The Consumer Debt Practicum is a new 2-credit clinical course that will teach trial practice skills and substantive consumer law to J.D. students through participation in the Fair Debt Clinic hosted by the Volunteer Lawyers Project at the Boston Municipal Court – Central Division Small Claims Court.

Fieldwork

The Volunteer Lawyers Project staffs the Fair Debt Collection Clinic in Small Claims Court at the Boston Municipal Court (BMC) Central Division, Cambridge District Court and Quincy District Court. The clinic provides pro bono representation to low income defendants in small claims court on credit card collection matters. Students will attend the clinic at BMC, Cambridge District Court, or Quincy District Court on Thursday mornings.

Students will represent low-income debtors in negotiations and small claims trials, under the supervision of the clinic instructors. The students’ involvement in each case begins and ends within the several-hour period of each clinic session. Students will develop the practical skills of client interviewing and counseling, negotiation, and oral advocacy. Students will learn about the debt collection industry, common defenses to consumer debt collection suits, and how to litigate Fair Debt Collection Practices Act claims in these cases.

Seminar

In addition to the clinic work, students will attend a weekly classroom seminar or discussion. The seminar will cover substantive law, allow opportunity for case reviews, and engage students in mock trial simulations. The topics will include the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure; trial practice; consumer law such as common law contracts, Truth in Lending Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and Massachusetts Consumer Cost Credit Act; client counseling; and negotiation.