Tag Archive for: Volunteer Lawyers Project

Director of Pro Bono and Advocacy – VLP

Director of Advocacy and Pro Bono

The Director of Advocacy and Pro Bono, reporting directly to the Executive Director, assumes a pivotal role that occasionally involves decision-making in the Executive Director’s absence. This position holds the responsibility of overseeing decisions made by other Directors, particularly those influencing the legal program, such as the cancellation of clinics, internship programs, and training sessions. The Director of Advocacy and Pro Bono is tasked with the following key responsibilities:

  1. Project Oversight:

In collaboration with the senior management team, the Director of Advocacy and Pro Bono evaluates VLP legal project work. This involves assessing the viability of current and prospective projects, deciding on the implementation or discontinuation of projects, and actively participating in discussions about grant opportunities and VLP application directions. While the ultimate decision to add or cancel a legal project rest with the Executive Director, the input of the Advocacy and Pro Bono Director is considered integral to this process.

  1. Supervision of Staff Attorneys:

Directly supervising the Supervising Attorneys across all units, the Advocacy and Pro Bono Director ensures proper support for staff attorneys. This includes providing quality supervision and training to staff attorneys, paralegals, and students within their unit. Responsibilities encompass examining the quantity and quality of work in various units, enhancing attorneys’ supervision skills, and aiding in their professional development. The Director is also accountable for scheduling a monthly attorneys meeting, which may feature presentations from external organizations or community groups. Collaborating with the Director of Compliance and Technology on compliance issues, the Advocacy and Pro Bono Director communicates regulatory changes and ensures staff training compliance.

  1. Pro Bono Recruitment and Retention / Volunteer Performance:

Serving as the direct supervisor of the Pro Bono Manager, the Director of Advocacy and Pro Bono supports pro bono efforts by identifying recruiting events, coordinating training and outreach, and reviewing volunteer protocols and newsletters. Collaborating with the Executive Director, the Director addresses volunteer performance issues and approves volunteers for the VLP panel. Responsibilities also extend to ensuring the Pro Bono Manager schedules new panel member orientations, recruiting events, and Bar Association events for volunteer recruitment and training. The Director assigns attendance at bar association events, trainings, and other recruiting opportunities to exempt legal staff as appropriate.

  1. Staff Trainings and Director’s Meetings:

The Director identifies and suggests training opportunities for attorneys and support staff to enhance the quality of their work at VLP and provide professional development. Eventually, the Director assumes responsibility for planning and leading the weekly directors’ meeting, including agenda creation, review with the Executive Director and senior management, and post-meeting annotation. Collaborating with the senior management team, the Director contributes to setting the agenda for bi-weekly all-staff meetings and incorporates it into the Staff Meeting Agenda template.

This multifaceted role requires a proactive approach to project oversight, staff supervision, pro bono initiatives, and organizational leadership, reflecting a commitment to the mission and success of VLP.

VLP is committed to a diverse work environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. Our ideal candidates are respectful of an inclusive work environment. VLP strives to ensure that those working in our organization reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. VLP encourages applicants from a broad spectrum of backgrounds to apply for positions. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity and expression, pregnancy, national origin, veteran status, and military status or any other characteristic protected by applicable local, state, or federal law.

Staff Attorney, Family Law and Guardianship – VLP

POSITION: Staff Attorney- Family Law and Guardianship

DAYS/HOURS: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (w/ some evening trainings)

*This position is hybrid that also requires in person attendance to weekly Family Law and Guardianship clinics in Boston and Woburn.

REPORTS TO: Geraldine Gruvis-Pizarro, Esq., Supervising Attorney

UNIT(S): Family Law and Guardianship

LOCATION: Volunteer Lawyers Project, 7 Winthrop Square, Second Floor, Boston, MA 02110

STATUS: Exempt, Full Time

SALARY: Starting at $63,500. Commensurate with experience.

Click here to apply!

This application will remain open until the position has been filled.

SUMMARY OF POSITION:  

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP) is a non-profit legal services organization that provides free civil legal assistance to low-income residents of Greater Boston, primarily through the pro bono services of private attorneys. We are seeking a full-time staff attorney with a dedicated commitment to the communities and people we serve to work in our family law and guardianship units.

VLP is an equal opportunity employer and seeks to employ a diverse staff. Our ideal candidate is respectful of an inclusive work environment. Fluency in a second language is strongly preferred, specifically Spanish, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean Creole, Portuguese, Cantonese, or Vietnamese as a significant percentage of our client population is limited English proficient.

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS/EDUCATION/TRAINING:

  • Law degree from an accredited law school.
  • Admission to and good standing in Massachusetts bar

REQUIRED MENTAL/PHYSICAL ABILITITES/SKILLS:

  • 1-3 years in full-time family law and guardianship practice, including litigation
  • Proficiency in use of Microsoft Office Suite
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong organizational skills and ability to effectively manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines
  • Ability to communicate effectively with colleagues and with staff at outside organizations
  • Ability to effectively engage with the private bar to recruit, train and mentor volunteer attorneys
  • Ability to use a computer several hours per day
  • Ability to communicate in person, by telephone, and by computer
  • Ability to travel to courthouses and other clinic locations in Greater Boston

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO:

  • Maintain updated substantive knowledge in family law and guardianship law
  • Attend weekly unit case review meetings
  • Effectively and efficiently handle a small caseload
  • Provide substantive family law and guardianship supervision at weekly clinics, including answering questions and reviewing advice and drafts of documents and closing cases
  • Supervise and mentor interns and pro bono attorneys
  • Review cases for merit and alignment with priorities
  • Conduct training for volunteers, often during evening hours
  • Prepare cases for pro bono assignment, including reviewing memos and documents
  • Assist in placement of cases with pro bono attorneys
  • Monitor pro bono cases to ensure quality and competent representation
  • Other responsibilities as needed

Volunteer Lawyers Project is an Equal Opportunity Employer

VLP is committed to a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, genetics, disability, age, military or veteran status.

Bilingual Paralegal, Bankruptcy and Consumer – VLP

POSITION: Bilingual Paralegal – Bankruptcy and Consumer
DAYS/HOURS: Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm, 35 hours per week (with 1 evening clinic)
REPORTS TO: Staff Attorney, Grace Brockmeyer
UNIT: Bankruptcy and Consumer
LOCATION: 7 Winthrop Square, Floor 2, Boston, MA 02110
SALARY: $52,015

Click here to apply!

This position requires fluency in English and Spanish. Please be advised that selected candidates will be required to take a Spanish Language Proficiency exam.

This application will remain open until the position has been filled.

SUMMARY OF POSITION:

Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) represents low-income people in the Greater Boston area on a variety of civil legal problems, including housing, consumer issues, and family law matters. Many cases are referred to volunteer private attorneys who handle the cases with VLP providing training and ongoing support. This role supports the organization’s attorneys as well as the pro bono panel in all aspects of the legal and administrative functions of the unit, case management for the unit, and other duties as necessary to carry out the mission of the organization. Must be motivated and committed to public interest work and access to justice.

QUALIFICATIONS/EDUCATION/TRAINING:
REQUIRED:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Fluency in English and Spanish

PREFERRED:

  • Prior experience working in legal aid, the court system or a law office that handles civil cases
  • Prior experience with an organization serving low-income populations

KNOWLEDGE/EXPERIENCE:

REQUIRED:

  • Experience with Microsoft Office Suite, database and web content management systems, and
  • collaborative project tools.
  • Ability to effectively engage with the private bar in recruiting and retaining volunteer attorneys.
  • Paralegal experience at Volunteer Lawyers Project

PREFERRED:

  • Knowledge of MA laws surrounding Bankruptcy and Consumer

PHYSICAL ABILITIES/SKILLS:

REQUIRED:

  • Ability to use a computer and phone for several hours a day
  • Ability to travel to courthouses and other clinic locations in the Greater Boston area

MENTAL ABILITIES/SKILLS:

REQUIRED:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Excellent administrative and organizational skills and ability to effectively manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines
  • Ability to work independently and have the ability to be detail-oriented
  • Ability to communicate effectively with colleagues and staff at outside organizations
  • Ability to exercise good judgment, be reliable and flexible

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:

Bankruptcy Paralegal Duties

  • Develop and maintain the administrative support for screening new cases to ensure client eligibility for VLP services and completion of files for screening by staff attorneys in a timely manner
  • Draft case referral memos to be reviewed by staff attorney
  • Provide the main telephone support for fielding questions from clients seeking to file bankruptcy
  • Follow up with clients on cases after clinics that need further assistance or representation
  • Provide administrative and technical support for volunteer attorneys during the duration of their bankruptcy case
  • Assist with the recruitment of attorneys who will accept bankruptcy cases
  • Report to supervisor when bankruptcy intakes and referrals need to be adjusted
  • Organize and compile reports on intake and referral statistics
  • Schedule clients and attorneys and intern volunteers for monthly bankruptcy clinics
  • Set up monthly bankruptcy clinics in the office or at DotHouse
  • Conduct intake of new clients at the Bankruptcy clinics to ensure eligibility; collect required documentation for bankruptcy cases and assist with obtaining credit reports
  • Attend trainings as needed for professional development
  • Maintain Bankruptcy case reports
  • Delegate case processing tasks to interns as needed
  • Assist with bankruptcy grant requirements
  • Prepare cases for closing weekly

Consumer Unit (shared with the Employment and Consumer Paralegal)

  • Attend Consumer case review, assist with client follow up and case processing
  • Conduct intakes of new clients at the small claims clinics (shared with the Employment and Consumer Paralegal)
  • Conduct post-clinic follow-up with clients and case processing to ensure documents and notes are accurate and current
  • Follow up with clients on cases after clinics that need further assistance or representation
  • Draft case referral memos to be reviewed by staff attorney
  • Assist with the recruitment of attorneys who will accept bankruptcy cases
  • Attend trainings as needed for professional development
  • Delegate case processing tasks to interns as needed
  • Track and report statistics (i.e., defaults) from consumer clinics to the Employment and Consumer Paralegal for reports and outreaches
  • Prepare cases for closing weekly
  • Participate in other projects as needed to continue the VLP mission

Volunteer Lawyers Project is committed to a diverse work environment and is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. Our ideal candidates are respectful of an inclusive work environment. VLP strives to ensure that those working in our organization reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. VLP encourages applicants from a broad spectrum of backgrounds to apply for positions. 

Assistance available to low-income landlords (The Standard Times)

In a February 16 article, The Standard Times highlighted the Volunteer Lawyers Project’s (VLP) Landlord Advocacy program, which is providing free legal assistance to landlords with low incomes in Massachusestts. An excerpt from the article is below.

His tenant had not paid rent for close to a year, and the landlord filed an eviction action based on nonpayment of rent.

On the day of trial, with the help of housing court mediation, and the presence of the Wayfinders group, the landlord and tenant were able to enter into an agreement requiring the tenant to immediately apply for RAFT/financial assistance to cover the full rental arrearage and the case was continued to allow for the tenant to file.

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association represented the landlord for his next two court dates.

This case study is one example of the support landlords can receive if they are struggling to collect rent and make mortgage payments.

The statewide advocacy program focusing on the financial well-being of small, low-income landlords who are often elderly, non-native English speakers and/or people of color aims to take the pressure off.

Read the full story in The Standard Times/ South Coast Today.

‘I’m at my wit’s end’: Welcome to the underbelly of the region’s housing crisis (The Boston Globe)

Attorneys Zoe Cronin of Greater Boston Legal Services and Rochelle Jones of the Volunteer Lawyers Project, both pictured above, were featured in a Nov. 12 Boston Globe article for their work representing people in housing court in the aftermath of COVID eviction moratoria expiring.

An excerpt of the article is below.

Criminal court proceedings where the defendant faces possible prison time guarantees the right to a defense lawyer, but there is no such safety net for housing court. This means that many tenants who can’t afford a lawyer are battling potential eviction by taking it upon themselves to duel with polished attorneys representing landlords.The tenants often struggle to navigate the complexities of housing law and courtroom procedure. Louis is one of the lucky ones. She has legal representation: Zoe Cronin from Greater Boston Legal Services.

Many tenants are not so fortunate.

As of the end of October, there were 15,556 residential eviction cases brought this year in Massachusetts for non-payment of rent. Those cases include 21,629 defendants, the vast, vast majority of whom are defending themselves without a hired attorney. (Nearly 97 percent are pro se.) By contrast, only about 12 percent of landlords who bring forward eviction cases do so without a lawyer to represent them, according to statistics from the Massachusetts Trial Court.

Volunteer lawyers help both pro se tenants and landlords craft motions or offer representation during a mediation session, and, in some cases they offer full representation. The “lawyer for a day” program sets up shop outside a bank of courtrooms on the fifth floor. Many tenants, said Rochelle Jones, the housing and appeals staff attorney for the Volunteer Lawyers Project, struggle to articulate and defend themselves, to explain to the court what is happening in their living situation.

“The legal system is complicated, it’s complex,” she said.

Read more in The Boston Globe.