For more than 30 years, the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts (VLA) has provided essential legal assistance and guidance to our vibrant creative community. Each year, we provide more than $1,000,000 in free legal assistance to the arts and culture sector, but we can’t do it without your help! Join a panel of over 750 outstanding attorneys throughout Massachusetts and New England and help us support local arts and empower the people who make it!
Pro Bono Service
Getting involved is as easy as joining our VLA panel! Panel attorneys receive (by email) our twice-monthly list of cases available for referral. VLA cases span a wide breadth of legal subject matter. While most VLA cases involve small business matters such as copyright, entity formation, corporate governance, and contracts, we also receive many requests for more “traditional” civil legal aid matters, including bankruptcy, landlord/tenant, labor and employment, immigration, family law, and tort. And while most applicants are in Massachusetts, we also receive requests from artists from neighboring states (states without a VLA program). When a case matches your interests, availability, and expertise, simply contact the VLA staff at VLAreferral@artsandbusinesscouncil.org. Our case lists also include information about alternative volunteering opportunities and upcoming events. Best of all, joining the mailing list is free and carries no obligation to volunteer!
We are also always recruiting patent practitioners to volunteer for our Patent Pro Bono Program of New England, a partnership with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Boston Patent Law Association. Requests for patent services vary from initial consultations to non-provisional patent prosecution. Volunteers are encouraged to counsel clients as to the best use of their time and resources. We publish volunteer patent cases separately from our VLA case lists.
We welcome practitioners of all disciplines and in all practice settings. Volunteers must be licensed to practice law in the U.S. and in good standing (patent volunteers must also be admitted to practice before the USPTO). We also welcome new law graduates, and foreign lawyers, and other volunteers who are pending admission to a U.S. bar to join our panel, but we request that you identify a licensed attorney who is willing to supervise your volunteer work.
To join either or both panels, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Your name (including preferred name and pronouns)
- Mailing address
- Law firm or organization, if any
- Phone number
- Email address
- States and years of bar admission
- Areas of legal expertise and interest. Patent practitioners, please also include your technical expertise (life sciences, mechanical engineering, physics, etc.).
- For VLA volunteers, any particular arts interests (visual, literary, music, dance, drama, etc.)
- Foreign language proficiencies, if any
We carry malpractice insurance that covers our volunteers’ pro bono service. For lawyers already carrying malpractice insurance that covers volunteer work, our policy is secondary/excess.
Want to support the VLA but don’t have time to take a case? Looking to expand your practice to work with artist clients? Consider purchasing a VLA Membership. For an annual membership fee, you can contribute to our program’s sustainability. As an additional benefit, VLA Member attorneys have exclusive access to our fee-incurring cases. Applicants who do not qualify for pro bono assistance may be referred to VLA Members for paid legal assistance.
We ask that 10% of any fees collected in excess of $500 be remitted to the VLA to support our ongoing services.
We are also proud to provide opportunities for current law students to learn about the many different areas of law affecting the arts, and how the law relates to the unique issues faced by artists and arts and cultural organizations. Our internships expose law students to a wide range of legal issues specific to the arts, particularly in the non-profit sector. Art law interns research, write, and provide supervised counseling to clients on issues in copyright, trademark, contracts, business formation, and many more.
Art law interns assist with legal intake, helping applicants discern their legal needs, and working with VLA staff–including other interns–to address those needs. Art law interns also have the opportunity to attend VLA sponsored workshops and seminars that provide training and education in legal aspects of the arts.
The Art Law Internship is open to second year (as early as the summer after your first year) and third year law students during fall, spring, and summer terms. The internship is a volunteer position.
Our application submission deadlines for our Art Law Internship are as follows:
- Spring Semester: October 31
- Summer Term: February 28
- Fall Semester: June 30
Please be sure to include the term for which you are applying and the days you are available to intern with us during that term. If you have other deadlines, such as deadlines to acquire funding or receive course credit with your school, please let us know.
For all law students, please submit a (1) cover letter, (2) resume, and (3) writing sample. Upper level students (2L, 3L, 4L), please also include your most recent law school transcript. Please address applications to:
Director of Legal Services
Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston
15 Channel Center St. Ste. 103
Boston, MA 02210
Our partners at Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation have two new grant programs available to help small businesses continue to recover from the pandemic. While not all of the artists and arts organizations we work with…