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The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP) offers students the opportunity to conduct pro bono work during spring break through organized group trips and projects with legal organizations in the Boston area and across the United States. Typically students engage in pro bono service for a minimum of five days over the break. Each trip must have more than one student participant and a student leader.

Funding

OCP has funded the trips since 2005 when students went to New Orleans to assist families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. There is a limited amount of funding available for administrative costs and student travel. Our goal is to fund as many students as possible for valuable learning and service experiences. Students may need to contribute to airfare or other transportation costs depending on final numbers of student participants.

View the 2019 PowerPoint presentation on information about the 2019 projects, funding, and application process.

Contact Lee Mestre with questions at lmestre@law.harvard.edu.

2019 Spring Break Projects

All HLS students are eligible to apply for a spring break project. The application deadline for projects outside of the Boston-area has passed. Applications for the Boston-area spring break projects can be found here. Descriptions of the projects can be found below.

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Consumer Debt Initiative

Spend the week in Western Massachusetts helping the Hampden County Bar Association (HCBA) Legal Clinic with the development of the Consumer Debt Initiative (CDI). In Hampden County, over 32 percent of individuals have a debt in collection and many of these cases are heard each week in the Springfield District Court Small Claims Session. However, many of these consumers do not show up to court in debt collections cases, and of those who do appear, only a small fraction are typically represented by an attorney. The CDI, a partnership between the HCBA and MassMutual, is focused on addressing this pressing problem.

The student project would entail helping the HCBA determine baseline data related to consumer debt collection actions filed in the small claims session of the Springfield District Court (reviews of dockets/court information, observing the sessions and recording outcomes, interviewing litigants, etc). This will allow the HCBA to demonstrate the impact of the CDI, and is critical to the project’s success. In addition, the students would get a limited opportunity to assist with the HCBA’s Lawyer for the Day program in Housing Court and/or their various in-house clinics for low-income people (in the areas of family law, residential landlord-tenant issues, and general civil district matters). Opportunities will be presented for networking with local attorneys, the court and judiciary, and MassMutual employees.

Travel and hotel expenses paid.

Up to 4 students 

Project Citizenship

Project Citizenship provides free services to legal permanent residents to help them become U.S citizens. Project Citizenship offers free workshops, eligibility screening, application assistance, legal referrals and all materials needed to apply for U.S. citizenship. Over spring break, students will do legal research, represent clients at interviews, follow up and contact clients to finish their applications, assist with citizenship applications, and advocate for disability waivers.

2 students  

Volunteer Lawyers’ Project (VLP)

Students who participate in VLP’s 35-hour week long spring break project receive a full day of intense training to prepare them for attending legal clinics in housing, family law, guardianship, and debt collection.  At our court-based clinics, students will assist with legal triage and screen clients for eligibility, draft legal documents and shadow an attorney who provides legal advice. Students assist with walk-ins at the call center and provide support to the attorneys and paralegals in the main office with various case management tasks, including case updates and client follow-up, and some data entry.  Students will also have the opportunity to work on other projects that support the program as needed.  Students who are 3:03 certified may also have an opportunity to advocate for clients in mediation or at a hearing.

6-8 students