Legal Services Clinic
Legal Services Clinic students spend sixteen hours a week in the office of Community Legal Aid (CLA). Community Legal Aid is a state-funded civil legal aid program serving central and western Massachusetts which provides free civil legal assistance to low-income and elderly residents of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester Counties. While the Legal Services Clinic allows students to learn about the real practice of law it also gives them the opportunity to play a role in the community by providing essential legal services to those in need. In the Legal Services Clinic, you can make a measurable and meaningful difference in the lives of the low income, elderly and disadvantaged clients.
Types of Law Practiced at Community Legal Aid
• Housing Law
• Disability Law
• Employment Law (primarily
• Benefits Unit (representing low income people in
obtaining and maintaining eligibility
for state and federal benefits.)
• Elder Law, including a statewide
Medicare Advocacy Project
• Family Law (primarily assisting
victims of domestic violence)
• Immigration Law
Students participating in the Legal Services Clinic must complete a lawyering skills seminar as a prerequisite to their semester of field placement. The skills seminar focuses on substantive law and issues related to poverty law practice, and developing basic lawyering skills, including professionalism and ethics, client interviewing, counseling, fact investigation, oral advocacy, negotiation and litigation skills.
Students spend 16 hours per week working in an office of Community Legal Aid. At CLA, students have primary professional responsibility to advocate on behalf of their clients. Students may have the opportunity to interview and counsel clients, develop a case theory and legal strategies to advance their client’s goals, engage in settlement negotiations, represent clients in administrative hearings, and participate in all aspects of litigation, including drafting discovery requests, pleadings, motions, and memoranda, and arguing in court. Students may have the opportunity to handle administrative hearings for SSI, unemployment, and welfare cases, and court hearings for family, elder and housing cases. A student is required to be SJC Rule 3:03 eligible.
Students also participate in a seminar concurrent with their semester of field placement. The seminar meets for approximately 14 hours during the semester, and will serve as a forum for reflection on the fieldwork component, case review, and other topics.
Prerequisites: The clinic is open to students who have successfully completed 32 hours of law studies and have successfully completed or are concurrently enrolled in evidence. Students may not enroll in an externship while doing the fieldwork component of the Legal Services Clinic during the 5 credit semester. You may take an externship while enrolled in the Legal Services Prerequisite Skills Seminar.
Students Certified Under Rule 3:03: Legal Services Clinic students are required to be certified to practice under the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Student Practice Rule 3:03. Please note that an amendment is sent to the S.J.C. upon completion of the clinical program and 3:03 certification is withdrawn at that time.
Semesters Offered: Fall and Spring
Credits: First Semester Skills Seminar (2-credits)
Second Semester Field Placement (4-credits) with Concurrent Seminar (1-credit)
Spots available each semester: 8
Application: Application is made in the Spring for the Fall and Spring semesters of the next Academic year. Applications are accepted from first-year and second-year full-time students and second-year and third-year part-time students.
The application period for Academic Year 2013-2014 clinic spots has concluded. The clinic application period for Academic Year 2014-2015 will reopen in March, 2014.
Application Requirements: Resume, unofficial transcript, and Legal Services Clinic application.
"Applying for the Legal Services Clinic was the best decision I made in law school, and it was by far the most outstanding educational experience I have had at Western New England University. The clinic gave me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients facing a broad range of problems. Helping real clients with their real issues taught me more about being a lawyer than any textbook or lecture. Working in the Legal Services office with their experienced lawyers gave me a tremendous insight about the practical aspects of the legal profession. Lastly, because Legal Services works primarily with economically disadvantaged clients, I learned first hand the vital role that lawyers can play in the lives of our clients. Its not only the students that benefit from working at Legal Services - you can make a real and positive impact on our community even while you learn the skills you will need in your professional career after law school."
Legal Services Clinic Student Class of 2007