Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Invisible Wounds of War

Via HLS News

Helping veterans recover from sexual trauma

Invisible Wounds of War Veterans Clinic HLB Fall 2016

Credit: Illustration by Shonagh Rae

The challenge came two years ago: A U.S. Marine Corps veteran needed help. She’d been sexually assaulted by another Marine in the late 1960s. Decades later, she told VA officials, who didn’t believe her story and denied her disability compensation to help treat her post-traumatic stress. Could Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center help?

Since then, students and staff at the center’s Veterans Legal Clinic have rallied behind her case and scored a key victory on her behalf. It’s part of a growing area of practice for the 4-year-old clinic. Military sexual trauma—rape or sexual harassment during military service—is a fast-emerging issue in the nation’s care for veterans.

“It’s exactly the kind of case you want to work on,” says Harvard Law student Maile Yeats-Rowe ’17, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and Kuwait. “It’s a case where we can make a real difference, and maybe move the needle on how the VA sees this.”

The Veterans Legal Clinic was founded to deal with the special problems of low-income veterans and to help bridge the nation’s military-civilian divide.

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LSC Hosts the DAV Distinguished Speaker Series on Veterans Treatment Courts

Via Legal Services Center

Judge Robert RussellOn November 9th, the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School will host the third annual Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Distinguished Speakers Series featuring Judge Robert Russell, founder of the nation’s first Veterans Treatment Court. Judge Russell’s lecture begins at 12pm in Ames Courtroom, in which he will reflect on his founding of the Court in Buffalo, NY, and the future of the Veterans Treatment Court movement across the nation. The event will commence with opening remarks by our honored guest, retired Executive Director of DAV National Services and Legislation, David Gorman and with brief introductions by Daniel Nagin, the Faculty Director of LSC and the Veterans Legal Clinic and Vice Dean for Experiential and Clinical Education. A boxed lunch will be served at this time, for those who register here.

Following the lecture, Judge Russell will join a discussion panel alongside our three other distinguished guests:  Judge Eleanor Sinnott (Boston Municipal Court), Judge Mary Hogan Sullivan (Dedham District Court), and Major Evan Seamone (USAR, Professor at Mississippi College School of Law) to discuss the challenges and opportunities of veterans treatment  courts going forward.  The panel discussion will be moderated by Betsy Gwin, Clinical Instructor and DAV Charitable Service Trust Fellow, of LSC’s Veterans Legal Clinic.

For more information and to register, please visit

Alleged abuses against civilians in non-ceasefire areas may constitute violations of Myanmar’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement

Via International Human Rights Clinic

(Cambridge, MA, October 20, 2016)–  Reported abuses of civilians in non-ceasefire areas by the Myanmar military and other signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) would, if verified, constitute violations of key civilian protection provisions established by the agreement, said Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (the Clinic) in a legal memorandum released today. The military and other signatories should act immediately to address such reports, including by engaging with the mechanisms and processes established by the NCA and investigating alleged abuses.

The Clinic’s memorandum comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the signing of the NCA by the government and eight ethnic armed organizations (EAOs). While the agreement failed to include many of the EAOs that participated in the ceasefire talks, it was still heralded as a significant step in the country’s peace process. Over the past year, however, armed conflict has intensified in Shan State, Kachin State, and elsewhere, with reports of widespread abuse of civilians by the Myanmar military in particular.

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CARA Family Detention Pro-Bono Project: Testimony by Dan Lasman

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic

Dilapidated storefronts line the main street of the little-known border town of Dilley, Texas. The flat, tortilla colored landscape features scattered billboards for the disproportionate number of sprawling gas stations and empty motels in the area, vestiges of an oil boom in the 1980s. Now, the forgotten space is home to the South Texas Family Residential Center, the largest family detention center in the United States.  The facility, comprised of dozens of disordered tan trailers, sits on a vast plot of land near Dilley town limits, behind a field of light poles and an intimidating chain-link fence.

Moved by my summer internship at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HIRC) and Professor Deborah Anker’s Immigration Policy and Social Change course, I chose to volunteer with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project the week before fall semester classes commenced. My friend and fellow HIRC summer intern, Brianna Rennix, also embarked on the trip. Over the course of the week, the Project worked to represent over four hundred detained mothers seeking asylum in the United States. The vast majority of clients trekked from the Northern Triangle of Central America fleeing traumatic violence, rampant impunity, and pervasive gender discrimination. The almost universal description of a long and arduous journey to the United States speaks to the urgency of circumstances at home and the amount riding on these asylum claims.

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Clinic highlights human rights costs of South African gold mining

Via HLS News

sareportpic-232x300South Africa has failed to meet its human rights obligations to address the environmental and health effects of gold mining in and around Johannesburg, the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) said in a recently released report.

The 113-page report, The Cost of Gold, documents the threats posed by water, air, and soil pollution from mining in the West and Central Rand. Acid mine drainage has contaminated water bodies that residents use to irrigate crops, water livestock, wash clothes, and swim. Dust from mine waste dumps has blanketed communities. The government has allowed homes to be built near and sometimes on those toxic and radioactive dumps.

Examining the situation through a human rights lens, the report finds that South Africa has not fully complied with constitutional or international law. The government has not only inadequately mitigated the harm from abandoned and active mines, but it has also offered scant warnings of the risks, performed few scientific studies about the health effects, and rarely engaged with residents on mining matters.

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Welcome Clinical Instructor Jessica Fjeld!

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

fjeld-headshot-2016We could not be more excited to announce that Jessica Fjeld has joined us as a Clinical Instructor in the Cyberlaw Clinic!  Jess graduated from Columbia University and Columbia Law Schooland has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Massachusetts.  She was an associate at Skadden and most recently worked with our good friends and frequent collaborators on the Business & Legal Affairs team at WGBH Educational Foundation, which owns and operates WGBH-TV (our local public television station in the Boston area and developer of programming seen on PBS stations nationwide) and WGBH-FM (which broadcasts on 89.7 FM in Boston and is an National Public Radio member station).  We expect that Jess will work with Clinic students on a wide range of matters relating to intellectual property, media and entertainment, and freedom of expression and will be more broadly integrated into the research community at our the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.  Welcome, Jessica!

Associates: I’ll Take a Year of Pro Bono, Please

Via Bloomberg Law

Jennifer Eldridge, a first year associate in DLA Piper’s Chicago office, has big aspirations for the next 12 months: She hopes to assist domestic violence victims, file asylum paperwork for refugees, and help some past offenders clear their juvenile criminal records.

It’s a bit different than the standard associate workload because Eldridge is one of two recipients of DLA Piper’s Krantz Fellowship, which gives her an entire year to only work on pro bono projects.

“I’m really looking to get some litigation experience,” said Olga Slobodyanyuk, the other recipient of the fellowship. “You get to run your own discovery, potentially go to trial, talk to opposing counsel, have your own practice going. That’s a great experience.”

Olga Slobodyanyuk is a graduate of Harvard Law School and an alumna of HLS’s Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. As a student, she volunteered legal services with the Tenant Advocacy Project, a Student Practice Organization, whose mission is to provide student supervision while representing tenants of and applicants to public and subsidized housing at administrative hearings at housing authorities throughout the greater Boston area.

With around 4,000 lawyers and 90 offices around the world, DLA Piper is taking advantage of its vast resources and allowing two associates to spend a year working on pro bono projects. There’s no contract that requires the associates to stay at the firm at the end of the year, but DLA Piper believes the investment will help groom the associates and claims it’s the only firm offering associates a full year of pro bono work at the same salary. Overall, it placed 28th on The American Lawyer’s 2016 national pro bono ranking, with its lawyers clocking an average of 73.3 hours per week — the firm has said the average for associates is actually higher.

It’s not alone in its pro bono efforts: other firms including Arnold & Porter, Paul Hastings and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, offer programs that allow summer associates to split their time between firm and public interest. Hogan Lovells offers first-year associate four-month pro bono rotations, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom offers externships with the Legal Aid Society’s Community Law Office and Lawyers Alliance for New York.

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Pro Bono Firm of 2016: Akin Gump

Via Law360

Lobbying for millions of dollars in childhood cancer research, fighting to hold Bolivian officials responsible for human rights violations and working to restore a deaf man’s dignity after he was wrongfully jailed for weeks have earned Akin Gump a spot as one of Law360’s Pro Bono Firms of 2016.

Akin Gump’s pro bono practice, which is helmed by partner Steven Schulman and pro bono counsel Fiona Brett, is jokingly referred to within the firm as both its largest and smallest practice group. Brett, Schulman and a nonattorney coordinator are the only full-time members of the practice. Yet attorneys at Akin Gump, who aren’t required to do pro bono work, worked a total of 73,832 hours last year, averaging 93 pro bono hours per attorney.

“At Akin Gump, pro bono is integrated into the culture,” Brett said. “Our firm founder made public service a very strong part of our culture and our leadership has focused on public service and pro bono in such a profound way that it’s quite wonderful for Steve and for me that we’re not always pounding the drum and trying to get people to do pro bono or believe in pro bono.”

One of the key advantages for the firm’s pro bono practice, Brett said, is the attorneys’ array of experience and expertise, whether it’s from State Department veterans or human rights experts.

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Celebrating National Pro Bono Week @ HLS

2016 Pro Bono WeekHarvard Law School is celebrating National Pro Bono Week from October 24 to October 28. This celebration honors the outstanding work of lawyers who volunteer their time to help people in their communities and increase justice for all. The week will be marked by ceremonies and panel discussions focused on the value of pro bono work.

The American Bar Association launched this initiative to increase awareness of the growing need for pro bono services and to highlight the positive impact that lawyers make in their communities across the United States and in the lives of the clients they serve.

Join Us!

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs invites faculty, students, and staff to join us at the events marking Pro Bono Week. Please visit our website to learn details about each event, about pro bono service at HLS, and the need for pro bono service nationwide.

We look forward to celebrating with you!

LSC assists veterans at Greater Boston Stand Down

Via Legal Services Center

LSC Volunteers at Stand Down 2016

LSC volunteers (L-R): Toby Merrill, Lisa Bernt, Audrey Patten, Victoria Roytenberg, Dana Montalto, Betsy Gwin, Ginger Jackson-Gleich, Dan Nagin, Caleb Smith, Julia Taylor, Michael Adame

On Friday, Sept. 30th, attorneys, staff, students and volunteers from LSC attended the 2016 Greater Boston Stand Down.  Held annually, Stand Down is a one-day event during which homeless and at-risk veterans can connect with a wide range of local service providers.  The event was held in Dorchester in the parking lot of the IBEW Local 103, with service providers meeting with veterans in tents set up by the National Guard.

LSC met with over 40 veterans during the event.  We provided advice on more than 60 different legal issues, ranging from tax to veterans benefits to student loans to housing.  In addition to providing advice, LSC also provided further referrals and, in a few cases, offered ongoing representation.

LSC is proud to continue to be a part of Stand Down and looks forward to volunteering again next year.

Clinic Highlights Human Rights Costs of South African Gold Mining

Via International Human Rights Clinic

South Africa: Protect Residents’ Rights from Effects of Mining
Government Response to Environmental and Health Threats Falls Short

sareportpic(Cambridge, MA, October 12, 2016)—South Africa has failed to meet its human rights obligations to address the environmental and health effects of gold mining in and around Johannesburg, the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) said in a new report released today.

The 113-page report, The Cost of Gold, documents the threats posed by water, air, and soil pollution from mining in the West and Central Rand. Acid mine drainage has contaminated water bodies that residents use to irrigate crops, water livestock, wash clothes, and swim. Dust from mine waste dumps has blanketed communities. The government has allowed homes to be built near and sometimes on those toxic and radioactive dumps.

Examining the situation through a human rights lens, the report finds that South Africa has not fully complied with constitutional or international law. The government has not only inadequately mitigated the harm from abandoned and active mines, but it has also offered scant warnings of the risks, performed few scientific studies about the health effects, and rarely engaged with residents on mining matters.

“Gold mining has both endangered and disempowered the people of the West and Central Rand,” said Bonnie Docherty, senior clinical instructor at IHRC and the report’s lead author. “Despite some signs of progress, the government’s response to the crisis has been insufficient and unacceptably slow.”

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Clinical Opportunity with the Public Education Policy and Consulting Clinic for Spring 2017

Application Deadline: November 1, 2016

Public Education Policy and Consulting Clinic

This clinic requires a semester away in New York City. It will be next offered in Spring 2017. Applications are due by 5pm on November 1, 2016.

For more information about this clinic, please review the clinic description in the HLS Course Catalog.

Students will be notified of acceptances the week of November 21, 2016.

Placement Site: Columbia University in NYC.

Clinic Info Session

An information session on this clinic will take place:

Thursday, October 20th @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm in WCC 3034

How to Apply

This full-semester interdisciplinary Clinic brings together upper-level graduate students in law, business, education and policy from Harvard, Columbia, Michigan, NYU, Penn, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Yale and other universities to immerse themselves in (i) emerging strategies for K-12 and allied institutional reform; (ii) structured, team-based problem-solving skills that effective organizations use to address the most difficult challenges in public education and many other domains; and (iii) high-priority multi-dimensional consulting projects on behalf of public- and social-sector organizations serving the educational and related needs of children.

Enrollment is by application and is limited to 2L and 3L students.

If you are interested in participating in this clinic, please email directly to express your interest.

Students who are interested should submit a resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest (500 word max.) to by 5pm November 1, 2016. CPRL will notify students who have been invited for a virtual interview with Professor Liebman and the CPRL team. Notification of decisions will be sent via email the week of November 21, 2016.

CPRL will offer a limited number of highly competitive Scholars Awards of up to $20,000 to students to apply to their HLS tuition in return for a commitment to spending time after graduation and judicial clerkships in a public or nonprofit job in the education sector. Students interested in an Award should include an additional 400-word statement discussing their interest in public education policy, their career goals, and how this financial support would affect their ability to work in the education sector after graduation

Feel free to contact CPRL at with any questions. Accepted students will be enrolled in the clinic and associated course component by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

Cyberlaw wins two victories in local court

Via HLS News

In recent decisions, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit found New Hampshire’s ban on “ballot selfies” unconstitutional and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a ruling restricting seizures and searches of cell phone by police without probable cause or a search warrant. Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, which provides pro-bono legal services to clients in matters involving the Internet, technology and intellectual property, filed friend-of-the-court briefs in both cases.

On Sept. 28, the First Circuit struck down a New Hampshire law that made it illegal to share a photo of a completed ballot on social media. The New Hampshire ban on ballot selfies was held unconstitutional, with the court finding that the law “could not survive even the lower threshold of intermediate scrutiny.” The Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief in the case, Rideout v. Gardner, with the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Keene Sentinel, a New Hampshire newspaper. The brief argued that the law is unconstitutional under the First Amendment, as it prohibits a variety of speech important to monitoring the government, educating voters and engaging in political debate.

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Susan Crawford makes the case for the Responsive Communities Initiative

Via HLS News

As part of Boston’s HUBweek, Harvard Law School Clinical Professor Susan Crawford addressed a gathering of more than 100 people at Harvard Law School in September and made the case for her new Responsive Communities Initiative, a three-pronged program aimed at addressing issues of social justice, civil liberties, and economic development involving high-speed Internet access and government use of data. The initiative is based at HLS and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

In her talk, Crawford traced the arc of her career and how her experiences and passions have led her to this moment, and this initiative. She described discovering the Internet in the early 90s when she was a junior lawyer at a firm: “I fell in love with the idea of the Internet. I became quite interested in the idea of connecting people at a distance and helping them achieve their best selves, that the Internet was truly an empowering medium, unlike anything we’d ever seen before.”

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Harvard strengthens ‘living laboratory’ to help mitigate climate impact

Via HLS News

Wendy Jacobs, clinical professor and director of Harvard Law School’s Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, will lead the Living Lab Course and Research Project

Credit: Graphic by Judy Blomquist/Harvard Staff

Healthy buildings and clean air keep people healthy.

That simple premise is driving a series of studies being conducted by Harvard researchers, some of which have gathered insights from University dorms and office buildings. It is part of a multiyear partnership between the Office for Sustainability and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment to usecampus spaces to inform public health research and apply the findings in capital projects and renovations.

This partnership and another involving faculty and students working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are being hailed as models for the type of collaborative work that the University wants to stimulate as it launches a reinvigorated “campus as a living laboratory” initiative. The effort will support projects that use the campus as a test site for developing solutions that enhance well-being and mitigate climate impact, or help neighboring communities tackle these problems. The outcomes will be specifically designed for sharing at local, regional, and global levels.

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Screening Toolkit for Not Really Expired is Now Available

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

expired-screening-guide-coverThe Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), in partnership with Racing Horse Productions, has released a screening toolkit for the short film EXPIRED? Food Waste in AmericaExpired? was released in February 2016 and explores how misleading date labels on food products contribute to food waste in America.

By now, Expired? has more than 16,800 views on Vimeo. But this impactful documentary has the power to engage and inform millions on the critical issue facing the United States. With that in mind, FLPC has released a screening toolkit to encourage food waste warriors at every level to reach even more people.

The screening toolkit contains helpful advice for preparing to screen the documentary for the public, discussion questions and talking points to get the conversation started, advice on how to take action to combat food waste and reform  expiration date labels, and additional resources from other leaders in the food waste reduction movement.

The U.S. alone wastes 160 billion pounds of food, or nearly 40% of food produced in this country, annually.

We hope the screening toolkit will encourage colleges and universities, high schools, libraries, food policy councils, health departments, advocates to hold screening of Expired? to help raise awareness on the need to reform our expiration date labeling system and reduce the amount of safe and wholesome food wasted in the U.S.

Download a copy of the Expired? Food Waste in America screening toolkit.

Sophie Elsner, J.D. ’16, reflects on her clinical and pro bono work

Earlier in the semester, our office reached out to HLS alumni and asked them about their experiences at the law school and in the Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. Below, you can read our interview with Sophie Elsner, ’16, now working as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Southern District of Texas. 

Sophie Elsner, ’16

“As a clerk, I rely on my exposure to procedure and researching new legal issues—which I developed through clinics—every day.”

OCP: Can you tell us about your background and what interested you in coming to Harvard Law School?

SE: I grew up in Austin, Texas and then moved to New England for college. After attending Brown University, I worked at a non-profit investigative journalism center outside of Boston and reported on human trafficking and modern-day slavery. I loved both telling human stories and tracing multinational supply chains to find out where slave-made goods ended up in consumer markets. But I knew that I wanted to engage with issues of exploitation and economic vulnerability in an advocacy role. That desire to integrate the fight against systemic issues and the opportunity to build relationships with clients pushed me to law school.

OCP: In which clinics or student practice organizations were you involved in?

The opportunity to participate in student practice organizations (SPOs) drew me to HLS, and I eagerly joined Project No One Leaves and the Harvard Immigration Project. In my second year, I became a student attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB), which defined my law school experience. Although I was involved in other organizations, by the time I graduated, everything revolved around tenant and homeowner lawyer/organizing work in Boston. It was such a privilege to work with passionate clients, experienced organizers and lawyers, and inspiring colleagues.

OCP: What was your experience in the clinics and SPOs? Are there any memorable moments that stand out the most?

SE: Participating in Project No One Leaves as we shifted our focus from the foreclosure crisis to Boston’s displacement crisis was fascinating. We saw that the problems that had sparked the need for the organization (the chaos of the national foreclosure crisis) persisted, but that we also needed to look to the other issues facing our community: no-fault evictions of low-income tenants in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. This is a problem facing many urban centers right now, and it was both exciting and immensely challenging to try to tackle it in Boston.

OCP: Do you feel these experiences engendered new skills and knowledge for you? 

SE: There is no substitute for legal practice. I can’t articulate the skills I gained because I think almost everything I know about the law came out of working at HLAB. Now, as a clerk, I rely on my exposure to procedure and researching new legal issues—which I developed through clinics—every day. Although entering practice next year will be daunting, I cannot imagine what it would be like without having the benefit of years of close supervision and training at HLS. Additionally, although I hope I was a collaborative person before law school, I graduated with a much stronger commitment to working in coalitions. Ideally, those coalitions include non-lawyers. After being in such supportive and communal clinical settings, I hope to always be able to bounce ideas off my colleagues.

OCP: What advice would you give to students who will be starting clinical work in the fall or considering a clinic in the future?

SE: I came into law school thinking that I would focus on certain issue areas, and on paper, it looks like I’ve shifted from employment to housing. But working in clinics, SPOs and summer internships taught me that my actual interest is on who my clients are and how I get to engage with them. By going outside of a specialized area, I realized I was as interested in the model of lawyering as the substantive legal issues.

Given that, my advice is to participate in clinics, SPOs and internships that expose you to different issue areas and different kinds of practice. That can happen within the same organization. During my time at HLAB, I worked on different types of cases that required different strategies. I hope other students take advantage of the opportunities at HLS to see different ways to be a public interest lawyer.

Building Capacity Without Losing Capacity: Legal Change and Dispute Resolution in Bhutan

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Stephan Sonnenberg '06

Stephan Sonnenberg ’06

In the spring of 2016 HNMCP engaged with the newly forming Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law (JSW Law) to examine the practices of local, traditional dispute resolvers, and to help JSW Law think through how formal judicial institutions, which have been the subject of large-scale capacity building initiatives following Bhutan’s transition to democracy in 2008, can complement, rather than supplant, traditional modes of dispute resolution.

The project came to us through former HNMCP Clinical Instructor Stephan Sonnenberg ‘06. Stephan was appointed to the role of inaugural Faculty Member and Clinic Expert at JSW Law in order to design and implement all aspects of experiential legal education at the law school, scheduled to open in 2017.

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Jake Howard, ’09: Public Interest Law in Jackson, Mississippi

Via HLS Student Financial Services

Jake Howard did not follow what most would call a conventional path to the law. In many ways, that’s exactly what has made his story such an interesting one.

Originally from the Midwest, Jake now pursues public interest law in the heart of Mississippi. Though there was a time he would have never guessed he would end up here, now it seems difficult to imagine him in truly any other place. “I actually took the bar exam in Mississippi…even though I had no job prospects here,” shared Jake with a laugh on a recent phone call. “I remember it well, because I had moved from Cambridge to Montgomery right after school ended, I didn’t start my clerkship until August, and I didn’t have a car. I sold my car when I started law school. Turns out, they’re sort of important in Alabama. So I took the Greyhound from Montgomery to Jackson to take the bar exam. It’s only a four-hour drive, but it’s a twelve-hour Greyhound ride. I was just so excited, though.”

As a student at the University of Michigan, Jake had once been a Drama major before eventually switching to Philosophy. A few years, a cross-country move, and an Education master’s degree later, he found himself teaching Social Studies at a public high school south of Seattle.

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Political dialogue in polarizing times

Via HLS News

Exploring the possibilities of civil dialogue

Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) Director and Clinical Professor Robert Bordone and HNMCP Assistant Director and Lecturer Rachel Viscomi recently participated in a Harvard University Facebook live talk on how to have a conversation about the election and other contentious topics without alienating your family, friends and people in your social network. Bordone and Viscomi are leading a reading group this semester for Harvard Law students on how to create civil and meaningful dialogue between those with differing and competing views on political issues.

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Heather Williams and Amy Soto honored with Dean’s Award for Excellence

Congratulations to Heather Williams (Hospitality Coordinator in the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs) and Amy Soto (Administrative Director in the Criminal Justice Institute) on winning the Harvard Law School’s Dean’s Award for Excellence for their exceptional work and commitment to the law school’s mission.

Here’s what Dean Minow had to say about them:

Heather Williams

Heather Williams, Hospitality Coordinator, Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Heather Williams, Hospitality Coordinator, Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

“Heather is the Clinical Hospitality Coordinator for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, which is to say she is the face to the entire community. She serves the world in our justice vision at Harvard Law School. Heather is deeply committed. She has continually demonstrated her dedication to the work of the various clinics and the student practice organizations. She is the window to Harvard Law School. She is the face of Harvard Law School. She is the voice of Harvard Law School. The people who are in serious need, the Clinical community, and the Law School are better every day because of what she does.

Heather greets clients when they come for appointments. She makes sure they get to the right place at the right time. In each and every situation, she will do whatever it takes to make sure that the clients’ needs and expectations are met, and at the same time, alleviating the needs of those who seek guidance.

She’s very helpful to so many clients who call or who email or who walk in or who otherwise find some way to communicate looking for legal support services. And again, many of these people are people not in the best of circumstances. She’s very good at getting enough information about their problems, and then connecting them to one of the clinical programs or to other resources elsewhere in the community that may be able to assist them.

Over the years, she has learned a lot about what information is needed, about the resources that can be provided, about how to solve problems. One of her nominators said:

‘Heather is the woman that our clients—those we at HLS live and work to serve—see, speak to, get to know, trust and look for on a daily basis. She is the window and the face of the Harvard Law School clinical community. She is the epitome of the reliable, go-to person. She is the definition of a good citizen. And above all, Heather Williams enriches the law school each and every day that she unlocks the doors at 6 Everett Street- and the hearts of our clients.’

Amy Soto

Amy Soto, Administrative Director, Criminal Justice Institute

Amy Soto, Administrative Director, Criminal Justice Institute

“Amy’s empathy, compassion and positive attitude, set the tone, when she is dealing with CJI clients and their families. Many clients shared with the nominating group, how much they appreciated the way Amy treated them: with both kindness and respect. Amy listens with empathy, will drop everything if something is urgent, and will go out of her way to find solutions to problems. Amy isn’t just a reliable member of the team, she goes the extra mile to ensure the success of every task.

The success of the Trial Advocacy Workshop (TAW) over the past 5 years are due in large part to Amy’s professionalism, efficiency and incredible people skills. Fall enrollment has increased to over 100 students, and winter enrollments to 144 with wait-lists of over 200 students. Amy ensures the TAW is a world-class program by keeping track of all 144 students’ schedules, coordinating teaching materials, and travel arrangements for 90 visiting attorneys and judges.

Amy’s dedication to students, both enrolled in the clinic and in TAW, is demonstrated by how well she manages the large number of students, while providing guidance and counsel. Every student is treated with dignity and respect. Amy genuinely enjoys helping students, and has an open door and a listening ear. Students are often found debriefing in Amy’s office after a long day in court, finding refuge in her humor.

This spring, Amy was awarded a Master’s Degree in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council at HGSE. As HLS, Amy was an active member of Harvard Law School’s Impact Initiative to increase the hiring, retention and promotion of administrative staff of color. Amy’s tireless efforts to promote diversity and inclusion earned her an invitation to present at the Latina Leadership in Higher Education: Princeton University’s Graduate Student Association’s Annual Voz Latina Symposium. Amy also distinguished herself as a model of innovations for HLS clinicians and staff when she collaborated with Prof. Dehlia Umunna to present a workshop for the entire clinical community: “Incorporating Inclusive Practices into our Clinics”. Helping shape conversations on inclusion and diversity requires taking risks, embracing new frames and self -reflection, which are all Amy’s strong suits.

Congratulations Amy”

And congratulations to our colleagues around the law school who also won the Dean’s Award for Excellence.

Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. Departments of Education & Treasury

Via Legal Services Center

A former student of Everest Institute filed a lawsuit yesterday in federal court to challenge the government’s continued collection of defaulted federal student loans from low-income people who borrowed in order to attend a school operated by the disgraced and defunct Corinthian Colleges chain. The Project on Predatory Student Lending, part of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, represents the plaintiff in this lawsuit, Darnell Williams.

Mr. Williams, a resident of Dorchester, Massachusetts, attended a massage therapy program at Everest Institute, formerly located in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The lawsuit alleges that the government has been illegally seizing funds from borrowers who have defaulted on their loans from Corinthian schools. Although the government has broad powers to collect on defaulted federal student loans, it may not seize funds from borrowers when it knows that the defaulted student loan debts are not legally enforceable due to a school’s fraud.

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NH Ban on Ballot Selfies Held Unconstitutional

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

united_states_court_of_appeals_for_the_first_circuit_seal-svgOn September 28, 2016, the First Circuit issued its opinion in Rideout v. Gardner, holding that New Hampshire’s prohibition on sharing photos of marked ballots (or “ballot selfies”) — N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:35 (as amended in 2014) — is unconstitutional. The district court had found that that the law was a content-based restriction on speech and that it failed strict scrutiny under the First Amendment. The First Circuit opinion authored by Judge Lynch upheld the district court’s decision on narrower grounds, finding that — whether or not the law was content-based — it could not survive even the lower threshold of intermediate scrutiny. Previous blog posts provide more information about the amicus brief filed by the Cyberlaw Clinic in the case (on behalf of the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Keene Sentinel) and about the oral argument, which took place on September 13th before Judges Lipez, Lynch, and Thompson.

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Mass SJC Issues Ruling on Cell Phone Seizure

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this week issued its decision inCommonwealth v. White, SJC–1197 (Sept 28, 2016). The case concerned the circumstances in which law enforcement officers may seize a cell phone to advance a criminal investigation. The SJC held that probable cause to seize a phone “may not be based solely on an officer’s opinion that the device is likely to contain evidence of the crime under investigation.”  The Court also ruled that the Commonwealth had not met the burden of demonstrating that the delay between seizure of the phone and application for a search warrant — a delay of sixty-eight days — was reasonable.

The case involved allegations that the defendant in question had participated with others in the commission of a crime.  In seizing defendant’s cell phone, the SJC noted, detectives did not rely on “information establishing the existence of particularized evidence likely to be found” on that phone.  Rather, they based their seizure on the “commonsense notion” that cell phones are necessary to social interactions and an inference that “if the defendant planned and committed multiple crimes with two coventurers, it was likely he did so, at least in part, using his cellular telephone . . . .”

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FLPC and NRDC Release New Fact Sheet on Food Donation

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Food donation provides a critical link between organizations with wholesome surplus foods and the 42 million Americans who are food-insecure today. Yet while there are strong federal and state protections, many food manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants cite fear of liability as one of the main barriers to donating food. The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently created a fact sheet with recommendations to strengthen the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act.

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, passed by Congress in 1996, encourages donations through a broad range of protections for food donors, but many seem unaware of these protections. FLPC and NRDC first looked at the challenges impacting use of the Act in 2015’s Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donation: A Legal Guide. This newly released fact sheet strengthens the suggestions made in the legal guide, explaining five ways the law should be updated and implemented to expand and strengthen the protections—and ensure they better align with the current food-recovery landscape:

  1. Assign an executive agency, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to oversee implementation and interpretation of the law.
  2. Extend protections to nonprofits that sell food at a discounted price, as well as their donors.
  3. Extend protections to donations made by food service establishments and retailers directly to individuals.
  4. Limit labeling requirement to comply with safety-related federal, state, and local laws, but not immaterial errors such as incorrect weight.
  5. Explicitly extend protections to past-dated food.

Read the “Recommendations to Strengthen the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act” fact sheet.

Winter Term 2017 Independent Clinical – Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Deadline: October 28, 2016

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious faiths.  The Becket Fund seeks interns for the Winter Term to work in its Washington, D.C. office on a variety of Supreme Court, appellate and trial-level matters.  Such work might include representing: religious ministries seeking protection from the federal contraception mandate; Native Americans seeking the right to use eagle feathers in their religious ceremonies; prisoners seeking the right to exercise religion while incarcerated; members of the military seeking accommodations to allow them to continue to serve while meeting religious requirements for their appearance or dress; and mosques, churches, and temples challenging zoning decisions that restrict their ability to build houses of worship or other ministries.

Interested students are requested to send a resume and cover email to and Elizabeth Dobak at by Friday, October 28, 2016.

Students who are selected by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty will be eligible for housing expense reimbursement from the Becket Fund.  Students seeking reimbursements for travel will need to submit a funding request to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP) by November 1, 2016 (

ACLU and CHLPI File Suit Against Colorado Medicaid for HCV Restrictions

Via Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation

Originally published by North Denver News on September 19th, 2016.

The ACLU of Colorado filed a federal class action lawsuit this morning on behalf of thousands of low-income Coloradans suffering from Hepatitis C who are being denied life-saving treatment due to Colorado Medicaid restrictions that force them to incur serious harm to their health before gaining access to the cure.

“Federal law requires state Medicaid agencies to pay for medically necessary treatment, but Colorado Medicaid illegally denies a cure for Hepatitis C for reasons that are not medically justified,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director. “We are challenging a policy that forces Coloradans who cannot afford private insurance to live with the serious negative health effects of Hepatitis C and to wait for a cure, possibly for years, until they have suffered measurable and potentially irreversible liver damage.”

Hepatitis C is a life-threatening, communicable disease that attacks the liver. It is the most deadly infectious disease in the U.S., killing more Americans than the next 60 infectious diseases combined. Even in the initial stages of the disease, Hepatitis C can cause serious symptoms, including fatigue, joint pain, depression, arthritis, as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, diabetes, nerve damage, jaundice, and various cancers.

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Harvard Law School partners with Food For Free

Via HLS News

Harvard Law waste reduction ‘exemplary’ during Commencement in 2016

Credit: Elizabeth Marble Caton

Kicking off the semester sustainably, Harvard Law School launched its first formal food donation program, in partnership with Food For Free, a local nonprofit that recovers wasted food from companies across Cambridge and Boston to redistribute to the area’s hungry. HLS will set aside excess prepackaged and retail foods from its dining halls for weekly pickup by Food For Free.

Food recovery and wasted food have long been a focus at HLS. In May 2016, HLS piloted its first food donation at a zero-waste Commencement lunch and was able to recover 900 meals that were distributed by Food For Free to local food pantries and shelters. This initiative was made possible through collaboration with Restaurant Associates (RA), HLS’s food services provider, HLS’s Sustainability Manager, and guidance from the HLS Food Law and Policy Clinic.

The Food Law and Policy Clinic is tackling food waste through work on date labeling policies, food donation policies and liabilities, and through education efforts like their recent Reduce Recover: Save Food for People conference in June.

Across campus, Harvard University Dining Services, which serves all 14 undergraduate dining halls and the Harvard Business School is also partnering with Food for Free to redistribute prepared and prepackaged foods. These efforts align with Harvard’s commitment to build and operate a healthier, more sustainable campus. As outlined in the Harvard Sustainability Plan, Harvard has a University-wide goal to reduce waste 50% per capita by 2020, and the Office for Sustainability is in the process of creating Sustainable and Healthful Food Standards, which will address food waste.

While the partnership between HLS and Food For Free will initially focus on the donation of just prepackaged and retail foods, they are looking forward to expanding donations to include all prepared foods that are safe to donate from the cafeteria and catering services on campus. Elizabeth Marble Caton, the Sustainability Manager at HLS, completed a pilot study that found that the wasted food generated through Restaurant Associates’ catered events on campus is roughly 40 percent or .59 pounds of food per attendee. “We are eager to recover this wasted food and redistribute it to those in our community that are in need,” said Marble Caton.

Children of All Nations supports work of Child Advocacy Program with $250,000 gift

Via HLS News

Child and Advocacy Program Faculty Director Elizabeth Bartholet '65, HLS Dean Martha Minow, Children of All Nations President and CEO Snow Wu, and Boston College Associate Professor of Law Paulo Barrozo S.J.D. ’09

Credit: Lorin Granger
Child and Advocacy Program Faculty Director Elizabeth Bartholet ’65, HLS Dean Martha Minow, Children of All Nations President and CEO Snow Wu, and Boston College Associate Professor of Law Paulo Barrozo S.J.D. ’09

The Child Advocacy Program (CAP) of Harvard Law School recently received a $250,000 gift from Children of All Nations (CAN). The gift, which will be distributed over five years, will provide funding to CAP to pursue its international human rights work on behalf of unparented children and their right to family. The gift demonstrates the long-standing relationship and commitment of the CAN organization, led by President and Chief Executive Officer Snow Wu, to CAP and its founder and Faculty Director Elizabeth Bartholet ’65.

To celebrate the presentation of the gift, Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow joined the CAP staff, Wu, and other distinguished guests in the Caspersen Room of the Law Library on September 9. After thanking Wu and the CAN organization for their generous gift, Minow noted, “This gift is a testament to the power of partnerships between Harvard Law School and our community organizations. With this partnership, we can expand the work of Betsy Bartholet and CAP, all while continuing to build strong relationships with wonderful organizations like CAN.”

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New Markets Lab – Independent Clinical Program – January 2017

The New Markets Lab will supervise an independent clinical project in January 2017 to offer students an opportunity to see firsthand the impact that the commercial legal and regulatory environment can have on development and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.  The independent clinical project will (likely) take place in Tanzania, where the New Markets Lab is working with partners on the ground, including the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, among others. The program will expose students to the role of government, business, and international institutions in interacting with and shaping the enabling environment for business and trade to encourage agricultural development at the grassroots level.

This winter term independent clinical placement will involve applying the substance of the required reading group in consultations with agribusinesses, local organizations and institutions, and public sector and civil society representatives to better understand how legal and regulatory needs and challenges are dealt with in the market.  Students will assess how these needs could possibly be addressed and how local institutions could be strengthened moving forward.

As part of the program, students are required to produce a 15 page paper that conforms to the independent clinical program guidelines and is supervised by a Faculty Sponsor.


Students interested in applying should fill out the Independent Clinical Application by November 1, 2016.

When filling the application, students should list the Placement Organization as the New Markets Lab and the Supervising Attorney as Katrin Kuhlmann.  There is no need to describe the details of the project as they have been provided above.  Students should, however, provide a statement of interest in the project, and any relevant experience they have in the field.


This project is being funded through the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, and therefore there is no need to submit a funding application. It is anticipated that students who are selected for the program will have their transportation and housing costs covered.

Please feel free to email Ms. Kuhlmann if you have questions about the project and/or are trying to decide whether to apply.  She can be reached at  kkuhlmann at  or by telephone on 202-263-3524.

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