New England Law's CORI Initiative
What is the CORI Initiative?
The CORI Initiative (established in 2011) is a student-directed project of New England Law’s Center for Law and Social Responsibility, that operates as a volunteer, limited practice organization to provide criminal record-sealing services for indigent clients.
What is it like working with the CORI Initiative?
The CORI Initiative is a student-run organization that assists clients with sealing their criminal records in part to increase their employment, housing, and educational opportunities. CORI volunteers communicate directly with clients about their criminal charges and assist them with drafting affidavits and completing paperwork necessary to seal their charges.
The Initiative gives students, even in their 1L Year, a unique experience to interact with clients and perform substantive legal work. This work may include interviewing clients, drafting affidavits that are submitted to the court, and researching sealing and expungement law and policies that may contribute to legislative change sought in Massachusetts.
Information for Prospective CORI Clients
What is your CORI?
Your CORI (Criminal Offense Inquiry Record) is your criminal record that can be accessed both by the courts and police as well as employers, housing providers, and schools. A CORI indicates any time a person has been charged with a crime or interacted with the criminal legal system, even if the charges were dismissed or you were found not guilty. CORI’s reflect legal activity that may have occurred decades in the past, but their impact can continue years later.
Why should you seal your CORI?
Interactions with law enforcement in Massachusetts such as arrests or charges can prevent you from getting a job, housing, or volunteering at your child’s school. Sealing your Criminal Offense Inquiry Record with help from the CORI Initiative at New England Law | Boston can assist you in overcoming these hurdles to help you move on with your life.
Sealing your CORI means that most employers, housing providers, and schools can no longer see your criminal record when they perform a background check. Our service is free and completely confidential. Our volunteers are very experienced in the CORI sealing process and are dedicated to you.
CORI Initiative 2020-2021 Update
From 2020 to 2021, the CORI Initiative, like most of the world, was challenged to adapt to the realities of a global pandemic. Though student volunteers had to adjust to assisting clients through virtual and electronic means, the Initiative’s volunteers averaged 30 hours of pro bono work over the academic year during which they assisted clients with sealing and expunging their criminal records. In 2020-21, the CORI Initiative saw an increase in student involvement and collaboration with other programs to further the interests of their clients.
During this year, the CORI Initiative started a policy wing. The policy wing provided a public comment during a Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) public hearing regarding changes to CORI legislation. The CORI Initiative further researched and wrote submissions centered around sealing and expungement-friendly legislation to help advocate for proposed changes to CORI regulations. The student volunteers worked, and continue to work, toward promoting legislation that results in the automatic sealing of cases that warrant sealing without an arduous process that acts as an unnecessary hurdle to justice for those who have been disenfranchised by the criminal justice system.
The CORI initiative works to give members of the community a second chance at life. The time and effort students put into sealing work allowed for 18 students to receive a pro bono transcript notation, 7 of whom will be recognized on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Pro Bono Honor Roll.
This year the CORI Initiative will also be celebrating its 10th birthday. In September it will have been a decade since the program began its roots at New England Law | Boston. The CORI initiative is also preparing for new successes by taking on new partnerships to increase those who can seal their criminal records. The CORI Initiative is collaborating with the Nashua St. Jail in order to educate correctional staff, inmates, and detainees on their next steps of sealing through informational sessions. The Initiative is also working with ‘Back on My Feet’ to assist their members in sealing their records to aid in transforming their lives. The Initiative is continuing to build a network of students and alumni who previously volunteered to expand its efforts to provide these critical sealing services.
To hear more about the CORI Initiative at New England Law, start volunteering, or to inquire about becoming a client, please contact: CORI@nesl.edu