Lawyers for Civil Rights: On the Front Lines of Justice

The only organization of its kind in the country, LCR is now more devoted than ever to seeking justice for their clients - most of whom are people of color & immigrants.

April 17, 2020

A flood. That’s how Lawyers for Civil Rights Executive Director Iván Espinoza-Madrigal portrayed the 50 or more case requests his organization has been receiving daily since the COVID-19 outbreak. In response to the deluge, the nonprofit’s volunteers are connecting with families via phone, email and Zoom to help them navigate their way through the unemployment system and food security. The vast majority of the organization’s clients are people of color and immigrants.  


LCR Boston logo
As they work around the clock to meet the needs of their struggling clients, staff and volunteer lawyers are also engaged with community partners and the courts to increase protections for the most vulnerable individuals and families among us. Measures they are advocating for include a moratorium on evictions, the release of racial demographic data for COVID-19 infections and the development of a Spanish language platform for those filing for unemployment.

Lawyers for Civil Rights was launched in 1968 as the first pro bono project of the Boston Bar Association. It remains the only such organization in the country that is affiliated with a major bar association. It fights discrimination on behalf of people of color and immigrants through legal action, education and advocacy.

Two weeks ago, Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a class action against immigration officials for the humanitarian release of hundreds of immigrants. Since that filing, the court has released nearly 50 immigrants, including asylum seekers, from life threatening detention settings. The lawyers who are donating their time are more devoted than ever to seeking justice for their clients.

As Lawyers for Civil Rights advocates for the importance of data collection on those infected with the coronavirus, it is also encouraging households to complete the 2020 Census. The goal is to paint a fuller picture of the needs communities are facing so that Massachusetts will receive adequate federal funding to meet those needs. The organization is ensuring that everyone gets counted despite the public health crisis.

When asked how others can support the organization’s work, Espinoza-Madrigal said, “In this time of crisis, people of color and immigrants require fearless advocates willing to fight with and for them. We welcome donations and also

volunteer attorneys who can donate their time and talent. A one-hour commitment can help an affected family apply for unemployment benefits. A three-hour commitment can help a struggling small business apply for an emergency loan.” If you are interested and are able to lend assistance, you can reach out to Iván and his team at


This is one in a series of stories about grantees of the Boston Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. These Greater Boston nonprofits are on the front-lines of our community's response to this crisis. While we are all struggling to cope with the hardships of the coronavirus, these organizations, their leaders and their staff are serving the most vulnerable among us. Boston Indicators, the Boston Foundation’s Research Center, is providing valuable data and analysis for these stories. Visit for more on the COVID-19 Response Fund.