On Wednesday of last week, the BBA was proud to host a training for prospective volunteers for the Eastern Housing Court’s Lawyer for the Day program. The training was conducted by Geraldine Gruvis-Pizarro, Colin Harnsgate, and Sarah Lee, who coordinate the program as staff attorneys from the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). The Hon. MaryLou Muirhead, 1st Justice of the Eastern Housing Court, gave the opening remarks.
Her words of advice for future volunteers? Try not to end up in front of her. In fact, most tenant-landlord disputes are settled by mediation. She also urged the audience to take advantage of the Eastern court’s extra “amenities.” From the experienced housing specialists in the clerk’s office, to Rosie’s Place advocates, to the RAFT and TPP homelessness prevention programs, there is a range of in-house resources available to help volunteers help their clients.
During the comprehensive training, VLP lawyers explained the major legal and procedural issues surrounding summary process for evictions. They discussed the defenses available to tenants, requirements for landlords initiating evictions, the acceptable forms of prima facie evidence, important filing deadlines, and much more.
VLP hosts free Landlord/Tenant Law trainings regularly, and both law students and attorneys with minimal housing case experience are encouraged to attend. The Eastern Housing Court sees up to 200 cases on the docket per week. With many low-income tenants and landlords going without representation, volunteer lawyers play a vital role.
To register for their next training on January 15th, click here. For more information on how to volunteer, visit the VLP website. And for more volunteer opportunities at the Cambridge session of Eastern Housing court on Fridays, contact Susan Corcoran at De Novo.
The VLP and De Novo are grantees of the Boston Bar Foundation.