Your browser does not support JavaScript

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 legal work for a minimum of five days over the break in addition to other cultural activities.

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

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 Commit By: Monday, December 9

See the 2020 Info Session PowerPoint.

Boston-Area Projects

Application Deadline: Sunday, February 9
Student Commit By: Monday, February 17

 

Apply Now

Boston-Area Projects

Boston-Area Projects

Boston Area Projects

OCP will pay for subway passes to travel to downtown Boston locations and zipcar/rental car expenses to locations outside Boston.

Court Service Center

The Massachusetts state trial courts have Court Service Centers to help self-represented people access resources and navigate the court system. Centers are available to all court users without lawyers and there are no income or immigration status requirements. The Centers primarily assist self-represented litigants in family and housing matters such as divorce, custody, guardianships, and evictions and occasionally with small claims matters.

Student volunteers will work one-on-one with litigants under the supervision of the Court Service Center Manager.  Students may greet litigants; interview litigants about their needs; assist litigants with completing court forms; and researching local resources. Those students who speak other languages can also assist in interpreting for litigants when they receive assistance.

All volunteers must complete a CORI check and be eligible to work in the United States.

Locations: Downtown Boston (accessible by subway), Brockton, Lowell, Springfield, or Worcester (zipcar/rental car)

Website: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/learn-about-court-service-centers

Volunteer Lawyers’ Project (VLP)

The Volunteer Lawyer’s Project works to increase access to justice by delivering high quality pro bono civil legal services to eligible clients in the Greater Boston area.  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 VLP’s 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 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.

Location: Downtown Boston (accessible by subway)

Openings: 4-6 students

Website: https://vlpnet.org/

2020 Projects Outside of Boston

2020 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 services. American Gateways also provides legal orientation, know your rights workshops, and pro bono legal representation at immigrant detention facilities.

Students will be assisting pro se single adult 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 or bond hearings.

Most students should speak Spanish. French is also useful.

Location: San Antonio, TX

Openings: Six students

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

Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky (AppalRed)

The HLS Legal Services Center Safety Net Project is part of a nationwide network of law offices and attorneys working with thousands of victims of a Social Security disability benefits scheme in the poorest parts of Appalachia.  Eric Conn was convicted of fraud and related crimes for manufacturing medical evidence and paying an Administrative Law Judge to approve claims so he could get the attorney’s fees.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) then suspended benefits of almost 1000 people without due process. There are pro bono litigation teams bringing class action law suits against the SSA for their response to the Conn scam, and thousands are now going through benefits redetermination hearings.

Hosted by the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, Inc. (AppalReD), students will travel to Kentucky to meet with the litigation teams bringing class action law suits against SSA, meet with and interview current clients, provide case development for individual clients and research for the class action team, and engage in community based activities in Prestonsburg and surrounding areas.

Location: Prestonsburg, Kentucky

Openings: Six students

Website: https://www.ardfky.org/

El Paso Immigration Collaborative (EPIC)

The El Paso Immigration Collaborative, or EPIC, is an organization of immigration rights advocates from El Paso, New Mexico, and around the US dedicated to implementing a massive collaborative representation strategy in five detention centers in New Mexico and West Texas that house over 3,500 ICE detainees. EPIC works with volunteers to do legal intakes with asylum seekers for bond and parole cases, so that asylum seekers can be released to their families or communities in other parts of the country.

Volunteers will do legal intakes with asylum seekers who have passed a credible fear interview. During the intakes, students will speak with asylum seekers about the trajectory of their legal case, evaluate options for parole or bond, complete a comprehensive intake, gather essential documentation, and help to triage cases for placing with pro bono representation. Students will do intakes at 3 detention centers in Chaparral, NM; El Paso, Texas; and Sierra Blanca, Texas.

Spanish proficiency required.

Co-sponsored by Harvard Law Immigration Project (HIP)

Location: El Paso, TX

Openings: Four students

Website: https://elpasojuntos.org/

Hurricane Maria Relief Projects – Puerto Rico

We are organizing a trip to Puerto Rico working with local organizations 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, environmental justice, economic development, and access to disaster recovery assistance. We will select a group of students in December but placements and projects will not be finalized until February pending the needs on the ground.

Spanish proficiency is required.

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

Openings:  8-10 students

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

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 will likely need to contribute to airfare or other transportation costs depending on final numbers of student participants.