianna:
It sounded like fun and we could help a lot of people in a short period of time. I really like it. We help a good number of people each month. Most just need an idea of whether they have a claim or situation that can be addressed by the legal system. Whether they do or not, we can usually make referrals to resources that can help them resolve their situations.Q. What is the time commitment for this program?Julianna:
It is a minimal time commitment, just the couple of hours on the phone. Now, during COVID, there’s not even the travel time to get to the Mass. Bar Association’s office. I hope we can continue to work remotely in the future, as it makes it easier to make the time.Q. What type of questions have you been asked?Julianna:
Perhaps not most unusual, but most common are questions about whether callers have a case and whether they should pursue legal action. Quite often a serious conversation with the other party can prevent the need for further action. Occasionally, just the call solves the problem.Q. What has the experience been like participating on this program remotely?Julianna:
Being able to just pick up the phone makes it much easier to participate because there is no travel time. I hope it remains this way in the future.Q. Why would you recommend volunteering for Dial-A-Lawyer to others?Julianna:
It’s fun. It’s like speed-dating; there are a lot of callers, so we aim to keep calls as brief as possible while still giving the caller the time they need to have their questions answered fully. But one can speak to half a dozen to well over a dozen people in that time. Their stories are interesting, and, afterward, one feels like, perhaps, we have given some clarity or direction to the callers. It feels good.Q. In what areas of law do you practice?Julianna:
Land use, estate planning and administration.Q. What’s one thing that people might not know about you?Julianna:
I’m an artist.