Who We Are

Access to Justice

Every day, GBLS attorneys and paralegals provide critical legal advice and representation to low-income individuals. In addition, thousands of other poor families and individuals benefit from the systemic advocacy GBLS carries out on behalf of its clients. A few examples include:

  • Increased safety for battered women and their children thanks to improved laws governing custody, visitation, and restraining orders.
  • Improved access to public transportation for thousands of individuals with disabilities, the result of a class action settlement with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in April 2006 in which GBLS represented the plaintiffs.
  • Improved protection for victims of political and gender-based persecution seeking asylum in the U.S.
  • Increased hourly wages for low-wage workers as a result of the Boston's Living Wage Ordinance and Massachusetts' increased minimum wage.
  • Improvement of the unemployment system for low-wage workers, non-English speaking claimants, and domestic violence survivors.
  • Long term preservation of close to 3,000 units of affordable housing for the poor, elderly, and disabled, which were going to be converted to market-rate rents.

The Need

Despite all GBLS' extraordinary work, it is not enough. Every day, three our of five clients with legitimate claims are turned away due to a lack of staffing resources. These people, with meritorious legal claims, have nowhere else to turn to seek justice.

family

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide free legal assistance to as many low-income families as possible to help them secure some of the most basic necessities of life.

GBLS plays a unique role in the social service delivery system. It is the agency to which other providers refer clients when no one else can help and legal assistance is needed.

Our clients are:

  • victims of domestic violence and their children needing protections against abuse,
  • homeless families seeking access to emergency shelter or permanent housing
  • families facing destitution in need of subsistence benefits
  • low-income renters facing possible homelessness
  • elders and individuals with disabilities in need of critical income and medical benefits
  • immigrants fleeing torture and persecution needing protection in our country
  • and low-wage workers denied their earned wages and benefits.

Leadership

Bowman
Jacquelynne J. Bowman Executive Director

Jacquelynne J. Bowman became GBLS' Executive Director in August, 2011 and is responsible for the overall management and operations of GBLS. She initially started work at GBLS as a senior attorney and then Managing Attorney of the Family Law Unit. She left GBLS in 1991, to work at MLRI as the state support attorney for family and juvenile law matters. Jacqui returned to GBLS in 1998, first as an Associate Director and then later became the Deputy Director. She is a nationally recognized expert in family and juvenile law as well as in law practice management. She serves on the Access to Justice Commission of the SJC as well as several boards of non-profit organizations.

Contact: 617-603-1805; Email: jbowman@gbls.org

Manning
Daniel Manning Associate Director/Litigation Director

Dan Manning started work as a staff attorney at what was then the Boston Legal Assistance Project in 1973. He later became the managing attorney of one of the neighborhood offices in Dorchester, and after that the director of litigation for GBLS. He has worked in almost all the areas covered by GBLS: housing, family law, welfare, child welfare, employment, disability benefits, immigration, and health law.  As director of litigation he has responsibility for overseeing major advocacy initiatives and ensuring that GBLS makes effective use of its resources to provide high quality representation to all clients. For the past decade he has been heavily involved in cases on behalf of people with disabilities, including efforts to make public transportation and healthcare accessible.

Contact: 617-603-1603; Email: dmanning@gbls.org

Marquez
Sonia Marquez Director of Human Resources

Sonia Marquez, Director of Human Resources, joined GBLS in February of 2001. As part of the Senior Management team, Sonia is responsible for overseeing all aspects of personnel and human resource administration including recruitment and hiring of staff and student interns and benefits management. Prior to GBLS, Sonia worked for the State of Massachusetts where she administered all aspects of human resources for a number of agencies. Sonia serves on the board of Equal Justice America.

Contact: 617-603-1608; Email: smarquez@gbls.org

Joanne Sanders
Joanne Sanders Director of Finance

Joanne Sanders, Director of Finance, joined GBLS in 2014. As part of the senior management team, Joanne, working with her accounting team, is responsible for overseeing all financial aspects of Greater Boston Legal Services. Her responsibilities include strategic financial planning, maintaining external financial relationships, preparation of financial statements and managing the annual financial audit. Joanne returns to GBLS where she served previously as Comptroller between 1986 and 1997. 

Sanders' 20-plus year career in finance has included roles at nonprofits such as Common Impact where she most recently served in two capacities: as Director of Finance and as Finance Consultant. In her role as Director of Finance, Joanne managed the daily financial activity of the organization. In her capacity as Finance Consultant, Joanne managed teams of volunteers from global companies who helped to implement capacity-building projects for high potential nonprofit clients.

Joanne also was a founding Team Manager and Finance Director for the South Shore Charter School, one of the first independent public charter schools in Massachusetts. Joanne earned her B.S. in Business Management at the University of Massachusetts.

Contact: 617-603-1612; Email: jsanders@gbls.org

Two Happy Women

Settling tax debts helped Margaret get a fresh start on life after a period of homelessness

"Margaret" was a successful real estate broker when multiple misfortunes changed her from a contributing member of society to just hanging on while homeless. After many years, settling her considerable tax debts helped restart her onto a productive path…

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