2022/2023 Fall and winter INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
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 email@example.com. Please refer to: 2022/2023 Fall and Winter 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
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 work with the South East Asian community of Greater Boston and Lowell to prevent deportations and with Chinatown residents to fight against displacement from their homes due to increasing rents, luxury housing development, and short-term rental properties. AOU 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Work areas include: Cash and Food welfare benefits, Child Care benefits, and Stimulus Payments
The Welfare Law Unit has one to two openings for a motivated law student intern each semester. Since we are working remotely, the intern may work from any location. 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 welfare and child care benefits 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: (1) We are working on a substantial number of systemic issues through strategic advocacy with top officials at the welfare agency. (2) Jointly with Mass. Law Reform Institute, we are leading a legislative campaign to further increase cash benefits levels, after successful coalition campaigns that repealed 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 and last year winning a 10% increase in benefits after decades with no increase. (3) We continue to work on implementation and updating of a comprehensive settlement of a federal class action against the welfare agency under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (4) We are advocating on behalf of low-income families regarding the publicly funded child care system, through two pending class actions against the child care agency and it’s commissioner; drafting a major child care reform bill for a coalition litigation; and informal strategic advocacy with the child care Commissioner and her top staff.
We seek interns to 1) handle or assist with direct representation of families and individuals wrongfully denied subsistence cash, child care, education and training, and food stamp benefits, or who are eligible for but have not received all COVID-related stimulus payments for which they are eligible; 2) help us investigate and document the problems faced by individual clients relevant to our systemic advocacy; and, depending on timing, 3) litigation support; and help with our legislative advocacy, 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. Also helpful is fluency in Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Arabic, Mandarin, or Cantonese.
Please feel free to contact Maria Casas via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions you may have on these internships. Also, feel free to visit our website at www.gbls.org.
GBLS is an AA/EO/accessible employer committed to diversity in the workforce and regards differences as assets.