The Housing Law Clinic represents tenants who are facing evictions by private market and subsidized landlords. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Housing Justice for Survivors Project which represents tenants facing housing instability as a result of domestic or sexual violence. The bulk of the clinic’s work consists of litigation in the Boston Housing Court, defending evictions and prosecuting counterclaims with the goal of improving housing conditions, enforcing consumer rights, supporting tenant organizing efforts, and preventing homelessness.
Students engage in:
- client interviewing and counseling;
- fact investigation;
- pre-trial discovery (including taking and defending depositions), negotiation, and motion practice;
- trying cases in court;
Students also have the opportunity to engage in community lawyering and to work on legislative and other law reform initiatives.
This clinic is part of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center (LSC), a general practice community law office in Jamaica Plain. LSC’s diverse clinics provide clinical instruction to second- and third-year law students and serve as a laboratory for the innovative delivery of legal services. Students are taught and mentored under the supervision and guidance of clinical instructors and fellows in one of LSC’s litigation clinical practices.
How to Register
The clinic is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters. You can learn about the required clinical course component, clinical credits and the clinical registration process by reading the course catalog description and exploring the links in this section.
Meet the Instructors
Managing Attorney; Director; Lecturer on Law
Maureen joined the Center in January 1998 as a Clinical Instructor in the Housing Law Clinic. Prior to her work at the Center, Maureen, for ten years, specialized in the representation of indigent individuals in criminal defense and child abuse and neglect cases. She served as a Mentor Attorney for the Committee for Public Counsel Services’ Children and Family Law Program, where she instructed attorneys who were new to practice in that area of law. Maureen has volunteered as a Citizen Teacher with the Citizen Schools program, mentoring Boston Public Middle School students in a Legal Apprenticeship Program that met at LSC. She is also adjunct faculty at the Urban College of Boston, which is affiliated with Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. Maureen received her B.A. from Suffolk University in 1980 and her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in 1987.
Director, Housing Justice for Survivors Project; Lecturer on Law
Julia Devanthéry co-teaches the Housing Clinic and directs the Housing Justice for Survivors Project, which she founded in 2017. The Housing Justice for Survivors Project trains clinical law students to represent tenants who are facing housing instability due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Students under Julia’s supervision provide direct client representation, develop and litigate impact litigation, conduct housing rights trainings for community members and advocates, and engage in local, state, and federal law reform efforts aimed at improving the housing rights of survivors. Julia and students in the Housing Justice project represented the tenant in BHA v. YA, 482 Mass. 240 (2019), in which the Supreme Judicial Court decided affirmed a domestic violence survivor’s right to raise the Violence Against Women Act defense to a non-payment of rent eviction. From 2018-2020, Julia was the Dignity for All Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Southern California where she worked to safeguard the civil rights of people experiencing homelessness and advance the right to safe, affordable housing for all. Julia received her juris doctor from Northeastern University School of Law and she graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Sociology.
Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law
Samir Hanna co-teaches in the Housing Clinic and leads a new medical-legal partnership with Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. In this partnership, students work holistically with Brigham’s Social Care Team to represent tenants in housing court as they deal with housing instability. Prior to joining the Legal Services Center, Hanna taught at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB) where he supervised second and third-year students in housing cases, social security hearings and unemployment insurance hearings. At HLAB he successfully supervised students through a five-day jury trial leading to a verdict of over $10,000 for the tenant.
Prior to the being faculty at Michigan Law, Hanna served as an administrative law judge for the State of Michigan, presiding over and issuing more than 1,500 decisions in administrative appeals. In his capacity as an administrative law judge, Hanna developed unique insight into the administrative adjudication process and the inner workings of state administrative agencies. Before joining the bench, Hanna worked in legal aid and maintained his own private practice, which focused on indigent clients charged with unemployment fraud. He has worked for the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice.
In the News
Melissa Morgan ’24 endeavors to “make rights real” for clients in the Housing Justice for Survivors Project
“In the Housing Clinic, the law is tangible,” writes Melissa Morgan’24.
September 29, 2023
Mussab Ali ’23: Right-to-Counsel reform and the way forward
Mussab Ali ’23 talks about his work in LSC’s Housing Clinic representing clients facing eviction— and how important it is to have legal representation against “unscrupulous landlords.”
July 26, 2023
‘I wish there were more Maureens in the world’: 25 Years at LSC
By Olivia Klein This January, Maureen McDonagh, managing attorney of the Legal Services Center (LSC) and director of the Housing Law Clinic and lecturer on law, celebrates 25 years at LSC. Since joining LSC, McDonagh has modeled dedicated advocacy and outstanding mentorship for hundreds of clinical students, while securing housing justice for thousands of tenants
January 12, 2023
Julia Devanthéry Honored with Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s Top Women of Law Award
Via LSC Blog Julia Devanthéry, founding director of the Housing Justice for Survivors Project at the Legal Services Center (LSC), has been selected as a 2022 Top Women of Law by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and was honored at the Top Women of Law event on November 16. This event celebrated the achievements of exceptional women
November 21, 2022