Law School Chapters

The National Lawyers Guild-Mass Chapter encourages and welcomes the participation of students from local law schools. There are currently Law School Chapters at Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Northeastern, Suffolk, UMass Dartmouth, and Western New England.

Examples of Law School Chapters' Activities

Resistance Lawyering Series

This is a critical legal theory workshop series that revisits law cases and concepts studied during the first year of law school and determines how they construct and support systems of power and inequality.

Showing of "Whose Streets?"

A Law School Chapter put on a screening of this film about the killing of the unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, and the social uprising that followed. Following the film, a Ferguson activist joined the conversation via Skype to discuss the events surrounding the uprising.

Scrutinizing the Law

This was a forum to answer the questions, “What is a movement lawyer?” and “How to resist unfair laws?” It included discussions with legal professionals and grassroots organizers to determine collectively some best practices for legal professionals who want to work with communities struggling for justice.

Trainings

The NLG-Mass Chapter offers trainings for law students to serve as Legal Observers at demonstrations, run Street Law Clinics for community agencies (see next section), work with the Litigation Committee on cases affecting disenfranchised communities, and participate in other NLG-Mass Chapter projects.

Street Law Clinics and Law Students

NLG-Mass Chapter attorneys and law students conduct Street Law Clinics (SLC) to educate people about their legal rights and methods of resistance. We train law students who, in turn, facilitate clinics with the support and presence of a NLG-Mass Chapter attorney. NLG Mass-Chapter attorneys conduct Direct Action Clinics and Legal Observer Trainings.

Participating in the SLC project gives law students the opportunity to become involved in vital civil rights work. The clinics take place in schools, union halls, shelters, places of worship, and other gathering places, and are tailored to meet the needs of those attending.

The clinics are interactive, engaging, and participant-focused. There are written materials; however, in the clinics we discuss the law as it reflects the lived experiences of the attendees and not merely as it appears in books. Clinics are generally two hours long, including a half hour Q&A session.

Our Seven Street Law Clinics:

Lego

 

Photo Credit: Carl Williams

Direct Action Clinic

This clinic provides information to individuals and groups who plan to take direct action that may bring them into confrontation with law enforcement or risk of arrest through civil disobedience. Participants learn about specific laws in Massachusetts and arrest and court procedures relevant to various protests and demonstrations. We encourage people to make informed decisions about their participation in such actions and their responses to police tactics. The clinic is aimed at activists and organizers planning to take part in demonstrations and is conducted by a Guild lawyer.

Legal Observers

Legal Observer training.

 

Photo Credit: Carl Williams

Legal Observer Training

This training is for any legal professional or political activist who wants to serve as an NLG-Mass Chapter Legal Observer at political protests. Legal Observers work under the supervision of a NLG-Mass Chapter attorney and are an integral part of any legal team representing activists. Their presence at protests and other political actions can be a deterrent as they monitor and record acts of police misconduct.This workshop is aimed at law students, lawyers, and community members. It covers how to conduct oneself during an action, what to pay attention to, and how to assist people who are arrested. The Mass Defense Committee runs this training.

 

Photo Credit: Carl Williams

Stop & Search:

This clinic examines people’s constitutional rights with regard to the police. Participants discuss methods of resistance and protection when targeted by police. This is NOT obedience training! We do not falsely promise that people will not be abused if they are quiet and obedient. Rather, we share information about what people can do when they are the victims of police misconduct and systemic racism. This workshop is aimed at youth, particularly youth of color, as well as concerned adults and service providers. The clinic covers your legal right against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. It aims to answer these questions: When can police legally stop, detain, or arrest you? When can police legally search or frisk you? What are your rights if arrested and arraigned? What is the difference between the law and reality? How does a person file a complaint with internal affairs?

Immigration Law Clinic

Immigration Law Clinic

This clinic provides basic information regarding the rights that immigrants and refugees have as they respond to harassment from immigration authorities. The workshop covers recent changes in immigration laws and procedures, as well as issues related to visas, citizenship, travel, detention, and deportation. When appropriate, the clinic will cover the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. It is designed for immigrants, refugees, and service providers.

Anti Foreclosure Rallly

Anti-Foreclosure Rally

 

Housing Law

This clinic focuses on tenants in their struggle for decent homes and shelter. It can also provide information to homeowners who are facing foreclosure from unscrupulous lending practices. This workshop for tenants, landlords who want to understand their obligations, homeowners facing foreclosure and eviction, and homeless individuals who may soon become tenants. The workshop can cover tenants’ rights and remedies, what to look for when finding an apartment, getting repairs made, protecting against lead paint poisoning, how to document unsafe living conditions, and protections against shut-offs. It can also cover paying rent, rent increases and security deposits, and laws regarding discrimination, evictions, and foreclosures.

Workers’ Rights Clinic

If not in a union, workers often have no place to turn for information about their rights. Immigrant workers face discrimination and harassment, whether unionized or not, and often fear losing their jobs or negative immigration consequences if they speak up. This clinic is aimed at workers, job seekers, service providers, and employers who want to understand their obligations. The workshop can cover wage and hour laws (including overtime pay, minimum wage, and deductions), unemployment benefits, the right to a safe workplace, workers’ compensation, and family and medical leave. It can also examine how to protect yourself against discrimination while exercising your collective union rights.

Consumer Law/Bankruptcy Law Clinic

This clinic educates community members about their rights when entering into agreements with creditors, as well as discussing how and whether to file for bankruptcy. It is aimed at anyone who wants to be a smarter consumer, people with credit troubles, and those might be considering filing for bankruptcy. The workshop can cover personal finances, credit reporting, managing debt, and your rights under the Truth in Lending Act, which demands transparency from creditors.

How to Become Involved

Law students who are interested in organizing a Law School Chapter or joining an existing chapter at their law school can contact us at NLGStreeLawClinic@nlgmass.org. Please click on the “Join the NLG-Mass Chapter” button below to become a member of the NLG-Mass Chapter at a special student membership rate.

If you or other students at your law school are interested in hosting a Street Law Clinic, or being trained to conduct a Street Law Clinic, please click on the “Apply to Host a Clinic or Receive Training” button to fill out an application.

Join the NLG MASS Chapter
Host a Clinic or Receive Traning Button

If you have any questions, email us at NLGStreetLawClinic@nlgmass.org or at NLGMassDirector@nlgmass.org.