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.
Kassandra Heine (Class of 2007)
I started law school with no professional experience to speak of. I worried that I would not be able to compete with other students for positions in the legal field in Boston, especially because I was from Indiana and knew no lawyers in the area.
In the spring of my second year, I enrolled in the Lawyering Process and was placed at Greater Boston Legal Services. I had the opportunity to work in the disability unit with a Senior Attorney on a class action lawsuit against the MBTA on behalf of people with disabilities. The lawsuit was in its settlement stages. I was able to learn the process of a class action lawsuit and what is necessary to gather a group of individuals who cannot afford legal representation and fight a corporation with immense resources. I wrote motions for the Federal District Court, researched issues regarding the settlement fees for attorneys, met with members of the class action suit and assisted in the lengthy settlement documents. I also met with non-class members to interview them so that I could write their affidavits. While I was happy to learn the details and increase my research and writing skills what I found most rewarding was the interaction with clients. I never realized how much I could enjoy assisting someone in need or how it was possible for me to do so with a law degree. A year later, I still e-mail some of those clients. After the clinic was over I was offered a summer position at Greater Boston Legal Services in the disability unit.
In my third year of law school I decided I was ready to explore the criminal system and so I enrolled in the criminal procedure clinic. I requested to work with the Suffolk District Attorney's Office in the Dorchester District Court and was placed there. In this clinic, I learned not only by observing the court but also in participating in arraignments, motions and disparate pleas in the courtroom. I also wrote motions, memorandums and learned how the ADAs deal with cases on a regular basis. I was glad to have the opportunity to stand in front of a judge for the first time with the confidence that I understood what I needed to say and do. I was especially pleased with the placement because of the integrity that comes along with working in a Suffolk County Courthouse. Working for the DA's office is not just something I can add to my resume but was also taught me the practicalities of being in a courtroom, which will help me regardless of whether I decide to become an ADA or a criminal defense attorney.
Before enrolling in the clinics I had never considered public interest law. Mostly, I did not understand what it meant to be serving the public with my law degree. Since working with the amazing plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit and feeling as though I accomplished something for victims at the Dorchester District Court, I have learned that public interest law is what will be best for me in my career choices.