The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB) is unique among HLS programs of clinical legal education in that its legal services program is student-run. Founded in 1913, HLAB has a long history of responding to the legal needs of low-income people in the greater Boston area. The Bureau consists of approximately 50 second- and third-year student members who make two-year commitments to the Bureau’s program of clinical education and legal services to the indigent community. Student membership in HLAB carries with it an integrated two-year academic and clinical training in legal practice skills and ethics. HLAB members are expected to devote at least 20 hours per week of clinical practice and related activities.
Students represent indigent clients in civil matters in the Massachusetts courts, before administrative agencies, before legislative bodies, and in various other fora. Working under the supervision of eight clinical instructors who collectively have extensive public interest and private practice experience, all students assume direct responsibility for representation of clients from intake interview to final disposition. Each year the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau handles over 300 cases in varied practice areas, including family law, housing law, wage and hour law, government benefits, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) matters. Bureau practice frequently involves appearances by student attorneys before state courts, hearing officers, and administrative law judges. Students also have the opportunity to engage in other forms of advocacy, including the following task forces, community lawyering partnerships, and clinics for pro se litigants:
- Attorney-for-the-Day at Boston Housing Court
- Attorney-for-the-Day at Suffolk Family and Probate Court
- Benefits Practice (SSI/SSDI/DUA)
- Community Lawyering Task Force
- Eviction Clinic
- Family Practice Task Force (FPTF)
- Racial Justice Task Force (RJTF)
- Wage & Hour Practice (including Mass AG Wage Theft Clinic)
- Y2Y Youth Homeless Shelter
- City Life / Vida Urbana
Because the Bureau is a student-run legal services program, members and their elected student board of directors are responsible for the governance of the organization.
Student work includes:
- Engaging in factual and legal research
- Client interviewing and counseling
- Negotiating agreements
- Drafting legal memoranda
- Arguing motions and trying cases before a court or jury
- Drafting legislation and promoting policy reform
- Cultivating and sustaining partnerships with community organizations
How to Apply
How to Apply
The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau is a two-year clinic commitment (full-year both 2L and 3L year). You can learn about the required clinical course component, clinical credits and the clinical application process by reading the course catalog description and exploring the links in this section.
Please contact HLAB directly for information about the 2021-2022 application process
In the News
In the News
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Shortchanged Workers Demand Attorneys’ Fees and a Fair Test for Determining Prevailing Party StatusContinue Reading about Shortchanged Workers Demand Attorneys’ Fees and a Fair Test for Determining Prevailing Party Status
Under the supervision of Clinical Instructor Patricio Rossi, nearly 10 HLAB students have played a critical role in helping two immigrant women of color obtain relief for wage theft from their employer. Two current students have been fighting to ensure low-wage workers like the women in this case have access to attorney’s fees. The suit, Ferman, et. al. v. Sturgis Cleaners, Inc., was brought by two former employees of the South Boston dry cleaners who claimed they were underpaid for their labor, a violation of the Massachusetts Wage Act and Overtime Pay Act.
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Richard Barbecho wins the Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service AwardContinue Reading about Richard Barbecho wins the Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award
Richard Barbecho ’19 is this year’s winner of the Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award. He was chosen for exemplifying a pro bono public spirit and demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to improving and delivering high quality volunteer legal services in low-income communities. Barbecho has been a devoted canvasser with Project No One Leaves, a volunteer member of Harvard Defenders, and a “prolific Harvard Legal Aid Bureau student attorney.”