Founded in 1968, LAB is the Law School’s first and oldest clinical program. It was born of 1960s idealism and matured into an established, indispensable entrée on the Law School’s menu of courses. It paved the way for new clinics, externships, observational programs, and most recently, BC Law’s Center for Experiential Learning. LAB has also been a model for clinics at other law schools.
Its vibrancy, today as always, comes from a special dynamic of students and faculty who continuously challenge each other, press for improvement, and keep the program at the forefront of clinical legal education. As Alexis Anderson, a longtime associate clinical professor at LAB, said, “If we get stagnant, certainly the students shake us up. There’s a bottom-up and a top-down way in which LAB continues to evolve.”
BC Law is treating the anniversary as an opportunity to showcase how the initial organization blossomed from a small store-front operation in Waltham offering civil and criminal legal assistance to a multi-clinic enterprise now located at the Law School.
“Throughout, the central mission of the Legal Assistance Bureau has remained the same: to provide quality legal services to those who can’t afford attorneys for the most critical issues, including homelessness prevention, safety from domestic violence, immigration assistance, juvenile rights advocacy, and support for emerging community nonprofits and budding entrepreneurs, while also providing expert legal training to BC Law students,” Anderson said.
The first event in the year-long celebration of LAB will be November 2 during Reunion Weekend, when LAB alumni attending their reunion will tell stories about their clinical experiences. A spring conference is also being planned.
LAB is celebrating another anniversary this year, that of the Community Enterprise Clinic (CEC), which is turning ten. It was started by Professor Paul Tremblay, who remains its director. “Our CEC clients are fun, creative, risk-taking, and above all else entrepreneurial. The work is endlessly fascinating and rewarding. We have helped a lot of emerging businesses get started,” he said. Among CEC’s many success stories are Mbadika, Justice at Work, Downtown Waltham Partnership, BeautyLynk, bosWell, and Drizly.
Photograph: LAB professors Leslie Espinosa, Alan Minuskin (seated), and Paul Tremblay in the early days