About the Racial Justice Fellowship
MLAC created the Racial Justice Fellowship in 2006 to expand the reach of legal aid to communities of color who face difficulty attaining access to legal representation due to racial injustice and language and cultural barriers. The goal of the fellowship is to use systemic advocacy and other strategies to address pervasive problems of racial injustice, given the disproportionately high rate of poverty among communities of color and the unmet legal needs of these communities.
The Racial Justice Fellowship funds a two-year position at one of the civil legal aid organizations that receive funding from MLAC. Each civil legal aid organization identifies a potential fellowship project and submits a proposal to MLAC. MLAC awards the fellowship to one legal aid organization, which then recruits and hires the fellow—usually the fall before the start of the fellowship year. The fellowship is for attorneys with at least five years of experience. If you are interested in becoming a fellow you should contact an eligible legal aid organization in the year before your potential fellowship to discuss ideas for a project. For additional information on the Racial Justice Fellowship, contact Patricia Swansey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are examples of past projects
One fellow worked at the National Consumer Law Center, based in Boston, representing and pursuing debt relief for African American and Latino/a student loan borrowers—groups that have been disproportionately harmed by predatory for-profit schools. In addition to assisting individual clients in Boston who faced student loan debt, she advocated for more protection for borrowers at the state and federal level, and educated other attorneys who handle these cases so that they can help more people access justice.
Another fellow worked with the Center for Law and Education to provide legal assistance to low-income Massachusetts students. They represented vulnerable students and conducted systemic advocacy in school districts in the southeastern part of the state. Following the conclusion of the fellowship, this fellow became an integral part of the South Coastal Counties Legal Services’ education unit.
MLAC’s first Racial Justice fellow worked at Greater Boston Legal Services to develop and implement the Latinas Know Your Rights Project, which assisted Latina immigrant women, primarily in Waltham, who are survivors of domestic violence and who are particularly vulnerable to physical and economic abuse due to their immigration status. Through outreach and education, the fellow trained 39 women in the community to be lay advocates so that they could share their knowledge with other women, help them protect their rights, and make a greater impact than one attorney could do alone. This significantly improved the awareness of domestic violence in Waltham, empowered more individuals to be self-advocates, and increased the availability of resources to survivors.