AmeriCorps Domestic Violence Project Attorney

Please post, share, and/or forward the announcement below with friends, colleagues, recent law school grads, etc. For anyone interested in a job that combines case-handling with extensive community outreach and education, this is the job for them! As an AmeriCorps alum prior to my NAPIL EJF, I can speak first hand about what an excellent program this is. The program is committed to providing strong supervision and training to new attorneys while at the same time giving them a great deal of autonomy in both the case work and community work. The AmeriCorps project at WMLS is entering it's 7th year--come be a part of this wonderful community!

August 15, 2001



Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) seeks AmeriCorps attorneys to work in its Domestic Violence Project this fall. These are two year community service positions, funded by the National Service Legal Corps, which are contingent upon WMLS? award from the Corporation for National Service.
WMLS anticipates four openings.

AmeriCorps Program Description:
Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) is one of eleven sites across the country, and the only site in New England, to host a National Service Legal Corps (NSLC) AmeriCorps program. NSLC offers participants substantive experience in a legal services program. At WMLS, four NSLC attorneys counsel and represent victims of domestic violence and work on a pro-active project within the communities they serve.
These positions offer attorneys and recent law school graduates a unique opportunity to provide community service and to obtain skills to advance their careers.

WMLS Domestic Violence Project:
Working with domestic violence programs throughout western Massachusetts, the four AmeriCorps attorneys work closely with experienced family law attorneys to assist victims of domestic violence in resolving legal problems and in making decisions about leaving, and maintaining freedom from, abusive situations.
In addition to providing direct legal services in courts and at administrative hearings, AmeriCorps attorneys also educate victims about their legal rights and responsibilities by conducting pro-se clinics and one-to-one counseling sessions with clients, providing training and consultation for provider staff, and designing and distributing educational materials. The attorneys also work on a community-based project, designed with the assistance of their supervisors, the project director, and their fellow AmeriCorps team members.

Member Responsibilities:
* Provide direct legal assistance to victims of domestic violence.
* Develop, maintain and strengthen partnerships and collaborations within the domestic violence service provider network.
* Provide community legal education to shelter staff and other groups interested in serving victims of domestic violence.
* Participate in a community-based coalition or task force concerned with domestic violence issues.
*Educate clients to identify and resolve, on their own, civil legal problems that might interfere with their ability to become or remain free from violence.

General Responsibilities:
* Comply with NSLC and other WMLS funding agencies? contracts, agreements and reporting requirements.
* Take and pass the first bar examination (or comply with waiving-in requirements) possible after law school graduation.
* Develop and maintain basic knowledge of the law relevant to the work.
* Assist in supervising law students, volunteers and other staff consistent with the needs of the program.
* Become familiar with the social, political, and economic conditions that affect eligible clients who live in the geographic area served by the Project and the particular office in which the member is located.
* Attend training and conferences at the request or with the approval of the supervisor, and be prepared to suggest training the member feels might be useful in order to achieve the goals listed above.

Each AmeriCorps member shall be responsible to their designated supervisor (a staff attorney), their office manager, and to the project director.

Experience and Education:
Members must possess a law degree and be licensed to practice. On occasion, a member may be hired pending results of the last scheduled bar examination. If a member fails to pass, the supervisor, office manager, project director and WMLS Executive Director shall meet with the member and determine whether the member shall be allowed to continue and under what conditions. Members must demonstrate a personal commitment to legal services work and a strong commitment to providing quality representation to low
income clients, and to victims of domestic violence. Members will ideally commit to a two-year term of service, but in no case will anything less than a one-year commitment be acceptable. Failure to live up to a one-year commitment will result in the forfeiture of all education awards.

* Stipend of $18,000, as per AmeriCorps regulations
* Education Award of $4,725 for each year of service from Corp. for National Service
* Additional supplement from WMLS- $209/mo during the 1st year; $350/mo during the 2nd year. This is a flexible benefit to be used at the discretion of the AmeriCorps member for the direct payment of rent, mortgage, utilities or student loans (student loan payments may be tax-exempt pending current negotiations). * Qualified student loans may be put in forbearance during the service term
* Full health care, single or family, at no cost
* Disability Insurance (long and short term)
* Life Insurance
* Child care (if eligible)
* Vacation and sick time
* Bar registration fees paid

About WMLS:
Western Massachusetts Legal Services, is a private, non-profit organization that has been providing civil legal aid to poor people and elders since 1972.  WMLS has three main offices (Springfield, Northampton and Pittsfield), each of which has at least one AmeriCorps domestic violence attorney. Our case acceptance priorities are matters affecting housing, government benefits, family, employment, health care, disability and elders. Western Massachusetts, in the beautiful and tranquil Berkshire mountains and Connecticut River valley, offers a unique blend of rural New England living with a wide range of cultural, educational and recreational opportunities.  

Access to the prestigious Five-College community, proximity to Boston and New York and a vibrant economy combine to create a quality of life second to none.

To Apply:
Please send resume and cover letter immediately (deadline September 7, 2001) to:
Deborah Marchand, Esq., AmeriCorps Program Director
Western Massachusetts Legal Services, Inc.
152 North Street, Suite 150-E, Pittsfield, MA 01201