2023 Summer INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
GBLS is offering a variety of legal internships for the 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. Other funding sources are: The Massachusetts Bar Foundation Legal Intern Fellowship Program (www.massbarfoundation.org) and 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 GBLSInternships@gbls.org. Please refer to: 2023 Summer Internship Program when applying.
Due to COVID-19 and hybrid remote work, some of the student’s work set out below has changed. Those changes will be explained during the interview.
Asian Outreach Unit | Cambridge and Somerville Office | Consumer Rights Unit | CORI & Re-entry Project | Elder Health Disabililty Unit | Employment Unit | Family Law Unit | Housing Unit | Immigration Law Unit | Welfare Unit
Asian Outreach Center
The Asian Outreach Unit (AOU) of Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) uses a community lawyering model to provide bilingual and bicultural legal services and organizing support to Asian immigrant clients seeking access to justice. Partnering with community based groups, AOU supports and strengthens the impact of community organizing through direct legal services, advocacy, legislative campaigns, and impact litigation. Our work reflects a movement-building social change model and aims to ensure that our community knows, defends, and uses its rights to envision more just and safer neighborhoods. 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. Current projects include Southeast Asian deportations defense, anti-displacements in Chinatown and Dorchester, workers' rights protection, fight for language access and education equity, and representation of Asian-owned small businesses. AOC conducts outreach and intake weekly at community-based sites.
AOU internships expose undergraduate and law students to civil rights and other legal issues faced by Asian immigrant communities, with national implications, and trains interns in a variety of poverty law 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. Interns conduct legal research and writing on a broad range of subject matters. Interns may also visit community partners to conduct interviews and participate in meetings. Cantonese, Mandarin, Khmer, or Vietnamese language ability is a plus.
Read more about the Asian Outreach Center. Back to top.
Cambridge and 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.
Read more about Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services. Back to top.
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.
Read more about the Consumer Rights Unit. Back to top.
Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) & Re-entry Project:
Black lives matter. 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 housing, employment, licensing, 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 campaigns with various community coalitions to change criminal and other laws that perpetuate racism and poverty. Interns and fellows also help us with community outreach events, appeals and systemic law reform projects. Work-Study funding is also available for Northeastern University Law School students.
Read more about the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) & Re-entry Project. Back to top.
Elder, Health and 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 Social Security, Office of Hearing Operations 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 and access Medicare's complex program; develop educational materials for beneficiaries; factual and legal research and writing; client interviews, case development, advice and representation; address coverage, premium and enrollment issues.
School to Prison Pipeline: This project is committed to keeping children in school and ensuring they get trauma-informed treatment and non-exclusionary school discipline they need, with a specific focus on disrupting the school discipline disparities for Black and Latinx students and students with disabilities. Student interns may have opportunities to assist in all levels of client casework: conduct intakes, interview clients, review records (school discipline, special education, medical, etc.), legal research and writing, attend school discipline hearings and special education meetings, meet with medical and behavioral health providers, case development, and advice and representation. Students may have opportunities to assist in systemic impact work such as attending Boston area coalition meetings, administrative agency advocacy, or research and writing. Fluency in a 2nd language (especially Spanish or Cape Verdean Creole) is a plus.
Read more about the Elder, Health and Disability Unit. Back to top.
Employment Law Unit
Employment Law: The GBLS Employment Law Unit is dedicated to advancing the workplace rights and economic well-being of low-wage workers, through strategies that include direct client representation, community-based lawyering in partnership with grassroots worker organizations, litigation (individual, group, and class action), and systemic legislative and administrative advocacy to achieve broad-based policy changes. Employment law advocacy issues include:
- Unemployment benefits
- Wage theft
- Labor-related immigration rights (U and T visas)
- Access to paid sick leave and paid family & medical leave
- Injured workers’ rights
- Retaliation & discrimination
Law student interns have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the Unit’s work, including representing individual clients, undertaking legal research and writing projects to support litigation or systemic advocacy work, and engaging in community outreach. Fulltime interns may have an opportunity to represent a client in an unemployment benefits appeal hearing, which provides a “mini-trial” experience including client preparation, legal and factual analysis, and direct and cross examination.
Low Income Tax Clinic (LITC): Part of the Employment Law Unit, the GBLS LITC represents low-income clients in tax controversies before state and federal tax agencies, does outreach and community education about tax credits, and engages in systemic advocacy to improve access and services. Students interested in focusing on tax issues can apply for LITC-specific internships, while other Employment Law Unit interns have the opportunity for involvement in tax work, if desired.
For both Employment Law and the LITC: Fluency in Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Cantonese or Mandarin, or Vietnamese is helpful but not required. Work-study funding may be available for co-ops or internships during the academic year, while summer funding is typically available from other sources. For Low Income Tax Clinic internships, non-work-study funding may also be available.
Read more about the Employment Unit. Back to top.
Family Law Unit
The Family Law Unit offers legal services to victims/survivors of domestic abuse with contested custody matters in the Probate and Family Courts in Suffolk, Middlesex, and Norfolk Counties. In addition, the Unit engages in systemic advocacy in the trial court and in the legislature to further the interests of those affected by domestic abuse. Interns are exposed to all facets of case handling including client interviewing, legal research and writing, drafting pleadings, discovery, preparing cases for hearings and trials, and, if 3:03 certified, oral advocacy in court. 3:03 certified interns have their own caseload. Interns may also participate in obtaining abuse prevention orders (“restraining orders”) on behalf of victims/survivors.
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 [Subject to Court Operations Orders during COVID-19]: 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.
Civil Legal Services for Victims of Crime (CLAVC): This project provides representation to victims of crime in a variety of substantive law areas: family law, public housing law, public benefits law and other areas as required by victims and/or survivors of crime.
SJC Rule 3:03 certification preferred (student attorney certification); Ability to speak a language other than English highly desirable; work-study funding available.
Read more about the Family Law Unit. Back to top.
The mission of the Housing Unit is to preserve tenancies and increase affordable housing for low income clients. We represent people facing eviction and organized tenant groups seeking to preserve and improve their housing. We also represent homeless families who seek to obtain or retain temporary shelter. The Housing Unit's work involves directly helping tenants who are at the verge of homelessness or who have already lost their homes. Internships involve interviewing clients, drafting legal documents, going to court, representing clients at administrative hearings, and representing clients in court (for interns who have SJC Rule 3:03 status). Interns may also help draft legislation, work on housing policy issues, attend and staff community meetings, participate in media outreach, take part in community organizing, and meet with clients in community settings. The housing unit is a fast-paced, collegial environment where interns get a chance to learn by doing.
Read more about the Housing Unit. Back to top.
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.
Read more about the Immigration Unit. Back to top.
Welfare Law Unit
The WLU uses a client-centered and trauma-informed approach to represent individuals and families in cases involving benefits administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). This includes cash assistance, SNAP (food stamps), and child care benefits. Many of the reasons people seek these benefits also create barriers to getting those benefits. These reasons include factors related to disability, domestic violence, immigration status and limited English proficiency.
Our direct representation informs our systemic advocacy, through which we strive to improve the welfare system and to fight back against efforts to erode the critical safety net that welfare benefits provide. As the only legal services organization in Massachusetts with a dedicated welfare law practice, we are uniquely situated to engage in systemic advocacy.
Specific need: We anticipate a high volume of clients contacting the WLU as DTA returns to more normal operations coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many individuals and families will face a steep decline in their SNAP amounts as extra COVID payments end; they will need information and advice about how to maximize their SNAP amount going forward. We seek a co-op student to respond to individual clients, and to help coordinate a response, potentially developing ‘know your rights’ materials that could help us respond more efficiently and broadly even if we cannot fully meet the demand to provide individual representation.
Read more about the Welfare Unit. Back to top.
Please feel free to contact Maria Casas via email at GBLSInternships@gbls.org for any questions you may have on these internships.
GBLS is an AA/EO/accessible employer committed to diversity in the workforce and regards differences as assets.