Clinic students at LSC have their own cases and meaningful responsibility in those cases; they are not glorified interns or mere helpers. Although your supervisors will provide comprehensive training, raise issues for you to consider in your cases, and, at times, offer suggestions, you will have the opportunity and responsibility to propose and make strategic and tactical decisions and then to execute those decisions under our guidance. This means that you will interview and counsel your own clients, conduct fact investigations and discovery, identify legal research issues, engage in negotiation, and represent clients in hearings and trials. In short, you will do all of the things a practicing lawyer does—within the supportive environment of a public interest law firm dedicated to clinical teaching. We are committed to being accessible, providing thoughtful supervision, and mentoring students.
Depending on the size and complexity of a case, students may work in teams or individually. In some instances, students may also have the opportunity to collaborate with students in other LSC clinics. It is not uncommon for a client of LSC to have multiple and intersecting legal problems that cross practice areas.
Students are authorized to represent clients in state courts and agencies under Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:03. Students are authorized to appear in federal court under a parallel provision in the applicable rules.
Q: WHERE IS LSC?
LSC is located in the City of Boston, at the crossroads of the Jamaica Plain and Roxbury neighborhoods. Our address is 122 Boylston St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130. See here for a map.
Q: WHAT ARE LSC’S HOURS?
LSC is open 9 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Many staff members work beyond 6pm; and some also arrive before 9 a.m. If you would like to arrive before 9 a.m. or stay after 6 p.m., please make arrangements through your supervising attorney to ensure the building will be open to you.
Q: WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO TRAVEL BETWEEN CAMPUS AND LSC?
There are several options. Most students take the subway (known in Boston as “the T”). LSC is adjacent to the Stony Brook T Station on the Orange Line. Some students drive to LSC—and carpool with others if schedules align. Other students have also used car sharing services such as ZipCar and ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Directions on the T and for car travel can be found on the LSC website here.
Q: IF I DRIVE MY OWN CAR, WHERE CAN I PARK?
LSC has free parking for students behind our building. For more information, see here.
Q: IF I WANT TO USE A ZIPCAR, ARE THERE ZIPCARS NEAR LSC?
Yes. There are ZipCars in the parking lot next to our building. Some of these spaces are for one-way ZipCars, which may be the most cost-effective way to use ZipCar between campus and LSC.
Q: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DRIVE BETWEEN CAMPUS AND LSC?
It depends on the time of day. When there is little traffic, it can take 20-25 minutes. When driving at rush hour, it can take approximately 35 minutes.
Q: DO WE PROVIDE A SUBSIDY FOR STUDENT TRAVEL TO AND FROM LSC?
Yes. For Academic Year 2017-18, the subsidy was $253.50 per semester per student as reimbursement for transportation expenses related to using the T, renting a ZipCar or similar car sharing service, or using a ride sharing service such as Uber or Lyft. The subsidy for Academic Year 2018-19 will be the same or slightly higher. The subsidy is provided at the conclusion of the semester upon the submission of expense receipts. Unfortunately, we cannot reimburse students for gas or mileage, but we do provide free parking in our parking lot. For students interested in taking the T and purchasing the discounted MBTA LINK pass through the Dean of Students office, which covers unlimited travel on the subway (Red Line, Green Line, Orange Line, etc.) and local buses, please click here. Students who purchase this MBTA LINK pass through the Dean of Students office are eligible for reimbursement starting the first week of the semester. Please remain mindful that there is a deadline to purchase the discounted MBTA LINK pass through the Dean of Students office. Please check the Dean of Students office webpage about discounted passes for the relevant deadline, which can fall prior to the start of the semester or very early in the semester.
Q: WHAT FOOD OPTIONS EXIST WHEN I AM WORKING AT LSC?
Some students bring their lunch. Students can use the refrigerator in the LSC kitchen on the third floor to store perishables. In addition, there are several restaurants in the neighborhood. We provide students with a list of recommended restaurants in the area. There are also vending machines in our building.
Q: WHEN WILL MY FIRST DAY OF CLINICAL WORK AT LSC TAKE PLACE?
The answer depends on the clinical work schedule you choose (see the next two questions below in these FAQs). You should simply show up at LSC on the first day of clinical work you identified in the work schedule you submit to us prior to the start of the semester. (Note: This means that even in a semester that begins on a Tuesday–such as the fall semester where Labor Day (a Monday) is an instructional holiday and where your clinical seminar (held on Mondays) will not initially meet until the second week of the semester–you will still commence your clinical hours at LSC the first week of the semester.)
Upon your arrival at LSC for your first day of clinical work, your clinical supervisor will provide you with an orientation to LSC’s work space and law practice protocols. In addition, LSC hosts a lunch for new students in the LSC library on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the first week of the semester. These lunches, which begin at noon, provide students with an opportunity to meet peers from their own clinic and other LSC-based clinics and to hear presentations from LSC staff about our program, our mission, and our values as a site for clinical teaching and public service. You are welcome to attend multiple lunches that first week. Sign-up information for the lunches will be distributed before the start of the semester.
Q: HOW MANY HOURS WILL I WORK ON CLINIC CASES EACH WEEK?
Students can sign up for 3, 4, or 5 clinical credits. Each clinical credit presumes 4 hours per week of work.
|Clinical Credits||Hours Per Week|
You can adjust—up or down—the number of clinical credits for which you are enrolled after the start of the semester. This allows you to get a sense of the work flow of your clinic before making your final decision about the extent of your time commitment to the clinic. Please note there is a deadline during the semester for adjusting your clinical credits. Please consult the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP) website for more information about the deadline for adjusting clinical credits during the semester.
As you can imagine, when you work on real cases for real clients, one cannot guarantee that case assignments will perfectly match up with the hours per week chart set forth above. Cases sometimes require intense work during one week—for example, as you prepare for a hearing or draft an important document—and then far less work during another week. Cases and litigation have a natural, albeit sometimes unpredictable, ebb and flow. So students should view the hours per week guidelines as reflecting an average over the course of the semester rather than a scientific description of each and every week during the semester.
Q: HOW DO I COME UP WITH MY CLINIC WORK SCHEDULE?
At the outset of the semester we ask students to create a clinic work schedule of their own choosing – that is, a regular schedule for the days and hours when they will be on-site doing clinical work at LSC. This allows us to coordinate client meetings, team meetings, and supervision schedules. Please note that we understand a student might need to adjust his or her schedule during any given week because of other commitments, the rhythms of clinical work, etc., so we don’t consider the schedule we ask students to submit at the beginning of the semester to remain the same for each and every week of the entire semester. And it is not uncommon for students to revise their regular schedule a couple of times during the semester as they figure out what works best for them.
In terms of developing your clinic work schedule, please note that some students find it useful to spend longer blocks of time at LSC on fewer days in order to minimize the number of days requiring travel to LSC each week. For other students, this is a less important consideration. You should develop the schedule that works best for you and should feel free to consult with your supervisor to receive any additional guidance that might be helpful to your planning.
Finally, please also note that after the first couple of weeks of the semester, once students have acclimated to our law firm systems and protocols, student can do up to 1/3 of their clinical hours remotely with their supervisor’s permission.
Q: WHERE WILL I DO MY CLINIC WORK?
As noted above, you will do most of your clinical work at LSC. All students are provided with a dedicated work space at LSC, including a desktop computer and phone. Time you spend in court, at an agency, or engaged in community outreach obviously also counts toward your clinical hour requirements.
Q: WHERE DO THE CLINICAL SEMINARS TAKE PLACE?
The clinical seminar sessions take place on campus on Mondays from 5-7 p.m.
Q: IS THERE A DEDICATED SPACE ON CAMPUS WHERE I CAN DO CLINIC WORK?
Yes. There is an LSC desk with a phone, computer, and printer access in the common area in WCC 3025, which is a suite in the clinical wing on the third floor of WCC. There is an LSC sign above the LSC work desk.
Q: CAN I ACCESS CLIENT AND CASE DOCUMENTS REMOTELY?
Yes. You will be given a computer program that will allow you to access client and case documents on your laptop in a secure and confidential manner. The necessary computer training and your access credentials will be provided the first week of the semester once we complete a conflict of interest check.
Q: HOW DOES LSC SCREEN FOR STUDENT CONFLICTS OF INTEREST?
We ask students to complete a conflict of interest form and submit it prior to the commencement of their clinical work. You can download the conflict of interest form here. Please complete the form and, by the first day of the semester or your first day of clinical work at LSC, submit it via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that depending on the nature and type of prior legal work a student has experienced, a student may need to confer with a prior legal employer to confirm information requested on the form. Therefore, students should allow sufficient time to complete the form prior to semester’s start. If you have any questions at all or believe you will need additional time to complete the form, please contact your clinical instructor.
Most client meetings occur at LSC. We have a suite of interview rooms on our first floor for meeting with clients. In some instances, students may meet with a client away from LSC. That might occur because the student’s clinic is participating in an attorney-of-the-day program at a local courthouse, the client has a disability that prevents him or her from traveling to LSC, the student needs to visit the client’s home to gather or view evidence, or for other reasons.
Q: WHAT LANGUAGES DO LSC CLIENTS SPEAK?
Many of our clients speak English. Some speak Spanish, Haitian Creole, or other languages. We have two excellent Spanish translators on staff (Silvia Vazquez and Isabel Lima). We use interpretation services—both in person and via phone—for other languages.
Q: WHAT IS AN ADVANCED CLINICAL?
Some students decide to come back for a second–and even a third–semester of clinical work at LSC. They do so for any number of reasons. Some do so in order to work with the same client or clients for a longer period of time, to work on a particular case until its completion, to pursue an opportunity to represent a client at a particular case event (e.g., trial, hearing, deposition, negotiation, oral argument, etc.), to undertake more advanced work generally, or to explore new areas of practice within a clinic. Advanced clinical students do not re-take the clinical seminar or otherwise have any classroom obligations. The experience consists solely of lawyering at LSC under the mentorship of your clinical supervisor. Advanced clinicals are a great way for students to deepen their understanding of a practice area, to strengthen their bond with their clients, to expand their lawyering toolkit, and to hone their advocacy skills. If you are potentially interested in an advanced clinical experience or have any questions at all, please confer with your clinical supervisor. In addition, please note that advanced clinicals require a short online application and are subject to submission deadlines–all of which is overseen by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP). Please visit the following page on the OCP website for more information about continuing clinicals, including the relevant submission deadlines for each semester: http://hls.harvard.edu/dept/clinical/clinics/continuing-clinical-work-program/. As with an initial clinical experience at LSC, students can choose, within a range, how many credits they want to take in a continuing clinical, can develop their own clinical work schedule, and can, with a supervisor’s permission, perform a portion of the work remotely.
Q: WHAT DO STUDENTS MOST VALUE ABOUT WORKING AT LSC?
We are a vibrant public interest and teaching law firm whose work spans five clinics and practice areas. Among the many benefits of working in an LSC clinic, students have told us they most value the following:
• the extensive opportunities for client interaction
• assuming responsibility for the most important parts of a case, from initial client intake to drafting legal documents and representing clients at hearings and trials
• making a difference for clients in need
• helping clients to avoid eviction, escape an abusive relationship, defeat an unfair debt collection suit, obtain disability benefits, or retain control over financial and healthcare decision-making
• working side-by-side with other students, both within a clinic and across clinics
• being immersed in a community-based setting
• developing practical lawyering skills by using those skills in real cases and receiving feedback
• learning by doing
• receiving close mentorship from experienced attorneys
• receiving regular and timely feedback
• interacting with partner organizations and professionals in the community, such as advocacy organizations, healthcare providers, and social service agencies
• LSC’s strong track record of helping students pursue public interest law careers
• LSC’s strong track record of helping students develop skills that are transferable to any context, including private law firms, government service, and public interest organizations
• LSC’s lunch-time speaker series, which brings knowledgeable and prominent people to speak on a variety of topics important to LSC’s work
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS STUDENTS HAVE SAID ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES AT LSC?
• “I liked the work a lot, the clients were amazing, and the supervising was very thorough and well-managed. I always felt like I was in charge of my cases but never felt lost. Overall, a really great experience that I would recommend to any student.” (Spring 2014)
• “What I liked best about the clinic was engaging in actual litigation. I think it is easy for students to go through law school and even summer jobs without having the kind of direct experience that the clinic provided.” (Spring 2014)
• “The ability to take risks, work in a needed field, and to gain this experience with the support of experienced and passionate attorneys. Having had this experience, I feel more than prepared for the work I will be conducting at this firm this summer.” (Fall 2013)
• “The Legal Services Center is a great place to work. Everyone is friendly, collegial, and open.” (Fall 2014)
• “The clinic has honestly and sincerely been a very career-changing experience for me. I really love working with the clients, I find the work itself varied and challenged and interesting, and the office environment is collaborative and supportive. This is exactly the kind of experience I now want to have in my post-graduate career, and it’s very seriously informed the kind of place I plan to seek out for my fellowship, and possibly even the kind of work I want to do.” (Fall 2014)
• “I have had a fantastic experience working with the … Clinic …. Arguing [an appellate case in federal court] was the highlight of my experience at HLS….” (Spring 2015) – http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/clinicalprobono/2015/05/25/christopher-melendez-15-wins-cleas-outstanding-clinical-student-award/
• Successfully representing my LSC client in an appeal “was unquestionably my most meaningful experience in law school.” (Spring 2015) – http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/clinicalprobono/2015/05/22/clinic-student-finds-a-meaningful-experience-in-representing-veterans/
• The Clinic “has been an invaluable experience. It exposed me to new ways of thinking about the connection between the law and individual women’s experiences, and I will always be grateful for the way my clients opened their lives to me.” (Spring 2015) – http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/clinicalprobono/2015/05/21/a-clinic-student-confronts-the-challenges-of-family-and-domestic-violence-law/
• “Clinical work has been an invaluable complement to the classroom curriculum of my law school career: the complexities of direct legal representation are so much more nuanced and fluid than can be described in a classroom, and the rewards of working with clients and sharing in their success, are so very great.” (Spring 2015) – http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/clinicalprobono/2015/05/19/clinic-student-wins-social-security-disability-hearing/
• “This past September, I enrolled in the Estate Planning Project, with the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. My work with that clinic turned out to be one of the most valuable, and absolutely the most rewarding experience of my academic career.” (Fall 2015) — http://blogs.harvard.edu/clinicalprobono/2016/02/29/a-reflection-on-my-semester-with-the-estate-planning-project/
• “Significantly, my cases challenged me to consider myself as a practicing attorney rather than a student attorney. I represented clients in court multiple times; filed complaints for divorce, modification of child support, and contempt; interacted with opposing parties; negotiated with opposing counsels; conducted a direct examination in court; obtained a restraining order for a client; and drafted and finalized a divorce settlement agreement. One of the more memorable courtroom experiences occurred in a post-judgment action for contempt. The judge began the hearing by stating, ‘Counselor, how would you like to proceed?’ It took me a few seconds to realize that he was talking to me and that I was a counselor and not a student.” (Fall 2015) — http://blogs.harvard.edu/clinicalprobono/2016/03/03/out-of-the-classroom-and-into-the-courtroom/
• “I was involved with the clinic for two semesters, and I went to court hearings four or five times each semester. The experience has been one of my highlights at Harvard Law School. One of my favorite things about the clinic is the sense of community. From day one, the clinical instructors, Nnena Odim and Stephanie Davidson, constantly provide feedback and collaborate with students. Their feedback on the documents I drafted and on my performance in court taught me how to strategize effectively and how to zealously advocate for my clients. The students in the Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic also tend to be a close knit group. Getting to hear about their cases and working together as a clinical unit helped us in our brainstorming and problem solving abilities.” (Fall 2015) — http://blogs.harvard.edu/clinicalprobono/2016/02/17/a-sense-of-community-and-a-chance-to-represent-clients-in-court/
• Two students in the Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic after presenting oral argument in Federal District Court on behalf of a client denied disability benefits: “[T]he single most valuable element was the knowledge that all of this work was directly assisting our client who otherwise would not have been able to challenge the denial of her benefits. We highly recommend that others interested in opportunities to develop oral advocacy skills consider enrolling in the clinic.” (Spring 2016) — https://blogs.harvard.edu/clinicalprobono/tag/disability-litigation-benefits-advocacy-clinic/
• “What has really inspired me about the Project on Predatory Student Lending is its simultaneous commitment to high-quality direct legal services and pursuit of policy change on our clients’ behalf. I came to law school to find a way to combat structural inequality—and I see the clinic’s combination of legal services and client-driven policy advocacy as a model for how to achieve that. It is a model I hope to emulate in my career.” (Spring 2016) — http://blogs.harvard.edu/clinicalprobono/2016/04/20/project-on-predatory-student-lending-inspiring-my-public-interest-career/