New England Law | Boston students perform public service work through clinical courses, student groups, and employment, both paid and volunteer.
Students may obtain transcript recognition for approved public service legal work through the Public Service Transcript Notation Program.
Part of what originally drew me to New England Law | Boston was the school’s commitment to Public Interest. At the beginning of my 2L year, a friend from another law school suggested I volunteer with her at an event called “Stand Down,” working in the legal services tent with an organization called Shelter Legal Services (SLS). Stand Downs are events put on by the Department of Veterans Affairs, aimed at providing services to homeless veterans such as food, clothing, health screenings, and assistance with public housing and legal services. Shelter Legal Services worked with the veterans to provide them with assistance with their family law issues including child support.
I enjoyed working with clients and learning more about the law in a practical setting. I was hooked! I continued to volunteer with Shelter Legal Services at their weekly clinic at Rosie’s Place and in their office there. I would help perform intake interviews with prospective clients, draft follow up correspondence to those individuals, research legal issues, and correspond with opposing parties. Through this experience I was able to hone my client counseling skills and refine my legal writing. I also felt that I was able to make a difference in the lives of these women. It was amazing to me how much their lives could be improved by assisting them with their legal issues. I also earned the school’s Public Service Transcript Notation for my volunteer work with SLS.
In the spring of my 2L year I learned that I could continue to work at Shelter Legal Services, under the supervision of Sarah Roxburgh, a New England Law alumna, and receive academic credit through the Lawyering Process Clinic. I also learned that I could obtain my 3:03 certification through participation in this clinic, which would allow me to appear in court on behalf of these clients. I always wanted to be a trial attorney and this gave me the opportunity to test that theory. I worked approximately 20 hours a week with SLS at both Rosie’s Place in Boston and in their main office in Newton. In addition to continuing to gain valuable advocacy experience working on family law cases and appearing in court on behalf of clients, I was also able to gain a better perspective on the business aspects of running a legal services agency. My work with SLS also offered me the opportunity to use my Spanish language skills.
In the spring of my 2L year I responded to a job posting for a summer internship with the Rhode Island Office of the Public Defender (RIPD). I did an on campus interview with RIPD and they were very interested in my work with SLS. They were so interested that they offered me a summer internship with their office. So, the summer after my 2L year I commuted to Providence every day, where I worked in the Providence District Court representing clients in misdemeanor and felony arraignments. Through RIPD, I was able to obtain my Rule 9 Student Practitioner certification, similar to the Massachusetts Rule 3:03.
I loved the different challenges I was presented with every day and the fast paced environment of a busy court room. I was on my feet presenting in court sometimes conducting as many as 50 arraignments in one morning, always under the watchful supervision of a senior attorney from RIPD. These senior attorneys had worked for RIPD for many years and were so willing to teach me everything they knew despite their busy schedules and heavy workloads. I was so taken with my summer experience, I continued working with RIPD in the fall of my 3L year through the Criminal Procedure Clinic II. This time, I was working the pretrial calendar, counseling clients on recommendations from the prosecutors and their options for proceeding to trial. During that fall semester I had my first trial in which I won a not guilty verdict.
My participation in these clinics allowed me to further investigate what I thought I wanted to do when I originally enrolled at New England Law | Boston. I am thankful to both New England Law and the various mentors I have worked with along the way, including Professor Engler, Sarah Roxburgh, and other New England alums. I really enjoyed the opportunity to supplement what I was learning in the classroom through practical experience. My only regret is that I did not take more clinics in my time at New England Law!