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Legal service clinics in Massachusetts law schools train law students to be prepared for practicing law upon graduation by offering instruction in the context of real world problems. Students have the opportunity to engage in community service by providing essential legal services to those in need.

Boston College Legal Services LAB was set up in 1968 to “advise and represent clients with a variety of legal problems, including primarily domestic violence prevention, family law, landlord-tenant disputes, and Social Security disability appeals. Pursuant to the Massachusetts student practice rule (SJC 3:03), students supervised by a faculty of supervising attorneys and a clinical social worker are certified to represent clients in every aspect of litigation, including appearing in court and at federal and state administrative hearings.”

Boston University Law began its program in 1965. “Students are taking on modern day slavery in the Human Trafficking Clinic; they are fighting for children’s rights in Haiti; they are defending or prosecuting juveniles and adults in criminal matters.” The new Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic is a collaboration between MIT and Boston University School of Law which offers free legal help to would-be entrepreneurs from both schools.

The Legal Services Center of Harvard University assists over 1,000 clients each year with civil legal problems in a variety of substantive areas of law. Students serve clients with issues related to disability litigation and benefits advocacy, estate planning, family law and domestic violence, federal taxes, post-foreclosure evictions, housing law, predatory lending and consumer protection, and veteran’s issues.

Massachusetts School of Law students can participate in a Family Advocacy Clinic.

At New England Law, clinical courses are considered an integral part of the curriculum. Programs allow students to “undertake rigorous legal and factual analysis and gain exposure to issues of policy and ethics that seldom arise in the classroom. . . A classroom component [is combined] with each clinical program, an approach that enhances the educational value of the practical experience of field work.”

Northeastern University School of Law students have the opportunity to participate in clinics dealing with community businesses, civil rights and restorative justice, criminal defense advocacy, domestic violence, IP related legal services, poverty law and practice, prisoners’ rights or public health advocacy. “Each year more than 100 NUSL students participate in clinics, contributing more than 20,000 hours of legal assistance annually to people and populations with significant need.”

Suffolk Law “From representing young people facing suspension from school to helping microenterprises fight ‘corporate bullying,’ students in [Suffolk Law’s 10 in-house] clinics help solve real world problems for clients who would otherwise go unrepresented.” Each of the clinics “trains students to be practice-ready by teaching key legal skills in the context of a real world client/problem; asking students to consistently reflect on their performance; and documenting improvements in skills over time.”

UMass School of Law In-House Clinics include the Community Development Clinic and the Immigration Law Clinic. Off-site clinic opportunities include the Criminal Prosecution Clinic and the Mashpee Wampanoag Legal Services Clinic where “clients include low-income litigants in the Tribal Court, located in Mashpee, Massachusetts as well as tribal members seeking legal assistance with various types of civil matters.”

At Western New England School of Law, Legal Services Clinic students are placed at Community Legal Aid (CLA), a private, non-profit organization that provides civil legal assistance to economically disadvantaged people and the elderly. Students can choose to help clients with problems in housing law, employment law, public benefits, disability law, elder law, family law, or immigration law.

Law students under the direction of a supervising member of the Massachusetts bar are able to help a wide variety of litigants who otherwise might not have legal representation. The other side of the coin is that the students gain valuable experience which they can use as they move on to practice law.

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