The Legal Services Center assists over 1,000 clients each year with civil legal problems in a variety of substantive areas of law. The Center’s legal advocacy is organized into the following practice areas:
The Safety Net Project (Formerly Disability Litigation & Benefits Advocacy Unit):
The Safety Net Project provides low cost or free legal assistance to injured and/or disabled clients, including veterans, seeking to prove eligibility for disability related benefits, chiefly Social Security Disability Insurance and SSI, but also other state and federal income and insurance programs, and private disability insurance.
The Estate Planning Project represents clients in a wide variety of matters to help protect individual autonomy and decision-making when a client faces illness, chronic disability, or death. We draft wills, health care proxies, funeral planning directives, living wills/medical directivecs, and special needs trusts; we establish and defend against guardianships and conservatorships; and we assist in matters involving VA Fiduciary appointments. The estate planning practice now focuses exclusively on meeting the needs of veterans.
The Family Law and Domestic Violence Unit provides direct legal representation to clients in the matters of divorce, custody and parenting, abuse prevention, paternity, child support, and guardianship. In particular, the Unit partners with a local hospital to provide holistic legal services and support to survivors of domestic violence.
The Federal Tax Unit provides free legal representation to clients in tax controversies with the IRS. The Unit works on a wide variety of matters, including family tax issues (e.g., earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and dependency exemptions), tax debt/collection cases (offers in compromise and installment payment agreements), injured and innocent spouse claims, and audit reconsiderations. Our work on behalf of taxpayers involves, among other things, requesting audit reconsideration, representing clients at IRS Appeals conferences, drafting and submitting advocacy letters to IRS Appeals, preparing and submitting innocent and injured spouse claims and offers in compromise, and representing clients before the U.S. Tax Court.
As part of a broad coalition of legal services providers and community organizers, The Housing Law Clinic represents Boston tenants and foreclosed upon owners who are facing eviction. The work is done as part of a movement to effect change in the community and the bulk of the clinic’s work consists of litigation in the Boston Housing Court. Students defend evictions and prosecute affirmative cases to improve housing conditions, fight housing discrimination and prevent utilities terminations.
The Predatory Lending and Consumer Protection Unit provides direct legal representation to clients in the following areas: predatory lending practices, deceptive or fraudulent practices regarding home repair contractors and automobile dealers and other goods and services, predatory student loan practices, wrongful repossession, illegal and abusive debt collection tactics, credit card defense and chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy.
The Veterans Law Unit provides free legal assistance to eligible veterans and their families across a number of practice areas of critical importance. We represent clients in appeals at all levels regarding access to federal veterans’ benefits (including Service-Connected Disability Compensation Benefits, VA Pension, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Benefits, and VA healthcare) and Massachusetts Veterans’ Services Benefits (Chapter 115 benefits), in discharge upgrade and correction of military records matters, and in estate planning matters.
Community Enterprise Project:
The Community Enterprise Project, which is based at the Legal Services Center, is part of the Transactional Law Clinics of Harvard Law School. The Project focuses on using the law as a tool of community economic development.
Veterans Enterprise Initiative:
The Veterans Enterprise Initiative is a collaboration between the Veterans Legal Clinic and Transactional Law Clinics of Harvard Law School. Through the Initiative, eligible veterans can receive legal help to start or operate a small business. The Initiative provides legal counseling and representation on issues such as business formation, contracts, permits/licenses, and leases. To apply for assistance from the Initiative, please call our intake line: (617) 390-2525.