Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Clinic Files Petition for Certiorari in Final Attempt to Hold Two U.S. Corporations Accountable for Supporting Apartheid

Via International Human Rights Clinic

IHRL Clinic

The Clinic and its partners today filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court in the In re South African Apartheid Litigation suit, asking the Court to clarify the circumstances under which defendants may be held accountable in U.S. courts for human rights violations. The case, which involves the actions of U.S. corporations IBM and Ford, raises questions about whether a defendant’s knowledge is sufficient to establish aiding and abetting liability, or whether specific intent or motive must also be demonstrated. It also concerns how closely a human rights violation must be connected to the United States in order to sue under the Alien Tort Statute(ATS), and whether corporations can be held liable at all under the ATS.

The petition argues that through their actions, and decades-long support for violations associated with apartheid, defendants IBM and Ford purposefully facilitated violations of international law by enabling the “denationalization and violent suppression, including extrajudicial killings, of black South Africans living under the apartheid regime.” According to the petition, “IBM and Ford purposefully designed, sold, and serviced customized technology and vehicles for the South African government that they knew in advance would be used to racially segregate and systematically oppress black South Africans.”

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Beginnings in the Judicial Process in Trial Courts Clinic

By Hon. John Cratsley (Ret.)

Twenty-five HLS students, the largest group ever enrolled in the Judicial Process in Trial Courts Clinic and class, have just started their work with judges throughout the Massachusetts trial courts. Their judicial internships include the U. S. District Court, the Massachusetts Superior Court, Boston Municipal Court, Quincy District Court, Boston Juvenile Court and the Land Court.

I am pleased with the variety of placements achieved this year as they both meet the range of student interests and provide for a lively exchange of experiences in the classroom. The four LLM students, including judges from Japan and Korea, further enrich the class with comparative international observations.

Student reflections on their first days with their judges confirm the value of leaving the classroom for the courtroom. Four student comments, each give a different perspective on the value of their clinical opportunity to work with a judge:

  • “I very much enjoyed my first day in court. The judge was incredibly nice to me and impressive on the bench. The trial I watched was complex and emotionally intense.”
  • “This proved a great opportunity to watch lawyers in the courtroom and review their work with a judge. I learned a tremendous amount about how I should act in a courtroom and what proved successful.”
  • “I realized that I’d gained a new-found appreciation for the role of demeanor in helping judges manage their various duties at the head of the court.”
  • “It was totally different from anything I had ever seen before, which was exactly what I wanted in choosing juvenile court; a different perspective on issues that affect children.”

Whether a student gains a new understanding of the judicial role or learns how to be effective in the courtroom, having an inside perspective on the work of the judiciary is a unique opportunity.

Is that milk past its ‘sell by’ date? Drink it anyway.

Via Los Angeles Times

An Op Ed by Emily Broad Leib,
Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Food Law and Policy Clinic


My father used to keep food in the refrigerator for days, even weeks after the “best by” date, so long as it looked and smelled OK. My mom, by contrast, went out to buy a new carton of milk as soon as the date passed. Often there would be two containers of milk in our refrigerator: the half-empty one my dad was committed to finishing, and the new one my mom had purchased, out of fear that she might get sick if she drank my dad’s past-date milk.

Scenes such as this play out in households across the country. One person dutifully follows best-by, sell-by and use-by date labels on packaged and processed food while another jeers at them. According to one study, more than 90% of consumers report throwing away past-date food because of food safety fears. But the truth is that these dates are not intended to communicate safety information. Instead, they signal a manufacturer’s estimate of how long food will taste its best. Sometimes the dates are set based on consumer taste tests, but often they’re just a guess.

In 2013, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council published a report, “The Dating Game,” that tied food waste to date labels, and revealed that the dates are not federally regulated and do not indicate food safety. The Food and Drug Administration, which has the power to regulate date labels, has chosen not to, precisely because they are not related to safety. Food scientists say that not a single food safety outbreak in the U.S. has been traced to a food being consumed past date. (What are outbreaks traced to? Generally, to pathogens that may have contaminated the food during processing, or to “temperature abuse” such as leaving raw chicken in a hot car, or to air exposure that encourages mold. These are not problems that date labels currently address.)

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Learning from an Israeli Immigration Law Clinic

By Nathan MacKenzie, J.D. ’17

Sometimes the best way to better understand your own world is to visit another. Doing so gives you a different frame of reference, an alternative against which you can challenge your perspective and your preconceived notions. As a student of immigration policy here in the U.S., I found that spending January term working in an Israeli immigration clinic in Tel Aviv challenged many of my own ideas on citizenship, society, and immigration. I had the opportunity to work as a student attorney for the Clinic for Migrant’s Rights at the College of Law and Business, where I assisted with client intake interviews for asylum seekers, met with organizations and government officials involved in the immigration debate in Israel, and conducted international and comparative research for upcoming impact litigation cases. In order to gain some additional perspective, I spent my weekends traveling to the Holot detention center for immigrants, the holy sites in Jerusalem, and the West Bank. What I learned from all of these work and travel experiences left me with a picture of an immigration system very different from our own, both in its philosophical aims and its technical administration.

Israel considers itself a “Jewish Democratic State,” but there is a big debate raging about what exactly that means. What should take priority, being Jewish, or being a liberal democracy? What should the demographics of Israeli society look like moving forward? These questions illicit fierce and seemingly irreconcilable responses from various factions. This divide has led to system of laws that is a mash-up of western democratic principles, old Jewish law, and protectionist policies. For example, though the government is elected democratically and several human rights are protected in Basic Laws, buses do not run on Saturday (Shabbat) and Jews cannot marry non-Jews.

These competing concepts have an enormous impact in Israel’s immigration policy. Unlike the U.S., Israel’s immigration policy only really allows people of Jewish ancestry to attain residency and citizenship. Known as the Law of Return or “making aliyah,” Jewish people worldwide can come to Israel and apply for citizenship. There are very few opportunities for other people to achieve permanent residence in Israel, even through the asylum process.

Approximately 46,000 asylum seekers live in Israel, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan. They arrived by crossing the Sinai from Egypt (before Israel constructed a massive wall on the border) and many spent months in Bedouin torture camps there before their families could pay high ransoms to secure their release. Though the government will not deport people to either Sudan or Eritrea because of human rights concerns in those countries, it has been loath to grant refugee status and asylum to non-Jewish immigrants and has been engaging in a campaign to coerce these individuals to “voluntarily” leave to a third party country (Rwanda or Uganda) through detention in the infamous Holot facility and over burdensome administrative procedures.

While working at the clinic, I had the opportunity to use the interviewing skills I learned at the Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinic (HIRC) to conduct an intake interview and then produced a legal memo on the new client’s case. Additionally, I conducted research for several cases, including a major impact litigation case that will be going before the Israeli Supreme Court next month. Though I was only there for a few weeks, I felt like I was able to perform meaningful work that helped my hosts with their large caseloads. Perhaps just as importantly, this experience gave me the opportunity to learn about Israel and its immigration system, which in turn has allowed me to reflect upon the aims and administration of our own system here in the U.S.

Fighting for Veterans, Learning the Law

Right Now | Pedagogy Meets Practice

Daniel Nagin, faculty director of the clinic (right), and Andrew Roach, J.D. ’13, meet with a veteran in Jamaica Plain.
Photograph courtesy of the Harvard Law School Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic

Via Harvard Magazine

The letter right on time—and for Wilson Ausmer Jr., that turned out to be a very bad thing. It was 2011, and Ausmer, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, was in Afghanistan, serving his third tour of duty overseas. The decorated soldier had already paid a personal price to serve his country: he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to his time on the battlefield, and had incurred a significant foot injury as well.

The letter, mailed to his home in Missouri, contained invaluable information on how he could file an appeal for disability compensation. It also stated that he had to respond within 120 days of receipt.

Ausmer wouldn’t return home for another five months. By the time he read the letter, he’d lost his one chance to appeal his benefits case. The Veterans Benefits Administration wasn’t going to help him—but a trio of Harvard Law School (HLS) students did. Bradley Hinshelwood, J.D. ’14, Juan Arguello, J.D. ’15, and Christopher Melendez, J.D ’15, took up Ausmer’s case, arguing, among other things, that the clock on an appeals claim should start only after a veteran has returned home, rather than when a letter arrives in his or her hometown mailbox.

The student lawyers became involved in Ausmer’s case in 2013, while interning at the HLS Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic, within the school’s WilmerHale Legal Services Center (LSC). Each year since 2012, when the clinic was established in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, dozens of students have assisted veterans with legal cases, winning verdicts of local and national importance.

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Mental Health: Aspirations and Reality in India

By Ariel Simms, J.D. ’16 

This Winter Term, I had the opportunity to work with the Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy (Centre), a nonprofit disability rights organization based in Pune, India. The Centre is dedicated to ensuring implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a United Nations treaty that has been signed and ratified by many countries, but unfortunately, not by the United States. The treaty requires that all persons with disabilities, including mental disabilities, be treated with respect, dignity, and on an equal basis with others.

My interest in working with people with disabilities came from my experience working as a Mental Health Counselor in a locked, psychiatric unit of a hospital. For two years, I counseled patients with serious mental illness under a paradigm of substitute decision-making. As a professional, this paradigm was extremely frustrating, as it considered only the putative “best interests” of the patient, without actually consulting the patient regarding his or her own preferences. Rather than making decisions for the patients on our unit, I wanted to help our patients make their own decisions, including treatment decisions, envisioning the role of service providers as helpful aides in decision-making, rather than as substitute decision-makers. Such a paradigm is called supported decision-making and is mandated in human rights law by the CRPD. My professional experience as a counselor led me to come to law school to become an advocate on behalf of those with mental illness, as well as to empower those living with mental disabilities to advocate for themselves.

Having no prior experience with Indian domestic law, I began my clinical work at the Centre with background research, including India’s existing mental health law and a new Mental Health Care Bill introduced in Parliament in 2013. It was this new bill that, if passed, would bring essential tenets of the CRPD into the Indian mental health care context. India though, like many countries that have ratified international human rights treaties, has a gap between what international law mandates and the realities of its domestic laws.

I assisted the Centre with a project around supported decision-making for persons with mental disabilities. In India, there are several barriers that keep caregivers and service providers from implementing supported decision-making, including: a lack of awareness about the CRPD and human rights obligations, a lack of understanding about what supported decision-making is, cultural norms and mores of power among service providers and caregivers, and persistent stigma surrounding mental illness. Although impossible to address any of these barriers sufficiently in three weeks, I had the unique opportunity to address at least some of them by drafting two separate guides on supported decision-making: one for caregivers and family members, and one for service providers. In order to create the most helpful guides, I also became more familiar with the realities of mental health care on the ground through extensive discussion with my colleagues at the Centre, in-person interviews with local psychiatrists, and in-person and group interviews with Indian caregivers.

From these conversations, I was able to gather that many service providers and caregivers have never heard of the CRPD or even think about human rights in their day-to-day lives. Many presume that the service user cannot ever make his or her own decision, so just make the decision for that person instead. In addition to substitute decision-making, service providers and caregivers also regularly engage in more serious human rights violations, including: practices of covert medication (e.g., hiding medication in the service user’s food or drink without his or her knowledge), giving informed consent on behalf of the service user, not seeking any informed consent for treatment (including for electroconvulsive therapy), taking away the person’s property, taking away the person’s liberty, and various other violations. On top of these, some families would just place their family member into one of India’s infamous mental hospitals and then just move on with their own lives.

My experience in India really brought home the gap between what law says we should do, and the realities of enforcing those laws on the ground, especially on a topic as stigmatized and oft swept-under-the-rug as mental illness. Human rights law in particular is often cast as aspirational, rather than as something that can immediately be recognized and enforced. Despite these challenges, I think this clinical experience helped me begin to bridge this gap between aspiration and reality in India, moving closer to the ultimate goal that all those living with disabilities will be able to lead lives characterized by dignity, equality, and autonomy.

Food Sovereignty in Navajo Nation

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic
By Jevhon Rivers, J.D. ’17

20160114_134252I spent two weeks in the Navajo Nation as a Continuing Clinical student for the Food Law and Policy Clinic. I had been working on food sovereignty research for a partner in the area during the Fall, but could not comprehend the true depth of the challenges facing the Navajo Nation nor the passion and knowledge of its food advocates until I had the opportunity to visit it myself. During my time there, I was able to see advocates and government representatives working together to solve the complex food issues on the Navajo Nation, while also getting to see the work organizations are already doing, specifically to address chronic illness and increase food access.

In Window Rock, Arizona, the seat of government for the Navajo Nation Council, I had the opportunity to join a coalition of diverse advocates working toward food sovereignty. Indeed, the Nation seems to be on the precipice of real reform. I attended a committee meeting and a work session of the Health, Education and Human Services Committee (HEHSC) where representatives used the Good Laws, Good Food toolkit, created by FLPC and partners, as a jumping off point. Through these sessions and later meetings with other food advocates and coalition partners, I met key officials that lent insight into the work being done in education, food assistance, and agriculture among others.

During my stay, I was hosted by a partner organization, Community Outreach Patient Empowerment (COPE), a sister organization of Partners in Health (PIH) that works with the Navajo Nation to address chronic illness through education and outreach. Sonlatsa Jim-Martin, the COPE REACH Coalition Coordinator, invited me to participate in a wealth of events and experiences throughout my stay. I was able to get involved in a number of different projects with which COPE is affiliated. I spent one weekend with the Navajo Community Health Outreach (NCHO) Youth Leadership, working with young leaders who serve as public health champions in their communities. Not only did I have the privilege of learning about the role of food in Navajo traditions and culture but I got to witness the variety of public health projects they were creating, such as a campaign to share traditional wisdom on food in local chapter houses.

Later in my stay, I went with the COPE team to a clinic on the opposite end of the reservation to check in with the FVRx program at Monument Valley Clinic. FVRx, or the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, was developed by Wholesome Wave, and enables community healthcare workers to provide health and nutrition counseling coupled with prescriptions for fruits and vegetables that can be redeemed at local stores. Along with store owners and community members, the COPE team planned not only how they would recruit eligible mothers and children, but how they could adjust the education component and vendor partners to best serve their patients. On the way, we stopped at several food vendors as part of COPE’s Healthy Stores Initiative, to give them equipment to facilitate the sale of produce and provide them strategies to make the most of selling healthy food.

My time in the Navajo Nation not only provided an enriching complement to the research I had completed in the Fall, but gave me greater insight into the inspiring power of food to bring people together in inspiring and unexpected ways.

Addressing homelessness in Hawaii

By Marissa Florio, J.D. ’16 

Marissa Florio, J.D. '16

Marissa Florio, J.D. ’16

I spent this January term interning at the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, a public interest law firm in Honolulu that focuses on policy reform related to local and state concerns. One such concern is the great homelessness problem in the state of Hawaii: Hawaii has the highest per capita homelessness rate in America. I spent my internship researching shallow rent subsidies as a potential partial solution to the state homelessness crisis. Rent subsidies have been shown to be one of the most effective ways of reducing homelessness. Most rent subsidy programs in place in the United States offer “deep” subsidies and are extremely expensive (e.g. Section 8). In order to reach the greatest amount of people, a more shallow subsidy program has been introduced in several municipalities. The appeal of these shallower subsidies, which offer lower amounts, is that they can reach more families with less money and that they can target a different audience: the working poor, rather than the homeless.

Notably, the federal government, through HUD, funded shallow rent subsidy programs nationwide for three years through their Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP). HPRP was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and dispersed $1.5 billion in federal grants to shallow rent subsidy programs across the United States to combat the effects of the economic depression in the United States from 2009 to 2012. HPRP effectively prevented homelessness in a period of economic downturn. In the period from 2009 to 2011, homelessness decreased by 1% in the United States.

Over the course of my three weeks at Hawaii Appleseed, I explored what shallow subsidy programs exist in other states, compiling information on the number of participants reached, the eligibility requirements for each program, amount of each subsidy, length of each subsidy, funding sources, and any available information on the efficacy of each program. I then used these programs as models to design a recommended program to potentially implement in the state, taking into account best practices and the unique needs in Hawaii. My research and proposal will be used this legislative session to help spark debate and action on the funding and implementation of a shallow rent subsidy program.

Winter term in Italy: drawing lessons from the U.S. military proceedings

By Clara Spera, J.D. ’17 

This January, I went to Naples, Italy to work with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, specifically with the Victims’ Legal Counsel program. The Victims’ Legal Counsel provides lawyers to victims of sexual assault in the Navy, to help victims in a variety of ways, including guiding them through all the procedural hurdles of reporting an assault, advocating for their rights during court-martial (or other administrative) proceedings, and helping to file requests for expedited transfers. Each branch of the military has now implemented a victims’ counsel program—the creation of these programs was mandated by Congress—but each branch has done it a little bit differently. My focus was on the Navy, but it was fascinating to learn about the differences across branches.

In my role, I helped the Victims’ Legal Counsel for the Europe-Africa-Southwest Asia (EURAFSWA) region, Lieutenant-Commander Jonathan Freimann, HLS J.D. ’01,  with various research assignments mainly concerning victims’ rights under the Military Rules of Evidence. The military court-martial proceedings are essentially akin to federal criminal trials: a guilty verdict is a federal criminal verdict that can carry with it prison federal time and, in the case of sex offenses, registration on a sex offender registry. While my paper topic engages in a comparative analysis of on-campus adjudicatory procedures and the military justice system, it’s important not to diminish the severity and implications of a military court-martial.

Aside from my legal research assignments, the most exciting part of my time in Naples was meeting with people involved in the military justice system, from civilians working with Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program, members of Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS… it’s not just a show!), JAGs working in the defense counsel office, JAGs working as military prosecutors, the JAG in charge of overseeing the legal operations of the base where I was stationed, and a Navy judge. Each person I spoke with had a different take on the Victims’ Legal Counsel program. Though there is general and strong support for the implementation of the program, there are certainly some concerns, many of which mirror the kinds of due process concerns that have been voiced regarding recent reforms of on-campus procedures.

Now that I am back on campus, I am excited to further explore the intersection of on-campus sexual assault policies and proceedings with the military justice system. Something I hadn’t quite realized before this independent clinical placement is that the profile of offenders and victims in both spaces are similar: young adults under 25, many whom are away from home for the first time, closely-knit social and work environments, enclosed physical spaces. In the past half-decade, both the military and college campuses have come under heightened public and congressional scrutiny for the mishandling of sexual assault complaints. I am excited to research how this increased scrutiny has affected both spaces and to see if there are lessons that can be learned and borrowed from one environment to the other.

5 Skadden Fellows, 13 Different Clinics and Student Practice Organizations

Five Harvard Law School students and recent graduates have been awarded Skadden Fellowships to support their work in public service. The fellowships were established in 1988 by the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in recognition of the need for greater funding for graduating law students who want to devote their professional lives to helping poor, elderly, homeless and disabled people, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights. The fellowships are awarded for two years to fund projects created by applicants at public interest organizations. To date, the firm has funded 761 fellows, of whom 90 percent remain in public interest.

All five students have participated in more than one clinic (including the Child Advocacy Clinic, Education Law Clinic, Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Judicial Process in Trial Court Clinic,  Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, Transactional Law Clinics), and student practice organizations, (including Harvard Defenders, Harvard Mediation Program, Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project, Mississippi Delta Project, Tenant Advocacy Project,  and Project No One Leaves).

Harvard Law School 2016 Skadden Fellows and their projects

Maya Brodziak

Lawyers for Children | New York, NY
Direct representation of youth in foster care to protect their educational rights by reducing the disproportionate use of suspension and expulsion. Will represent these clients in family court and school discipline hearings and will create a framework for sustainable reform.

Cassie Chambers

Louisville Legal Aid Society | Louisville, KY
Direct representation of low-income women who are victims of domestic violence in rural Kentucky. Will build an infrastructure to deliver pro se assistance to women in 14 rural Kentucky counties.

Elizabeth Hadaway

Public Counsel | Los Angeles, CA
Advocacy for California children denied the necessary instruction to achieve basic literacy, through community-led impact litigation. Also, direct representation of children in their schools and outreach to share the litigation model.

Donna Harati

Homeboy Industries | Los Angeles, CA
Provision of direct re-entry legal services to formerly incarcerated persons in Los Angeles. Will produce record expungements, provide consumer debt counseling, and mitigate criminal justice debt and traffic fines.

Steven Salcedo

Western New York Law Center | Buffalo, NY
Provision of transactional legal services to low-income entrepreneurs. The goal is to generate jobs, goods and services in under-resourced neighborhoods.

The full list of 2016 fellows is available on the Skadden Fellowships website.

Moving on from the Human Rights Program (a note from Mindy Jane Roseman)

Via International Human Rights Clinic

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

After ten years as Academic Director at the Human Rights Program, and many years before that as a collaborator at the Harvard School of Public Health, I write to let you know that I am leaving HRP, effective February 5, 2016.  I will be joining Yale Law School as Director of both its International Programs and its Gruber Program on Global Justice and Women’s Rights. This was not an easy decision, especially since it means I will be warming the bench from the other side of the basketball court.

There are many communities at Harvard Law School that are dear to me, but I cherish HRP – its work, staff, faculty, students, alumni – perhaps above all. I’ll still be on campus this semester (teaching a seminar), and my email will be active through June.

I hope to stay in touch and wish you all the best of luck.



Boston police aim to lower backlog of routine complaints

Via Boston Globe

The Boston Police Department has launched a mediation program aimed at reducing a backlog of routine complaints against officers — an idea first suggested a decade ago.

Even though the number of complaints dropped in 2014, the time it takes to resolve the cases has frustrated both citizens and the officers who live in the shadow of possible action pending against them.

Police officials hope that the program, which will be managed by the Harvard Mediation Program at Harvard Law School, will help clear less serious complaints quickly. That will free up time for the department to focus on investigating high-priority complaints, such as those involving misconduct or excessive force.

Officials also hope the program will strengthen the relationship between the police department and the community.

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Pursuing Pro Bono work with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Akin Gump Pro Bono Scholars Information Session

Akin Gump Pro Bono Scholars Information Session

On January 19th, Akin Gump’s pro bono partner, Steven Schulman, and Harvard Law School alumni Josh Sekoski  ’12 and Melissa Chastang ’14 spoke to a room full of students interested in making pro bono work part of their careers.

Mr. Schulman leads Akin Gump’s Pro Bono Scholars Program, started eight years ago. This two-summer commitment program is currently offered in five offices: Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C. During their 1L summer, Pro Bono Scholars spend seven weeks at a public interest organization of their choosing. In past years, Akin Gump has placed several Pro Bono Scholars directly with organizations with which the firm works, while other scholars have obtained a public interest position independently. According to Akin Gump’s website, scholars have worked at organizations that handle matters such as human rights, women’s rights, asylum cases, family services, economic advocacy, education and health care in organizations such as the following:

ACLU of MassachusettsBet Tzedek Legal ServicesBronx DefendersChildren’s Law CenterHuman Rights FirstHuman Rights InitiativeHer JusticeKIPP Charter School Network, Office of the General CounselNational Center for Medical-Legal PartnershipNational Veterans Legal Services ProgramNew Schools for New OrleansNew Orleans Public DefendersPro Bono Asylum & Representation Project (PROBar)The Public Defender Service for the District of ColumbiaTahirih Justice CenterTeach For America, Legal Affairs TeamWhitman-Walker

“We encourage students to follow their passion, and help them find legal services organizations that fit their own interests,” said Mr. Schulman. “Our pro bono scholars have worked for a range of organizations from Los Angeles to South Africa.”

In addition, students also spend four weeks at the Akin Gump law firm, where they engage with substantive assignments in a variety of subject areas and interact with other attorneys in a mentoring environment. During their second summer at the firm, students have the opportunity to work on substantial pro bono matters. It is expected that they will go on to make pro bono work an integral part of their practice careers.

Taking people ‘to where they want to be’

Via Harvard Gazette

Law School students help struggling small-time entrepreneurs flourish


Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Amanda Kool (red jacket) directs the Community Enterprise Project at Harvard Law School, where students like Matthew Diaz (from left), Carolyn Ruiz, and Steven Salcedo help small business owners, entrepreneurs, and community groups.

Hailing from Buffalo, a once-prosperous city in upstate New York, Steven Salcedo knew how a lack of continued economic development can hinder families and mire people in poverty and hopelessness.

But it was only after he took a course at Harvard Law School (HLS) that Salcedo realized that lawyers could help foster better times for communities.

“Lawyers can’t make economic development happen by themselves,” said Salcedo. “But we can contribute to help solve poverty by enabling people to do what they want to do. We’re like a bridge; we take them from where they are to where they want to be.”

The class Salcedo took, “Community Enterprise Project of the Transactional Law Clinics,” allows HLS students to help small business owners, entrepreneurs, and community groups create businesses, obtain permits and licenses, and negotiate contracts and other transactional (non-litigation) services.

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After Cameroon

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

We are sitting across from each other, watching a rainy afternoon through the window of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic’s offices in Wasserstein Hall. Suddenly, Henry* thinks of a new anecdote to tell. This one, he explains, is about his time in jail while he was still living in Cameroon.

“I was there for five days. Five days was like five years. And every morning they come and say ‘Do you want hot coffee?’ And we say yes, but we didn’t know what is hot coffee. It’s not like this,” he says, pointing to the mug he has set on the table. “They’re going to beat you.”

Henry then begins to point at other objects in the room, while describing what I later learn is amatraque–a sort of heavy baton. He says that it has the black color of the leg of the couch, but in its dimension more closely resembles the leg of the desk next to us, and it is also strong and flexible. Once he believes I have caught on well enough to the concept, he returns to the story.

“So they can put you in something–they call it balancoire–and beat you in your feet. So you see it’s different.”

I look at him: “That’s what they meant by coffee?”

“Yes, that is hot coffee,” says Henry. “That is hot coffee. But in California it’s different.”

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2016 Spring Clinics with Open Seats

The spring 2016 clinic drop deadline has passed, but each of the clinics listed below still have a few open seats available!

If you are interested in enrolling in one of these clinics, please contact Maggie Bay ( – the open seats in each clinic will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Please note that students may only participate in one clinic at a time.

Spring Clinics with Open Seats:

Food Law Clinic urges Congress to continue progress towards making nutritious meals available to all children

Via HLS News

FLPC_Child-Nutrition-Reauthorization-Policy-Brief-Jan-2016As Congress prepares to consider the 2016 child nutrition act, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic released a policy brief recommending changes to the act to support healthy school meals.

The centerpiece of federal child nutrition policy, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR), is up for review every five years and establishes the funding and policy for key programs, including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, serving 30 million children.

Harvard Law’s Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) offers five specific recommendations for how the next CNR can strengthen key provisions for child nutrition:

  • Increase participation in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs;
  • Preserve the advances in nutrition standards mandated in the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HFFKA) and subsequent regulations;
  • Increase reimbursement rates for meals;
  • Expand funding for farm-to-school programs; and
  • Provide grants for school kitchen equipment, infrastructure, and staff training programs

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FLPC Director Speaks about Food Labels on 99% Invisible Podcast

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Emily Broad Leib, director of the Food Law and Policy Clinic, can be heard on the January 12, 2016 episode of the radio show, 99% Invisible.

The episode, titled “Best Enjoyed By,” examines the related issues of expiration labels for food products and the increase of food waste nationally, and the history of food labeling. The episode also refers to 2013’s “The Dating Game: How Confusing Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America,” a report on date labels by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Emily Broad Leib is joined on the show by Doug Rauch, founder of The Daily Table.

Clinic Works w/Law Scholars to Argue Against Copyright in Legal Codes

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

Cover PageThis week, the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic, on behalf of a group of esteemed law scholars, filed an amicus brief (pdf) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) v. Amici argue in the brief that model codes incorporated into law are not, and should not be, copyrightable. Several standards developing organizations (SDOs) – including ASTM, theNational Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) – filed the lawsuit against Public Resource back in 2013, alleging copyright and trademark infringement. After a lengthy discovery process, the federal District Court in D.C. is currently considering motions for summary judgment from both parties.

SDOs are groups – generally non-profits – that, with the help of experts and volunteers, promulgate model codes and standards to address the needs of particular technical fields. Some of these organizations sell their codes in print and digital formats, often for steep prices.

While compliance with a model code is initially voluntary, compliance becomes mandatory when that code is incorporated into law. Such incorporation means that all citizens of a relevant jurisdiction are obligated to follow the text of the code to the letter.

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Clinic students present oral argument in federal district court

This fall semester, Emily Seelenfreund, J.D. ’17 and Myra Siddiqui,  J.D. ’17, students in the Disability Litigation and Advocacy Clinic coordinated by Senior Clinical Instructor, Julie McCormack, presented an oral argument before the U. S. District Court in Boston on an appeal from Social Security’s denial of the case at the agency level.

By Emily Seelenfreund, J.D. ’17 and Myra Siddiqui,  J.D. ’17 

Working in the clinic, we were responsible for all aspects of case development- new client intake, acquiring medical records, crafting a case strategy, drafting hearing memos, and preparing our clients for direct testimony. The latter is an important component of representing  clients at administrative law hearings, appealing their denial of social security disability benefits.

But perhaps the most exciting part of our semester was the opportunity to represent a woman with multiple disabilities who, after a ten year long career, has been unable to work due to the combined effects of these disabilities. She applied for Social Security Disability Benefits but was denied those benefits in 2013, after a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Appealing the denial at the U. S. District Court in Boston, we argued the following errors had occurred:

  1. A failure by the ALJ to consider one of the client’s primary arguments- that she met one of the listings (Social Security’s list of common disabilities- which if met, qualify the claimant as automatically disabled).
  2. The ALJ wrongfully relied on only part of the Vocational Expert’s testimony (an expert on jobs in the national economy who testified at hearings) and thus found jobs for our client when there were none.
  3. Lastly, the ALJ only gave limited weight to our client’s treating physicians while incorrectly giving controlling weight to Social Security physicians who had never examined our client.

We spent dozens of hours preparing for the hearing: We researched relevant case law and we incorporated it into our oral arguments, our initial brief, and brief in response to opposing counsel’s arguments. After several moots with Senior Clinical Instructor, Julie McCormack, Clinical Professor of Law, Faculty Director of the Legal Services Center, and Vice Dean for Experiential and Clinical Education, Daniel Nagin, and Lecturer on Law and retired judge, John C. Cratsley who teaches in the Judicial Process in Trial Courts Clinic, we grew confident in our ability to present oral argument naturally, rather than reading off an assigned script. We also felt prepared to respond to questions and present rebuttal arguments. The experience was challenging and exciting, and one available to only a few students since these appeals are quite rare.

What surprised us the most was the value of the time we spent learning, organizing, and prioritizing the medical evidence and other information in the record (which as you might imagine was very large by this stage). It was also very gratifying to see and feel the growth in our ability to present oral argument across the many moots we did together as a team.  The experience also made us better advocates, underscoring that advocacy happens as much in preparation outside the courtroom as in the presentations inside it.  But the single most valuable element was the knowledge that all of this work was directly assisting our client who otherwise would not have been able to challenge the denial of her benefits.  We highly recommend that others interested in opportunities to develop oral advocacy skills consider enrolling in the clinic.

Extinguishing the Use of Incendiary Weapons

By Sarah Abraham, J.D. ’17; Lauren Blodgett J.D. ’16;
and Danae Paterson J.D. ‘16

Incendiary weapons rank among the cruelest means of armed conflict. Through the production of fire and heat, these weapons cause excruciating burns that are difficult to treat and can lead to long-term psychological harm and severe disfigurement. Despite the horrific effects of incendiary weapons, existing international law provides very weak protections against the use of such weapons. Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) purports to regulate incendiary weapons, but in reality is ineffective due to definitional loopholes and textual inconsistencies. Today, we live in a world where these weapons can essentially be used without any consequences, with recent use seen in Syria and Ukraine, and allegations of use in Libya.

As part of the International Human Rights Clinic, we were able to contribute to the fight to regulate – and ideally ban – the use of incendiary weapons. For our clinical project, we partnered with Human Rights Watch to write a memo to States Parties attending the annual CCW meeting in November 2015. The memo outlined the recent use of incendiary weapons, the horrific injuries these weapons cause, and the shortcomings of Protocol III in providing protection from incendiary weapons. The memo looked at developments surrounding incendiary weapons over the past five years and highlighted how over three dozen countries have spoken out against this issue during that time period. In light of five years of discussions and criticism surrounding incendiary weapons, our memo, “From Condemnation to Concrete Action,” called on states to take concrete steps towards strengthening Protocol III. In particular, we proposed specific amendments that State Parties could support to alter Protocol III and provide more protections for civilians.

To make our advocacy more effective, our clinical supervisor (Bonnie Docherty) and one of our team members (Sarah Abraham) travelled to Geneva to attend the CCW meeting in person. In Geneva, they reinforced the message outlined in our memo through formal and informal discussions with state delegates and civil society. Ultimately, 15 state delegates made formal, public statements addressing incendiary weapons. Many states said they were open to discussing potential amendments to Protocol III. This momentum comes at a crucial time, since next year the CCW will be holding a “Review Conference” which occurs once every five years. These review conferences have traditionally been a place for concrete action to take place. We hope that our memo has helped contribute to the push for amending Protocol III during this session.

Through this project, we learned about the importance of international law and UN treaty mechanisms for protecting civilians during armed conflict. These slow and complex processes, however, are frustrating in light of the urgency of the issue of incendiary weapons and the horrors faced by victims and survivors of these attacks. Learning how to navigate this system and be an effective advocate has been indispensible to our legal educations and has enabled us to contribute to this crucial fight against incendiary weapons.

Lessons Learned with the Federal Tax Clinic

By Jonathan Holbrook, J.D. ’16

When I began working in Professor Keith Fogg’s Federal Tax Clinic, I already knew that I was interested in tax and would be practicing in the field after graduation. But I did not know how the clinic would operate, nor exactly how my clinical experience would relate to future practice. I now move forward from a semester in the Tax Clinic with three major takeaways: a better idea of how part of the IRS functions; a set of practical lawyering skills; and an understanding of how to use those skills to help low-income taxpayers.

Working with the Federal Tax Clinic meant learning a great deal about how the IRS works, the pressures it is under, and how taxpayers interface with its system. The cases I worked on offered an opportunity to interact with IRS employees and to strategize about how best to persuade them of our client’s case. It was particularly interesting to discuss clinical work with other students in the Clinic. Together, we were able to put into practice what we learned in the Clinic’s accompanying class sessions.

As part of the Clinic we were also able to attend the Tax Court when it visited Boston. We observed and assisted as Professor Keith Fogg helped pro se taxpayers prepare their cases. It was a valuable opportunity to see cases at a different stage than we saw in our day-to-day clinical work, as well as to get a taste of tax litigation.

Working with the Federal Tax Clinic also helped me develop practical lawyering skills and, in particular, a sense of legal judgment. In my classes thus far, examinations have typically involved synthesizing a defined set of rules, then applying them to discrete scenarios. It is a relatively straightforward process to determine whether the answer is “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” In the real world, some clients’ issues match that model. With some base level of knowledge, it is possible to mechanically match the scenario up to the rules to produce the right answer. But the most interesting questions are those for which there is no preexisting, easily-accessible answer. In my experience with the clinic, I ran into many such situations. I suspect that is because: (1) low income taxpayers typically settle their cases with the IRS before litigation; and (2) low-income taxpayers have relatively few interested commentators producing secondary source materials relating to their problems. Thus, working with the Clinic meant often making judgment calls in filling out forms, drafting letters and offering advice. By the end of the semester, I had become much more comfortable making such judgment calls.

A final key aspect of the clinical experience was learning from the clients. Hearing about their multiple jobs, disabilities, split-up families, struggles to pay or receive child support and incomprehensible communications from the IRS made real what had previously only been a theoretical understanding of the challenges facing low-income taxpayers. Helping the Clinic’s clients work through their issues with the tax system and come into compliance felt very meaningful.

In sum, the fall semester was a very challenging and educational experience. The Clinic let me do more than I thought was possible. Whatever path my career takes, I’ve gained the skills to be a better lawyer and the tools to effectively help low-income taxpayers through pro bono work. I am grateful to the school and to Professor Fogg for making the Clinic possible.

Harvard law clinic joins Albany County in oil train challenge

Via timesunion

Lawyers and students from Harvard Law School will help Albany County make its case in a lawsuit that claims a new federal rules on oil train safety are not strict enough, County Executive Daniel McCoy said Thursday.

The school’s Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic will help the county draft its argument to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., in support of a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Transportation Department this fall by a coalition of environmental groups.

“This is an extremely positive development for the county and our case against the DOT,” said McCoy. “By working with Harvard Law School, we will be able to have access to the highest legal analysis on this important environmental issue with no legal costs to our taxpayers for this service.”

This the first time the clinic has joined in national litigation over crude oil train issues, said Shaun Goho, a professor who is senior clinical instructor. The number of such trains has risen dramatically since 2013 due to the hydrofracking boom in the Bakken fields of North Dakota.

“So far, we are assisting only Albany County, but we could become involved later with other local governments,” Goho said.

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Advocating for students impacted by trauma

By Chen-Chen Jiang, J.D. ’16
Student in the Education Law Clinic

The first time I met Jessica*, she sat quietly in her living room as her mother explained to us that she had suffered serious abuse and had missed a significant amount of school work. The traumatic experiences had left her with post-traumatic stress. She attempted to confide in her friends, but instead of finding comfort, she was bullied. Faced with this bullying and a school environment that could not serve her special needs, Jessica chose to stay in the one remaining place where she still felt safe: her home.

But what struck me the most about her was not the incredible amount of adversity that she had overcome at a young age; it was her dedication to education. In that living room during our first meeting, one of the first things she softly said was “I just want to learn.” Someday, she said, she wanted to be a lawyer, too. From that moment on, she wasn’t just the student I was advocating for; she became part of our advocacy team.

Jessica bravely decided that she would prepare a statement to read at the meeting with school district representatives, where we would argue for a different school placement. I excitedly told her that she was engaging in work that real attorneys, and certainly law students in clinical programs, perform on a daily basis. She learned how to draft the initial statement, trying her best to capture the complex struggles that she faced. Together, we went through an editing process, going line by line through her statement to figure out the best way to present it. When it was done, she practiced delivering the statement to her mother, clinical supervisors, and me.

Over the time that I worked with her, Jessica transformed from a quiet, timid girl to a poised young lady, confident to speak for herself. The day before our meeting with the school district representatives, at our last check-in, she looked directly at me and said, “I’m ready. I’m ready for them to hear my story.” At that moment, I realized the true power of legal advocacy. Representing low-income students is not only about securing the end result; it is also about giving those who are not always heard a voice. It is about introducing them to a foreign system and helping them to develop the ability to navigate that system themselves. And most importantly, it is about building in each client the belief that their stories, their struggles, and their experiences matter and must be shared to ensure a better working system for those who come after them.

On the day of the meeting, Jessica was nervous. She was going to share her story for the first time in a room full of adults. I was nervous, too. I was not sure how these adults would react to her words. As soon as she began, her tears overcame her. It looked as if she would not be able to resume. But after a few moments, and a deep breath, she finished her statement. At the end, the director of special education in the district personally commended her for having the courage to speak up and thanked her for doing so.

We secured a different educational placement for Jessica that day. But the greater victory was the confidence instilled in her to fight for what she deserved. About three months after the meeting, Jessica’s mom called to let me know that she was thriving at her new school. This came as no surprise; she, like so many other students, was primed for success if given the appropriate support. I have no doubt that, someday, she will be the lawyer giving those without a voice a platform to speak.

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality.

Multiple Nationalities and the “Any Country Clause”

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program
By Emma Rekart, J.D. ’17

By the time asylum seekers enter the United States, they have already faced extraordinary struggles. They have fled their home countries because they feared for their safety or the safety of their families, and have come to America in the hopes of beginning a new life in a new country. Yet their ability to begin this new life can often depend on whether their story of suffering fits into the “refugee” definition laid out in the Immigration and Nationality Act:

“The term ‘refugee’ means (A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality … and who is unable or unwilling to return to … that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” 8 U.S.C. §1101(a)(42)(A) (2014).

This definition includes several complex phrases such as “persecution,” “on account of,” and “well-founded fear,” that have been interpreted by case law over the years. However, one phrase that has not garnered much attention until recently is the “any country” clause. This post will briefly discuss its meaning, as well as its implications for multiple nationality asylum seekers.

Why is the “any country” clause important?

For asylum seekers who are nationals of more than one country, a court’s interpretation of the “any country” clause could determine whether they are eligible for asylum in the United States. If the clause is read to mean “a/either country of nationality,” multiple nationality applicants would only need to show a well-founded fear of persecution in one country (likely their home country, which they are fleeing). However, if the phrase is read to mean “each/all countries of nationality,” they would need to show a well-founded fear of persecution not only in their home country, but also in the other country or countries of their nationality to which they may have limited ties. The “any country” clause is becoming more and more relevant because multiple nationality asylum seekers are now increasingly common. Technological developments and globalization have made cross-border travel more prevalent, increasing the number of children born with more than one nationality. In addition, many countries that previously did not recognize dual or multiple citizenships are beginning to amend their laws, allowing individuals to retain their nationalities despite acquiring nationalities in other countries.

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FLPC releases Child Nutrition Reauthorization Policy Brief, urges Congress to continue progress towards making nutritious, healthy, and delicious school meals available to all children

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

CNR Policy BriefThe Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act (CNR) is the centerpiece of federal child nutrition policy. Following a fall legislative session in which progress on the CNR repeatedly stalled, Senate Agriculture Committee leaders promise that it will be a top priority as Congress returns this week. The CNR takes place every five years and establishes the funding and policy for key programs, including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. The last CNR, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), expired on September 30, 2015. Through a continuing resolution, the Act continued in its current form and is now up for reauthorization. The HHFKA marked a breakthrough in improving the nutritional quality of federally-supported child nutrition programs; among other things, it updated school meal nutrition standards for the first time in over 15 years.

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Clinic Supports EPIC Drone Filing, FAA Cites Comments

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

EPIC CoverIn November 2015, the Cyberlaw Clinic supported the Electronic Privacy Information Center in submitting comments to the Federal Aviation Administration regarding a proposed registration regime for operators of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”), commonly known as drones.  Fall 2015 Clinic students Katherine Kwong and Sophia Choi contributed to EPIC’s comments, in which EPIC expressed general support for a drone registration requirement but raised concerns about the inclusion of personal information about drone operators in a registration database.  

In its filing, EPIC noted the risks that UAS (particularly smaller drones) might be used to conduct surveillance.  But, EPIC expressed privacy concerns regarding the maintenance of a database containing personal information of registrants and specifically noted the privacy interests of drone hobbyists (who are more likely than commercial operators to register using home addresses).

The FAA’s Interim Final Rule on this subject, issued on December 16, 2015, cited EPIC’s comments extensively.  The Rule highlighted EPIC’s concerns about surveillance and interest in ensuring registration requirements were tailored to meet the goals of ensuring “individuals and title search companies to determine the legal ownership of an aircraft” and providing “aircraft owners and operators information about potential mechanical defects or unsafe conditions of their aircraft in the form of airworthiness directives.”

HLS Students Pursue Clinical Projects Around the World

where in the world

United States  International 
Arlington, VA
Atlanta, GA
Asheville, NC
Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Chicago, IL
Dallas, TX
Daytona Beach, FL
Detroit, MI
Des Moines, IA
Durham, NC
Florence, AZ
Gainesville, FL
Honolulu, HI
Houston, TX
Los Angeles, CA
Miami, FL
Minneapolis, MN
Montgomery, AL
Nashville, TN
New York, NY
New Orleans, LA
Newport News, VA
Newton, MA
Oakland, CA
Pittsburgh, PA
Providence, RI
Richmond, VA
Sacramento, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
Santa Fe, NM
Salt Lake City, UT
Springfield, MA
St. Louis, MO
St. Joseph, MO
Washington, DC
West Palm Beach, FL
Amman, Jordan
Bangalore, India
Capetown, South Africa
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Gurgaon, India
Hong Kong
Istanbul, Turkey
Lima, Peru
Melbourne, Australia
Mexico City, Mexico
Montreal, Canada
Naples, Italy
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Pune, India
Tel Aviv, Israel

This winter term, 130 students are travelling to 55 cities across the world to pursue clinical projects with a wide range of governmental agencies, non-profits and other organizations. Within the United States, students will be engaging in clinical work with placements such as the Attorney General Offices in California, Iowa and Virginia; organizations such as the Equal Justice Center (Montgomery, AL), World Bank (Washington, DC), American Civil Liberties Union (Honolulu, HI), and private entities such as the Brooklyn Nets and the National Football League.

Students can engage in clinical work with outside organizations through two avenues.  Students are given the opportunity to design custom and individualized clinical placements, in collaboration with their HLS faculty sponsor and on-site supervisors, through the Independent Clinical Program. This semester, these independent clinical students have designed a broad range of placements focusing on issues ranging from cyber-crime and public land management to issues related to the legal aspects of speeding the process of scientific discovery to health treatments.  Through the Externship Program, students can also participate in Externship Courses where students are able to take a course with our Externship faculty who have expertise in a particular area of the law like sports or criminal justice and engage in on-site clinical work at organizations in the field.

Fighting for disarmament

Via Harvard Gazette

Researcher calls for stronger regulation of incendiary weapons, ban on killer robots

Bonnie Docherty

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Bonnie Docherty, a senior instructor at Harvard’s International Human Rights Clinic, traveled to Geneva to advocate for stronger regulations on incendiary devices, which she calls “exceptionally cruel weapons.” “These are weapons that create fire or injure by burning,” she explained, showing examples of inert incendiary weapons and cluster munitions.

After researching the devastating humanitarian effects of the deadly cluster munitions used in Afghanistan in 2002, Bonnie Docherty joined a worldwide campaign to eliminate them.

Six years after she started her probe, cluster bombs were banned. Her investigation on the use of cluster munitions in Afghanistan, and later in Iraq and Lebanon, was highly influential in a 2008 treaty signed by 117 countries banning these weapons.

For Docherty, a lecturer on law and a senior instructor at the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, the battle to protect civilians from unnecessary harm continues.

Last month, Docherty traveled to Geneva to advocate for stronger regulations on incendiary devices, which she calls “exceptionally cruel weapons” that have been used in Syria, Libya, and Ukraine.

Docherty, who is also a senior researcher in the arms division at Human Rights Watch, recently sat down for an interview to talk about these weapons, killer robots, and her guiding principle: to protect civilians from suffering caused by armed conflicts.

GAZETTE: Before you became a disarmament advocate, you were a reporter for a local newspaper. Can you tell us about this part of your life?

DOCHERTY: After college, I was a reporter for The Middlesex News, now the MetroWest Daily News, outside of Boston, for three years. I covered mostly local news, government meetings, environmental issues, but I had the opportunity to go to Bosnia and embed with the peacekeepers for about 10 days in 1998. There was an Army lab in my town, that’s how I got the invitation to go to Bosnia. I had been interested in armed conflicts, but that trip definitely increased my interest in that field.

GAZETTE: How did you make the jump from suburban journalism to human rights and disarmament issues?

DOCHERTY: After I left the newsroom, I went to Harvard Law School. Right after graduation, I went to Human Rights Watch, which was a perfect mix of journalism and law because you go out in the field and you apply the law to what you find. My start date was Sept. 12, 2001, by happenstance, so whatever was planned was changed. Six months later, I was in Afghanistan researching the use of cluster munitions, which was my first exposure to disarmament issues.

GAZETTE: What are cluster munitions, and why are they so dangerous?

DOCHERTY: Cluster munitions are large weapons, such as bombs or rockets that contain dozens or hundreds of small munitions called submunitions. They’re problematic because they have a broad area effect — they spread over the size of a football field — and because many of them don’t explode on impact and lie around like landmines and explode in years or decades to come.

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Spanish for Public Interest Lawyers – Spring 2016

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.

Student Requirements
• Students must have at least advanced proficiency in Spanish.
• This class is not for credit, but regular attendance is required. The class will meet on Mondays for two hours (7-9PM).
• Class participation is vital. Language practice and listening to Spanish between classes is encouraged.

• Enrollment is limited to 20 students.
• 2L and 3L students currently in a direct services clinic or SPO who have at least advanced proficiency in Spanish will receive priority.
• Students meeting the criteria will be accepted through a randomized selection process.

To Apply
Email clinical at with the following information by 5 PM on Monday, January 18.
• 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 clients.

Students will be contacted by January 22 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 25 and the last class will meet the week of April 11.

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