Located at the crossroads of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, we are a community-based clinical law program that provides essential civil legal services to low- and moderate-income residents of Greater Boston. Our longstanding mission is to educate law students for practice and professional service while simultaneously meeting the critical legal needs of the community. Founded in 1979, we engage in cutting-edge litigation and legal strategies to improve the lives of individual clients, seek systemic change for the communities we serve, and provide law students with a singular opportunity to develop fundamental lawyering skills within a public interest law setting. To these ends, we actively partner with a diverse array of organizations, and continually adapt our practice areas to meet the changing legal needs of our client communities. We encourage diversity, value unique voices, and pursue with passion our twin goals of teaching law students and advocating for clients.
The Legal Services Center (LSC) of Harvard Law School has a three-decade record of providing exemplary legal services to address the unmet needs of low-income families in Greater Boston. In a typical year, LSC provides legal services to over 1,200 households across numerous practice areas. We work in the areas of predatory lending and consumer protection, post-foreclosure eviction defense, family law, domestic violence, estate planning, disability benefits, and veterans legal services to provide a continuum of advocacy resources for our most vulnerable community members.
These practice areas are not silos. We provide holistic legal advocacy wherever possible. As but one example, it is not uncommon for a client to be represented by LSC attorneys in a housing or consumer law case while simultaneously receiving representation from a different team of LSC attorneys in a disability or family law case. This approach recognizes that few legal problems exist in isolation, emphasizes teamwork and coordination, and reduces the barriers that clients encounter when they are shuffled from one organization to another through a series of referrals.
LSC is able to provide advocacy to the community with such breadth and depth because we are also a clinical law teaching program in which dozens of Harvard Law students participate each semester. The presence of talented and energetic law students increases our capacity to reach more clients with more services and enables us, despite our modest size, to tackle significant litigation against large and well-resourced adversaries.
We are committed to providing superior legal representation to our client communities. As part of that commitment, we encourage community members to contact us to apply for legal assistance. Please click on the following links to learn about our specific areas of specialization, how to apply for representation, and eligibility criteria:
Low-Income Taxpayer Project:
The Low-Income Taxpayer Project provides free legal representation to clients in tax controversies with the IRS. The Project 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.
Prospective clients can apply for assistance from the Low-Income Taxpayer Project by calling (866) 738-8081 (toll-free number) or (617) 522-3003 and asking for the Low-Income Taxpayer Project. The Low-Income Taxpayer Project serves clients who reside in Greater Boston. The Project accepts intakes and referrals from all sources, but has a particular focus on representing low-income veterans and immigrants/non-English speakers.
Community Enterpise 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.
In addition to direct legal representation for individual clients, we also maintain an active community legal education program. Through the program—known as the People’s Law School—we provide educational workshops for the public on a range of important legal topics. Using language and materials that makes the law clear and understandable, we conduct these workshops both on site at our Jamaica Plain offices and in other community locations.
If you are part of an organization, community group, or service provider and would like to request a People’s Law School workshop, please contact us at (617) 522-3003 and ask to speak to the People’s Law School Coordinator. Past workshops have addressed topics such as: debt collection issues, bankruptcy, tenant’s rights, military discharge upgrades, Massachusetts Veterans’ Services Benefits, Social Security overpayments and waivers, and estate planning and probate court. But we welcome requests on any and all topics within our areas of practice expertise.