Tag Archive for: Greater Boston Legal Services

Attorney, Welfare Law Unit – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/ Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

GBLS provides free legal services and representation to clients in the greater Boston area who cannot afford private legal representation.

GBLS seeks applicants for a permanent attorney position, which initially will be focused on our Welfare Law Unit (WLU) Tax Benefits Project, involving COVID tax benefits and related tax matters for families and individuals living in deep poverty who have barriers to navigating the tax system. Once the project is completed, the attorney may be transferred to other work at GBLS based on need at that time.

The WLU handles advocacy work for certain tax/guaranteed income issues, welfare benefits, and subsidized child care benefits through: (1) direct representation of individual clients and their families; (2) systemic administrative advocacy directed at targeted state and federal agencies; (3) class action and other impact lawsuits and; (4) legislative advocacy campaigns to expand, improve, defend, and create income, food, and child care programs.

Core Responsibilities for the Position:

  • Transition into the role of overseeing the Tax Benefits Project.
  • Supervise, as appropriate, and co-counsel with paralegal advocates to handle a range of tax cases for very low-income clients who did not receive the COVID 2020 and 2021 stimulus payments and/or special 2021 Child Tax Credit, including representation with IRS and, with Tax Court and/or Fed. Dist. Court, if needed.
  • Provide high quality representation in all aspects of this work, including written and oral advocacy, legal and other research, effective and sensitive work with clients, writing in plain language to clients and in other materials, attention to detail, and documenting all case work in the client’s case record in GBLS’s case management system.
  • Engage in systemic advocacy with national organizations concerning access barriers to filing taxes, obtaining refundable tax credits, and resolving disputes with the IRS, leveraging information and experience gained from working with clients and community and provider organizations.
  • Engage in systemic advocacy with national organizations working toward a permanent fully refundable Child Tax Credit, with no work requirement and no restrictions barring children based on immigrant status.

Qualifications:

  • Bar admission in any state obtained or soon to be obtained.
  • Experience with tax law and practice affecting low-income clients, although graduates of law school low-income tax clinics will be considered.
  • Desire to work with clients with significant barriers to employment and navigating bureaucracies.
  • Ability to work effectively with diverse clients.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills.
  • Ability to perform careful, detailed work.
  • Demonstrated capacity to analyze and work with complex materials.
  • A plus, but not required: fluency in Spanish or another language prevalent among our clients.

GBLS offers a generous benefits package, retirement contribution, and generous paid-time-off. The position is covered by the collective bargaining agreement between GBLS and the Attorney Union, which governs salary and benefits.

Candidates should submit a letter of interest, resume, and writing sample to the Human Resources Team via e-mail at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: WLU-ATTY when applying for this position. The deadline for applying is September 1, 2023, or until the position is filled.

GBLS values diversity and encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds.

Equality Fellow, Administration Unit (Temporary Position) – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Greater Boston Legal Services is a social and economic justice-driven organization dedicated to ensuring that all residents of the Greater Boston area are able to meet their basic needs for safety, shelter, and stability. GBLS uses the law to positively change the lives of thousands of low-income clients and their families annually, and to achieve groundbreaking outcomes that challenge the systems that keep people in poverty.

Position: GBLS seeks a part-time Fellow to join our team. This position will focus on the intersection of community advocacy, racial and queer justice.

Location: This position is hybrid. The primary base is in our Boston office – 197 Friend Street, Boston, MA 02114 – and it is in person 1-2 days a week.

Hours: This position is for 10 hours a week. The daily schedule will be based on the Fellow’s weekly availability, their project progress, and may change over time but will be regular. Normal office operations time is Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Duties:

  • Fellow will “shadow” each of GBLS’ legal units
  • Fellow will attend court, legal clinics, community meetings
  • Fellow will take what they learn from legal units to create an outreach plan to visit LGBTQ+ community partners in Greater Boston
  • Fellow will co-create an outreach and collaboration strategy with Queer serving community partners
  • For their final project Fellow will design and execute a community event to discuss the state of legal aid resources with queer serving organizations, LGBTQ+ community members, and legal aid advocates

Duties in office:

  • Listen to presentations from legal units
  • Draft documents for the culminating project
  • Connect with racial and queer justice advocates

Qualifications:

  • 18-25 years old
  • Fluency in English
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and good judgement.
  • Experience working with community agencies, grassroots organizing, community lawyering, or a reasonable equivalent.
  • Experience working with/in LGBTQ2S communities.
  • Experience working with/in communities of color.
  • Ability to use computer database to enter information and search for information.
  • Ability to use basic functions of Microsoft Word and Excel.
  • Responsive to feedback about job performance.
  • Willingness and ability to learn from community members.

This is a stipend-based fellowship. The monthly stipend allotment is $875 (Total $3,500 for the 4-month duration of this fellowship). This rate is based on the City of Boston’s living wage pay scale. The stipend will be paid on a monthly basis. For the community events GBLS will cover transportation to and from the event site.

Candidates should submit a resume and answers to the questions below to the Human Resources Team, via e-mail at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: EQUALITY FELLOW when applying for this position. Deadline for applications is August 25, 2023 or until the position is filled.

Fellowship Questions-

An essay OR 5-minute video answering each of the following questions:

  1. The LGBTQ+ community is not a monolith. Tell us about your experience as a young person in the larger queer community and how you carve out space for yourself in such a large, diverse community.
  2. The criminal justice and civil justice spaces are not always welcoming to Queer people and people of color. What types of changes would you make for our court system to a more equitable, just space for queer, people of color

GBLS encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences

The state’s duty to shelter its residents (Boston Globe)

Below is a letter to the editor published on August 14 by the Boston Globe. Greater Boston Legal Services’ (GBLS) Senior Attorney Laurie Massie, and Acting Litigation Director Gary Klein co-authored the letter.


We write concerning the right-to-shelter law described in the Aug. 8 article on the Emergency Assistance shelter system for families with children experiencing homelessness (“Law guaranteeing shelter was promoted by Dukakis,” Page A1). We agree that the shelter system is in crisis, but it is wrong to blame homeless families, including immigrants with children, for generating that crisis.

In reality, the Commonwealth has allowed the shelter system to fall into disarray and has often failed to meet its commitments to the most vulnerable members of our society. Simply put, policy makers need to recognize that the pressures on the shelter system arise because of a chronic shortage of affordable housing (particularly for the lowest-income families), lack of attention to eviction prevention for low-income tenants, and failure to prioritize income supports and housing subsidies that would allow homeless families to transition more quickly into permanent housing.

Greater Boston Legal Services recently resolved a class action case with the Commonwealth (Garcia v. Department of Housing and Community Development) to address substantial existing flaws in the shelter system. The settlement represents a binding commitment to not scapegoat the victims of a long history of failed housing policy in Massachusetts but rather to improve existing services to make them function properly.

No one, especially homeless families, wants a system in which costly, long-term hotel stays substitute for safe and affordable housing. Instead, the Commonwealth must implement policies to prevent evictions in the first place, to increase the stock of meaningfully affordable housing, and to provide supports to help families move out of the shelter system and into safe, permanent housing as quickly as possible.

Laura Massie

Senior attorney, Housing Unit

Gary Klein

Acting litigation director

Greater Boston Legal Services

Boston

Attorney, Housing Unit – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) seeks two attorneys with 0 to 5 years of experience preferred. The attorneys will work in the Housing Unit in litigation, and eviction defense representing tenants who are facing eviction. The position may also include some of the full range of activities of the Housing Unit, including support for tenants who live in public and subsidized housing, helping tenant organizations preserve affordable housing, shelter advocacy, and any other work of the Housing Unit. In addition to a substantial trial caseload (including jury trials), the work may include participation in legislative and administrative advocacy projects and impact litigation. Evening meetings may be required.

Qualifications: Admission to or comity with the Massachusetts Bar is strongly preferred and admission to the bar is a requirement of the job; law graduates who are sitting for the July 2023 bar will be considered. Prior housing law and/or trial experience is preferred. Attorneys with lived experience of displacement or gentrification encouraged to apply. Fluency in one or more of the languages in addition to English spoken by GBLS clients, such as Spanish or Haitian Creole, among others, is helpful. Should funding for this position change, the attorney may be required to assume work in a different area of law within GBLS.

Salary is based on a union scale with a starting salary of $72,000 for an attorney with no experience to approximately $79,500 for an attorney with 5 years of experience. GBLS offers a generous benefits package, retirement contribution, a student loan repayment assistance plan for eligible attorneys, and generous Paid Time Off leave.

Candidates should submit a cover letter, resume and a brief writing sample to the Human Resources Team via e-mail at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: HU-ATT when applying for this position. Deadline for application is August 4, 2023 or until position is filled.

GBLS values diversity and encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Administrative Assistant – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) seeks a qualified candidate to fill an Administrative Assistant position whose primary responsibility will be to support the Senior Management Team and the Board of Directors.

DUTIES/RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Provide high-level administrative support to the Senior Management Team and the Executive Director.
  • Provide administrative support to the Board of Directors and its Committees
  • Prepare and distribute meeting agendas and materials.
  • Send calendar invitations and meeting reminders.
  • Attend meetings and prepare minutes.
  • Make travel and accommodation arrangements for members of the Senior Management Team and the Board of Directors in work-related events.
  • Coordinate logistical issues for agency-wide calendar, meetings, retreats, and training events.
  • Perform clerical and administrative tasks, including preparing meeting minutes, letters, memos, invoices, reports, staff timesheets, contracts, and other payroll and financial documents.
  • Answer and direct unit calls to the appropriate staff members.
  • Maintain agency-wide Outlook and Teams calendar, contact lists and other records for the Administration Unit.
  • Perform other related duties as assigned for special projects and/or administration events.

REQUIRED SKILLS/ABILITIES:

  • Minimum 3 years of experience in providing administrative support to a member of the executive team, preferably in a legal or non-profit organization.
  • Proven experience in organizational skills with an exemplary professional and positive attitude.
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced environment with excellent time management skills in dealing multiple projects and competing priorities.
  • Having good judgment in interpersonal skills and in managing confidential records.
  • High Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite and the ability to learn new or updated software.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Able to handle phone calls and communicate professionally and sensitively with people from all ethnic groups and social backgrounds.

Salary & Benefits:

  • Starting salary range is $52,000 to $60,000 based on experience.
  • GBLS offers a generous benefits package, including low-cost health insurance, retirement contribution, and paid time off.

How to Apply:

  • Candidates should submit a letter of interest and resume to the Human Resources Team via email at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: ADMIN-ASST when applying for this position. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but applicants are encouraged to submit applications by August 31, 2023.

GBLS values diversity and encourages applicants from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Receptionist – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Greater Boston Legal Services is a social and economic justice-driven organization dedicated to ensuring that all residents of the Greater Boston area are able to meet their basic needs for safety, shelter, and stability. GBLS uses the law to positively change the lives of thousands of low-income clients and their families annually, and to achieve groundbreaking outcomes that challenge the systems that keep people in poverty.

Position: GBLS seeks a full-time bilingual Receptionist to join our team. This position serves as the first point of contact for potential and current clients and helps direct them to appropriate resources.

Location: This position is based in our Boston office – 197 Friend Street, Boston, MA 02114 – and it is in person five days a week.

Hours: This position is for 35 hours a week. The daily schedule will be based on coverage needs and may change over time but will be regular. Normal office operations time is Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Duties:

  • Answer phone and apply protocols to screen callers and understand their needs.
  • Using online communications system to connect callers to requested extensions or refer appropriately.
  • Keep client information confidential and use discretion.
  • Look up client information in online client database and relay information to client and add notes in database.
  • Be available between calls to assist with office administrative tasks such as mailing letters, scanning and making labels.
  • Provide some interpretation and translation for staff and clients in case of need.

Duties in office:

  • Greet walk-in clients and respond to their questions.
  • Occasionally assist clients with filling out basic forms.

Qualifications:

  • Fluency in English and one additional language frequently used by GBLS clients such as Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese), Portuguese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Haitian Creole, etc.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and good judgement.
  • Ability to maintain professionalism and patience when dealing with high call volume and callers who may be distressed.
  • Ability to use computer database to enter information and search for information.
  • Ability to use basic functions of Microsoft Word and Excel.
  • Responsive to feedback about job performance.
  • Willingness and ability to learn where to refer callers.

Salary is based on a union scale, with a starting annual salary of $42,500 for a receptionist with one to three years of experience. A bilingual receptionist will be eligible to receive a language bonus of $950 per year on top of regular base salary. GBLS offers a generous benefits package, retirement contribution, and generous Paid Time Off (PTO) leave.

Candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and brief writing sample to the Human Resources Team, via e-mail at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: RECEPTIONIST when applying for this position. Deadline for applications is August 31, 2023 or until the position is filled.

GBLS encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Many workers unaware law gives them paid sick time (Boston Globe)

Below is an excerpt from an August 10 article published by the Boston Globe calling attention to a critical time off medical safeguard for Massachusetts residents. Greater Boston Legal Services’ Staff Attorney David McKenna is quoted.


Mirta Barillas had worked for an industrial laundry in Haverhill for 17 years when the company stopped giving her time off for frequent migraines. After missing numerous shifts in early 2022, she was eventually put on unpaid leave for five weeks to recover, she said — with only a few days of paid vacation to make up for lost wages.

The human resources manager then told her she could only come back if she stopped calling in sick, Barillas said, and when she produced a doctor’s note stating that the migraines could continue causing her to miss work, she was fired.

Massachusetts has a safeguard for workers who need to take time off for medical reasons or to care for a family member, guaranteeing them up to 26 weeks of paid time off, in addition to employer-provided sick days, funded through a payroll tax and issued by the state. But more than two years after benefits were launched in January 2021, many workers still aren’t aware of their rights, and some companies are punishing them for taking time off for health or family reasons.

Read more at the Boston Globe.

Massachusetts’ system for migrant families seeking shelter approaches its breaking point (GBH)

Below is an excerpt from a July 13 article published by GBH discussing a recent policy change for migrants seeking shelter at Boston Medical Center. Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) Housing Division Staff Attorney Liz Alfred is quoted.


Boston Medical Center changed its policy of serving as an ad-hoc safe harbor for migrants last week. Some local officials and advocates say they saw that change coming.

Monique Tú Nguyen, executive director of Boston’s Office of Immigrant Advancement, told GBH News that city officials had worried that the hospital would not be able to sustain its efforts as demand on the state’s emergency assistance system kept increasing.

“We were aware that they would have to start turning people away if it compromises their operation,” said Nguyen. “But we weren’t sure of the timeline of when they were going to start that.”

Read more at GBH.

Advocates seek further eviction protections (The Eagle Tribune)

In a March 21 article, The Eagle Tribune reported on a letter signed by representatives from 100 advocacy groups to extend Massachusetts’s Chapter 257 law, which blocks eviction proceedings for tenants who are seeking public assistance to pay their rent. Among the letter signers were leaders from Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Greater Boston Legal Services. An excerpt from the article is below.

BOSTON — With pandemic-related eviction protections set to expire at the end of the month, advocates are pushing for an extension to give state lawmakers more time to make the rules permanent.

In a letter to legislative leaders and Trial Court officials, a coalition of 100 social welfare, public health and legal aid groups called for a more than year-long extension to the Chapter 257 law, which blocks eviction proceedings for tenants who are seeking public assistance to pay their rent.

The protections, which were approved by the state Legislature in 2020 and extended twice, are set to expire March 31. The coalition wants Beacon Hill leaders to extend the law’s sunset date until July 31, 2024, “to allow more time for a permanent solution to be put into place.”

“Allowing this critical tool to expire now could result in evictions where tenancies could have been resolved with rental assistance, pushing many families and individuals into homelessness,” they wrote. “There is broad agreement among policymakers that residents across Massachusetts are experiencing a housing crisis.”

The coalition, which includes the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, Greater Boston Legal Services and several United Way chapters, said the law “ensures that tenants are not needlessly displaced and maximizes rental assistance payments to landlords.”

The law also requires landlords to upload notice-to-quit letters to a state tracking system, the coalition wrote, “enabling agencies administering rental assistance to conduct outreach to landlords and tenants to prevent evictions.”

“While not perfect, Chapter 257 has been an essential protection for tenants waiting for rental assistance applications to be processed,” they wrote.

Read the full article in The Eagle Tribune. 

This story was also covered in The Salem News on March 27.

State finds Boston Public Schools transportation issues violated students’ right to special education services

In a March 1 article, The Boston Herald reported on an investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that determined Boston Public Schools had violated students’ rights to special education services. Greater Boston Legal Services and Massachusetts Advocates for Children filed a joint complaint about the issue on behalf of several families last year. An excerpt of the article is below.

In a letter sent to Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper on Friday, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said an investigation found the district’s transportation issues violated students’ rights to special education services.

“The findings in the preceding sections of this letter indicate that the District did comply with some of its obligations under federal and state requirements,” DESE officials wrote in the letter.

Several families issued a joint complaint with Greater Boston Legal Services and Massachusetts Advocates for Children in October, outlining incidents in which the district failed to provide students with one-on-one and specially trained bus monitors, families notification of transportation issues, or just any transportation at all — in effect denying the students their right to a free appropriate public education.

In many of these incidents, “students’ families are required to (provide transportation), causing financial and other burdens,” the letter states, and systemic failures have “deprived many students of their education due to ongoing absences and late arrivals resulting from lack of or delayed transportation.”

The state reviewed parent reports of bus issues in the last year, finding 3,469 coded “Missed Stop,” 775 “Late Bus,” 736 “Stranded Student,” 721 “Bus Monitor,” 597 “Other,” and 236 “Blown Route” or “Uncovered Route.”

In the fall of the 2022-23 school year, an average of 16.4% of buses were still dropping off students late or not at all, the letter states.

These wide-scale issues had an especial impact on students with disabilities, the investigation found, including the “key deficiency” of bus monitors.

“The District reported that approximately 35–40% of monitor-required routes have not had a designated monitor assigned to the route during the 2022-2023 school year,” the letter reads.

Read more in The Boston Herald.