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Jaclyn Latessa (Class of 2013)

Day Division
I came to law school intent on developing the skills to do public interest work in a way that was meaningful to me. As soon as I met the prerequisites, I enrolled in the school’s Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic. This clinical course provided diverse options to gain experience within the civil sector in an area of public interest law of my choosing. The variety of options made it difficult to decide, but I opted for a placement in the Housing Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services ("GBLS").

At GBLS, I was fortunate to be assigned to a supervisor with a small group of attorneys working on a project created as a response to the developing foreclosure crisis. Our focus was on postforeclosure evictions of both tenants and former homeowners, exposing me to what was and still is a quickly evolving area of the law. Rather than just studying this area via lectures or a textbook, at GBLS I was able to see its effects on people and communities, and to discuss it with some of the best housing attorneys in the state on a near daily basis. Furthermore, my certification under Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:03 to practice as a student attorney allowed me to make arguments before the court under the supervision of staff attorneys.

An additional facet of my internship at GBLS was working with the grassroots organization City Life/Vida Urbana. It focuses on stabilizing communities via a "sword" and "shield" approach to housing rights. The "sword" denotes the activist portion of the organization whereas the "shield" is the legal component, which is supplemented by GBLS.

On Wednesday evenings I attended City Life/Vida Urbana meetings with GBLS attorneys, and I counseled attendees facing problems including conditions issues, evictions, and foreclosures. To serve as many clients as possible, we provided limited assistance representation where possible. These meetings allowed me to gain invaluable experience counseling clients from a variety of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

The following semester and during the summer of my 2L year I had an opportunity to partake in two separate judicial internships, both facilitated by New England Law. Working first at Essex Superior Court and then the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts deepened my understanding of the judicial process from both a state and federal perspective. It also enhanced not only my understanding of procedure but also the writing and research skills that are so essential to being a lawyer.

As a 3L, I enrolled in New England Law's Criminal Procedure II Clinic. Finally able to pursue my longstanding interest in indigent defense, I obtained a placement at the Roxbury Defenders Unit of the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Like the Public Interest Clinic, the Criminal Procedure II Clinic allowed me to be work under Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:03. At Roxbury Defenders, Rule 3:03 allowed me not only to make arguments before the court but gave me access to areas of the court typically reserved for attorneys only.

Working under the mentorship of numerous experienced and inspiring criminal attorneys, I learned invaluable advocacy skills and how to provide for a variety of collateral needs that are often a component of indigent defense. Much like my experience at GBLS, I worked with clients from a variety of backgrounds and in spite of challenges like language and other communication barriers. Through numerous research and writing opportunities I learned many of the ins and outs of Massachusetts criminal procedure and intricacies of the law.

Although the clinic ended my passion for this area of law did not, and I was not only able but welcomed to continue this internship through the end of my last semester of law school. For this volunteer legal work, I earned the school’s Public Service Transcript Notation.

(April 2013)