J.D. Program

Community Courts

Community courts is a one-semester clinical program that combines a classroom component and a weekly clinical placement with a judge in a community based state court.


The fieldwork

Judges sitting in Massachusetts District, Probate, Juvenile and Housing Courts in Boston serve as mentors to students working on cases and court projects.

The classwork

Classes explore the structure of state trial courts that are based in the community and how they have traditionally operated.  The course also examines the evolution of “problem-solving” or “specialized courts” throughout the country.  

A sampling of discussion topics:

  • The roles and function of court personnel, including prosecutors, defenders, probation, court clinicians and judiciary
  • Restorative justice and due process: discussions will include consideration of pre-adjudicatory and post-adjudicatory models, including drug, domestic violence and youth courts
  • The first of the specialized courts: The Juvenile Court- Discussions will include analysis of the relationship of court process to related systems, including public education, mental health and community based service providers
  • Ethical considerations for lawyers and the judiciary in community engagement

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