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The Boston chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and several downtown law firms recently wrapped up their inaugural summer associate research program with both entities declaring it a success. “It was a win-win situation for everybody involved,” said Harvey Wolkoff of Ropes & Gray, a member of the ADL Board of Directors and the civil rights sub-board. The program enlisted 18 summer associates from some of Boston’s largest law firms to study issues raised by ADL. Working with a supervising attorney, summer associates took on research assignments, which described a specific set of circumstances and asked what were the existing legal precedents on the issues at hand. The summer associates researched the legal trends and prepared memoranda laying out their findings. While the ADL benefited from the additional resource and talent of the summer associates, the summer associates got a chance to work on cutting edge legal issues. For the ADL, the purpose of the program is to stay abreast of ongoing issues. The ADL will create a databank of the memoranda that it will be able to use in advising clients in specific situations. “There is a practical application of the program,” said Andrew Tarsy, civil rights director at the ADL. For the law firms, the program builds the summer associate-partner bond. Plus, it is good pro bono work. The program was the brainchild of Wolkoff, Tarsy, and David Bunis of Dwyer & Collora, who serves as the civil rights chair for ADL New England. Together, they rallied lawyers and members of the ADL in the area who they thought would be interested. They successfully recruited eight law firms, who offered the program on a volunteer basis to their pool of summer associates. (Coincidentally, a similar program kicked off in Los Angeles last year.) Tarsy, Bunis, and Wolkoff created 10 research assignments on topics ranging from government funding for faith-based programs to hate sites on the Internet, and assigned them to the participating law firms at random. THE ASSIGNMENTS At a recent celebratory breakfast hosted by Ropes & Gray, the summer associates summarized their research, discussing the relevant issues, and offered their conclusions. One assignment invited the associates to write a brochure that a religious organization might follow in creating a separate corporation that would allow it to compete for government funds. Another asked whether it is lawful for a professional association to extend its prohibition on mail-in voting to a Jewish woman who could not attend a Saturday meeting because of religious observances. The assignment asked whether it mattered whether the association is a “union” or “collective bargaining unit.” One of the more interesting assignments found that much ground has been left uncovered by the courts in the field of Internet hate sites. For instance, questions were raised as to the responsibility of Internet sites that incite discrimination or crime. How can that responsibility be determined in a case where the connection between the proprietors of the site and the perpetrators of the crime exists only in cyberspace? Though a definitive conclusion was not reached on this particular topic, the research gives the ADL a useful base of knowledge. Partly for this reason, the program was proclaimed to be a smashing success by both participants and sponsors. Robert Leikind, regional director of ADL New England, called the program a “fabulous experiment.” “This program has been a fantastic opportunity to tap into the resources and talent of the top law firms in the city,” said Tarsy. Along with Ropes & Gray and Dwyer & Collora, the participating law firms included Brown Rudnick; Goulston & Storrs; Gadsby Hannah; Foley Hoag; Holland & Knight; and Nutter McClennen. The ADL hopes to expand the program by signing up more firms in the future. “There are unlimited questions we want to explore,” said Tarsy.

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