This is full-time service, requiring 1700 hours over 46 weeks. Members serve under professional supervision and provide legal assistance to low-income people in civil (non-criminal) matters. Benefits include a living stipend, an education award upon successful completion of service, health insurance, and child care assistance if eligible.
ALA-Massachusetts advocates are placed in a variety of legal services organizations, and the essential functions of the position vary among our site partner placements. Some activities may depend on whether the member is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts. Regardless of educational level, each member can expect to engage in many of the following activities:
• interviewing potential clients for legal assistance in civil matters;
• assisting in making eligibility determinations;
• assisting legal professionals in providing counsel, brief service, or full representation to clients;
• providing legal information and referrals;
• participating in case development, including legal research and writing;
• performing case management, including client data collection, recording of case activity, and related administrative tasks;
• gathering factual documentation in support of client claims;
• communicating with clients, relevant public agencies, and opposing parties;
• preparing court pleadings, documents and forms;
• participating in case review meetings and practice area coalitions;
• attending administrative meetings and court proceedings;
• representing clients in court and at administrative hearings;
• using available language skills to assist clients;
• engaging with non-AmeriCorps volunteers;
• creating educational materials; and
• attending and presenting at community outreach events.
All of our advocates are required to:
• adhere to professional responsibility rules that govern the practice of law, including maintaining confidentiality of client information;
• participate in an average of 100 hours of training;
• attend periodic program-wide events throughout Massachusetts, including two overnight conferences;
• use the ALA-Massachusetts data collection system to complete weekly timesheets and client data reports; and
• write periodic reflection logs and program evaluations.
Housing is a primary focus for many of our partner organizations, but placements are made in a variety of civil law practice areas, including:
• Access to Government Benefits
• Income Maintenance
• Mental Health and Health Law
• Legal Problems of Elders
• Sealing of Criminal Records, and
• Family Law.
Under federal rules, AmeriCorps members cannot engage in political, union or religious activities during service hours. ALA-Massachusetts members cannot be enrolled in college or a graduate program while serving, and are strongly discouraged from studying for a bar exam during the service year. Licensed attorneys who serve with ALA-Massachusetts cannot engage in the practice of law outside of service hours.
Community Need Addressed
Thousands of poor individuals and families in Massachusetts seek legal assistance every year but are unable to obtain help.
Our AmeriCorps legal advocates work to assist individuals and families access fair and just resolutions to critical legal problems that stand in the way of economic stability.
Childcare assistance if eligible, Education award upon successful completion of service, Health coverage, Stipend, Student loan forbearance, Training
Skills you will gain
Working with low-income clients in crisis, legal research and writing, public speaking, advocacy, poverty law basics.
Competencies You Will Develop
Demonstrate sensitivity and empathy, Lead group discussion, Listen to and consider others' viewpoints, Maintain open lines of communication with others, Speak clearly, in precise language and in a logical, organized and coherent manner, Write cleary and effectively
Creativity & Problem Solving
Able to identify and define the problem, Capable of generating possible solutions, Improvise
Establish a high degree of trust and credibility with others, Interact professionally and respectfully with supervisors and co-workers, Stay positive and outcome oriented
Identify and prioritize the key issues involved to facilitate the decision making process
Able to prioritize various competing tasks, Drive decision making
Be pleasant, courteous, professional and respectful when dealing with internal and external customers or clients, Evaluate customer or client satisfaction, Honor the privilege of being able to work with and for those being served, Provide personalized, prompt, and efficient service to meet the requirements, requests and needs of customers, Recognize the importance of maintaining privacy and confidentiality of those being served, Understand and anticipate the needs of others, Understand the importance of one's role in the functioning of the organization