Springfield DAL fields more than 500 calls

Issue July/August 2008 By Jennifer Rosinski

The Massachusetts Bar Association came close to beating its record number of calls at the semi-annual Western Massachusetts Dial-A-Lawyer program held at Western New England College in Springfield on May 21. More than 30 volunteer attorneys answered 519 calls from the public between the hours of 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., just 17 calls less than the all-time high set in October.

In the first 45 minutes, more than 75 residents of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties called in their concerns and received legal advice free of charge. The ringing continued non-stop even after the event was over. Most of the callers asked questions on the topics of family law, bankruptcy and credit, real estate, personal injury, health, consumer rights, probate law and employment law.

"The people who call are all genuinely appreciative," said Susan Mielnikowski of Cooley Shrair PC in Springfield. Mielnikowski, who has been volunteering for the past four years, said she handled a wide variety of calls, from severe nursing home issues to neighborly disagreements over vines on a fence.

First-time DAL participant Matthew King, a plaintiff medical malpractice attorney at Robinson & Donovan PC in Springfield, said he decided to offer his services after reading a flyer for the event. King said the event allowed him to expand on his bar-related volunteer efforts.

Criminal, real estate and personal injury attorney Maurice Powe, who practices in Springfield, views his efforts as a way of giving back to the community.

"A lot of people that call seem like they’re stuck in a jam, and either can’t afford a lawyer or they don’t know where to go," Powe said. "It opens things up to those who would otherwise suffer in silence."

Longtime participant Justin Dion, who practices bankruptcy at Bacon & Wilson PC in Springfield and has a background in general practice law, volunteers for a variety of reasons.

"I love doing this because there’s a huge need. The phone never stops ringing," he said. "Personally, it keeps my wheels turning and keeps me sharp in all these other areas of law. It’s a lot of fun."

The program was co-sponsored by Western New England College School of Law, The Republican, El Pueblo Latino and the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys.

The MBA thanks the following volunteer attorneys who participated:

Jeffrey Burstein,
Burstein Law Offices, Springfield

Charlie Casartello Jr.
Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley PC, Springfield

Leslie Curley
Western Massachusetts Legal Services, Pittsfield

Justin Dion
Bacon & Wilson PC, Springfield

Mary Eaton
Eaton & Rescia, East Longmeadow

Michele Feinstein
Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin PC, Springfield

Kenneth Ferris
Hashim & Spinola, Pittsfield

Melissa Gillis
Bacon & Wilson PC, Springfield

Claudette-Jean Girard

Pamela Green
Freedman, DeRosa & Rondeau, North Adams

Patricia Hebert
Law Office of Patricia Hebert, Agawam

Roland Hughes
Massachusetts Assoc. of Hispanic Attorneys, Everett

Jim Kessler
Health New England, Springfield

Matthew King
Robinson & Donovan PC, Springfield

Kimberly Klimczuk
Skoler, Abbott & Presser PC, Springfield

Kevin Maltby
Bacon & Wilson PC, Springfield

Carolyn McCaffrey
Frank P. Fitzgerald PC, East Longmeadow

Edward McDonough Jr.
Egan, Flanagan & Cohen PC, Springfield

Amy Megliola
Siddall & Siddall PC, Springfield

Susan Mielnikowski
Cooley Shrair PC, Springfield

Randy Milou
Law Office of Randy J. Milou, West Springfield

David W. Murphy Jr.
Katz, Murphy & Greenwald PC, Pittsfield

Carolyn Muzzi
Department of Revenue, Springfield

David Ostrander
Ostrander Law Office, Northampton

Maurice Powe
Law Office of Maurice C. Powe, Springfield

Tim Reilly
Law Office of Timothy A. Reilly, Springfield

Kara Rescia
Eaton & Rescia, East Longmeadow

Katherine Robertson
Bulkley, Richardson & Gelinas LLP, Springfield

Paul Rothschild
Bacon & Wilson PC, Springfield

Robert Santaniello
Santaniello & Santaniello LLC, Springfield

Diana I. Sorrentini-Velez
Cooley Shrair PC, Springfield

Stanley Szlachetka
Fratar, Kern & Kelly LLP, Chicopee

Dennis Tully
East Longmeadow

Jeffrey Weisse
Connor, Sandman & Weisser, Agawam

Stephanie Woods
Woods Law Office LLC, Holyoke