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Center for Law and
Social Responsibility

"We send people out into the world ready to practice law that advances socially responsible ends."

Professor David Siegel, co-director, Center for Law and Social Responsibility

Center for Law and Social Responsibility

Welcome to the CLSR!

It starts in the classroom. New England Law professors teach more than seventy courses on public interest-oriented topics such as American Indian Law, Sexual Orientation and the Law, Global Warming Law and Policy, and Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Process. In tandem with the academic curriculum, the CLSR has five or six faculty members at any given time who engage students in actual public service legal work. This enables students to participate in real-world projects as a part of their coursework, thus bridging the gap between what is discussed in the classroom and how the law works in the real world.

This linking of theory and practice means that the study and work of CLSR students and faculty can have far-reaching effects. The descriptions of current projects below give a sense of the CLSR’s impact.

Criminal Justice Project

  • Directly assist clients of legal services providers with criminal matters.
  • Participate in the research and handling of pro bono criminal cases under faculty supervision.
  • Assist with the work of the New England Innocence Project to secure the exoneration of wrongfully convicted persons.
  • Join in drafting and promoting legislation to improve the accuracy of the criminal justice system.
  • Help train criminal justice professionals in these topics.

Education Law Project

  • Supports and provides opportunities for New England Law | Boston students to become involved in education law and policy work outside of the classroom and to expand their knowledge of the field.
  • Works to identify and invite prominent education law and policy scholars and practitioners to campus for opportunities to meet, speak to, and network with students.

Environmental Advocacy Project

  • Contribute to state database of environmental agency decisions.
  • Aid environmental advocacy groups with research, fact-finding, strategy.
  • Provide legal assistance to citizens fighting inappropriate sitings of polluting facilities.
  • Support public litigation and legislation to restore natural habitats.

Human Rights and Immigration Law Project

  • Contribute to pro bono cases related to human rights, international law, refugees, and immigrants.
  • Join faculty in advocacy and educational efforts aimed at immigration policy development.
  • Directly aid clients of legal services providers in immigration law matters.

Public Service Project

  • Directly aid clients of public service attorneys through clinical placements and externships.
  • Lead training sessions at shelters and community centers to teach indigent and underrepresented people about their civil rights.
  • Receive transcript recognition of public service volunteer efforts.

Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Project

  • Contribute to the two New England Law | Boston public-access informational websites, the Sexual Violence Legal News and the Judicial Language Project (JLP). The only online resource of its kind in the country, the JLP monitors cases related to sexual violence for language that stereotypes, demeans, or otherwise inappropriately characterizes the victims of violence.

CLSR Fellows Program

  • The law school has awarded this fellowship to a graduating student in some academic years.  Fellows engage in one or more substantive projects to advance a career in public interest law

Sample projects undertaken by New England Law fellows:

  • Representing citizens before the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board and other agencies in opposition to a proposed power plant.
  • Collaborating with academics, community activists, state and local government agency representatives, and other public health experts to forge a workable plan to improve environmental conditions in Boston’s public housing communities.
  • Contributing to a precedent-setting international law case to block a Belize dam project.
  • Aiding the City of Boston in developing its climate change preparedness policy.

Public Service Transcript Notation Program

  • Students may earn formal recognition on their official law school transcript of the public service and pro bono work they perform while in law school.  (More information.)

LawMatters Events Series

  • Throughout the academic year, the CLSR hosts numerous panel presentations, guest speakers, and student-led talks where students, faculty, and other members of the legal community come together to discuss current issues in public service law. 
  • Topics emanate from all CLSR projects, and have included issues as diverse as same-sex marriage, environmental disaster response, legal representation for the indigent, refugee policy and process, and joint custody legislation.