A Time to Reflect: VLP 45th Anniversary

45 years ago, a daughter of Holocaust survivors committed to civil rights set out to change the narrative that private attorneys did not assist clients who could not pay. In 1977, the late Esther Largent founded the Volunteer Lawyers Project as a pilot project of the Boston Bar Association. VLP was the first Pro Bono legal services office in the nation and is now among the oldest organized pro bono efforts in the country. VLP’s pioneer model provided legal representation to indigent clients through the services of private attorneys and paralegals. 

Esther left VLP in 1985 and for the next 25 years, Meg Connolly continued steering VLP to carry out its mission of providing legal services to the low-income population in the Greater Boston Area. Joanna Allison became Executive Director in 2015, check out what has changed at VLP since Joanna became ED in the timeline below.

Goulston & Storrs once stated they worked with VLP on projects that have become national models in Access to Justice work. “VLP has been on the cutting edge of the development of the provision of quality pro bono representation to low-income litigants for (over) 40 years.” 

An October to Remember: SPJ 20th Anniversary

When Judge Edward Ginsburg turned 70 and was at the state’s mandatory age to retire, he did what any other retiree would do— he started a new hobby. What he cares about most remains steadfast throughout his career. As he celebrated his 70th birthday in 2002, Senior Partners for Justice was born that same day. On October 13th, Judge Ginsburg celebrated his 90th birthday, and his brainchild, SPJ, turned 20. A program connecting retired lawyers, judges, and other senior attorneys with pro bono opportunities has almost reached 1,000 volunteers, exceeding the 100 volunteers goal Judge Ginsburg set at SPJ’s infancy. Read more about Judge Ginsburg and SPJ’s timeline here.

The Cream of the Legal Crop

VLP staff attorneys are some of the best, and we can prove it.  

The Massachusetts Lawyer Weekly named Family Law and Guardianship Supervising Attorney Geraldine Gruvis-Pizarro as a 2022 Top Women in Law recipient. "Geraldine is intelligent, diligent, and gifted in her work. Her analysis and case representation sets her clients up for success in the family law arena," Executive Director Joanna Allison said. "She has published a book and has been an exemplary parent of a differently abled child while also being a top-notch attorney. With her support, her child continues to achieve and grow. This is a difficult role to balance as a parent; protect them while sending them out to make their way. As with all that I have watched her do, Geraldine has mastered it."  

The National Consumer Law Center Partners Council named Consumer and Bankruptcy Senior Attorney Colin Harnsgate this year's NCLC Rising Star. He will be recognized at their Annual Conference in Seattle this month. "I was struck by Colin's hard work, his commitment to his clients, his expertise in consumer law, and his ability to work with persons on all sides of the "v" said Justice of Massachusetts Supreme Court Ernest Sarason, who has invited Colin to be a part of the Executive Committee of the Access to Justice Commission to advocate for better services in the courts to low-income consumer case defendants. 

We are honored to have such talents amongst us. Congratulations, Geraldine and Colin! 

Why We Do What We Do

Frances Louis of Roxbury (center) talked with members of City Life Vida Urbana after her case was rescheduled to a new date at the Eastern Housing Court.JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF

Check out the Boston Globe's latest article on the city's housing crisis, our very own Rochelle Jones, Housing and Appeals Staff Attorney is quoted in the article. Stories of folks like Frances cited in this article are why Volunteer Lawyers Project continues to support low-income clients in the greater Boston area. Our housing unit continues to grow and needs the support of Pro Bono Attorneys. To sign up for our Housing Lawyer for the Day clinic click the button below. 

Lawyer for the Day

Upcoming Clinic Gatherings

Join us for an upcoming clinic whether in-person or remote, VLP remains flexible for our clients and volunteers. Sign up below:  

Housing Lawyer for the Day
Wage Theft Clinic
Consumer Debt Clinic
Family Law and Guardianship
Housing Answer & Discovery
Appeals Clinic
Family Law and Guardianship

Cozy up with our Newest VLPies!

Join us in welcoming the newest additions to the VLP family!  

Adrianne Cormier joined VLP in 2022 as an Intake Specialist. She graduated from Suffolk University in the Spring of 2020 with a B.S. in Law and minored in Psychology and Philosophy. Before joining VLP, Adrianne worked as a Paralegal for a small Estate Planning firm in Western Massachusetts. She is passionate about helping our local underserved communities and is eager to continue doing so at VLP. 

Mary Nee is a Staff Attorney at VLP where she practices in the Family Law and Guardianship Unit. Mary graduated with her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from New England Law | Boston and has accumulated legal experience in the area of domestic relations. She has experience working in both the private legal setting and in legal aid, specifically in advising and representing indigent clients through her work at New England Law | Boston's Clinical Law Office. 

We are so thrilled to have them on board! If you, or someone you know, are interested in joining the VLP team you can check out our open positions here.

Consumer Debt Defense Training

Thursday, December 1, 5-6:30 pm

Do you want to represent low-income consumers in small claims court? This training is for you! Please join us for a training on how to effectively represent people being sued by debt buyers and original creditors. A large portion of the civil docket in Massachusetts is consumer debt collection cases and the need for attorney representation in these cases is very high. The training will cover an overview of the consumer debt collection problem, defenses to debt collection claims, and how to work with VLP and clients in a remote and in-person setting.

Sign up Here

Year to Date Community Impact

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