About the Clinic
The Clinic for the Representation of Marginalized Groups provides free legal aid, consultation and representation to individuals within Jerusalem’s marginalized and socioeconomic peripheral communities. Law students in the program are dispatched to six of the city’s low income, under-served neighborhoods. The students provide ongoing assistance under the supervision of the Clinic’s two Clinical Attorneys, both specialist in social rights which are the main issues raised by most Clinic clients.
Alongside its Community Lawyering activities, the Clinic also proposes and advocates for policy reform and change. All Clinic students work in pairs, with each couple engaged in offering legal assistance in the field as well as in an activity that involves public education, raising awareness or working for policy change with a wide impact.
The Community Lawyering Program is active at six centers in Jerusalem, including one new one. We are active at the social services office in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood; the Ma’abara-Jerusalem Campaign for Housing Rights organization in the Katamon neighborhood; the center for Ethiopian immigrants in central Jerusalem; the center for Ethiopian immigrants in the Kiryat Menachem neighborhood; and the legal aid center for East Jerusalem Arab residents in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Our presence at the Community Court in Jerusalem (one of just six across the country) represents a new and much needed service.
Activities of the Clinic:
Social Justice Operations Room: The Clinic led the establishment of a Social Justice Operations Room, which includes two new Facebook pages in Hebrew and in Arabic. To date, over 3000 people have used this platform which aims to ensure people have correct information on their socioeconomic and other rights and places a strong emphasis on the needs of those from marginalized populations. The Social Justice Operations Room is also helping people who are having difficulties in realizing their rights, in particular social security. The Facebook pages are currently being manned by over 60 ‘volunteer’ students who are alumni of our Clinics.
Achievements: Since the crisis hit, the Clinic has played a major role in two significant policy changes:
1. The Ministry of Construction and Housing approved that requests for new, or renewal of, housing benefits may be submitted remotely/online. In addition, applications that do not include the usually required documentation will be accepted on ‘declaration only’ basis, and the required documentation submitted once the crisis is over.
2. People dismissed from their jobs or sent on unpaid leave, due to the crisis, are generally entitled to very low unemployment payments. In fact, if they already receive other welfare benefits, then these benefits are automatically reduced once they start receiving unemployment. This means that overall, their income is significantly decreased, and they struggle to make ends meet. Following a Clinic-led campaign with other organizations, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services and the NII are to introduce two amendments to the law that will prevent this situation for specific groups. The Clinic is following up to make sure that the bill is amended accordingly.