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Faculty News: New England Law Professor Instrumental in BBA CORI Sealing Clinic

The Boston Bar Association is launching a monthly volunteer-based CORI Sealing Clinic with the help of New England Law | Boston professor and longtime CORI-sealing advocate David Siegel.

Held in the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in downtown Boston, the clinic will help low-income clients through the CORI-sealing process, if they meet eligibility requirements. The BBA credits Professor Siegel, amongst others, in getting the program off the ground. Siegel helped the BBA design the clinic and will provide additional trainings and guidance for participating attorneys.

A Criminal Offender Record Information report, commonly known as a CORI, is a record of an individual’s criminal offenses. It can include misdemeanors, dismissals, acquittals, and decades-old crimes, which CORI-sealing activists argue carry undue consequences—and often disproportionately affect marginalized communities. Having a CORI can impede one’s ability to get a job, housing, and other benefits. That’s why Massachusetts law allows some eligible records to be “sealed,” or hidden from the public, thus opening up housing and employment opportunities for those looking to improve and move forward with their lives.

In a press release announcing the initiative, the Boston Bar Association states, “The BBA is firmly committed to facilitating the robust engagement of the private bar in pro bono work, and we appreciate all our partners in that effort,” The press release also acknowledges a New England Law alumnus, Boston Municipal Court Chief Justice Roberto Ronquillo, Jr., for his strong support of the clinic.

Since 2011, Siegel has led the CORI Initiative at New England Law, which connects law student volunteers with individuals looking to have their CORI records sealed and helps other organizations in their own CORI sealing efforts. One such local partner is Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women. Students involved with the CORI Initiative at New England Law helped launch a CORI-sealing clinic at the shelter with the help of volunteer lawyers from Boston firm Ropes & Gray.

Siegel also serves as director of the school’s Center for Law and Social Responsibility.

You can learn more about the BBA’s new CORI Sealing Clinic here.