2021/2022 Fall and Winter Internship Program
GBLS is offering a variety of legal internships for the fall and winter 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: 2021/2022 Fall and Winter Internship Program when applying.
Due to COVID-19 closures and staff working remotely, 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
Using a movement lawyering model, the Asian Outreach Unit (AOU) advances equality and justice in the Asian American community by directly responding to legal needs and supporting community organizing. We incorporate litigation, legislation, and legal services—in collaboration with organizing—to fight against systemic forces disrupting low-income Asian immigrant communities. AOU provides bilingual and bicultural legal services to Asian immigrant clients. AOU represents individuals and groups in cases involving immigration, housing and displacement, employment, language access, voting rights, family violence, and other civil rights issues. In collaboration with community organizers, our major projects currently include representing Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants to stop deportations; representing tenants fighting displacement in Chinatown and Dorchester; educating nail salon workers of their rights; creating greater language access for Asian immigrants in areas such as voting and education; and representing undocumented immigrants. AOU recognizes that empowering people and communities is critical to building effective cross-cultural and multiracial social justice movements. Legal and undergraduate interns assist and participate in community-based outreach and intake (conducted remotely), legal research and writing, and legal representation. Cantonese, Khmer, Mandarin, 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’ 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 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.
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.
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 lawsuits. 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 providing information and advice to 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 preparation of information and advice for 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, employment law and other areas, with the goal of addressing the civil legal needs created by or arising out of the client's victimization.
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 Greater Boston Legal Services Immigration Unit serves approximately 1,000 low-income immigrants each year, primarily applicants for humanitarian relief, including applicants for asylum, VAWA relief, U and T visas, temporary protected status, deferred action for childhood arrivals, and cancellation of removal, as well as clients seeking status through special immigrant juvenile and family-based immigration petitions. Our attorneys represent many clients who have fled from horrific domestic violence, political violence, and other types of persecution and include unaccompanied children, adults and families, and individuals pursuing their claims while detained. The Unit also engages in appellate and impact advocacy on critical immigration issues affecting our clients and works with numerous community organizations to provide policy education and community legal education.
Interns in the Immigration Unit assist attorneys in the representation of clients in a variety of immigration matters including removal defense, defensive and affirmative asylum claims, special immigrant juvenile status petitions, VAWA self- petitions, "U" and "T" visas, and other immigration matters before the USCIS and EOIR. The primary duties of interns include working with Unit clients in the preparation of their applications and cases. More specifically, interns conduct in-depth interviews of clients; perform legal research; write legal memoranda; participate in case strategy plans; prepare applications for relief; draft affidavits; coordinate and collect corroborating evidence; work with country conditions experts; and prepare clients for interviews and hearings.
This internship position provides students with a unique opportunity to work very closely with clients, learn immigration and human rights law, develop familiarity with and experience responding to the needs of immigrants and asylum seekers, and develop important advocacy skills in a multicultural setting. Our interns participate in case rounds, obtain training on various types of immigration relief, and network with other legal advocates and students. Because GBLS provides a broad range of civil legal services, work in the GBLS Immigration Unit may also provide interns opportunity to work with attorneys and advocates in other practice areas in meeting the needs of our clients.
We seek interns with the following qualifications and skills: strong verbal communication skills; professionalism; attention to detail and good organization; strong research and writing skills; and interviewing and counseling experience. Language fluency in Spanish, Portuguese, or Haitian Creole is helpful 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 email@example.com for any questions you may have on these internships. Also, feel free to visit our website at www.gbls.org.
GBLS values diversity and encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds.