Maria Theophilis (Class of 1999)
I graduated from NESL in May 1999 and began working at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) in a temporary position in the Welfare Unit, handling cases involving individuals attempting to obtain or maintain TAFDC benefits and food stamps. I later obtained a permanent position in the GBLS Housing Unit where I represented tenants in summary process and civil actions and, in the process obtained an incredible amount of litigation experience. In the fall of 2002, I transferred to the Health and Disability Unit where I represent claimants applying for disability benefits at the Social Security Administration. Additionally, I engage in policy and legislative advocacy regarding health-related issues. I have found my work at GBLS challenging and rewarding and have felt privileged to have had the opportunity to contribute to the struggle for social justice.
While at New England, I took the Lawyering Process course which provided me with basic skill development which I relied upon heavily when I first began at legal services. Through the Lawyering Process, I worked at Inmate Legal Services at the Suffolk County House of Correction, helping inmates with a variety of legal problems. Further, the course helped me identify and learn to address the unique needs of my clients who are often disenfranchised and in crisis. Before I came to New England, I worked at the Immigrant Workers Resource Center, which gave me important experience and my first contacts with GBLS.