The Center for Law and Education (CLE) is seeking a Public Interest Fellow/Attorney to help expand its established project, Access to Justice through Lay Advocacy, which provides free legal assistance to students facing short-term suspensions for non-drug, non-violent, non-criminal offenses. Through this project, which evolved from the statewide dearth of legal services education attorneys, CLE-trained lay advocates assist students at quick turnaround disciplinary hearings with the goal of keeping them in school to learn.
Throughout the country, students who are economically disadvantaged – disproportionately students of color – are subject to more severe discipline and experience higher rates of suspension than their peers. Given the scarcity of free legal assistance, these students typically receive minimal, if any, guidance or support at disciplinary hearings, which all too often result in a bias-informed, predetermined suspension and unnecessary loss of instruction. The repercussions are critical: Students who are suspended – even for a few days – risk disengagement from the school community, a loss of trust in the teaching and administrative staff, increased absenteeism, and higher drop-out and lower graduation rates. The link between structural racism and disparities in education, including policies and practices that discourage students from staying in school, cannot be ignored.
Funded by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, this fellowship is a one-year position with the option to be renewed for a second year. Known as the Bart Gordon Fellowship, it has a twofold purpose: to provide critical legal services to clients who have difficulty accessing the justice system typically because of racial, cultural, linguistic, gender, or disability-based barriers, and to build the civil legal services pipeline for law school graduates committed to racial and economic justice.
Review of applications will begin immediately and considered on a rolling basis. Priority consideration will be given to applications received by June 1, 2022. Please submit a letter of interest, resume and legal writing sample by email to Sky Kochenour (firstname.lastname@example.org) with Subject Line: LAP Fellow Application [Last Name].
CLE is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer and encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status or to other non-work-related factors. CLE strives to foster a healthy, inclusive environment where all staff, clients, and community members are valued, empowered and recognized, including individuals from marginalized communities that are often under-resourced, underserved, and underrepresented.