Tag Archive for: Community Legal Aid

Immigration Law Attorney – CWJC

Central West Justice Center (CWJC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Community Legal Aid, seeks an attorney to join a vibrant, talented team that provides legal assistance in a range of humanitarian-based immigration law matters, including but not limited to removal defense, VAWA petitions, U and T visas, SIJS petitions, and asylum cases. The attorney will engage in community outreach, including community consultation sessions and know-your-rights trainings, and will assist in the preparation of periodic grant reports. This is a full-time position, although part-time hours are negotiable.

QUALIFICATIONS: Candidates must be admitted to the Mass. Bar, entitled to practice under SJC Rule 3:04, or have taken the July bar exam. Fluency or advanced proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese or Haitian Creole strongly preferred, as is prior experience in immigration law and demonstrated experience working with diverse communities. Strong interpersonal skills and an ability to work in a collaborative setting are important.

COMPENSATION: The starting salary for this position is $65,500, which is based on a union scale and adjusted upward depending on experience. CWJC offers a very generous benefits package that includes 401(k) with employer-paid contribution; low-cost health insurance (medical, dental, and vision) for employees and their dependents; malpractice insurance; paid leave (4 weeks vacation, 3 personal days, 12 sick days, and 13 holidays); and relocation stipend.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Please apply online on our website at: https://communitylegal.org/get-involved/work-with-us/job-openings/. Alternatively, you can submit your cover letter and resume to: avaughan@cla-ma.org or mail to Alicia Vaughan, Human Resources Director, Community Legal Aid, 370 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608.

CWJC is an Equal Opportunity Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. CWJC encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Temporary Staff Attorney, Victims of Crime – CLA

Community Legal Aid (CLA) is the non-profit legal services program providing free civil legal assistance to eligible low-income and elderly clients in Central and Western Massachusetts. CLA has over 150 dedicated, talented staff working across multiple offices. Our core work includes effective client-centered advocacy and robust outreach to and partnerships with our client communities.

CLA seeks a staff attorney to work in its Springfield office for the period of one year on a project designed to help victims of crime with a wide variety of civil legal matters. The attorney will help clients with cases involving access to housing, benefits, and health insurance programs; education law issues; and elder abuse. A portion of the attorney’s work will focus on assisting victims of domestic violence and harassment, including seeking restraining orders and handling other domestic relations matters. The position is funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance to provide holistic services to victims of crime.

QUALIFICATIONS: Recent law school graduates and more experienced attorneys are eligible to apply. Applicants should have a demonstrated commitment to poverty law and social justice work. Experience working with diverse communities, strong interpersonal skills, and an ability to work in a collaborative setting are important. Fluency in Spanish, Portuguese and/or Vietnamese a plus.

COMPENSATION: The starting salary for this position is $65,500, which is based on a union scale and adjusted upward depending on experience. CLA offers a very generous benefits package that includes 401(k) with employer-paid contribution; low-cost health insurance (medical, dental, and vision) for employees and their dependents; paid leave (4 weeks vacation, 3 personal days, 12 sick days, and 13 holidays); and relocation stipend. CLA has a hybrid workplace and requires at least three days per week in the office.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Please apply online on our website at: https://communitylegal.org/get-involved/work-with-us/job-openings/. Alternatively, you can submit your cover letter and resume to avaughan@cla-ma.org or mail to Alicia Vaughan, Human Resources Director, Community Legal Aid, 370 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608.

CLA is an Equal Opportunity Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. CLA encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Temporary Family Law Staff Attorney – CLA

Community Legal Aid (CLA) is the non-profit legal services program providing free civil legal assistance to low-income residents of central and western Massachusetts. CLA has over 150 dedicated, talented staff working across multiple offices. Our core work includes effective client-centered advocacy and robust outreach to and partnerships with our client communities.

CLA seeks an attorney to join its Family Law Unit for the period of one year, with the possibility of an extension. The attorney will be based in CLA’s Worcester office and will assist clients with cases involving family law matters including divorce, child support, visitation, and custody. It is anticipated that most of the attorney’s clients will be survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes. The attorney will have significant client contact and will assume an active caseload while continuing to accept new cases. This is a full-time position, although part-time hours are negotiable.

QUALIFICATIONS: Candidates must be admitted to the Mass. Bar or entitled to practice under SJC Rule 3:04. Prior family law experience strongly preferred, as is experience working with low-income people and survivors of domestic violence. Fluency in Spanish or Portuguese helpful. Excellent oral and written communication skills required.

COMPENSATION: The starting salary for this position is $65,500, which is based on a union scale and adjusted upward depending on experience. CLA offers a very generous benefits package that includes 401(k) with employer-paid contribution; low-cost health insurance (medical, dental, and vision) for employees and their dependents; paid leave (4 weeks vacation, 3 personal days, 12 sick days, and 13 holidays); and relocation stipend.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Please apply online on our website at: https://communitylegal.org/get-involved/work-with-us/job-openings/. Alternatively, you can submit your cover letter and resume to avaughan@cla-ma.org or mail to Alicia Vaughan, Human Resources Director, Community Legal Aid, 370 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608.

CLA is an Equal Opportunity Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. CLA encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Western Mass project helps parents keep custody of their kids (NEPM)

Below is an excerpt from a July 19 article published by the New England Public Media about a new initiative at Community Legal Aid (CLA) that provides legal support to guardians approached by the Department of Children & Families (DCF). CLA’s Senior Supervising Attorney Madeline Blanchette is quoted.


On an afternoon last January, a 49-year-old artist and mother named Cara was working a warehouse shift, one of two jobs she held to support her family. She was still sharing a house in Greenfield, Massachusetts, with her ex-partner and had left their 4-year-old daughter in his care.

But he got drunk, and Cara — not sure what to do — ended up calling the police.

Cara, who asked to keep her last name private, said she had already been in touch with a domestic violence organization about her ex. After the drinking incident, she said, that organization called the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).

“I thought that when DCF stepped in, that it would be an outside authority that could put this situation in control,” she said. “And it did the opposite.”

Read more from New England Public Media.

Community Legal Aid looks to strengthen connection with clients through medical partnerships (The Recorder)

Below is an excerpt from a June 19 article published by The Greenfield Recorder highlighting Community Legal Aid’s (CLA) medical-legal partnerships. CLA Managing Attorney Jennifer Dieringer is quoted.


GREENFIELD — An organization that provides free legal services to low-income and elderly residents is partnering with Baystate Franklin Medical Center and the Community Health Center of Franklin County in hopes of more easily connecting with people who need its services.

The partnership with Baystate Franklin will enhance the EMPOWER+ (Engaging Mothers for Positive Outcomes with Early Referrals) Family Clinic, a comprehensive screening and referral program that assists pregnant women with substance use disorder, including opioid use. The EMPOWER+ Family Clinic is based out of The Birthplace at Baystate Franklin/Pioneer Women’s Health in Greenfield.

The partnership with the Community Health Center of Franklin County, meanwhile, will help Community Legal Aid connect with potential clients at the center’s Orange and Greenfield locations.

Read more at The Recorder.

CLA op-ed: The difference an advocate makes in schools (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Community Legal Aid Education Staff Attorney Jaz Williams (pictured above) penned a guest column in the Daily Hampshire Gazette about her experience working in schools first as a former special education teacher, and now in the role of an advocate. An excerpt is below.

“As much as I love my job, I remain aware that it should not take a legal advocate coming into the school to ensure that it provides adequate educational services to students. Unfortunately, the education arena remains one of the most glaring examples of wealth inequity and disparities families face in this country. By making education law a priority for our organization, Community Legal Aid leads the effort in our region to help families and students vindicate their educational rights.

Community Legal Aid’s core mission is ensuring equal justice for all, including, at the school level, for children as young as three, and there is always more work to be done. Every time I leave a successful meeting, or close a case with a good outcome for a child, I think of the hundreds of other families who are not getting the help and support that Community Legal Aid offers. Where children live and what school they attend can shape their entire future. This is especially true if a family is not receiving the proper tools and supports a child needs to be successful in school. To that end, if you or someone you know is facing educational barriers, contact our education team at Community Legal Aid.”

Read more in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Massachusetts triple-deckers can be full of fire hazards. Here’s why.

Blair Komar Bates, a housing attorney at Community Legal Aid, was quoted in an Aug. 15 WGBH article about the hazards of old three-decker buildings in Massachusetts.

When Lorraine Adams sees a triple-decker in Worcester, she remembers the fires.

Adams was 15 when old electric wiring in a three-decker she and her family rented ignited a blaze that completely burned the building. Nobody was injured, but the family lost all of their belongings and had to immediately find somewhere new to live.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Massachusetts has a housing shortage of about 163,000 affordable rental homes. Komar Bates, a housing attorney with Community Legal Aid, said that means many lower-income people have little choice but to live in unsafe three-deckers. If a fire burns through the building, they’re vulnerable to homelessness if they can’t immediately find somewhere else to live.

“Landlords have disproportionate power right now to make tenants live in dangerous conditions,” Komar Bates said. “They can’t afford to move and they’re stuck in substandard housing.”

Read more at WGBH.

CLA pilot program aims to prevent child welfare removals

Commonwealth Magazine in a December 27 article reported on a new Community Legal Aid pilot program to prevent child welfare removals, which is the first of its kind in Massachusetts.

The goal is to provide families in Hampden County with legal support at the start of their involvement with the Department of Children and Families, so the agency never gets to the point of removing a child. If the year-long pilot is successful, attorneys hope money will become available to expand it statewide. 

“The vast majority of the cases with DCF are neglect cases, and many of those are just manifestations of poverty,” CLA child welfare attorney Madeline Weaver Blanchette said. “The wonderful thing about this pilot is we can basically harness the existing units that are already within Community Legal Aid…and work with clients to fix those substantive areas, and then hopefully have the result of being able to close their case with DCF.” 

Dorothy Storrow, a child welfare attorney and board member of Community Legal Aid, said the idea for the program came out of a series of meetings that attorneys, social workers, former judges, and professors had in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last year considering how to address the longstanding problem of racial disparities in child welfare.  

Read more in Commonwealth Magazine.

Eviction filings down from pre-pandemic years in region, but need for services still great

Eviction services are the largest area of practice for Community Legal Aid in Worcester’s casework and the organization’s eviction team said the additional funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will help them carry out eviction protection services when funding from a state program ends at the start of the new year.

Housing and Urban Development announced last week that Community Legal Aid in Worcester would be one of five state legal aids to receive $2.4 million for eviction protection services. The funding will be given out over two years starting in 2022.

Faye B. Rachlin, deputy director of Community Legal Aid said the pandemic has made housing situations more difficult for the organizations’ clients.

“While evictions are always a terrible reality for many in our client communities, the pandemic has made people’s ability to sustain their tenancies even harder, and it is more important than ever that tenants get the help they need to prevent the devastating impact of housing insecurity and homelessness,” Rachlin said. “During the pandemic a lot of our eviction defense work has involved helping tenants access rental assistance programs so that landlords can get paid and tenants can remain housed – a win-win for everyone.”

Read more at CLA.

Beyond ‘Thank you for your service’

Daniel Bahls, a staff attorney at Community Legal Aid, wrote a recent op-ed in The Greenfield Recorder about the challenges veterans face, including legal needs.

“As we celebrate our veterans on Veterans Day, we must also acknowledge what we, as their country and their community, can do better to honor their sacrifices.

While our region’s veteran population is diverse, it includes many particularly vulnerable veterans who receive care at the Edward P. Boland VA Medical Center in Leeds or who have been attracted to the area for the deep support and benefits available to veterans. Unfortunately, sometimes benefits are only “available” on paper. While the VA provides compensation and financial for service-connected mental health injuries, it does not provide the legal support that is often necessary to access this critical support.”

Read more in The Greenfield Recorder.