As we approach the 2014 Boston Marathon, we cannot help but reflect on the tragic events that occurred at last year’s race. Certain individuals turned what was meant to be a celebration of strength and endurance into a nightmare. Their goal to frighten us and render us helpless was not realized, however, for their act only served to illustrate the true foundational strength of the city.
In times of crisis, it is natural to want to help, and Boston’s citizens went above and beyond the call of duty to do so. Footage from the bombing scene showed spectators running toward the bombing wreckage instead of away; we heard stories of runners who crossed the finish line only to keep running all the way to the hospital to donate blood.
For the legal community, offering assistance took on a different form, but one that we were equally eager to provide. We are proud that the Boston Bar Association was able to mobilize so quickly and work with the City of Boston to determine how its membership could help. Within just three days of the Marathon Monday events, the BBA had coordinated with the Mayor’s office and put out a call for volunteers to take cases on behalf of Back Bay businesses affected by the bombing on a pro bono basis. In less than one week, more than 100 individuals, 20 full law firms, and 2 law schools had responded pledging to help affected businesses with business interruption, loss of revenue, and loss of business claims. Ultimately, as calls from individual victims struggling to file One Fund claims, deal with internet privacy, or return to school or work began to surface as well, nearly 200 individual volunteers, 26 law firms, and 3 law schools came forward to offer their assistance, and still stand ready to do so.
This readiness to serve the community is a true fulfillment of the sworn duty inherent in our profession as lawyers. Being an attorney is about ensuring access to justice for all; this is both the mission of the Boston Bar Association and an integral aspect of the tenets laid out in our state and federal Constitutions. It is not only a privilege to help victims navigate the unprecedented landscape that emerged in the wake of the Marathon bombings – it is our responsibility.
Nor is the struggle over. The second round of applications for the One Fund will be due soon, and we expect to receive more inquiries for help filling them out. We also expect to be able to respond to these additional requests for assistance, as we were able to do for the first wave of calls seeking legal advice, due to the continued outpouring of volunteer help from our members and the legal community at large.
We cannot and should not ever forget what happened on Patriots’ Day in April 2013; but we must remember the brave actions of onlookers and first responders, as well as the subsequent flood of generosity and steadfast determination to set the city back on its feet. The individuals who set out to damage our community and its way of life only illustrated that they can never do so – because our way of life is to fight through adversity, support each other, and, most of all, remain Boston Strong.