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Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Websitehttps://www.vlpnet.org/

About: The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP) provides free civil legal assistance to low-income residents of Greater Boston, primarily through the pro bono services of private attorneys. With your help, VLP makes access to justice possible for people who cannot afford a lawyer. 

Fellowship Overview

VLP seeks a full-time, 10-week fellow to be part of the team responsible for developing mobile-optimized, user-friendly web-based guided interviews and document assembly tools to help self-represented persons. The guided interviews will allow self-represented clients to: 1) effectively appeal and/or seek waiver of Social Security Insurance (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) overpayments; 2) avoid SSI overpayments caused by inadvertent misuse of benefits; and 3) seek relief from the Department of Revenue with respect to child support arrears, interest, penalties, bank levy, license suspension and other sanctions. These tools will be replicable and available to the public through the http://www.masslegalhelp.org/ statewide website. The tools will be also useful for pro bono attorneys assisting non-custodial parents. The project will incorporate user testing as well as an evaluation component.

Fellows Duties

The Fellow will assist in the development of the online forms. Tasks would include consulting with content staff at VLP to modify and refine scripts, running scripts through WriteClearly for language accessibility, communicating with stakeholders about strategies for form development and needed changes, and user testing of drafts of the forms throughout the development process. The Fellow would also participate in the development of an outreach plan and participate in weekly meetings of the project team.

In addition to work directly on the online forms, the Fellow would work with VLP staff on the Justice for All project, an initiative by the State's Access to Justice Commission to develop innovative ways, including technology, to deliver meaningful assistance to 100% of those who need it. Massachusetts is one of six states to receive Public Welfare Foundation grants to develop innovative access to justice strategies. 

Competencies Include

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills;

  • Excellent legal research skills;

  • Commitment to the mission and vision of VLP;

  • Ability to prioritize and manage projects and tasks to meet deadlines;

  • Self-motivated and able and work independently;

  • Creativity and willingness to take on challenging projects;

  • Experience with using technology including document assembly, websites and video conferencing, preferred.