GBLS is offering a variety of legal internships for the spring and summer term. Due to budgetary constraints, all positions described here are unfunded (unless otherwise noted), so we are presently seeking interns who can obtain full outside funding or will work on a for-credit basis. Many former interns have successfully arranged for their own funding by combining work-study and public interest grants. Students should inquire about public interest funding sources at their law school. Another funding source is Equal Justice America Fellowships (www.equaljusticeamerica.org).
Interested students should send a resume and cover letter indicating, in order of preference, the units they are interested in and available hours to: Maria Casas, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please refer to: 2018/2019 Fall and Winter Internship Program when applying.
ASIAN OUTREACH UNIT
The Asian Outreach Unit (AOU) of Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) uses a community lawyering model to provide linguistically and culturally appropriate services to Asian immigrant clients. Partnering with community based groups, AOU supports and strengthens the impact of community organizing through direct legal services, advocacy, legislative campaigns, and impact litigation. AOU conducts outreach and intake weekly at community based sites. Focusing on areas where the Asian community faces multiple barriers accessing justice, AOU represents individuals and groups in cases involving immigration, housing and displacement, employment, family violence, voting rights, and public benefits. Past successes include securing bilingual ballots in Chinese and Vietnamese in Boston, litigating a class action on behalf of 300 supermarket workers seeking to enforce employment laws, and supporting Chinatown’s efforts to acquire land for community use. AOU recognizes that empowering people and communities is critical to building effective cross-cultural and racial social movements.
AOU internships expose undergraduate and law students to legal issues faced by local Asian immigrant communities and trains interns in a variety of legal areas. Student interns assist and participate in community-based outreach and intake, client interviews (using clients’ native languages or with an interpreter), legal representation, and development of community legal educational materials. Student interns conduct legal research and writing on a broad range of subject matter. Cantonese, Mandarin, or Vietnamese language ability is a plus.
Interns would commit to a full-time schedule (35 hours/week) for 10 weeks from Monday, June 4 to Friday, August 10.
CAMBRIDGE & SOMERVILLE OFFICE
We are seeking law students to work at the Cambridge & Somerville Legal Services’ office (CASLS) of GBLS. Students will have the opportunity to engage in all aspects of case handling including interviewing clients, conducting legal and factual research, legal writing, negotiations, and oral advocacy (e.g. representing clients at administrative and/or court hearings where warranted). In addition, students will have the opportunity for legal research and other assignments on systemic reform projects. The casework focuses on housing (e.g. evictions, denial or termination of subsidized housing), state and federal government benefits, poverty law-based elder issues, and mental health/disability rights issues for adults and children.
CONSUMER RIGHTS UNIT
GBLS’s Consumer Rights Unit focuses on foreclosure prevention, debt collection, credit discrimination, bankruptcy and other consumer issues. We have a Debt Collection Lawyer for the Day Project where we represent consumers in debt collection cases in the small claims sessions of the Roxbury and Chelsea District Courts. Students who are certified under Rule 3:03 can represent clients in Clerk-Magistrate hearings. We also engage in individual representation of homeowner's facing foreclosure; representing homeowners and tenants in post-foreclosure eviction actions; impact litigation; legislative and community advocacy; and outreach and education to consumers in low-income communities, particularly communities of color. We also work on other consumer issues including debt collection abuses, banking practices and consumer scams. Interns will assist in intake, screening cases, reviewing documents, doing factual investigations on cases, undertaking legal research and writing assignments, assisting in drafting pleadings and educational materials, and involvement in legislative and community activities.
ELDER, HEALTH & DISABILITY UNIT
Elder: Opportunities to help clients with a wide range of legal issues. Opportunities to represent clients facing denial or termination of health and income benefits in hearings conducted by various state and federal agencies, such as the Office of Medicaid, Department of Transitional Assistance, Social Security Administration. Further opportunities to work with clients facing evictions, or discharge from a nursing home. Students will interview clients, carry out legal and factual research to develop the record, and will also work with individuals and community groups on issues such as elder abuse and improving quality of life for nursing home residents. Legal work will be both individual case work, as well as opportunities to participate in systemic impact work such as legislative and administrative advocacy.
Health & Disability: Opportunities to represent individuals who have disability claims pending at the Office of Hearings & Appeals, Social Security Administration Office of Disability and review, as well as to represent clients facing denial or termination of health care coverage by Office of Medicaid. Students will interview clients, develop record for administrative hearing and appear at the hearing(in some instances); will also represent individuals and some community groups on access to health care issues; identify uninsured individuals facing tax penalties under Health Care Reform and help them access public health care programs; deal with administrative agencies such as the Office of Medicaid and the Connector, as well as legal research and writing; work on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts. Fluency in a foreign language (especially Spanish) is a plus.
Children's Disability Project (CDP): The CDP represents children (under age 18) with disabilities in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits disputes with the Social Security Administration at all administrative levels of appeal and in Federal Court. Student's work will entail interviewing clients, factual investigation, evidence gathering, legal research, drafting brief, and preparation of cases for administrative hearings. Student will have the opportunity to appear at a hearing.
Medicare Advocacy Project: Work on behalf of elders and people with disabilities to help them navigate access to complex Medicare program; develop consumer education materials; factual and legal research and writing; client interviews, case development, advice and representation; address coverage and enrollment issues.
EMPLOYMENT LAW UNIT
We are seeking law students to do client intakes, represent clients in unemployment hearings, wage and hour claims, tax controversies with the IRS/DOR and Tax Court, and for the Criminal Offender Record Information and Reentry Project described below. We prioritize representation to single heads of households, immigrant workers, workers in temporary and domestic service jobs, and community based worker centers and their members. In addition to individual case work, student assistance is also needed with community legal education, on-going administrative and legislative advocacy on exciting policy initiatives as well as pending law suits. Fluency in Spanish, Cantonese, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and Vietnamese or other languages is particularly valued as is the completion of courses on evidence, administrative advocacy, and employment law, but none of these prerequisites are required. A minimum of 20 hours a week is preferred for those students wishing to represent clients in unemployment hearings. Work study funding is available during the year with the exception of the summer as grants are available then (including the Peggy Browning Fellowship). Funding ($15/hour) is also available for tax representation with emphasis on taxpayers who do not speak English; the ability to speak Spanish/Portuguese/Cantonese is strongly preferred for this special funding.
CRIMINAL OFFENDER RECORD INFORMATION (CORI) & RE-ENTRY PROJECT
Mass incarceration and racially-disparate involvement of African-Americans in the criminal justice system are the new Jim Crow. In general, work is the pathway to a better life and out of poverty, but past criminal records stop countless people from getting jobs, housing, and access to other opportunities. We focus on people from communities of color, particularly in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan in overcoming barriers to employment and other opportunities caused by their criminal record histories. We need law students to do client intakes, draft legal documents, perform legal research, represent clients in court on sealing cases if 3:03 certified and/or assist in the courtroom, staff CORI help tables in Roxbury & Dorchester courts. We also need help working on legislative advocacy with the Jobs NOT Jails Coalition, and on community outreach events, appeals and systemic law reform projects. Work-Study funding is also available.
FAMILY LAW UNIT
The Family Law Unit is a litigation practice that offers opportunities for students to handle their own caseload in divorce, paternity, contempt, modification and abuse prevention order cases in Probate and Family Court. Students handle all aspects of representation, including interviewing, pleadings preparation, discovery and courtroom advocacy.
Additional opportunities include the ability to participate in the unit’s systemic work aimed at improving access to justice for all victims/survivors of domestic abuse. Examples include working on legislative campaigns and court practice reform, continuing legal education efforts, and community outreach.
Students may also choose to work on one of the unit’s specialized projects, listed below.
Suffolk and Middlesex Counties Probate and Family Court Domestic Violence Advocacy Projects: In court advocacy to obtain restraining orders and other urgently required orders. Includes interviewing, pleadings preparation and courtroom representation.
Relocation Counseling and Identity Protection Initiative: A varied experience working with victims of crime who are seeking to relocate away from the perpetrator. Issues include custody jurisdiction, emergency court orders, internet stalking, privacy protection, identity change and other issues of import to these clients. Tasks include legal research, preparation of webinar and other training content and advocacy on behalf of victims seeking to relocate.
Latina Know Your Rights Project: A unique project providing legal representation and coordinated community services to Latinas in part of Middlesex County. Students represent clients in all aspects of family law and immigration matters and partner closely with domestic violence agencies in the area. This project is located in Waltham, Massachusetts.
SJC Rule 3:03 certification preferred (student attorney certification); Ability to speak a language other than English highly desirable; work-study funding available.
The mission of the Housing Unit is to preserve tenancies and increase affordable housing for low income clients. We represent individuals who are being involuntarily displaced from their units and those who seek access to affordable units, as well as community groups who promote the expansion of resources for affordable housing and try to minimize the loss of currently affordable units. We also represent homeless families who seek temporary shelter. Students are needed for individual case representation and legal research on litigation and legislative matters, as well as our community group work.
We are currently involved with anti-gentrification work as investors are buying up formerly foreclosed buildings and trying to raise rents by 50%-200%. Our current shelter work includes shelter access, terminations and transfers. We are focused on draconian state policies that seek to save money by barring access to shelter. In all our work we prioritize clients with limited English proficiency, and those who seek reasonable accommodation because of disability. We seek protections for survivors of domestic abuse with governmental agencies. We often seek jury trials in our eviction defense work, and file affirmative litigation against bad public and private actors. There will be some opportunity to assist at administrative or court hearings. Language ability (Spanish, Cantonese, or Mandarin) preferred but not required.
IMMIGRATION LAW UNIT
The Immigration Unit provides representation to individuals before Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals and the First Circuit. We provide representation in a wide-range of immigration matters, but focus on individuals seeking asylum or protection from domestic abuse and unaccompanied minors. Our law students work closely with clients to prepare applications for asylum, self-petitions under the Violence Against Women Act and U visa applications for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes; conduct legal research and prepare legal memos and court filings; and conduct research into country conditions. Great opportunity to work one-on-one with clients. Language ability (especially Spanish, French and Haitian Creole) and immigration experience or course work preferred but not required.
WELFARE LAW UNIT
The Welfare Law Unit has at least one opening for a motivated law student intern each semester. The hours per week that the intern can commit will affect the types of work we can assign. Interns need to be willing and able, with our support, to work sensitively and effectively with diverse clients who are contending with some of the harshest conditions of deep poverty.
We handle complex cases on behalf of families enduring many hardships simultaneously, such as the impact of past domestic violence or current safety issues, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a range of other disabilities, children with disabilities, limited English proficiency, limited educational attainment, homelessness, eviction, immigrant status issues, and exhausting low wage work and commutes while caring for children with little or no support from the other parent or others. Our clients often come to us in crisis, making representing them particularly challenging and urgent. We routinely work with a massive volume of statutes, regulations, and sub-regulatory material, often requiring use of case law principles of statutory construction. In addition to individual client cases, among other things: (1) We are working on a substantial number of systemic issues through strategic advocacy with top agency officials at the welfare agency, including regarding changes planned by the agency that would make it significantly harder for parents with disabilities to retain cash benefits for their families. We have pushed back against these proposals since 2014, but the agency is working to go forward at a still unknown date, which could occur with little or no advance notice. We continue to work to prevent or mitigate the harm, but another round of pressure from our community allies to and ongoing meetings with agency officials. (2) Jointly with Mass. Law Reform Institute, we are leading a legislative campaign to repeal the “family cap” statute under which children are denied benefits simply because their families previously received welfare for a sibling of the child before the child was born. (3) We continue to work on implementation of a comprehensive settlement of a federal class action against the welfare agency under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (4) Engaged in work to challenge a range of major violations of governing laws and due process by the agency that administers child care benefits.
We seek a law student to handle or assist with direct representation of families and individuals wrongfully denied subsistence cash, child care, education and training, and food stamp benefits; to help us investigate and document the problems faced by individual clients relevant to our systemic advocacy; and, depending on strategy decisions and timing, to provide litigation support. Help with our legislative work also may be needed, such as working with clients on testimony, investigating cases to work up as compelling examples for legislators, and assisting with such activities as lobby days at the State House.
Courses in Administrative Law and Welfare Law are helpful, but not required. Spanish fluency is extremely helpful but not required.
GBLS is an AA/EO/Handicapped-accessible employer, committed to promoting diversity in its workforce and regards differences as assets.