Legal Unit Internships
We offer volunteer opportunities for students, law students, paralegals, and non-legal professionals.
Interns for the Appeals unit will gain exposure to appeals at various stages, from the initial decision to appeal a lower court decision to oral argument to decision. Interns’ daily responsibilities include: conducting intakes, reviewing case dockets, and following up with clients for information. Interns will also assist the Supervising Attorney in tracking statewide appeals and coordinating moots. Interns may also have the opportunity to draft single justice petitions, and if 3:03-certified, to argue before a single justice in the Appeals Court. The Appeals unit can support one second or third-year law student intern per semester. Interns are required to be available on Tuesday mornings for case review meetings (11-12) and Wednesday afternoons for the Appeals Clinic (12-4).
While there is currently not a Bankruptcy clinic scheduled, interns in the Bankruptcy Unit will have the opportunity to carry their own client caseload, working one on one with clients to assess the clients’ income, property, assets, and debts. These assessments will enable interns to advise clients on the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy process, managing debts, discharging debts, collection-proof income, and protecting certain property utilizing MA exemptions. Interns will assist clients in obtaining documentation and will draft referral memos prior to cases being placed with Pro Bono attorneys. All this will be done under the supervision of the Bankruptcy Unit Paralegal Karla Mojica Perez and Senior Staff Attorney Colin Harnsgate and Staff Attorney Grace Brockmeyer.
Interns will develop their research and analytical skills when researching the application of the Federal Bankruptcy code in Massachusetts to examine if the client’s assets will be protected in Bankruptcy, and if Bankruptcy is even the best option for the client. While not required, it is preferable that interns can attend case review, as well which are currently held on Friday mornings.
Interns for the consumer unit will have the opportunity to see the entire life of a debt collection case. Their responsibilities include: conducting intakes after clinic, interviewing clients to prepare for hearing, and 3:03 certified interns may also argue cases before the clerk magistrate. Interns can also be expected to draft legal memos and conduct research, draft 93A demand letters, and draft documents on behalf of clients. The consumer unit can support up to three interns per semester. Interns are required to be available on Thursdays for clinic and preferably on Tuesday mornings as well for case review.
Dorchester House Legal Clinic
The DotHouse Legal Clinic is a unique opportunity for students to learn basic law in a wide range of legal areas including Housing, Family Law, 209A, Guardianship, Consumer Debt Collection, basic benefits, special education, CORI, Immigration, and Wills. Students will gain legal analysis and reasoning skills as well as interviewing skills. Students work directly with clients in low-income/underserved, diverse communities and experience how medical and legal professionals can partner to identify and address the legal needs to improve patients’ health outcomes. Duties include screening clients for eligibility, completing legal intakes, scheduling and conducting client interviews, preparing and presenting case summaries at the firm, and assisting with the drafting of documents, client follow-up, researching legal information, advice, and referrals.
Students should be fluent in English as well as either Spanish or Vietnamese. Students need to be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays to participate in our weekly meetings and receive mentoring and instruction. The clinic and all associated meetings are operating remotely. The Clinic has the capacity to host 2 interns.
Interns for the Family Law unit will have the opportunity to work directly with clients and perform administrative tasks. Intern responsibilities may include: client calls requesting documents or additional information, drafting court documents on behalf of clients, researching issues related to a pending client case, performing extended client intakes, and drafting referral memos for clients whose case(s) qualify for representation under VLP’s guidelines. Interns who are 3:03 certified may also have the opportunity to represent clients in a virtual, telephonic or in-person court hearing. Interns will have the ability to develop their phone and interpersonal skills in this position. The Family Law unit can support up to five (5) interns a semester provided at least two (2) are willing and able to cross-train in guardianship, it is preferable that Family Law and Guardianship Interns are available Monday afternoons for case review meetings and Wednesday mornings for clinic.
Interns in the Guardianship unit will have the opportunity to review documents, interact directly with clients, do research, and draft documents and memos. Interns will also be able to develop their phone and interpersonal skills as they reach out to clients for documentation and additional information. Some guardianships require medical documentation. As a result, interns will have the opportunity to learn what information is critical for the courts to have and will learn to determine if the court(s) are likely to accept a client’s medical documentation. The Guardianship unit can support two (2) to three (3) interns provided a few are willing and able to cross-train in family law.
Interns for the Housing unit will have the opportunity to work on each stage of both eviction cases and also affirmative cases suing landlords for damages due to sanitary code violations. Interns’ daily responsibilities include: conducting intakes and triaging referrals for Remote Housing Clinic, interviewing clients, drafting 93A letters, pleadings, answers, and discovery requests. Interns may participate in court mediation sessions, and 3:03 certified interns may appear in court hearings. Interns are also asked to conduct legal research. The Housing unit can support up to five interns per semester. Interns are required to be available on Monday mornings for case review meetings, Tuesday mornings for Lawyer for the Day, (and possibly Thursday mornings for the Answer and Discovery Clinic – tentative schedule for A&D Clinic).
Interns in the Unemployment unit will have the unique opportunity to work at multiple stages of the unemployment process, including initial client meetings to assess the merits of the case, conducting research to support the client’s claim and drafting memoranda on cases. Law students will have the opportunity to prepping and representing clients at administrative appeal hearings. Interns who represent clients at administrative hearings will have the opportunity to conduct direct and cross examinations of witnesses, as well as closing arguments. For unemployment cases that are not taken for in house representation, interns will be able to develop their interview skills when calling claimants to get more information regarding the claimant’s separation or discharge. This information will be used to draft referral memos to be sent to Pro Bono Attorneys who will then represent the claimant in their DUA hearing. The UI unit can support several interns in the Spring semester.
Wage & Hour
Wage and hour interns will focus more on legal research and case preparation. Interns will be expected to: conduct intakes at clinic, interview clients to determine potential claims, and draft records requests and demand letters. Interns will also be asked to perform research for specific cases and review any documents necessary to pursue a claim. In the spring semester, the wage and hour unit can support only a single intern per semester or several interns who split their time with other units. The Employment case review is held on Tuesday afternoons, but it is not a deal breaker if an applicant is not available during that time.
Wills and Estate
Interns for the Wills/Estate Planning unit will have the opportunity to prepare cases for referral to our pro bono panel for assistance with drafting Wills, Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney documents. This Unit is one of the least busy units of law at VLP and we do not provide legal assistance to clients; we rely entirely on our pro bono volunteers to complete case work. The responsibilities of an intern include: conducting detailed intakes with clients to assess eligibility, interviewing clients to learn about their wishes for their will and advance directives, informing clients on the parameters of such documents and what powers they grant, and drafting case memos to our panel of volunteer attorneys. Interns are rarely expected to conduct legal research. The Wills/Advance Directives unit can support one intern per semester. Interns are required to be available on Monday afternoon for case review meetings.
A minimum of 12-16 hours per week each semester.
Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer semesters.
If you are interested in any of the Student & Paralegal Opportunities use this centralized form by clicking below.