Silvia Vazquez Celebrates 25 Years with the Legal Services Center and Harvard Law School

Silvia Vazquez Celebrates 25 Years with the Legal Services Center and Harvard Law School

Maureen McDonagh, Silvia Vazquez, Daniel Nagin and Isabel Lima

Maureen McDonagh, Silvia Vazquez, Daniel Nagin and Isabel Lima

“Good Morning, Legal Services!” Anyone who calls 617-522-3003 or walks into the waiting area of 122 Boylston Street is instantly greeted by the kind and welcoming Silvia Vazquez. Silvia wears many different hats at the Legal Services Center and assists every person who walks through our doors. This includes any clients, community members, or visitors as the Legal Services Center is open to the public every weekday from 9am – 5pm.  In addition, she supports LSC’s 30 staff members as well as 30 or more Harvard Law Students who join LSC each semester.  In celebration of her 25th year working for the Legal Services Center, we asked her a couple questions about her many years of service.

LSC: What are some of your day to day responsibilities?

Silvia: Well, I am responsible for opening the building so I get here before 9am every day. Then I check the mail and the faxes. I check the voicemail and return phone calls. Throughout the rest of the day I also answer phone calls from clients and anyone else who calls looking for help. I check the appointments and assist with translations. When the mail arrives I open, stamp, and distribute the mail. In the afternoon I go throughout the building and check the supplies, re-filling them if needed. At the end of the day I pick up and stamp the mail and drop it off. I also help out with set-up and clean-up for various events.

LSC: What is your favorite part of your job?

Silvia: I am just so happy to be here. We have such a great bunch of people to work with. I also like to be able to work with people-sometimes people come in, people who don’t speak English as their first language, who don’t have legal issues but have other issues. Yesterday and today I spent time helping a person who was having issues with his bank. Things like that make me really happy.

LSC: What are some of your favorite memories?

Silvia: I have worked with so many good people, like David Grossman and Diana Valentin who was the other receptionists working with me for many years, and various other people that have moved on. We have such a great time working together-there have been so many people throughout the years and so many good memories.

LSC: What advice do you have for people who come to be a part of LSC?

Silvia: I would say to be the way they are: friendly, caring people. And to continue to be like that.  Everyone is so nice and so caring. You feel comfortable, you feel good. No matter what position you are in, everyone treats you like an equal. That’s why I don’t want to retire. I plan to be here till I’m 70!

LSC: Looking forward, what are your hopes for the future?

Silvia: For the years to come, I would like to continue doing what I’m doing now because I love this job. Meeting new students, working with them, helping them. Working with clients, people who come to LSC-that’s what I want to continue to do!

Thank you to Silvia for her 25 years of service!

Project on Predatory Student Lending Comments on Proposed Borrower Defense Rule

On August 1, 2016, the Project on Predatory Student Lending of the Legal Services Center, in partnership with the National Consumer Law Center, submitted comments on behalf of legal aid providers to the U.S. Department of Education about its proposed regulations on when and how defrauded student loan borrowers can obtain relief on the federal student loans they borrowed to attend predatory schools.

As detailed in our comments, we support aspects of the proposed Borrower Defense rule such as its move toward banning schools from including forced arbitration, its mechanism for providing relief to entire groups of students in cases of widespread wrongdoing, and its provisions that will help borrowers whose schools have closed while they were in attendance.

We also urge the Department to improve other aspects of the proposed rule, by ensuring that borrowers retain the protections of their state’s consumer protection laws, ensuring that the rule does not unfairly and arbitrarily limit the loan forgiveness available to borrowers whose rights have been violated, restoring the ability of state attorneys general and legal aid advocates to petition the Department for relief on behalf of a group of students, and by providing a fair and reasonable process for borrowers with FFEL (bank-originated, government-backed) loans.

The comments share experiences and circumstances of the Project’s clients and clients of other legal aid organizations. They are low-income student borrowers who have been harmed by predatory practices of for-profit colleges, and come to us struggling to repay their student loans.

The Project also submitted a separate comment that provides additional context to the Department’s use of the term “educational malpractice,” and refutes the spurious argument that the proposed rule somehow opens the litigation floodgates for previously-unsustainable claims against schools.

Eileen Connor, the Project’s Director of Litigation, was a negotiator on behalf of legal aid providers who represent borrowers.