Housing Court Lawyer for the Day programs in Massachusetts

Volunteer attorneys provide Limited Assistance Representation to low-income, underrepresented tenants and landlords in housing courts in Massachusetts.

Table Of Contents

Basic Information

Program Name

Housing Court Lawyer for the Day

Short Description

Volunteer attorneys provide Limited Assistance Representation to low-income, underrepresented tenants and landlords.

Location

Eastern Housing Court (in central Boston)

Similar programs run in other housing court locations throughout Massachusetts, like in Central Housing Court in Worcester, MA (as coordinated by Community Legal Aid).

Duration

Began in May 1999 and is still occurring

Funding

Built into the Volunteer Lawyers Project’s annual budget, funded by Legal Services Corporation

Size (number of beneficiaries)

Estimated total: 15,000 people represented through volunteer lawyers in the Boston Housing Court program, as of March 2020


Stakeholders

Who designed and set up the program? 

Who runs and manages the program?

VLP manages the program through 3 Housing Staff Attorneys, 1 Supervising Attorney, and 1 Paralegal. We utilize pro bono attorneys and law students to represent the clients.

Who funds the program?

Financial support comes from the Legal Services Corporation, and is run by the VLP

Intended Beneficiaries: Who does the program target?

Low-income, unrepresented tenants and landlords


Program Details

How does the program work? What are the typical paths of action that the beneficiary + the service-provider take?

Volunteers are present in the courthouse on the day of eviction hearings. A table is set up outside of the courtroom inviting pro se litigants to visit the volunteers. Paralegal and interns complete intakes to ensure clients qualify for the services. If they do, they will be assigned a volunteer attorney or 3:03 certified law student. The volunteer represents their client by drafting motions, mediating with the other party, or representing the client in their hearing. The program is Limited Assistance so volunteers file a Notice of Appearance and a Notice of Withdrawal on the same day.

What assets can be shared for others to use? 

“The Eviction Process: Training for LFD Volunteers” can be accessed here: https://www.masslegalservices.org/content/eviction-process-training-lfd-volunteers

The Lawyer-For-a-Day Program Manual for housing court is available for others’ use. This includes information on how to establish the program, recruit volunteers, train lawyers, set limits, and define best practices.


Evidence Base

What are the plans for monitoring and evaluation?

There are currently no evaluations.

Have any evaluations been conducted so far?

Nor available at this time.


Contact and Follow-Up Info

Documentation + Links

More information about the program can be found here: https://vlpnet.org/housing-court-lawyer-for-the-day/

Training for LFD Volunteers can be accessed here: https://www.masslegalservices.org/content/eviction-process-training-lfd-volunteers

Point of Contact for more information

Amy Anthony, Supervising Staff Attorney, at aanthony [@] vlpnet.org

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