Western Mass. Dial-A-Lawyer program enters 20th year

Issue August 2014 By Mike Vigneux

Residents of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties had the opportunity to have their legal questions answered through the Massachusetts Bar Association's semiannual Western Massachusetts Dial-A-Lawyer call-in program on the evening of June 26.

More than 25 volunteer lawyers from the MBA fielded 177 phone calls addressing legal concerns, including family related issues, probate, real estate, consumer and elder law matters. The legal advice was provided at no charge as a public service of the MBA. Calls were answered and processed by MBA volunteers over a three-hour period at the Western New England University School of Law in Springfield.

Launched in 1994, the MBA's Western Massachusetts Dial-A-Lawyer program entered its 20th year in 2014. The program is co-sponsored by Western New England University School of Law, The Republican, El Pueblo Latino, the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys and the Hispanic National Bar Association.

The MBA has also hosted a monthly Dial-A-Lawyer program in Boston since 1991, which is typically held on the first Wednesday of every month.

"It feels great to be helping people out, and it's really rewarding," said attorney Stephen J. Phillips, who has been a Dial-A-Lawyer volunteer for many years. "I think people really look forward to this date so their questions can be answered."

Phillips said he fielded a diverse group of calls during the program, including questions on elder law, wills, power of attorney, credit card debt and student loan debt.

Attorney Susan A. Mielnikowski also enjoys volunteering with the Dial-A-Lawyer program because it provides such a beneficial service to the residents of western Massachusetts.

"As a volunteer opportunity, it's a great way to feel like you've provided some excellent assistance," said Mielnikowski. "You can answer up to 25 or 30 questions in a night, so you really have a terrific opportunity to talk to the community and answer their personal questions."

The identities of both the callers and the attorneys are kept confidential, which often makes callers feel more comfortable about the questions they ask.

"It's a great opportunity for somebody who might be a little shy to call an attorney, or maybe somebody who already has an attorney and wants to have a second opinion," she added. "They can just pick up the phone and get free legal advice."

The MBA thanks the following members for donating their time and expertise to this important public service effort.

Corey M. Carvalho, University of Massachusetts Legal Services, Amherst

Mark D. Cress, Bulkley, Richardson & Gelinas LLP, Springfield

Colleen C. Currie, Colleen C. Currie, Attorney at Law, Northampton

Hyman G. Darling, Bacon Wilson PC, Springfield

Michele Feinstein, Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin PC, Springfield

Carmina D. Fernandes, Law Office of Carmina Fernandes, Ludlow

Albert F. Gordon, Albert Gordon Esq., Springfield

Devon W. Grierson, Aaronson & Associates PC, Pittsfield

David M. Hirschhorn, David Meir Hirschhorn, Attorney at Law, Springfield

Kimberly Klimczuk, Skoler Abbott & Presser PC, Springfield

Stephen R. Manning, Stephen R. Manning PC, East Longmeadow

L. Jeffrey Meehan, Doherty, Wallace Pillsbury & Murphy PC, Springfield

Amy J. Megliola, Siddall & Siddall PC, Springfield

Susan A. Meilnikowski, Cooley Shrair PC, Springfield

Keith A. Minoff, Law Offices of Keith A. Minoff, PC, Springfield

Daniel P. Morrissey, Bacon Wilson PC, Springfield

Stephen J. Phillips, Dunn & Phillips PC, Springfield

Michael J. Powers, Powers & Lequori, West Springfield

Andrea R. Reid, Law Office of Andrea R. Reid, Springfield

Juan M. Rivera, Juan M. Rivera Esq., Springfield

Katherine A. Robertson, Hampden County District Attorney's Office, Springfield

Daniel M. Rothschild, Bulkley, Richardson & Gelinas LLP, Springfield

Barry M. Ryan, Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy PC, Springfield

Michael Siddall, Siddall & Siddall PC, Springfield

Gillian Szlachetka Dubay, Szlachetka Dubay PC, Chicopee

Gregory A. Wolf, Law Office of Gregory A. Wolf Esq., Pittsfield