Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Spring Clinics with Open Seats – If Interested, Please Respond A.S.A.P.

If you would like to join one of the clinics below, please email us as soon as possible.  

Any open seats will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Please Note: The drop deadline has now passed for all spring clinics.  If you are enrolled in another spring clinic, you may not drop that clinic without receiving a “WD” (withdrawal) notation.

Summer Internships for Law Students

This list will be updated periodically.
For questions about each listing, please contact the respective program.

Legal Services Center

The Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School seeks law students to serve as interns this coming summer.  Our summer program runs from Monday, May 21st – Friday, July 27th, 2018.  (Note: on a case-by-case basis, we will also consider split-summers and summer schedules that begin before May 21st and/or end after July 27th).

Located at the crossroads of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, the Legal Services Center is Harvard Law School’s largest clinical placement, housing multiple clinics and providing direct legal services to hundreds of low-and-moderate income residents in the Greater Boston area each year. Our longstanding mission is to educate law students for practice and professional service while simultaneously meeting the critical legal needs of the community.

View full posting


Prison Legal Assistance Project

Application Deadline: February 23, 2018

The Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) is now accepting applications for its 2018 Summer Student Attorney Program.  Qualified candidates will have an interest in criminal justice and representing incarcerated persons. Training will be held during the last weeks of May. You must be able to spend 10 weeks working fulltime for PLAP during the summer months. In addition to representing clients, you will answer phone calls from prisoners in the PLAP office and respond to written requests for help. You should be able to drive and rent a car in the United States. Spanish or other foreign language skills are a plus.

View full posting

Community Enterprise Project Helps Empower Small Business Owners in Boston

By Alex Glancy, J.D. ’19

Caption: Alex Glancy (J.D. ’19) and Michael Trujillo (J.D. ’18) present to a group of community leaders and small business owners in Jamaica Plain about commercial lease basics. This workshop was co-hosted by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC).

On a winter afternoon, I met with Mehedi* at CVC Unidos, a community center in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Mehedi is a convenience store owner. He has a bright smile and will never let you leave without offering you a soda or water bottle. He was opening a second convenience store and had recently received the lease for that property. CEP was holding office hours, and he came to get legal advice. He handed me the 6-page unsigned lease agreement, filled with dense contract language. I took a deep breath and started reading.

As Mehedi waited for my opinion on his lease, he asked, “So did my landlord give me a good lease?” I began scrutinizing Mehedi’s lease. I noticed a problem. The lease contained a subordination provision, which meant that his lease could be terminated if the landlord’s mortgage lender ever foreclosed on the property. “You could lose your lease if your landlord defaulted on his loan,” I explained. This was a risk Mehedi did not want to take.

During my time in the Community Enterprise Project (CEP), we developed a presentation and corresponding Commercial Leases 101 Toolkit  designed to assist small businesses in Boston and Somerville. To develop these materials, we met with numerous community partners, canvassed commercial districts in Boston (such as the Bowdoin-Geneva area, where I first met Mehedi), and consulted with experienced clinical instructors familiar with real estate law.

Caption: This is a flyer for one of numerous commercial lease workshops held around Boston during Fall 2017. We distributed the flyer throughout Dorchester. This workshop was co-hosted by the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (DBEDC)

Unlike residential tenants, commercial tenants have virtually no rights outside of their lease. Any rights are described in the lease agreement, so it is important to sign as good a lease as one can. How can small-business owners, especially the poor or non-English speaking, sign better commercial leases? In navigating the Wild West of commercial real estate, they could use attorneys. But even more crucially, they need community organizations that fight for increased economic and political power. We designed our project to assist small business owners one on one, and also to lay the groundwork for systemic change in the ongoing defense against gentrification.

A transactional lawyer is a luxury for the majority of small businesses, including those in low-income communities facing more pressing legal issues, such as lack of housing or public benefits. Retaining a lawyer might seem so unattainable that the thought does not even cross one’s mind. Although transactional lawyers might seem like last priority, their impact can be long lasting. A transactional lawyer knows that you never know until you ask, and can suggest minor changes that make a big impact. As a first step, transactional lawyers remind clients that a contract is a two-way street, with room to create solutions that will benefit both sides.

At the conclusion of our meeting, we advised Mehedi to add a “non-disturbance” provision to his lease, so that the landlord’s mortgage lender could not unilaterally terminate Mehedi’s lease. We also advised Mehedi to delete certain ambiguous provisions. Mehedi planned on signing the next day, and he walked away jolly knowing that he would be better protected. Small business owners like Mehedi should negotiate their leases in this manner.

With rents on the rise, however, a landlord might not be willing to negotiate. Increasingly, landlords are commercial developers with whom it is difficult to forge a personal relationship. In fact, the majority of land in Boston is owned by a handful of these developers.

Thus the community-wide effort to resist displacement is crucial. We often catered our workshops to community organizers working on these systemic issues. In the case of recent evictions of El Embajador Restaurant and De Chain Auto Service, JPNDC and City Life/Vida Urbana, among others, created a campaign to resist displacement of these neighborhood businesses.

A long-term solution will be city or statewide legislation to create more statutory rights and protections for commercial tenants. Students in CEP next semester are planning to collaborate with community groups to devise such a policy proposal and help these community groups push proposals through Boston’s political machine. By forming a coalition of community groups, our goal is to help empower the community as they fight for increased economic opportunities.

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality

Cyberlaw Clinic files amicus briefs in patent and online privacy cases

Via Harvard Law Today

The Berkman Klein Center’s Cyberlaw Clinic, which provides pro-bono legal services to clients on issues relating to the internet, technology and intellectual property, has written in support of a number of technology cases in recent weeks.

In December, the Clinic filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy Joseph Cannataci in the case United States v. Microsoft, Case No. 17-2. The case—commonly known as the “Microsoft Ireland case”—presents the question of whether a search warrant can compel Microsoft to produce to the US government the contents of an email account stored on Microsoft servers in Ireland.

Also in December they filed an opening comment on behalf of the Software Preservation Network and the Library Copyright Alliance, asking the Library of Congress to grant an exemption for libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions to circumvent technology protection measures in order to preserve software and software-dependent materials (digital files that require on software access to be readable).

Last week they helped file an amicus brief with Professor Bernard Chao of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law on behalf of eighteen intellectual property law professors, supporting petitioners’ request that the Supreme Court review a decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  That decision—Mentor Graphics v. Eve-USA, (Fed. Cir. March 16, 2017)—awarded patent damages against petitioners. But, as amici argue in the brief, the Federal Circuit failed to properly apportion those damages when assessing respondent’s lost profits.

For more information on these and other Cyberlaw Clinic endeavors, visit their blog.

Advocating for those without a voice

By Kate Barnekow, J.D. ’19

Kate Barnekow, J.D. ’19

I came to law school because I wanted to help those whose voices are often not represented in the legal system. As a longtime supporter of the animal protection movement, I was thrilled as a 1L to discover HLS’s Animal Law and Policy Program and, subsequently, learn about all of the ways we can help animals—who are still considered property in the eyes of the law—through the legal system. Once I committed myself to a career in animal law, and particularly after a summer spent working with an animal rights organization, I was eager to continue learning from attorneys in the field. Because HLS does not currently have a dedicated animal law clinic, I was excited to learn that I could work for an existing animal protection organization for clinical credit during the academic year through the Independent Clinical Program.

I have been working with the legal team at Compassion Over Killing (COK), a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization that focuses on cruelty to farmed animals used in agriculture. Last semester, I worked on a wide range of projects, researching state criminal law and pending federal legislation, conducting factual research, and helping to brainstorm new approaches to ensure the safety and welfare of farmed animals, as well as the workers who come into contact with them. One of the issues my work touched on was an ill-conceived policy proposal to raise line speeds to levels that present unprecedented and unacceptable risks to both animal welfare and worker safety.

As many law students will tell you, the work you do in law school on a daily basis is often not representative of what you will do after graduation—or of the reason you came to law school in the first place. For those reasons, my time working with COK was invaluable. It has further honed my research and writing skills, as well as introduced me to a wide range of field-specific laws and regulations and ways of thinking about the law, all while allowing me to put into practice the reason I came to law school: to work for the protection of those without a voice in the legal system.

Deadline Extended – Election Law and Voting Rights, Spring 2018 Independent Clinical Opportunity

Update: Deadline Extended to 1/8/18 at 5PM

Please Note: Students who meet the initial deadline of 1/5/18 will not be effected by this extension.

Remote placements for 2 or 3 clinical credits with the following organizations*:

Students who are interested in one (or more) of these placements should submit a resume and a short statement for each placement they would like to be considered for.  If you are interested in more than one placement, please include a list of your ranked preferences.  These materials should be submitted to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Program (OCP) by January 5, 2018 January 8, 2018 at 5PM (clinical@law.harvard.edu).

OCP will send work with these organizations to select students, and will coordinate communication once decisions have been made.  Students who are selected to work with one of the organizations above will enroll in an Independent Clinical and will need to complete an Independent Clinical Application by January 12, 2018.  Independent Clinical requirements include a 15-page academic paper due at the end of the spring semester. Students will need to secure either Professor Charles Fried or Professor Larry Lessig as their faculty sponsor for the independent clinical.

Interested in Clinical Work for Spring 2018? It’s Not Too Late!

Clinics with Open Seats

The following spring clinics still have a few seats available!  Please log in to Helios and navigate to the Add/Drop section to enroll in one of these clinics.  Open seats will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Community Enterprise Project (by-application, please see description for more information)

Environmental Law and Policy Clinic (add/drop deadline tonight at midnight!)

Federal Tax Clinic

Food Law and Policy Clinic

Health Law and Policy Clinic

Housing Law Clinic

Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic

Please do not hesitate to contact our office (clinical@law.harvard.edu) with any questions.

Cyberlaw Clinic Supports Supreme Court Amicus Effort on Patent Damages

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

The Clinic was pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Professor Bernard Chao of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law on an amicus brief that Professor Chao filed in the United States Supreme Court this week.  The brief, submitted on behalf of eighteen intellectual property law professors, supports petitioners’ request that the Supreme Court review a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  That decision – Mentor Graphics v. Eve-USA, (Fed. Cir. March 16, 2017) – awarded patent damages against petitioners.  But, as amici argue in the brief, the Federal Circuit failed to properly apportion those damages when assessing respondent’s lost profits. 

The brief points to a long line of precedent describing how patent damages should be apportioned – evaluating “the profits that the patent holder would have made but for the defendant’s infringement” and then “apportion[ing] the calculated profits between those attributable to the infringing features of the product, and those attributable to other, non-infringing, features.”  Amici argue that the Federal Circuit’s decision below is legally deficient (insofar as it fails to follow this precedent) and represents bad patent policy (insofar as it may adversely impact high-tech defendants, which develop products covered by hundreds or thousands of patents, and improperly overcompensate patentees).

Fall term Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic students Brian Lebow and Ben Shiroma worked with Chris Bavitz in the Clinic, and with Professor Chao, on the brief.

Spanish for Public Interest Lawyers – Spring 2018

Spanish for Public Interest Lawyers is a non-credit class that offers HLS students the opportunity to learn Spanish language skills in a legal context, emphasizing language most commonly used in civil and criminal legal services practice. The class will strengthen existing Spanish speaking and comprehension abilities and teach Spanish legal vocabulary to students involved in public interest legal practice. The class will introduce students to general legal Spanish vocabulary (e.g. immigration, human rights, legal aid, etc.). Students will work to develop stronger attorney-client relations by improving communication with Spanish-speaking clients.

STUDENTS MUST HAVE AT LEAST ADVANCED PROFICIENCY IN SPANISH.

To Apply: Email clinical@law.harvard.edu with the following information by 5 PM on Monday, January 15.

  • Name
  • Year (1L, 2L, 3L, LL.M.)
  • If applicable, name of the clinic or SPO you will be working with in the spring and any clinic or SPO you have previously worked with.
  • At least one paragraph, in Spanish, describing your general interests and your focus in law school.
  • Bullet points (also in Spanish) that list past or current experiences you’ve had speaking Spanish or working with Spanish-speaking client.

Students will be contacted by January 17 with the results of their application. Students who are accepted will receive more information about the class schedule and location. Classes will be held weekly. The first class will meet the week of January 22 and the last class will meet the week of April 2.

Clinical Alumnus Blake Strode ’15 to lead ArchCity Defenders

Via the St. Louis American

Thomas Harvey and Blake Strode

Thomas Harvey, executive director and co-founder of ArchCity Defenders, told The St. Louis American that he will leave the St. Louis-based civil rights law firm at the end of the year, with Blake Strode to succeed him in leadership.

Thomas Harvey, executive director and co-founder of ArchCity Defenders, will leave the St. Louis-based civil rights law firm at the end of the year, with Blake Strode to succeed him in leadership.

Harvey, 45, and Strode, 30, made the announcement to The St. Louis American on November 2. Harvey credited the paper’s previous coverage of the firm’s fundraising efforts to attract and retain black attorneys for its ability to retain Strode after his Skadden Fellowship from Harvard University, which brought the Pattonville High School graduate home to St. Louis, expired….

ArchCity was Strode’s first job coming out of law school, and he said the firm’s “multi-faceted advocacy” practice is truly unique. Unlike many civil rights firms that find a policy they want to change and then search for the right clients to front their suit, ArchCity does direct legal service to poor clients and moves from solving their individual problems to finding opportunities to strike for systemic reforms.

Continue reading

The Nobel Peace Prize Celebrations: Recognition and Reinvigoration for Humanitarian Disarmament Advocates

Via International Human Rights Clinic

By Bonnie Docherty, Associate Director, Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection and Lecturer on Law

ICAN Director Beatrice Fihn speaks at 2017 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo City Hall. Photo credit: Ralf Schlesener.

On December 10, 2017, at 1 p.m., uniformed musicians on the grand staircase of Oslo City Hall brought their gleaming trumpets to their lips and the audience to its feet. The clarion salute they sounded heralded the arrival of the king and queen of Norway and a new era of nuclear disarmament.

In front of dignitaries, diplomats, and dozens of civil society campaigners, myself included, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The award honors ICAN for having “given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigour.” In particular, the prize recognizes the civil society coalition’s “ground-breaking” work to realize a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

Continue reading

Cyberlaw Clinic Files Brief for UN Special Rapporteur in Microsoft Ireland Case

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

On December 13, 2017, the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy Joseph Cannataci in the case United States v. Microsoft, Case No. 17-2.  The case – commonly known as the “Microsoft Ireland case”– presents the question of whether a search warrant issued in the United States pursuant to a U.S. statute (the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2703) can compel Microsoft to produce to the U.S. government the contents of an email account stored on Microsoft servers in Ireland.  The Supreme Court is hearing the case this term on appeal from a decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which held that the U.S. could not enforce a warrant seeking digital information stored on overseas servers.

The Clinic’s brief on behalf of Special Rapporteur Cannataci supports neither party with respect to the question of domestic law at the heart of the case.  But, it offers important context about Internet jurisdiction and places the right to privacy in its proper context against the backdrop of global human rights laws and norms.  Specifically, the brief urges the Supreme Court “to recognize the universality of the right to privacy, as first recognized in New York on December 10, 1948 when the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The brief goes on to note that, because of the complexities associated with applying traditional international law principles of territoriality to online privacy, there are no easy answers to the questions raised in this case.  Moreover, a sweeping ruling from the Court could have significant repercussions on international efforts–including those already underway–to develop streamlined processes that balance competing interests in scenarios like the one presented by this case.  In light of those efforts, we argue on behalf of Special Rapporteur Cannataci, the Court should rule narrowly and thereby “respect the privacy interests of other nations and foster international cooperation.”

Mason Kortz and Vivek Krishnamurthy on the Cyberlaw Clinic team worked with fall 2017 Clinic students Osvaldo Galeano-Gamera, Devony Schmidt, Jon-Paul Berexa, and Levi Barry – along with Special Rapporteur Cannataci – on the brief.

Software Preservation Comments Filed in 1201 Rulemaking

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

image of blurred, close up code running on a computerBack in December, the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an opening comment in the seventh triennial proceeding for exemptions to the anti-circumvention clause. The comment, on behalf of the Software Preservation Network and the Library Copyright Alliance, asks the Library of Congress to grant an exemption for libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions to circumvent technology protection measures in order to preserve software and software-dependent materials (digital files that require on software access to be readable).

As software becomes the default method of production for more and more artistic and cultural works, preserving it gains vital importance, both for the continued longevity of cultural objects, and for the study of software itself. Existing legal alternatives, such as seeking licenses or permissions from rightsholders, have proved insufficient to tackle the substantial problems of preserving software and software dependent materials. To put it simply, digital preservationists need an exemption to anti-circumvention law in order to ensure that software is available to future generations.

Students Evelyn Chang, Jillian Goodman, and Anderson Grossman researched and drafted the comments. As discussed previously on the blog, the digital preservation petition is one of 22 new exemptions being requested in the 2018 rulemaking petition. Opposition comments will be due in February 2018, and the Library of Congress’s final rule is likely be released by next fall.

You can read the full comment, as well as user stories from digital preservationists, here.

Harvard Law students travel across the world in pursuit of clinical work

This winter term, over a hundred students have traveled to 62 cities across the world to pursue clinical projects with governmental agencies, legal services organizations, non-profit organizations and the judiciary.

Students can engage in clinical work with outside organizations through HLS’s Independent Clinical Program and Externship Clinics.  Through the Independent Clinical Program students have the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and design a placement that will meet their individualized learning goals. This semester, students have designed a wide range of projects focusing on issues such as community economic development,  domestic violence, international human rights, consumer rights, and voting rights located in 26 states across the US and 22 countries worldwide.

Through Externship Clinics, students can also participate in on-site clinical work at hundreds of organizations across the United States. This semester they’re working with the Attorney General Offices in California, Iowa, New York, and Ohio; organizations such as the Office of the Federal Public Defender (Sacramento, CA), The Capital Appeals Project (New Orleans, LA), American Civil Liberties Union (Durham, NC); and private entities such as the Kraft Group (Foxborough, MA),  Nashville Predators (Nashville, TN), and the National Football League and Brooklyn Nets (New York, NY). These experiences are further enriched in the classroom through discussions and reflections.

United States Countries Worldwide
Ann Arbor, MI Las Vegas, NV Abuja, Nigeria
Atlanta, GA Los Angeles, CA Amman, Jordan
Auburn Hills, MI Marietta, GA Astana, Kazakhstan
Austin, TX Milwaukee, WI Bangkok, Thailand
Beaumont, TX Minneapolis, MN Beirut, Lebanon
Berkeley, CA Nashville, TN Bogotá, Colombia
Boston, MA New Haven, CT Cape Town, South Africa
Cambridge, MA New Orleans, LA Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Camden, NJ New York , NY Guangdon, China
Carrollton, OH Philadelphia, PA Haag, Netherlands
Chicago, IL Portland, ME Harare, Zimbabwe
Columbus, OH Providence, RI Hong Kong
Denver, CO Sacramento, CA London, UK
Des Moines, IA San Francisco, CA Nairobi, Kenya
Durham, NC Santa Ana, CA New Delhi, India
Flagstaff, AZ Seattle, WA Ontario, Canada
Foxborough, MA Shreveport, LA Seoul, South Korea
Grand Rapids, MI St. Louis, MO Stockholm, Sweden
Honolulu, HI Tacoma, WA Sydney, Australia
Houston, TX Washington DC Arusha, Tanzania
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tunis, Tunisia

Happy Holidays!

OCP wishes HLS students, faculty, and staff a wonderful holiday season! We hope you’ll have lots of fun and exciting moments on your travels and with your families!

Our office will close on December 22, 2017 will reopen on January 2, 2018.

Tax Clinic Student Amy Feinberg ’18 argues in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Via Harvard Law Today

In December, Amy Feinberg ’18 became the second Federal Tax Clinic student to argue an appeal in a federal circuit court since the Clinic opened at Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School in 2015.

For Feinberg, appearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit was also the first time she had ever been in a courtroom. Second on the docket that day, she had to wait nearly an hour to put forward her client’s case, even though Feinberg was “hyped and ready to go” almost since she arrived in Richmond, VA., the night before.

Clinical Professor of Law Keith Fogg, who directs the Federal Tax Clinic, notes that many attorneys can be practicing for 10 or more years before they get the kind of experience that Feinberg, and her predecessor Jeff Zink ’17, have gotten while enrolled in the Clinic.

Other students in the Clinic have had the opportunity to file amicus briefs and help prepare appeals for court.  All students work directly with clients and carry a docket of cases. And almost all have the opportunity to negotiate directly with the IRS and state tax authorities – experiences that many lawyers seldom get.

Continue reading

Interning at the Federal Public Defender Office

By Veronica Saltzman J.D. ’19

Portrait photo of Veronica Saltzman J.D. '19

Veronica Saltzman J.D. ’19

This semester, I interned at the Federal Public Defender Office for the District of Massachusetts. Going into this internship, I hoped to get an in depth look at the criminal justice system at the federal level. Since I will be interning at a state public defender office over winter term, I wanted the chance to compare federal and state systems.

On the first day of my internship, I immediately felt welcomed by the office. My supervising attorney introduced me to every attorney in the office and made sure I was given an assignment immediately. My first assignment (and several other assignments later in the semester) involved researching how certain judges sentenced defendants pleading guilty to particular charges. In some cases, my research involved sentencing in firearms cases; in others, I delved into financial fraud cases. The purpose of these assignments was to present information to clients trying to decide whether to accept a more definite plea deal from the prosecutor, or opt for an open plea deal and leave sentencing to the judge. Working with the attorneys on these projects, I started to understand how difficult it is for an attorney to convince a client to accept what are often lengthy sentences to avoid the uncertainty of judicial sentencing. In addition to research on sentencing, some of my other assignments included writing a letter to a prosecutor requesting pretrial diversion for a client and crafting a memo on habeas law to advice an attorney on whether our client could submit an amended habeas petition. In particular, the habeas memo forced me to learn an entirely new area of law and improved my researching and writing skills as I sorted through complex legal issues.

The most exciting part of my internship was working down the street from the federal courthouse. My supervising attorney constantly encouraged me attend court proceedings. Early in the semester, I visited one of our clients in lockup with an attorney before attending his pretrial release hearing. As the semester went on, I also attended several sentencings. At one, I witnessed the court deport a woman my age and saw ICE agents take her away. At another sentencing involving sex trafficking, I observed intense victim impact statements and an emotional allocution. Finally, I got the chance to attend oral argument at the First Circuit and see a variety of strategies in appellate advocacy.

My internship at the Federal Public Defender Office increased my knowledge of federal criminal law and procedure immensely. I appreciated the opportunity to work with fantastic attorneys and gain experience by working on important tasks and witnessing intense moments during the criminal justice process.

Project on Predatory Student Lending releases report on Veterans complaints about Kaplan Schools

Via Project on Predatory Student Lending 

For-profit colleges have exploited the promise of higher education by deceiving tens of thousands of students seeking a better life. One of the groups the for-profit industry has particularly targeted are veterans and servicemembers.

That is why the Project on Predatory Lending represented the Veterans Education Success organization to prepare a new report outlining the predatory actions of one for-profit institution, Kaplan Colleges and University, against veterans and servicemembers.

VES collected complaints from nearly 100 veterans who attended Kaplan-owned programs. Their complaints include things like:

  • Raising the costs on veterans once they enroll and failing to inform them of additional fees;
  • Misleading veterans about their military benefits covering the tuition costs, resulting in unexpected and burdensome debt; and
  • Borrowing money on behalf of veterans without their consent.

Unlike the for-profits colleges that are forced to shut down when their fraudulent behavior is exposed, Kaplan is still an active and functioning college. In fact, Kaplan University was just purchased by Purdue, a public university in Indiana, to conduct its online programs. And the Department of Education just approved this transaction, which will remove some of the protections for borrowers and taxpayers that apply only to for-profit schools not conducting business under the auspices of public entities.

We hope you will read the full report to understand the extent of the predatory behavior by Kaplan.

Click here to read the report.

Military servicemembers and veterans deserve our respect and gratitude. And, like all students, they deserve to seek higher education without facing fraudulent and unscrupulous companies trying to extract federal funds. Kaplan’s actions run directly counter to that. It’s time for the government to step in to help, or they too will have failed in their duty to support veterans who have sacrificed so much for us all.

Louis Fisher ’16 is inaugural Harvard Law Review Public Interest Fellow

Via Harvard Law Today

The Harvard Law Review has announced that Louis W. Fisher ’16 has been selected as the inaugural Public Interest Fellow. He will spend a year working at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and will have the opportunity to have a short piece relating to his work considered for publication in the Law Review’s online Forum at the end of the year.

Said Law Review President ImeIme Umana: “Louis is an extraordinary individual. From his work at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau to his progressive legal scholarship about spurring local grassroots activism for racial and economic justice, we are thrilled to be assisting with the beginning of his bright career.  Our goal in launching this fellowship was to bridge the divide between legal scholarship and legal practice for the common good, and we look forward to seeing what Louis will accomplish.”

Fisher, a 2016 graduate of Harvard Law School, is a former Teach For America corps member and most recently clerked for Judge Paul Oetken and Judge Stephen Reinhardt.  He chose to work at LDF “because the eradication of racial oppression is morally incumbent upon our nation, and I believe that both creative litigation strategies and critical legal scholarship play an essential role, separately and in tandem, in satisfying that imperative.”

Fisher was selected by a committee of Law School professors from a pool of 3L students and recent graduates with a demonstrated interest in both public interest work and legal scholarship.  The Law Review played no role in the selection process.

Continue reading

My time at the International Human Rights Clinic

Photo of Salomé Gómez Upegui LL.M. '18 sitting at a desk

Salomé Gómez Upegui LL.M. ’18

By Salomé Gómez Upegui LL.M. ’18

I believe in law as an instrument for social change, and I came to Harvard interested in focusing on that. A year is not much time, and as any LL.M. student can confirm, we all suffer from “fear of missing out”.  I’m happy to say the International Human Rights Clinic, was perfect to curb this fear. In a short time I was able to do so much more than I expected. It was a unique opportunity for hands-on learning, while engaging in public service, and making a difference.

Women’s rights are something I particularly care about, and when I got into this clinic I was eager to learn more about how International Human Rights Law is relevant to feminism. Thankfully, I joined Salma Waheedi’s team for a project on this subject, and my expectations were exceeded. We worked in coordination with Musawah, an NGO advocating for equality of Muslim women. In this project, creative thinking was at the center; using comparative law, alternative interpretations of Islamic law, and human rights standards, we drafted thematic shadow reports on women’s rights for the Committee of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. I had the opportunity to travel to Geneva and participate in the 68th CEDAW Session at the United Nations, where the reports we drafted where presented. This trip was a rare chance to network and learn first-hand how international institutions, governments, and NGOs serve to advance (or sometimes set-back) feminist agendas.

The International Human Rights Clinic allowed me to strengthen fundamental lawyering skills. I especially enjoyed learning innovative advocacy strategies, and I have to say I was happily surprised by the people I met. Working alongside individuals with such passion and dedication to human rights was the highlight of this experience. I felt part of something meaningful from day one, there is a real sense of community, and the value of teamwork is constantly stressed. In a world where individuality is the rule, this was an exceptionally wonderful learning environment, and I’m so grateful to have been part of it.

Advancing human rights in the Middle East

Portrait photo of Zeineb Bouraoui LL.M. '18

Zeineb Bouraoui LL.M. ’18

By Zeineb Bouraoui LL.M. ’18

Following the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2012, I began working for the Syrian American Medical Society in Washington DC, assisting Syrian refugees in emigrating to the United States, mainly through public policy initiatives. This experience greatly influenced my desire to apply to law school. I was craving the opportunity to acquire effective tools that would allow me to fight back against the injustices that outraged me and to advance economic and social equality in my native region, the Middle East and North Africa.

At Sciences Po Law School, I focused my studies on international investment law and economic development, and graduated in 2016 with a masters’ degree in Economic Law and Global Business Law and Governance.  I then started working at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, working on policy coordination efforts in order to help governments resist protectionist pressures and develop effective policies to respond to legal concerns raised by international investment.

It was especially important to me to pursue my commitment to advance human rights in the MENA region at Harvard Law School, leveraging the numerous tools that the university provides to its students, in order to conduct the most effective research, and hope to have the most effective impact on the region. 

At the International Human Rights Clinic, I am working on the Yemen project. My team, led by Salma Waheedi, is contributing to a Human Rights Watch report on the growth of the missing file in Yemen. Since 2014, Yemen has become home to one of the most violent non-international armed conflicts in the world. Egregious human rights violations are being committed there on a daily basis. My team focuses mainly on investigating detention-related abuses currently being carried out by all sides to the conflict. We are in the process of mapping the network of secret prisons, and outlining the human rights abuses committed in them. We will then determine the international legal obligations of state and non-state actors involved in the conflict, and investigate enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings.

The Clinic constituted an eye-opening experience to me, allowing me to understand firsthand the challenges that human rights lawyers and activists are routinely facing with funding, media outreach and advocacy, or even the simple act of gathering accurate and reliable information. It was particularly challenging to work on a non-international armed conflict, as raising awareness on a conflict happening on the other side of the world, with very little interest for the United States can be at times frustrating.

I particularly enjoyed conducting in-depth factual research and interacting with local Yemeni NGOs such as Mwatana, which are doing an incredible job in producing exhaustive accounts of the human rights violations committed throughout the course of the civil war, often at the peril of their lives.

The Hidden Health Crisis of the Opioid Epidemic

Via Health Law and Policy Clinic

Originally published by Reuters on December 7, 2017. Written by Robert Greenwald, faculty director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School and Ryan Clary, executive director of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable.

The American epidemic of opioid abuse is finally getting the attention it warrants. While policy solutions continue to be inadequate, the decision by President Trump to declare a national opioid emergency has helped to increase discussion about the problem and how the country can solve it. But the conversation also needs to address a dangerous—and largely ignored—interconnected public health crisis wreaking havoc among young Americans.

The problem is that more Americans than ever are injecting opioids and inadvertently infecting themselves with hepatitis C. Shared needles mean shared blood-borne infections—and that’s how the opioid crisis has created a new generation of hepatitis C patients. The number of reported hepatitis C infections nearly tripled from 2010 to 2015, with the virus is spreading at an unprecedented rate among young people under 30—who are now, for the first time, the most at-risk population for contracting and transmitting hepatitis C.

In the United States, an estimated 3.5 million people, and likely more, are currently living with hepatitis C. The virus kills nearly 20,000 Americans each year—more than HIV and all other infectious diseases combined.

Continue reading

My experience at HLS’s Federal Tax Clinic

Portrait photo of Varsha Bhattacharya LL.M. '18

Varsha Bhattacharya LL.M. ’18

By Varsha Bhattacharya LL.M. ’18

I am a tax lawyer, hailing from India. I did my first law degree in India and worked there for four years with a law firm prior to coming to Harvard. While many factors went in to my decision to do my LL.M. this year, the primary one was to gain a different experience by placing myself in unfamiliar situations. Consequently while beginning my LL.M. year this August, one of my main aims while choosing courses was to pick as wide a variety as possible. This led me to apply for a clinical course, which Harvard alumni had strongly recommended to me.

Coming into the Federal Tax Clinic, I was not sure what to expect. At my law firm back in India, I dealt mostly with corporate clients. However, I represented some individuals in their tax cases and also undertook some pro bono work in conjunction with a non-profit organization, and I remembered those as being some of my most memorable assignments because of the personal connection they involved. I wondered if working at the clinic would feel similar.

During my first few days at the clinic, I was a little overwhelmed because the entire system was new to me. Not only the body of tax law, but also the manner in which courts and administrative proceedings work in the United States is different. However, after initial hiccups, things were smoother and rewarding.

I have found the environment at the clinic to be quite encouraging. The attorneys heading the clinic are extremely supportive, and are helpful irrespective of the sort of questions posed to them. Their welcoming attitude to discussions has helped clarify a lot of fundamental issues I had, as have been the discussions we have had in the lunch sessions talking about our cases. Hailing from a different jurisdiction and culture has felt less of a hurdle, and more of an attribute, because it helped bring in a different perspective to issues such as interpretation of provisions etc.

Additionally, and very significantly, I realized that a lot about getting the work right lies in caring about the client. The moment I call a client, hear their story, and feel a direct connection with them; as their representative I feel a greater responsibility to give them the best chance in their cases. While not every endeavor on behalf of a client is successful, and it can be disheartening when you cannot make headway, it pays off when there is a positive result for even one client.

I would whole-heartedly recommend taking a clinical course to anybody studying at HLS. It has been a valuable learning experience. I sincerely believe that I will leave HLS with a practical experience that a lot of my peers may not gain. While the structure of the clinic comes with certain challenges (mostly lack of continuity in cases as students keep changing every term), I feel that the benefits far outweigh any issues that may arise.

My Experiences in the Cyberlaw Clinic: Expectations Met and Exceeded

By Niklas Andree LL.M. ’18

Participating in the Cyberlaw Clinic was one of the great opportunities that attracted me to pursue my LL.M. degree here at HLS. Upon finishing law school in my home country of Germany, I figured the best way to enhance my academic experience abroad would be to not only focus on the areas of law that I am most interested in — legal education in Germany follows a very broad approach, with wide-ranging basic knowledge being taught rather than specializations in certain fields — but also gain practical real-world experience. The Cyberlaw Clinic promised to offer exactly that, the chance to work on cutting-edge legal matters related to the Internet and technology, as well as learn about today’s major issues of tech advocacy and policy in the accompanying seminar.

The projects I worked on range from very specific questions of copyright law to contributions in a large-scale undertaking of software preservation. As a result, I’ve learned about problems people face in today’s digital age that I had never heard of before. For example, librarians, archivists and academics are being confronted with the issue that their valued digital records may be inaccessible because of outdated software programs, raising the need to preserve such software for future generations. In this project, I had the opportunity to contribute my own ideas and solutions and play a part in an important initiative.

Working in the Cyberlaw Clinic has been a fun and interesting experience. Through my involvement in projects I’ve been able to gain deeper insights into the substantive areas of the law and develop new skills, not only by collaborating and communicating with my team but also by managing tasks independently.  Being self-reliant and able to schedule working hours and deadlines independently is important and something I expected to hone during the semester. Beyond that, the most valuable skill I’ve gained is handling projects and clients on my own. The Cyberlaw Clinic gave me the opportunity to take increasingly more responsibilities in the development of the case/project. This is true for all clinic students: after working closely with supervisors at the beginning, they soon get to communicate with clients and later set up meetings and lead discussions with clients by themselves – valuable opportunities certainly not many internships or even first-year contracts would offer.

HIRC files amicus briefs on travel ban 3.0

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

Last week, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program filed two amicus briefs in the Fourth and Ninth Circuits to challenge President Trump’s most recent iteration of the travel ban. The briefs were written in collaboration with Fatma Marouf (HLS ’02), Professor of Law and Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at Texas A&M University School of Law, Nate MacKenzie (HLS ’17),  and current HLS students Dalia Deak (HLS ’19) and Niku Jafarnia (HLS ’19).

Read the full amicus briefs: Fourth CircuitNinth Circuit.

Clinic Releases Report on Sampling Household Tap Water for Lead Contamination

Via Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

The Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic has released its new report, “Detecting Lead In Household Tap Water: Sampling Procedures for Water Utilities,” which makes recommendations for how water utilities should sample household tap water to monitor the level of lead in their customers’ drinking water. The paper primarily focuses on sampling carried out by utilities for purposes of Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) compliance.

The details of when and how utilities collect water samples can dramatically influence the levels of lead that those samples contain. Some sampling methods risk significantly underestimating the lead levels to which customers may be exposed.

The Clinic provides a series of recommendations covering all stages of the sampling process, including ensuring that sampling sites represent at-risk homes; determining the best time of year for sampling; instituting a minimum nine-hour stagnation period; instructing residents not to remove aerators and to use high flow rate when collecting samples; and collecting additional and sequential samples.

The paper was authored by Clinic student Joshua Kestin, JD ’18 and Deputy Director Shaun Goho.

Emmett Clinic Files Brief Urging Public Disclosure of Agency Science Documents

Via Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

On November 20, 2017, the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit supporting the release of important agency scientific documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Clinic filed the amicus brief on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists in a case involving draft Endangered Species Act (ESA) documents prepared by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) to assess the impact of a proposed Clean Water Act regulation on endangered and threatened species.

In December 2013, the Services prepared draft biological opinions concluding that the proposed regulation, which applied to power plant cooling water intake structures, would jeopardize the continued existence of some listed species. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the regulation the following year, the Services released a joint biological opinion concluding that the regulation would not cause such jeopardy.

The Sierra Club filed FOIA requests, asking the Services to release the draft biological opinions and other draft ESA consultation documents. When the Services refused, invoking a doctrine known as the deliberative process privilege, the Sierra Club sued to gain access to the documents. The district court ruled in favor of the Sierra Club, ordering the Services to release the documents. The Services have appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Clinic’s brief argues that the deliberative process privilege should rarely apply to scientific documents such as biological opinions. Keeping such documents secret undermines government transparency and accountability. In science-driven processes like ESA consultation, it is important for the public and courts to be able to know that agencies have followed the expert advice of their scientists and that such analyses have not been undermined by political considerations.  Moreover, withholding these scientific documents does little to advance the purpose of the deliberative process privilege, which is to promote candid deliberations on sensitive policy matters. The brief therefore argues that the Ninth Circuit should adopt a presumption that the deliberative process privilege does not apply to ESA consultation documents.

Informed Imbibing: Closing the Regulatory Gap in Nutrition and Ingredient Information Labeling for Alcoholic Beverages

By Tammuz Huberman J.D. ’19, student in the Food Law and Policy Clinic

Let’s say you’re a health-conscious consumer at the grocery store deciding on a beverage to purchase. Maybe you glance at the familiar “Nutrition Fact” panels on food and beverage packages to help you decide what to buy. Bottled water displays zero calories, a can of Coke shows 150 calories, and the average protein shake about 250 calories. Wine? Beer? You’re out of luck: most alcoholic beverages are not required to display nutrition or ingredient information. This makes them virtually the only ingestible consumer products not required to disclose comprehensive product identity or quality information.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) instated mandatory labeling rules requiring use of a standard Nutrition Facts Panel and ingredient list, among other things, following the passage of the National Labeling and Education Act of 1990, alcohol is strangely regulated by a different agency – the Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). TTB oversight of alcohol traces back to the Federal Alcohol Administration Act, passed by Congress in 1935 following the end of the Prohibition Era. Recognizing the tax revenue potential of alcoholic beverages, Congress assigned their regulation to the Treasury Department rather than the FDA. TTB has not adopted a comprehensive labeling regime akin to the FDA’s; as a result, alcoholic beverages fail to provide much in the way of product identity or quality information beyond alcohol content disclosures.

Continue reading

Spring 2018 Community Enterprise Project – Apply Now!

The Community Enterprise Project (Spring 2018) is a by-application division of the Transactional Law Clinics in which students engage in both direct client representation and community economic development. In addition to representing clients located near the Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School on transactional matters, CEP students work in small groups to connect with community organizations, identify organizational and community legal needs, and develop comprehensive strategies to address those needs while gaining valuable, real-world transactional law experience in a community setting.

 Apply Now!

To apply to CEP, please submit a statement of interest (no more than 200 words) and resume.

Please note that CEP students must commit to spending at least half of their clinical hours on Wednesdays and/or Thursdays at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School in Jamaica Plain.

CEP applications should be addressed to Brian Price and Carlos Teuscher and submitted via e-mail to cteuscher@law.harvard.edu and clinical@law.harvard.edu

If accepted, students will register for 4 or 5 clinical credits through the Transactional Law Clinics and 2 course credits for the associated clinical seminar. Continuing TLC students may take CEP for 2 or 3 clinical credits and do not need to register in the associated clinical seminar.

Clinic and HRW Document Use of Incendiary Weapons by Coalition of Syrian Government and Russian Forces

Via International Human Rights Clinic

(Geneva, November 20, 2017) – Countries should respond to reports of new use of incendiary weapons in Syria by working to strengthen the international law governing these exceptionally cruel weapons, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 28-page report, “An Overdue Review: Addressing Incendiary Weapons in the Contemporary Context,” documents use of incendiary weapons by the coalition of Syrian government and Russian forces in 2017. It urges countries at a UN disarmament meeting, held in Geneva from November 22 to 24, 2017, to initiate a review of Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). This protocol, which regulates incendiary weapons, has failed to prevent their ongoing use, endangering civilians.

“Countries should react to the threat posed by incendiary weapons by closing the loopholes in outdated international law,” said Bonnie Docherty, associate director of armed conflict and civilian protection at Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, which co-published the report. “Stronger law would mean stronger protections for civilians.”

Docherty, who is also senior arms researcher at Human Rights Watch, presented the report’s findings at a side event at the United Nations in Geneva today.

Incendiary weapons produce heat and fire through the chemical reaction of a flammable substance. They can be designed for marking and signaling or to burn materiel, penetrate plate metal, or produce smokescreens. Incendiary weapons cause excruciating burns, disfigurement, and psychological trauma, and they start fires that destroy civilian objects and infrastructure.

For the first time in nearly four decades, countries that are parties to the 1980 treaty have devoted a specific session at their annual meeting to Protocol III. The meeting will also address fully autonomous weapons, or “killer robots.”

Continue reading

« Older posts