Clinics & Projects
Consumer Debt Clinic
Attorneys provide Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) to clients, meaning they are only involved in the case for that day. Not trained in LAR? Watch a training and read required materials.
- BMC Central’s Zoom Account [Click Here]
- 1st and 3rd Thursdays (BMC Central, Zoom) 2 pm
- BMC Dorchester (510 Washington St, Boston MA 02124)
- 2nd and 4th Thursdays (BMC Dorchester, In-Person)
- 11 am and 2 pm
- Must be a licensed Massachusetts Attorney
HOW IT WORKS VIRTUAL
- VLP staff attend court on Zoom and provide our contact information to potential clients.
- The court calls the list of cases and if a litigant says they would like to speak with VLP, their case gets a continuance of 1-2 months. During that time, the litigant contacts VLP. We do an intake with them to ensure their case fits our priorities and that the litigant is financially eligible.
- If the litigant is eligible, they become a client and we find a volunteer to represent them. Every Wednesday, the Pro Bono Manager sends out emails to VLP’s consumer panel with a list of available cases.
- Once a volunteer picks up a case, they are able to see all the documents we collected from the client, details about their case and referral memorandum. The volunteer will need to fill out a Notice of Limited Appearance (NLA) and file it with the court. It is the volunteer’s responsibility to counsel the client, negotiate with the opposing party to reach a resolution of the case, and represent the client at their magistrate hearing if needed.
- Once the case has been resolved, volunteers will fill out a Notice of Withdrawal of Limited Appearance (NWLA) and file with the court immediately after
- Time commitment: 1-3 months and 5-8 hours spent on the case
HOW IT WORKS IN-PERSON
- VLP staff and volunteers attend court together. VLP sets up tables in the hallway, and potential clients come by and ask for assistance.
- VLP staff do an intake with the client to ensure their case fits our priorities and that the litigant is financially eligible.
- If the litigant is eligible, they become a client, and we find a volunteer to represent them.
- Over the next 2-4 hours, the volunteer will work with the client to resolve the case, review documents obtained from the creditor, negotiate with the opposing party, and do a magistrate hearing if needed. The volunteer will need to fill out a Notice of Limited Appearance (NLA) that will be filed with the court by VLP.
- Once the case is resolved, the volunteer fills out an “assistance provided form” to tell VLP what happened in their case, and fill out a Notice of Withdrawal of Limited Appearance (NWLA) that the volunteer must file with the court before leaving the clinic
BENEFITS OF VOLUNTEERING
- Limited assistance means you finish with your client on the same day. No drawn-out help with court proceedings or legal advice
- Attorneys of all experience volunteer. Learn from a more experienced attorney if you would like more guidance on guardianship law and paperwork, or provide mentorship to a younger attorney if you have years of knowledge to share.
- Want to meet other attorneys in your area of practice? Clinics are a great way to make connections with other legal professionals.
- Gain practical experience. This clinic is a great introduction to bankruptcy practice for volunteers.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project provides primary malpractice insurance for all pro bono work.
to sign up
For more information
Contact Pro Bono Manager Emelia Andres