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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.

Spring Break 2020 Application Process and Timeline

Spring Break 2020 Application Process and Timeline

Projects Outside of Boston

Proposal Deadline: Monday, November 11 at 5pm
Information Session:
 Monday, November 18 at 12pm in WCC 3016
Application Deadline: Monday, November 25 at 8am
Decision Notification: Monday, December 2
Student Commitments Deadline: Monday, December 9

Boston-area Projects

Local Boston-area projects will be announced in January with student applications due in late January/early February.

Application Deadline: TBA
Student Commitments Deadline: TBA

Funding

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.

For examples of past funding and application processes, see the 2019 PowerPoint presentation.

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

Past Trips: Spring Break 2019

Past Trips: Spring Break 2019

2019 Spring Break Trips in Review

Spring Break of Service: Students Take their Pro Bono Work on the Road

Projects Outside of Boston

American Gateways

American Gateways serves the low-income immigrant community in Austin, San Antonio, and throughout Central Texas delivering culturally sensitive, trauma-informed legal representation from start to finish of a case. American Gateways also provides legal orientation, immigration workshops, and pro bono legal representation at immigrant detention facilities.

Students will be assisting pro se clients at the Pearsall Detention Center by helping them prepare for their pro se merits hearings and credible or reasonable fear interviews, collecting country conditions research, and reviewing their I-589 asylum applications. Students might also work with respondents seeking cancellation of removal. Most students should speak Spanish. French is also useful.

Location: San Antonio, TX

Openings: 8 students

Website: http://www.americangateways.org/

Civil Rights Corps

Civil Rights Corps engages in advocacy and public education and specializes in innovative, systemic civil rights litigation with the goal of resensitizing the legal system and our culture to the injustice and brutality that characterize the contemporary American criminal system. Students on the spring break trip will have the unique opportunity to work on ongoing litigation relating to abusive private probation practices in Tennessee. The Lawsuit is similar to one filed in 2015 that shut down the use of private probation in Rutherford County, TN, which resulted in a $14 million settlement. Students will work with Civil Rights Corps staff and partner organizations to investigate and gather evidence for this case. This includes, identifying potential additional defendants, interviewing clients and witnesses, drafting affidavits, and observing court proceedings. Students will also assist in preparing legal filings in the case.

Location: Tennessee

Openings: 6 students

Website: https://www.civilrightscorps.org/

Hurricane Maria Relief Projects – Puerto Rico

Students will work with local organizations in Puerto Rico on a combination of legal research, direct client assistance, and a bit of humanitarian aid. The work may focus on the right to adequate housing, land title issues, and access to disaster recovery assistance including Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding. Some projects may involve traveling throughout the island for legal brigades or clinics. We will select a first group of students in December and hope to select another group of students in January/February if additional placements in Puerto Rico are arranged pending the needs on the ground. Spanish proficiency is required.

Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico and possibly Ponce, Puerto Rico

Openings: 10+ students

Website: https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/clinical/hurricane-maria-legal-assistance-to-puerto-rico/

Legal Aid of North Carolina

Legal Aid of North Carolina is coordinating Hurricane Florence relief efforts in North Carolina along with the Bar Association and the ABA Young Lawyers Division.

Students will work in two or three legal services offices in rural North Carolina doing legal research, client intake, and possibly assisting with legal clinics. The work may involve assistance with appeals of FEMA and other benefits available to disaster survivors, assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims, help with home repair contracts and contractors, including fraud or scams, assistance with consumer protection matters, and counseling on landlord/tenant problems.

Location: Likely Greenville, NC, Fayetteville, and Pembroke, NC

Openings: 4 to 6 students

Website: http://www.legalaidnc.org/about-us/news/florence-disaster-legal-services

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Greater Boston Area Projects

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