Western Mass. Dial-A-Lawyer breaks record with 536 calls in four hours

Issue November 2007 By Jennifer Rosinski

Phones rang non-stop last month as residents from across Western Massachusetts flooded lines at Western New England College School of Law in Springfield with a record-breaking number of calls for free legal advice from volunteer lawyers affiliated with the Massachusetts Bar Association.

The MBA’s fall Western Mass. Dial-A-Lawyer, held Oct. 9, was a resounding success, as lawyers took 536 calls in four hours, smashing the old record of 401 calls, set in 2006.

“I was absolutely thrilled when we discovered just how many people received assistance,” said Dial-A-Lawyer coordinator Elizabeth A. O’Neil, director of Community and Public Services at the MBA.

“Knowing that the volunteer attorneys assisted 536 people in four hours was just incredibly heartwarming, particularly in light of breaking our record from several years ago of 401 calls.”

Thirty-four volunteer lawyers from throughout Western Massachusetts, from Springfield to Northampton, worked in two shifts to answers phone calls from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Calls came from residents of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties.

Lawyers answered a wide range of legal questions, including those concerning family law, personal injury, employment disputes, medical insurance and credit issues. The most popular topics seemed to center around estate planning and real estate matters, lawyers said.

Dial-A-Lawyer is a challenge because lawyers have to do the best they can in a short time before moving on to the next caller, said Claudette-Jean Girard, a lawyer at Szostkiewicz & Thorn in Springfield who volunteered at the Oct. 9 program.

“I like to do it. It’s fast-paced. You have to think fast on your feet,” she said. “You don’t know where the questions will be coming from.”

Easthampton lawyer Alfred P. Chamberland described Dial-A-Lawyer as “legal triage,” where lawyers work together to get the best answers to those on the other end of the phone line.

“A lot of times, it’s just pointing them in the right direction, telling them where to go,” Chamberland said. “It’s great to give back to the public.”

The Western Mass. Dial-A-lawyer program has been held for the past 12 years and became a semi-annual program, held in May and October, five years ago. Next year’s Dial-A-Lawyer programs will be held on May 21 and Oct. 22.

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

“Volunteer attorneys find this program extremely rewarding and tend to come back to participate year after year,” O’Neil said.

The following attorneys participated in the Western Mass. Dial-A-Lawyer:

David H. Burstein
Burstein Law Offices PC, Springfield

Jeffrey Alan Burstein
Burstein Law Offices PC, Springfield

Charles R. Casartello Jr.
Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley PC, Springfield

Petra I. Cervoni
Law Office of Petra I. Cervoni, Springfield

Alfred P. Chamberland
Law Office of Alfred P. Chamberland, Easthampton

Justin Howard Dion
Bacon & Wilson PC, Springfield

Mary K. Eaton
Eaton & Rescia, East Longmeadow

Dennis G. Egan Jr.
Bacon & Wilson PC, Springfield

Claudette-Jean Girard
Szostkiewicz & Thorn, Springfield

Michael J. Grilli
Bacon & Wilson PC, Springfield

Lisa Louise Halbert
Bacon & Wilson PC, Northampton

Scott K. Kell Jr.
Law Office of Scott K. Kell Jr., Wilbraham

Kimberly Klimczuk
Skoler, Abbott & Presser PC, Springfield

Julia K. Lentini
Brodeur-McGan PC, Springfield

Carolyn L. McCaffrey
Frank P. Fitzgerald PC, East Longmeadow

Sara E. McCollum
Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement, Springfield

Melanie Marie McNamara
Law Office of Melanie Marie McNamara, West Springfield

Randy J. Milou Jr.
Law Offices of Randy J. Milou, West Springfield

John F. Moriarty Jr.
Moriarty, Neves & Dunn LLP, Holyoke

Carolyn Ann Muzzi
Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement, Springfield

Thomas D. O’Connor Jr.
Thomas D. O’Connor Jr., Attorney at Law, Springfield

Maurice Caston Powe
Attorney Maurice Powe, Springfield

Kara Schultz Rescia
Eaton & Rescia, East Longmeadow

Denise M. Shear
Ostrander Law Office, Northampton

Michael R. Siddall
Siddall & Siddall PC, Springfield

Diana I. Sorrentini-Velez
Cooley Shrair PC, Springfield

Eileen Z. Sorrentino
Collaborative ─ Attorney & Mediator PC, Chicopee

Bernadette Stark
Western Massachusetts Legal Services, Northampton

Stanley Anthony Szlachetka
Law Office of Stanley Anthony Szlachetka, Chicopee

Maureen C. Tobin
Cooley Shrair PC, Springfield

Peggy Ann Torello
Law Office of Peggy Ann Torello, South Deerfield

Dennis E. Tully
Law Office of Dennis E. Tully, East Longmeadow

Christina Turgeon
Law Office of Christina M. Turgeon, Longmeadow

Jeffrey Scott Weisser
Law Office of Jeffrey Scott Weisser, Agawam