Tag Archive for: MetroWest Legal Services

Supervising Attorney, Immigration Unit – MWLS

About Us: Founded in 1976, MWLS provides free civil legal services to protect and advance the rights and well-being of poor, elderly, disabled, and otherwise disenfranchised individuals and families in the communities that we serve. MWLS strives to help clients overcome barriers to achieving justice in areas that address their most basic human needs.

The Position: MWLS seeks a Supervising Attorney for the Immigration Unit to provide supervision to a dedicated and talented advocacy staff and coordinate outreach to immigrant communities in the MWLS service area. Reporting to the Deputy Director, the Supervising Attorney will work with MWLS’ management team and advocacy staff to oversee the delivery of legal services to the immigrant communities in our region. MWLS is seeking an experienced immigration practitioner who is ready to move away, in part, from direct client representation and into a primarily supervisory and coordinator role for the Immigration Unit.

Responsibilities include:

  • Supervise, support, and oversee the direct client work and community outreach of the Immigration Unit.
  • Identify priorities for MWLS’ immigration direct case work and oversee the implementation of corresponding outreach efforts.
  • Develop and monitor standards of practice for the immigration staff and ensure adherence to program and case handling standards, grant requirements and the highest professional standards using regular case review and other techniques.
  • Develop and monitor MWLS’ immigration case intake and case acceptance procedures.
  • Maintain a small and existing case load for MWLS clients.
  • Whenever appropriate, serve as co-counsel in legally complex matters such as applications for asylum before the Immigration Court.
  • Oversee the collaborative relationships with community-based organizations in the MWLS service area that also serve immigrants.
  • Participate in the work of MWLS’ management team including hiring decisions, strategic planning, preparing grant applications and reports.
  • Manage reports for the Immigration Unit’s casework using the Legal Server case management system.
  • Perform additional duties as assigned by the Executive Director and Deputy Director.

Qualifications and Requirements:

  • Admitted to practice in Massachusetts, or able to seek admission.
  • A minimum of five (5) years of experience as a practicing attorney and a substantive expertise in immigration law.
  • Experience working with community groups, organizations, and advocacy groups and with utilizing communications strategies to address issues affecting immigrants and immigrant communities.
  • Strong leadership and mentoring skills and a leadership style that inspires and encourages professional growth in others, including demonstrated ability to supervise across differences.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Commitment to race equity, anti-racism and economic justice in the workplace and in providing legal services.
  • Fluency in Portuguese, Spanish, or Haitian Creole is desirable but not required.
  • Ability to travel throughout the MWLS service area and to occasional statewide events. MWLS has a travel expense reimbursement plan.
  • Ability to work from the MWLS office in Framingham at least two (2) days a week as MWLS is currently operating with a hybrid work model. Under this model, MWLS staff are required to work from the MWLS office at least two (2) days a week.

Salary/Benefits:

MWLS salaries are based on a collective bargaining agreement scale enhanced for supervisory role, includes yearly standard increases, multi-lingual increment for demonstrated language skills. This position is not part of the collective bargaining unit. Salary starts at $83,000 plus experience credit if applicable. MWLS’ benefits package includes generous PTO leave, 100% employer paid medical, dental, and vision insurance, employer match on retirement contributions, and professional development opportunities.

To Apply: Click this link to submit an application: https://recruiting.paylocity.com/recruiting/jobs/All/31e2fe82-92b6-4e85-b7ce-5fa54665f389/Metrowest-Legal-Services-Inc

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

Education Staff Attorney – MWLS

The mission of MetroWest Legal Services is to provide legal advocacy to protect and advance the rights of the poor, elderly, disabled and other disenfranchised people in our service area and to assist them in obtaining legal, social and economic justice. MWLS is an exciting workplace with dedicated social justice advocates—join us!

Responsibilities:

  • Represent the parents of children with special needs in all phases of special education and school discipline cases.
  • Work closely with community and parent groups of school-aged children to provide advocacy for special education services.
  • Conduct targeted outreach to enhance visibility of legal services provided, and to connect with communities that could benefit from the services.
  • Engage in systemic legislative and administrative advocacy around education issues.

Qualifications/Competencies include:

  • Proven interest in and commitment to advocacy for the legal rights of low-income and other vulnerable populations.
  • Experience representing clients in special education proceedings and school disciplinary cases is required.
  • Demonstrated understanding and commitment to anti-bias principles, cultural competency and addressing systemic racism and other forms of oppression.
  • Enthusiasm, creativity, good judgment, initiative, and willingness to work collaboratively.
  • Bilingual in Spanish or Portuguese helpful.
  • One to three years of legal experience preferred. Admitted to Massachusetts bar or entitled to practice under SJC Rule 3:04. (Recent Law School Graduates who are planning to sit for the February 2024 bar exam and who are willing to work part time between graduation and the bar exam, will be considered).

**An applicant who is admitted to the bar of another state must become a member of the Mass. bar within 2 years.

Salary/Benefits: Salary is based on a union scale with a starting wage of $64,000. Benefits package include generous PTO leave, 100% employer paid medical, dental, and vision insurance, employer match on retirement contributions, student loan repayment assistance program for eligible attorneys and extensive professional development opportunities.

To Apply: Candidates should submit a cover letter addressing your interest and experience in poverty/public interest law, resume, and brief writing sample via the following link: https://recruiting.paylocity.com/recruiting/jobs/All/31e2fe82-92b6-4e85-b7ce-5fa54665f389/Metrowest-Legal-Services-Inc

Applicant applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

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

MetroWest Legal Services: Fighting for Equal Justice for Over 40 Years

By John Carroll

The service area of MetroWest Legal Services (MWLS) encompasses the soon-to-be-city of Framingham (town residents voted to transition to city status as of Jan. 1, 2018) and 44 surrounding towns west of Boston. Despite a staff of just 22—including 15 full-time attorneys, the organization assists over 2,500 low-income people a year in resolving non-criminal legal matters related to basic but essential needs like housing, health care, protection from domestic abuse, and child support. Needless to say, the MWLS office is usually a pretty busy place.

Nonetheless, Tuesday, August 22 was more hectic than usual. By noon that day, three homeless families turned up at MWLS after being told they did not qualify for state-run Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter. Two of the families weren’t even allowed to fill out an application—they were simply turned away after cursory interviews in which they attempted to briefly explain the complex circumstances of their homelessness. These three families brought the total number of homeless families seeking MWLS’s help getting emergency shelter over 10-day period to six.

“As I heard these stories, one was worse than the next,” wrote MWLS Executive Director Elizabeth “Betsy” Soulé in a recent MWLS newsletter. A mother and child sleeping in their car at a local park. A mother and her severely autistic child who fled domestic violence in another country were made to leave the apartment of the mother’s sister, lest the sister be evicted. A disabled veteran, his recently unemployed wife, teenage son, service dog and aging cat who had been sleeping in their car for two months. The reasons they were turned away from emergency shelter were senseless. The mother and child sleeping at the park, for example, were denied because, lacking a camera or a phone with a camera, they couldn’t produce photographic evidence that they were sleeping in their car.

Fortunately, after a day and a half of meetings and negotiations with the legal department of the state agency that administers emergency shelter, MWLS saw to it that these families received the services they needed. Even better, in the interim, a generous MWLS donor provided funds to rent hotel rooms for the stranded families.

Aside from housing, MWLS includes units dedicated to elder issues, special education, domestic violence, immigration, victims of crime, worker related issues, and others, as well as an innovative medical-legal partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Framingham.

MWLS was founded in 1976 as an arm of the South Middlesex Opportunity Council. Since then, it has merged through several iterations into the multi-service legal office that it is today. Soulé’s tenure at MWLS stretches nearly 30 years to 1988, when she joined the organization as a supervising attorney. She has served as executive director since 2008, overseeing MWLS’s vast service area, which encompasses 25-30 House districts and 10 Senatorial districts, with political aplomb. Soulé knows all of the area’s elected officials, and they know her. They also know that she serves their mutual constituents very well. With more than 40,000 people living in poverty in the MWLS service area, Soulé does her best to see that all eligible citizens are served well, but she knows the blanket is too small for the bed. As she lamented in a local newspaper profile on the occasion of the MWLS’s 40th anniversary last year, “there are just way more people who need our help than we can reach because of a lack of resources.

Despite the daily struggle to meet the needs of as many clients as possible, MWLS staff are deeply committed to working to remove barriers to justice for low-income people west of Boston.

“Nobody goes into this for the money,” Soulé told the Boston Globe last year. “They’re doing it because it’s important and they’re committed to the mission. It’s tough work. It’s intense work, but the benefits literally mean the difference between life and death sometimes.”

***

John Carroll is a partner at Meehan, Boyle, Black and Bogdanow, and the immediate past chair of the Equal Justice Coalition. He is a 2016-2017 fellow with the Access to Justice Fellows Program, a project of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission and the Lawyers Clearinghouse that enables senior lawyers and retired judges to partner with nonprofit organizations, courts, and other public interest entities to increase equal justice for all.