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The Asian Outreach Unit (AOU) provides guidance, referral services and free legal assistance to nearly 1,000 low-income Asian immigrants each year. Our clients count on us for the most basic needs for themselves and their families. Our goal is to be a gateway to legal services and the legal system for all low-income Asians who rely on us.
Many of our clients speak very little – if any – English. Our staff speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Toisanese and Vietnamese. We also hire interpreters for other Asian languages as needed to serve our clients.
Yet beyond language, low-income Asian immigrants also face distinct cultural issues to accessing legal services. Most come from countries where lawyers and the legal system are not accessible to ordinary people and some fear government agencies (including courts) because of past political persecution in their home countries. Some believe domestic violence should be tolerated instead of seeking help to be safe. Others may be afraid to come forward out of fear of retaliation.
Direct Client Services
At the Asian Outreach Unit of GBLS, we have dedicated staff who are as familiar with the distinctive cultural issues of our clients as they are with their legal rights. Our staff attorney's background and training make them uniquely suited to assist and represent Asian immigrant clients in the key areas of:
- Domestic and family violence
To facilitate easier access to our services, we provide intake services right in the heart of Boston’s Asian community.
We work side by side with community based organizations, national rights groups, government agencies, law schools, law firms, legal organizations, social service agencies, health centers, shelters, and concerned citizens. Together, we protect the legal rights of our clients, and empower them to become active members our community.
AOU Impact Advocacy Campaigns
At AOU, we know that empowering people goes hand-in-hand with empowering their communities. That’s why we work with Asian American groups, legal organizations and citizens to address issues that directly affect the lives of Asian Americans in Greater Boston – issues such as domestic violence and worker exploitation. The most recent example is the passage in 2010 of a bilingual ballots bill requiring Chinese/English or Vietnamese/English ballots for those that need them in the City of Boston.