Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Español para abogados (Spanish for lawyers)

Via Harvard Gazette

Harvard Law class helps student attorneys to serve their clients better

Spanish for Lawyers

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Harvard Law School alumnus Joey Michalakes teaches a Spanish course for HLS students who need help translating legal concepts and terminology to serve their Latino and Hispanic clients, most of whom speak only Spanish.

An asylum applicant from El Salvador who was extorted by gangs back home is reluctant to share those stories in court for fear of retaliation against relatives who stayed behind.

A divorce client who has suffered physical and emotional abuse needs to be informed about filing restraining orders, child support, and alimony.

A wage-and-hour plaintiff is afraid of being questioned by a judge about his immigration status because he could be deported.

Those are actual cases that Harvard Law School (HLS) students practiced in a role-playing exercise in a classroom in Wasserstein Hall. The scene could have taken place in any regular law course that uses simulation drills to give students practical experience in interviewing and counseling clients.

But this is not a regular law class.

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Immigration Law Experts Advise Undocumented Students

Via The Harvard Crimson

Staffers from Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic clarified definitions of “sanctuary” spaces in an online seminar Wednesday, offering Harvard’s undocumented students individual legal consultation as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office.

Philip L. Torrey, a Law School lecturer who led the seminar, said the label “sanctuary” could mean a number of things in practice, ranging from the physical prevention of immigration enforcement officials from entering a space to the guarantee that those officials have valid warrants before entering.

“The term ‘sanctuary’ has no specific legal definition,” Torrey said.

In December, University President Drew G. Faust said she would not adopt the “sanctuary” term for Harvard’s campus, adding that she thought creating a “sanctuary campus” would further endanger undocumented students. Two weeks later, Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church Jonathan L. Walton designated the Church a “sanctuary” space.

Torrey and fellow Law School lecturer Sabrineh Ardalan also briefed attendees on how to navigate immigration issues as Trump transitions to the White House. The political outsider drew ire throughout his presidential campaign, which many say stirred anti-immigrant sentiment throughout the country.

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Food Law & Policy Clinic sponsors Sugar Stands Accused event

Via Harvard Gazette

Author makes case for ‘uniquely toxic’ health effects in talk at HLS

Gary Taubes

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Gary Taubes signs copies of his book “The Case Against Sugar” following his talk for the Food Law and Policy Clinic. The acclaimed science writer hypothesizes that sugar “has deleterious effects on the human body that lead to obesity and diabetes, and that it should be considered a prime suspect [in the national dietary epidemic].”

Sugar was in the dock at Harvard Law School this week, accused of a prime role in the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes sweeping the country.

Science journalist and author Gary Taubes ’77 made his case that sugar consumption — which has risen dramatically over the last century — drives metabolic dysfunction that makes people sick. The hour-long talk was sponsored by the Food Law and Policy Clinic and drawn from Taubes’ new book, “The Case Against Sugar.”

A reputation for “empty calories” — devoid of vitamins and nutrients but otherwise no different from other foods containing an equal number of calories — has allowed sugar to maintain a prominent place in the U.S. diet. Taubes is dubious. First, all calories are not equal because the body metabolizes different foods in different ways. More specifically, there may be something about eating too much sugar — in particular fructose, which is metabolized in the liver — that implicates it in metabolic disease.

“I’m making an argument that sugar is uniquely toxic,” said Taubes. “It has deleterious effects on the human body that lead to obesity and diabetes.”

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Forging a path to debt cancellation for former ITT Tech students

Via HLS News

A Q&A with directors of HLS Project on Predatory Student Lending

Project on Predatory Student Lending Director of Litigation Eileen Connor, left, and Director Toby Merrill, are representing a group of former ITT Tech students.

Credit: Shiho Fukada
Project on Predatory Student Lending Director of Litigation Eileen Connor, left, and Director Toby Merrill, are representing a group of former ITT Tech students in a class action lawsuit.

On Jan. 3, the Project on Predatory Student Lending of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School filed a 7.3 billion dollar class action lawsuit in the bankruptcy proceedings of ITT Tech, one of the country’s largest for-profit college chains, on behalf of a proposed class of hundreds of thousands of former ITT Tech students in all 37 states in which the now defunct college had operated.

The lawsuit has received major media attention—in the New York Times the Huffington Post and the Washington Post. We spoke to Toby Merrill ’11, the director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending—which she started in 2012 to fight for borrowers who have experienced unfair, deceptive, and illegal conduct at the hands of for-profit colleges—and Eileen Connor, its director of litigation, about the background and significance of the suit and about the HLS project’s involvement.

Why did the HLS Project on Predatory Student Lending get involved with this case?

CONNOR: We didn’t want one of the biggest and most predatory for-profit colleges to disappear through the liquidation process without students getting debt relief. An inaccurate narrative developed around this particular bankruptcy: ITT was a good business that was financially distressed due to regulatory overreach by the Department of Education. In fact, this business cratered because it failed and defrauded students. While in operation, ITT used aggressive tactics to silence whistleblowers and students about its illegal practices. Yet a trove of testimony had been submitted to the Department of Education by former ITT students—over 2,000. We wanted to bring these stories, and the work of student debt resisters like Debt Collective, into the public dialogue about ITT and for-profit colleges more generally.

What are the former students from ITT Tech asking for?

MERRILL: Students are seeking to establish the liability of ITT for consumer protection act and contract violations against a class of students who attended ITT over the past ten years. If successful, this Complaint will establish ITT students as creditors of the ITT bankruptcy estate. The students are also asking for a legal finding from the bankruptcy court that ITT engaged in widespread consumer protection violations against students. This finding could create a path to debt cancellation for students’ federal student loans. Under the terms of those loans, borrowers may assert state law violations including consumer protection act violations and contract violations by the school as a defense against repayment of their federal student loans. Students also seek an injunction against the continued collection of certain other debts, including debts allegedly owed to ITT and to private lenders who are functionally alter-egos of ITT.

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Spring 2017 Clinical Opportunities – Deadline January 13 @ midnight

Dear Students,

The general clinic add/drop deadline for the spring 2017 semester is tomorrow, January 13, at 11:59:59PM.

There are a few spring clinics that currently have open seats available.

Interested students may log in to Helios and add themselves to these clinics (in the “Add/Drop” section of Helios) – any open seats will be claimed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Students have until midnight tomorrow to enroll in one of the below clinics:

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or run into any issues trying to enroll in one of the above clinics through Helios!

Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs
WCC 3085 | 617.495.5202 |  clinical at

A Warm Welcome to Yan, Mason, and Phil

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs extends a warm welcome to Yan Cao (Attorney and Fellow) of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, Mason Kortz (Clinical Fellow) of the Cyberlaw Clinic, and Phil Waters (Clinical Fellow) of the Health Law and Policy Clinic.

Yyc-profile-pic-10-17-16an Cao
Attorney and Fellow, Project on Predatory Student Lending

Yan Cao joined the Legal Services Center as an attorney and fellow for the Project on Predatory Student Lending in 2016.  Previously, Yan was a staff attorney and fellow at Brooklyn Legal Services where she provided assistance to low-income student loan  borrowers.  Yan also clerked for Judge Raymond J. Lohier, Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Judge J. Paul Oetken on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  Yan is a graduate of Simon’s Rock College of Bard and Stanford University, and received her J.D. from NYU Law School where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Law Scholar and served as Editor-in-Chief of the NYU Law Review.

Masonmk Kortz
Clinical Fellow, Cyberlaw Clinic

Mason Kortz is a clinical instructional fellow at the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic, part of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. His areas of interest include online speech and privacy and the use of data products (big or small) to advance social justice. Mason has worked as a data manager for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a legal fellow in the Technology for Liberty Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and a clerk in the District of Massachusetts. He has a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA in Computer Science and Philosophy from Dartmouth College. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, reading, and game design.

img_0740Phil Waters
Clinical Fellow, Health Law and Policy Clinic

Phil joined the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation in October 2016 as a Clinical Fellow. Phil received his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law, and is an active member of the North Carolina State Bar. During law school, Phil pursued various experiential opportunities in health law and public interest, including working as a summer associate with the National Health Law Program and serving as an extern for Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Medical-Legal Partnership. While at UNC, Phil worked for three years as a volunteer Healthcare Navigator and oversaw training and coordination of volunteer navigators from UNC with Legal Aid of North Carolina. Prior to law school, Phil received a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC.

Internships in the Clinics: Law students, graduate and undergraduate students are welcome to apply

This list will be updated periodically.
For questions about each listing, please contact the respective clinic.
Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation

2017 Summer Interns Program
May 22, 2017 – July 28, 2017 (flexible start & end date)
Applications accepted on a rolling basis until January 31, 2017
Read more and Access Application

Legal Services Center

2017 Summer Interns Program
May 22, 2017 – July 28, 2017 (flexible start & end date)
Read more and Access Application

Congratulations to the 5 Skadden Fellows from Harvard Law School

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.

All five fellows participated in clinics like the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the Criminal Justice Institute , and Student Practice Organizations, like Harvard Defenders, Harvard Immigration Project, Prison Legal Assistance Project, Tenant Advocacy Project,  and Project No One Leaves.

Harvard Law School 2017 Skadden Fellows and their projects

Sophie Elsner

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid | Austin, TX
Direct representation of low-income, predominately Spanish-speaking tenants facing eviction and rent increases. Will work with a newly-formed tenants’ rights organization to enforce existing, yet underutilized tenant protections to create a model for sustainable affordable housing.

Shayna Medley

American Civil Liberties Union, LGBT & HIV Project | New York, NY
Direct services, impact litigation and legal education to ensure safe school environments and access to single-sex spaces for transgender youth in rural, low-income areas with a focus on Southern and Western states where the rights of trans youth are most under attack.

Derecka Purnell

Advancement Project | Washington, DC
Impact litigation to challenge police practices under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fourth Amendment, and challenging overbroad criminal laws under the 14th Amendment.

Shakeer Rahman

The Bronx Defenders | Bronx, NY
Direct representation of indigent people in the Bronx who seek to recover damages in small claims court when they are injured by police or other members of government agencies. Will focus on injuries that are individually too small for civil rights lawyers to address, but that can have an outsize impact in the lives of impoverished people.

Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez

Veterans Legal Services | Boston, MA
Direct representation of veterans in the Greater Boston area on access to benefits, housing and family law. Will also create partnerships with re-entry programs and other community organizations.

Simulating the Apocalypse

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Zombie Apocalypse“U.S. Defense Taskforce,” a newly released negotiation simulation from the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP), explores group decision-making processes in a multi-party negotiation. Lisa Dicker ’17 and Kathleen Kelly ’17 of the Harvard Law School Negotiators wrote this fast-paced simulation under the supervision of Sara del Nido Budish ‘13, HNMCP Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law.

The case opens when the zombie apocalypse has begun. Participants are part of a small committee in the U.S. Department of State entrusted to select the four people who will lead the effort in preparing for, surviving, and defeating the zombies. The Director of the Department of State is scheduled to hold a press conference to tell the American public who their leaders will be, and the participants’ committee has only 20 minutes to come to a unanimous decision and give the Director the four names.

U.S. Defense Taskforce emphasizes two crucial elements of multi-party negotiations: criteria and group process. First, the element of criteria is placed at the forefront of the case pedagogy. Participants have a list of seven candidates’ biographies, detailing each candidate’s age, life accomplishments, and unique qualities. Their committee’s deliberation process, as well as the debrief afterwards, challenges the participants to think through their reasons for choosing one candidate over another and what their criteria was (or wasn’t) for determining who should lead the United States.

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Former students fight for a stake in ITT Educational Services bankruptcy

Via the Washington Post 

Creditors, federal regulators, state attorneys general and jilted employees of ITT Educational Services have laid claim to the remaining assets of one of the nation’s largest for-profit college operators in bankruptcy court. Absent from the line of those seeking redress, however, are the thousands of students who say they were defrauded by the chain. That is, until now.

A group of former students at ITT Technical Institutes on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the parent company to ensure participation in bankruptcy proceedings. The group is asserting claims against the company of consumer protection violations and breach of contract, and asks for class-wide status to cover anyone who attended ITT Tech in the past 10 years. The group is also seeking an injunction to stop the collection of private loans administered by ITT, which ran an in-house lending program that is at the center of two federal lawsuits.

“There are a lot of people making claims on the estate, and it’s really important to get students’ experiences out there and that they’re creditors of ITT as well,” said Eileen Connor, counsel for the students.

She estimates the students’ claims at $7.3 billion, roughly the amount of student loan revenue ITT Tech took in over the past 10 years. Connor, who is also an attorney at the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School, said it was critical to file the lawsuit now because the claim deadline is at the end of the month, something she suspects few students know.

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Spanish for Public Interest Lawyers – Spring 2017


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 for 10 weeks, for two hours each week (day & time TBD).
  • Class participation is vital. Language practice and listening to Spanish between classes is encouraged.


  • 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 Tuesday, January 10.

  • 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 13 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 23 and the last class will meet the week of April 10.

Students travel worldwide to do clinical work


This winter term, over a hundred students are travelling to 54 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 Texas Defender Service (Houston, TX), World Bank (Washington, DC), American Civil Liberties Union (Los Angeles, CA), 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 projects focusing on issues ranging from international human rights to community economic development.  Through Externship Clinics, students can also participate in on-site clinical work at organizations across the United States,  an experience which is further enriched in the classroom through discussions and reflections.


United States   International 
Arlington, VA Jacksonville, FL Accra, Ghana
Atlanta, GA Kalispell, MT Amman, Jordan
Austin, TX Kansas City, MO Arusha, Tanzania
Baltimore, MD Las Vegas, NV Bogota, Colombia
Berkeley, CA Los Angeles, CA Brussels, Belgium
Boston, MA Minneapolis, MN Cape Town, South Africa
Cambridge, MA Montgomery, AL Harare, Zimbabwe
Chattanooga, TN Nashville, TN Istanbul, Turkey
Cleveland, OH New Orleans, LA London, UK
Daytona Beach, FL New York, NY Lagos, Nigeria
Denver, CO Philadelphia, PA Ottawa, Canada
Des Moines, IA Phoenix, AZ Pasig City, Philippines
Detroit, MI Sacramento, CA Sydney, Australia
Durham, NC San Francisco, CA Tel Aviv, Israel
Eau Claire, WI Sarasota, FL Toronto, Canada
Fort Lauderdale, FL St. Louis, MO Yangon, Myanmar
Hartford, CT Ventura, CA Yerevan, Armenia
Honolulu, HI Washington, DC
Houston, TX

Happy Holidays!


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

Our office will close on December 23, 2016 will reopen on January 3, 2017.

My formative experience with the Department of Labor

By Monica Wilk, J.D. ’18 
Student in the Employment Law Clinic

My internship with the Department of Labor was a wonderful, formative experience because I actually enjoyed traditional lawyering work for the first time. On the first day of class in the Employment Workshop, our Clinic Director, Steve Churchill asked us to share our biggest fear of becoming a lawyer. I explained my fear of burnout by expressing how much I honestly disliked lawyering work. At the time, I regretted attending law school, let alone signing up for a clinic. However, this internship completely changed my attitude about pursuing a career in law because I discovered satisfying, challenging work that I enjoyed. The work involved pressing, important issues and required quick problem solving, creative thinking, and sophisticated analysis. I found myself looking forward to returning to work, something I never imagined would happen at the beginning of the clinic. As a result, I had the opportunity to identify for myself some of the work environment characteristics necessary for a satisfying, successful career.

While I had encountered complex, interesting legal work before, a number of factors distinguished the Solicitor’s Office from my other experiences. First, the office worked at a very fast pace to respond to new cases and burgeoning legal issues faced by the Department. The work’s constant urgency was a terrific motivation and energized day-to-day operations. Second, the attorneys and staff fostered a supportive, collaborative work community. They appeared to genuinely like one another, cared about everyone’s success, and felt comfortable reaching out to ask for help or second opinions. Forgoing social politics in favor of a culture of collegiality allowed the office to maintain an effective community of lawyers conducive to producing great work. Third, the attorneys demonstrated their pride and appreciation in their career as a platform to affect change through their work. The seriousness and intensity with which everyone approached their work showed how sincerely the attorneys are driven by the Department of Labor’s mission. When attorneys spoke of how privileged they felt to work for the Department, they cited individual cases and plans to address the needs of communities rather than broad concepts like “upholding employment rights.” Allowing the work and its relevance to speak for itself pushed the role of the lawyer to the background and rightfully foregrounded the importance of service to lawyering. Such a humble, supportive work community complemented the challenges of addressing complicated problems at an urgent pace, and created a work environment in which the attorneys—and I—thrived.

The National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School is now


We are pleased to announce the official launch of, an educational resource on the office of state attorney general. Led by Director James E. Tierney – Lecturer-in-Law at Harvard and Columbia Law Schools, former Maine Attorney General, and former Director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School – examines the wide-ranging impact and role of state attorneys general in U.S. law and policy.

The website contains:

In addition, through Initiatives, Director Tierney and his team work closely with state AG staff throughout the country to build capacity and foster strategic alliances with other government agencies and advocacy organizations in addressing the myriad of legal and policy issues facing government actors. Current major initiatives include:

We invite you to explore our website and share your comments and questions through our contact form.

Investing in International Human Rights in the Age of Trump

Via International Human Rights Clinic

By Emily Nagisa Keehn, Anna Crowe and Yee Htun

It is now well trodden discourse that the election of Donald Trump, like the rise in nationalist movements in Europe, is both creating and reflecting paradigmatic shifts in the way we view global institutions. These shifts point to pressing concerns for the international human rights project. The xenophobic, rights-abusive platform of the Trump campaign put the human rights community on notice, and we have assumed a defensive stance to protect the potential roll-back of hard-won progress. In the era of Trump, we believe the U.S. human rights community must continue to draw on international human rights law as an advocacy and accountability tool, partnering with international movements and actors to stop rhetoric from becoming reality.

For U.S. scholars, lawyers, policymakers and activists committed to the defense of human rights, the rhetoric and fledgling policies of the incoming administration have raised strategic and existential questions. In this new era, we are examining and debating critical concerns about the state and utility of international human rights law, and questioning where to place our resources. For those of us working within law schools, we face added questions from students, some of whom feel a crisis of conscience about where best to stake their social justice careers. From our perspective we must continue to invest in international human rights.

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Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program celebrates 10th anniversary and growing impact

Via HLS News

Dispute Systems Design panel photo

Credit: Tom Fitzsimmons
Lecturer on Law Rachel Viscomi ’01 (left) moderated the day’s first panel, “Dispute Systems Design: Expanding Horizons.” Panelists included Seanan Fong, HDS ’16, consultant and founder of Cylinder Project and a solo ombudsman to a major tech company; Stacie Nicole Smith, senior mediator and director of Workable Peace at the Consensus Building Institute; Stephan Sonnenberg ’06, faculty Member and clinic expert at the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law in Bhutan; and (not pictured) Joseph B. (Josh) Stulberg, Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

In 2006, the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) opened its doors with a handful of students pursuing independent clinical work.

This past November, HNMCP celebrated its 10th anniversary and the clinic’s evolution into a robust program of global clinical work in dispute systems design, innovative pedagogy around teamwork, and expanded course offerings in multiparty negotiation, group decision-making, teams, and facilitation. Today, HNMCP counts 260 current and former students and 84 clients from the United States and around the world. Courses offered by HNMCP have also expanded to include deeper dives into advanced skills such as multi-party negotiation and facilitation.

The clinic celebrated its growth, success, and its anniversary on Nov. 5, with a public symposium, hosted by Robert Bordone ’97, Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law and Director of HNMCP, and Rachel Viscomi ’01, Assistant Director and Clinical Instructor at HNMCP. The symposium was both retrospective and prospective, addressing the clinic’s foundational focus on dispute-systems design, as well as looking at the role of facilitation and political dialogue.

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KIND Celebrates Extraordinary Individuals Uniting the Nation through Kindness

Via KIND Foundation

PR Newswire, NEW YORK (December 6, 2016)
Today, The KIND Foundation – a 501c3 started by KIND Healthy Snacks – announces the winners of its philanthropic program, KIND People, and launches  a storytelling series that aims to reveal the transformative power of kindness. Through the program, the Foundation is awarding $1.1MM to seven people who are championing inclusivity and serving as beacons of empathy in communities nationwide.

The KIND People winners are addressing a range of societal issues – from infusing humanity and healing into Ohio’s prison system to providing clean water to Michigan families. Every day, these exemplars are working to ensure that all people – even the least understood and the most vulnerable – experience touches of humanity and have the opportunity to improve their lives.

Lam Ho

KIND People Winner and founder of Community Activism Law Alliance, Lam Ho, with his team on the streets of Chicago

KIND People Winner and founder of Community Activism Law Alliance, Lam Ho, with his team on the streets of Chicago

An advocate for the underserved, Lam has dedicated his life to ensuring that people understand their rights and gain access to the legal services they deserve.  He works 100 hours per week at Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA), bringing energy, purpose, and personal experience to his clients’ cases so that he can fight alongside them and make their voices heard.

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Clinic and HRW call for formal talks on “killer robots,” aim for preemptive ban

Via International Human Rights Clinic

(Geneva, December 9, 2016) – Governments should agree at the upcoming multilateral disarmament meeting in Geneva to formalize their talks on fully autonomous weapons, with an eye toward negotiating a preemptive ban, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 49-page report, “Making the Case: The Dangers of Killer Robots and the Need for a Preemptive Ban,” rebuts 16 key arguments against a ban on fully autonomous weapons.

Fully autonomous weapons, also known as lethal autonomous weapons systems and ‘killer robots,’ would be able to select and attack targets without meaningful human control. These weapons and others will be the subject of the five-year Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) from December 12-16, 2016.

“It’s time for countries to move beyond the talking shop phase and pursue a preemptive ban,” said Bonnie Docherty, senior clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic. “Governments should ensure that humans retain control over whom to target with their weapons and when to fire.”

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Hunger for change: Panelists focus on a fix for a broken food system

Via HLS News

At the same time the government urges Americans to eat healthy foods, it heavily subsidizes farmers who produce corn and other crops used in junk foods, and invests little in those who grow fruits and vegetables.

The result? A pound of fresh broccoli costs about $2 in any supermarket, while a calorie- and fat-filled cheeseburger is half that price in many fast-food restaurants.

This system that makes healthy food expensive and junk food cheap should be fixed, said a panel of experts who gathered at Harvard Law School on Nov. 30. The panel discussion — “Transforming Our Food System” — was sponsored by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic in partnership with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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Human Rights Clinic releases report on Syrian refugees and documentation of legal status

Via HLS News

Report details challenges those living outside Jordanian camps face obtaining government documents, humanitarian assistance

securing-status-coverIn November, the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School and the Norwegian Refugee Council Jordanlaunched Securing Status: Syrian refugees and the documentation of legal status, identity, and family relationships in Jordan, a 45-page report that details the challenges Syrian refugees living outside refugee camps encounter obtaining official documents from the Government of Jordan that allow them to access services, such as healthcare, as well as humanitarian assistance.

Nearly 80 percent of the 655,000 Syrian refugees registered with United Nations’ refugee agency in Jordan live outside refugee camps, in Jordanian cities, towns, and rural areas. The report outlines official processes for refugees to obtain documentation, the challenges refugees encounter, and the consequences faced by those who lack documentation.

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5 Questions for Emily Broad Leib

Via Clinical Law ProfBlog

In the spirit of thanksgiving and the abundance of food most of us partook in last week, I thought this would be a great time to continue that theme and learn about the amazing Food Law and Policy Clinic that Emily Broad Leib supervises at Harvard.  Here’s a recent interview I had with Emily about the interesting work she is doing.  Enjoy!

  1. I recently saw that Fortune and Food & Wine Magazines named you as the number one most influential woman in food and drink for 2016. This seems like a pretty big deal!

For the past three years, Food & Wine and Fortune Magazine have put out a list of the most innovative women in food & drink. I was incredibly surprised and humbled to be included at the top of the list! This honor was mostly in recognition of the work of my clinic, the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), on the issue of food waste. 62.5 million tons of food is wasted annually in the U.S., presenting a grave threat to our economy, health, and environment. While there are a variety of reasons for this pervasive waste, we’ve come to learn that much of this waste results from laws regulating the food system.

My work in date labels and the broader issue of food waste began from a clinic project we conducted on behalf of Daily Table, an organization that aims to increase access to healthy and affordable food by rescuing and selling surplus foods that would have otherwise gone to waste. To answer Daily Table’s legal questions, clinic students examined the laws in Massachusetts regarding date labels on food. When we zoomed out from Massachusetts to see what surrounding states were doing, we found a dizzying array of state laws, many of which restrict sale or donation of past-date foods. This is despite the fact that these dates are generally intended as indicators of quality, not safety, and for the most part food will still be safe and wholesome after that date has passed. Our work on date labels continues, and we’ve branched out to tackle other policies impacting food waste, such as food safety regulations, tax incentives for food donation, and liability protections for food donation.

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Judge Russell Reflects on the Founding and Future of Veterans Treatment Courts

Via Legal Services Center


Judge Russell delivered the 2016 DAV Distinguished Lecture on Veterans Treatment Courts

“It is not often that one gets to sit in and listen to a pioneer. Today we are going to have that opportunity,” said senior Disabled American Veterans (DAV) leader, David Gorman, of the Honorable Robert Russell, the 2016 DAV Distinguished Speaker. Pioneer is an accurate description of Judge Russell, who founded the nation’s first Veterans Treatment Court in Buffalo, NY in 2008.   He started and continues to lead the movement to create adjunct court systems designed specifically to meet the needs of our nation’s veterans.

On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, Judge Russell delivered the 2016 DAV Distinguished Speaker Lecture at Harvard Law School. Reflecting on his January 2008 founding of the Erie County Veterans Treatment Court, Judge Russell explained that the idea came to him after noticing an increased number of veterans appearing before him in two existing problem-solving courts: the Drug Court and the Mental Health Court. He recognized that many veterans have a difficult time readjusting to life after service, a struggle which makes this community more vulnerable to mental health issues and addiction. The unique circumstances surrounding veterans inspired Judge Russell to ask the question, “What can we do to afford the best opportunities for our veterans?” His answer was to propose a court program designed specifically to address the underlying needs of veterans in the criminal justice system and connect them with the benefits and treatment that they earned in service.

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Student Honors Program at the SEC: An inside look at a government agency


Monica Kwok, J.D. ’18

By Monica Kwok, J.D. ’18

This fall, I worked at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) through the Student Honors Program. The program is specifically designed to familiarize students with the regulation of securities markets by providing them the opportunity to work directly on projects that uphold the SEC’s mission. Through agency wide meetings and broadcasts, I became acquainted with the Commission’s various divisions and their functions. Though I worked specifically within the Enforcement Division, it was fascinating to learn about the different responsibilities of the Corporation Finance, Economic and Risk Analysis, Investment Management, and Trading and Markets divisions.

Over the course of my time at the SEC, I was staffed on various legal research and writing projects. The Enforcement Division is unique in that it investigates and litigates securities laws violations, such as fraud. My placement made it possible for me to survey crucial components of the process, including attending investigative testimonies and participating in Commission wide meetings. These key opportunities gave me insight into how the Commission’s attorneys and forensic accountants advance legal arguments and evidence for an enforcement action. My work ranged broadly from researching legal standards to help narrow investigations to gathering and analyzing information pertaining to tips and referrals.

I was also fortunate enough to work directly with several fantastic attorneys, all of whom provided excellent guidance and professional mentorship.  It was incredible to learn about their unique career trajectories, as they each hailed from vastly different fields of law.

This experience has transformed the ways in which I think about current events, particularly in the financial regulation space. With my remaining time at Harvard Law School, I hope to further explore the intersection of regulatory policies and proceedings and corporate criminality through related coursework and research projects.

Tips from Social Workers

As the fall academic semester continues, clinical students and students volunteering in the Student Practice Organizations continue to learn hands-on, helping clients with real-life legal matters. Often times, this means helping people facing great adversity and trauma in their lives. Our office reached out to the three social workers in our programs, asking their advice for students engaged in this work. Below are some of their suggestions. 

Liala Buoniconti
Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinic
Liala Buoniconti, HIRC Social Worker

Liala Buoniconti, Social Worker, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic

In the social work field experiential learning has long been an integral part of professional training.  Now that the ABA has recommended law students receive a minimum of six credits of experiential learning it seems budding law students might learn from the social work experience, particularly when it comes to finding balance between the professional and personal.

Often, our personal lives strongly influence our professional lives, and may be the driving force in choosing a career.  Yet without self-reflection and stress-reduction skills, client work can sometimes become overwhelming.  Usually this happens with progressive exposure to the many needs of our clients, especially in the realm of public interest law.  It can be difficult to turn off our thoughts about clients and their needs, particularly when their lives mirror our own.  This is why it is important to take time off, breathe, and do healthy things that help us disconnect from the work.  And yet, not all of the responsibility rests upon us to take care of ourselves.  Research shows that burnout comes easily in settings with high caseloads or demanding work hours.  Work places, therefore, need to recognize that their staff can be most productive when work-life balance is promoted and employees are encouraged to discuss their needs openly.

My advice to clinical students, embarking on experiential learning, is to seek out mentors that allow you to grow both professionally and personally; they are in abundance around our in-house clinical programs and they will help you self-reflect as well as support your professional goals.  HLS also organizes many Wellness offerings that can help you develop a toolbox for stress-reduction skills. I am forever grateful to the mentors and supervisors in my life that recognized the need for balance and am keenly aware that my clients have benefited as a result of my ability to thrive in a supportive work place.  As the airlines always say, secure your own oxygen mask before helping others; do this for yourself and you will be a more efficient zealous advocate.

Anne Eisner
Education Law Clinic of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative
Anne Eisner, Social Worker, Education Law Clinic

Anne Eisner, Social Worker, Education Law Clinic of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative

One of my roles in the Education Law Clinic is to draw on my training and experience as a social worker to help students navigate their relationships with their clients. I’d like to encourage you to consider in some depth how your relationships with your clients are progressing.  Practicing attorneys, as well as the field of legal education, continually observe that an intentional focus on client relationships is an essential feature of effective lawyering, and that the process of building a positive, trusting relationship with a client can be as important as addressing the legal/advocacy aspects of the case.  It is within the context of a trusting relationship that clients feel heard and understood, are receptive to the counsel you provide, develop clarity and realistic expectations about the possible outcomes, and are able to fully participate in all aspects of the case.

But equally important to the case-related benefits that accrue as the result of this working partnership with clients is the way your clients will feel about their experience with you as they—maybe for one of the few times in their lives—experience being treated with unconditional positive regard, respect, and dignity. While this is important for all clients, it is especially critical for clients whose life histories include chronic adversity, traumatic events, or social or racial injustice, some of whom may find it particularly difficult to develop a trusting relationship given their life experience.  Consider continuously focusing on and sharing with your clinic supervisor your observations and questions about the relational skills you are using to build positive rapport with your clients, as well as to explore culturally-responsive ways of relating and any implicit biases that may get in the way. This focus, along with your active listening and empathic understanding of the full context of your client’s experiences, will enable you to begin developing this critical aspect of effective lawyering skills.

Chris Pierce
Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Prison Legal Assistance Project, Harvard Defenders, Tenant Advocacy Project

Chris Pierce, Social Worker

I think my advice to clinical students might be to enjoy the work you do with your clients. Enjoy the work with grateful and appreciative clients and build your skills of empathy and sympathy for clients who are really in need of your help. Lastly, appreciate that small changes and kind interactions can make a difference. You may not change a life but you can help a person improve the quality of their life and experience they have with you and the legal system.


Spring 2017 Community Enterprise Project – Apply Now!

The Community Enterprise Project (Spring 2017) is a by-application division of the Transactional Law Clinics in which students engage in both direct client representation and community economic development. In addition to representing clients located near the Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School on transactional matters, CEP students work in small groups to connect with community organizations, identify organizational and community legal needs, and develop comprehensive strategies to address those needs while gaining valuable, real-world transactional law experience in a community setting.

To get a better sense of the kinds of projects students in CEP undertake, check out the stories below from the OCP blog:

Creating opportunities through the Community Enterprise Project

Harvard Law’s Community Enterprise Project heads to Oakland forges partnership with Sustainable Economies Law Center

TLC’s Community Enterprise Project concludes milestone semester

TLC’s Community Enterprise Project welcomes young hip-hop artists to Harvard Law School

 Apply Now!

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

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

CEP applications should be addressed to Brian Price and Amanda Kool and submitted via e-mail to and

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

Harvard Law School & National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable Announce Preliminary Findings in Project to Grade Medicaid Access to Hepatitis C Treatment

Via Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation

The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI) today announced the preliminary findings of Hepatitis C: The State of Medicaid Access – a comprehensive assessment of state Medicaid programs’ discriminatory restrictions on curative treatments for hepatitis C, the nation’s deadliest blood-borne disease. The full report, with accompanying rankings and state-by-state report cards, will be released in early 2017.

Preliminary analysis from Hepatitis C: The State of Medicaid Access – announced today at The Liver Meeting® in Boston – shows some improvements in both state Medicaid program transparency and access since 2014, yet also demonstrates that most states continue to impose discriminatory restrictions which contradict guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as guidance from AASLD and the Infectious Disease Society of America.  Also concerning is that nearly half of states may not be making all restrictions publicly available.

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Morning in America: November 9, 2016

Via Harvard Law Today

By Heather Scheiwe Kulp, Clinical Instructor and Lectuer on Law, Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinic

You roll out of bed, seeking coffee and your morning news. Groggily, you realize it’s Wednesday morning, November 9—the day after the presidential election. S/he’s won.

You may be thrilled. You may not be. Either way, you have to go to work/the dinner table/a church potluck/your kid’s soccer game today with people who may not feel the same way.

It’s morning in America, and it’s time to repair the vast breaches this election season created.

In the lead up to the election, we’ve spent too little attention and energy on what will happen the day, week, and years after the election. By “what will happen,” I don’t mean whether or not the election results will be challenged. Instead, I mean how we will live our daily lives with neighbors and citizens who differ from us.

This campaign season’s bitter rhetoric has not been reserved for—or coming only from—the candidates. We may try to distance ourselves from the violence at campaign events (instigated by both Trump and Clinton supporters, by the way) by saying we would never engage in such behavior. But I have heard and read (and have uttered) uncivil, verbally violent words from people across the political, ideological, and educational spectrum.

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Joint report on Syrian refugees and documentation of legal status, identity, and family relationships in Jordan

Via International Human Rights Clinic

Anna Crowe, at right, presenting at the report launch in Jordan.

Anna Crowe, at right, presenting at the report launch in Jordan.

Today in Amman, Jordan, the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School and the Norwegian Refugee Council Jordan launched Securing Status: Syrian refugees and the documentation of legal status, identity, and family relationships in Jordan, a 45-page report that details the challenges Syrian refugees living outside refugee camps encounter obtaining official documents from the Government of Jordan that allow them to access services, such as healthcare, as well as humanitarian assistance.

Nearly 80 per cent of the 655,000 Syrian refugees registered with United Nations’ refugee agency in Jordan live outside refugee camps, in Jordanian cities, towns, and rural areas. The report outlines official processes for refugees to obtain documentation, the challenges refugees encounter, and the consequences faced by those who lack documentation.

Cyberlaw Clinic and Berkman Klein Researchers Submit NTIA Comment on Broadband Research Agenda

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

Drawing from their experience studying trends in internet services pricing across the country, a team of researchers, including Berkman Klein Center Research Director Rob Faris,  Cyberlaw Clinic project coordinator Kira Hessekiel, Berkman Klein fellow David Talbot, and HLS ’18 student Danielle Kehl, submitted a comment to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and National Science Foundation to advocate for more comprehensive public information on the price of internet access services.

The two agencies put out a request for comments in early September to advise them in framing a National Broadband Research Agenda to further the recommendations of the Broadband Opportunity Council, a project of 25 federal agencies led by the Department of Commerce, of which NTIA is a division, and the Department of Agriculture.

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