About the Center
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
- Participate in the research and handling of pro bono criminal cases with faculty leadership.
- Assist with the work of the New England Innocence Project to secure the exoneration of wrongfully convicted persons.
- Join in the development of 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
- Study, promote, and aid environmental causes in collaboration with faculty, peers, and members of the environmental community.
- Provide legal assistance to citizens fighting inappropriate sitings of polluting or otherwise damaging industrial uses such as fossil-fuel electricity generating plants or hydroelectric dams.
- Support public litigation and the development of legislation to restore natural habitats damaged by hazardous substance releases.
Immigration Law Project
- Contribute to pro bono cases related to human rights, international law, refugees, and immigrants.
Public Service Project
- Work directly with clients and public and private sector attorneys through clinical placements and externships.
- Lead training sessions at shelters and community centers to teach indigent and underrepresented people about their civil rights.
- Handle court cases in such diverse areas as divorce, custody, evictions, consumer fraud, immigration, criminal prosecution, and Social Security under the student practice rule (SJC Rule 3:03).
Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Project
- Engage in projects aimed at the protection of victims of domestic and sexual violence.
- Serve as a legal advocate on behalf of children.
- Contribute to the New England Law public-access information websites created by the project, including Sexual Violence Legal News and 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.
- Notify subscribers of new information postings through the Sexual Violence Legal News Online alert service.
CLSR Fellows Program
- Awarded annually to a new graduate of the school, the fellowship provides a salary and administrative support to enable the Fellow to engage in one or more substantive projects to advance a career in public interest law. Recent 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.
- Working on a precedent-setting international law case related to a Belize dam project.
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.
The CLSR hosts visiting public interest activists who teach classes, lead student and faculty discussions, and join CLSR projects during their stay at the law school.
LawMatters Discussion Series
Throughout the academic year, the CLSR hosts numerous panel discussions, guest speakers, and faculty-led talks where students, faculty, and members of the legal community debate current legal issues. Topics emanate from all CLSR projects, and have included issues as diverse as same-sex marriage, environmental disaster response, legal representation for the indigent, and joint custody legislation.