Legal Services Clinic   

Legal Services Clinic students are placed at Community Legal Aid (CLA), a private, non-profit organization that provides civil legal assistance to poor people and elders. While the Legal Services Clinic allows students to learn about the real practice of law, it also gives them the opportunity to engage in community service by providing essential legal services to those in need.   

Types of Law Practiced at Community Legal Aid
• Housing Law
• Employment Law (primarily
unemployment compensation)
• Benefits Unit (representing low income people in
obtaining and maintaining eligibility
for state and federal benefits.)
•Disability Law
• Elder Law, including a statewide
• Family Law (primarily assisting
victims of domestic violence)
• Immigration Law

First Semester:
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.

Credits: 1st Semester Skills Seminar is 2-credits. Satisfies 2 experiential learning credits.

Second Semester:
Students commit a minimum of 16 hours per week on site in the Legal Services Unit at the offices of CLA during regularly scheduled hours for the fieldwork component. Placements will be in family, immigration, foreclosure, unemployment, disability or benefits departments. Students will have primary professional responsibility for cases, which involves interviewing clients, identifying the legal issues in the case and working to resolve them. Students may have the opportunity to handle administrative hearings for SSI, unemployment, welfare cases, and court hearings for family, elder and housing cases. Students are required to be SJC Rule 3:03 eligible.

Students must enroll in a seminar concurrent with their semester of field placement. The seminar will meet for approximately 14 hours during the semester, and will serve as a forum for reflection on the fieldwork component, case review, and other topics.

Credits: 5 credits which includes Field Placement (4 credits) and Concurrent Seminar (1 credit). Satisfies 5 experiential learning credits.

Spots available: 10

Prerequisites: The clinic is open to students who have successfully completed 28 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. A student 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.

Grading:  Pass/Fail

ApplicationsApplications will be accepted for clinic openings for Fall 2016/Spring 2017 and Spring 2017/Fall 2017.

Application Requirements:  Legal Services Clinic application, resume, and unofficial transcript.

Application DEADLINE Date: March 2, 2016



Gordon Shaw
Adjunct Professor of Law

Professor Shaw is the supervising attorney for the Legal Services Clinic. He earned his J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. Shaw is the Director of Client Access at Community Legal Aid.

To learn more, contact Marie Fletcher, Clinical Programs Administrator, at Tel.: 413-782-1469 or email:



Video Spotlight:
Legal Services Clinic

Chris Whalley Picture

 "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."

Chris Whalley
Legal Services Clinic Student Class of 2007

Related Links:

Community Legal Aid





1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield, MA 01119
Main University: 413-782-3111
Admissions: 413-782-1406 or 800-782-6665