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Statewide Language Access Attorney – Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Application Deadline: Open until Filled. This is a fast-track hire; interested and qualified applicants should submit application materials as soon as possible

Position Background and Description
Language barriers create and complicate legal problems. Individuals with a limited understanding of English are often forced to use their children, friends or family members as interpreters to help them address legal problems. Misinterpretation in these situations can have devastating ramifications. Massachusetts has the eighth largest limited English proficient population in the country. Language access is a growing and pressing need in the legal aid and access to justice community.

The Statewide Language Access Attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is largely supported through special funding from the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC). The Language Access Attorney will work to increase access to justice by limited English proficient (LEP) and Deaf and hard of hearing communities in Massachusetts. The Attorney will provide technical assistance to and support the work of frontline legal services advocates. In addition, he/she will coordinate the Language Access Coalition and will work with this coalition and others to identify language access barriers, propose strategies, and implement improvements that provide LEP individuals with qualified, accessible, and timely language access services. The Attorney will participate in language access collaboration and advocacy work on national, statewide and local levels.

Core Responsibilities:

Statewide Language Access Advocacy Coordination:
– Coordinate the statewide Language Access Coalition (LAC); plan/facilitate regular LAC meetings
– Update the language access sections of the Massachusetts Legal Services website (www.masslegalservices.org) and the Massachusetts Legal Help website (www.masslegalhelp.org).
– In collaboration with the LAC, coordinate and plan the annual legal aid Language Access Conference

Advocacy:
– In collaboration with LAC and legal services programs, identify and address systemic language barriers and/or noncompliance with language access laws and regulations (e.g., in state and local agencies, the courts system, etc.) through advocacy strategies to ensure that individuals who are LEP, or Deaf or hard of hearing receive qualified, accessible and timely language services

Technical Assistance & Support to Legal Aid Programs and Community Groups:
– Work with legal aid programs and advocates to help build capacity within their programs to identify and resolve language access client issues and to identify widespread issues appropriate for systemic advocacy
– Respond to requests from legal services advocates for technical assistance regarding language access issues and increase the capacity of legal services to engage in direct advocacy on language access.
– Coordinate trainings on language access laws and regulations, best practices, effective language access issues in case handling, etc., to frontline legal aid staff and legal aid programs
– Develop training and screening tools related to assessment of linguistic proficiency and interpreter skills for interpreters and bilingual staff.
– Help legal aid programs design and update internal Language Access Plans.
– Maintain an up-to-date pool of resources available to advocates and connect language access efforts statewide to encourage collaboration and systemic interventions.
– Build relationships and collaborations with community-based organizations that serve LEP communities.
– Educate LEP communities about language access rights.
– Provide direct service to clients in addressing language access issues that arise in specific cases.
– Encourage and facilitate the collaboration and sharing of resources with advocates outside of legal services, including: community partners, the court systems and administrative agencies.

Experience & Qualifications:

– J.D. required; licensed to practice law in MA
– Bilingual or multilingual required
– Expertise or familiarity with federal and state laws and regulations relevant to language access (e.g., Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Title VI regulations, prohibiting discrimination based on national origin, etc.) highly desirable
– Program development / project management experience required
– Generalist practice (i.e., knowledge/familiarity across various legal aid issue areas) desirable
– Demonstrated commitment to public interest law, civil rights, racial justice and empowerment of low-income people & underserved communities
– Excellent legal research and writing skills
– Strong verbal communications skills, including ability to communicate effectively with individuals from diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds
– Interpreting experience and training, or experience working with interpreters and translators preferred
– Strong organizational skills
– Demonstrated leadership experience and ability to work collaboratively

Compensation: Position is full-time; part-time employment is negotiable. Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications. Generous benefits package.

Application Process: To apply please submit a cover letter referencing this position, resume, and brief writing sample electronically to: LangAccess@mlri.org. (No phone calls please.)

FAST TRACK HIRE: Applications will be reviewed as received & interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis. Qualified candidates should submit applications as early as possible.

The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and does not discriminate on the basis of age, class, color, disability, ethnicity, faith, gender, national origin, race, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Because it is critical both to achieving MLRI’s mission and to operating in a way that is consistent with MLRI’s organizational values, MLRI strives for greater racial and ethnic diversity. Candidates from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.