Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

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

lecture-6

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

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
pierce_s

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 akool@law.harvard.edu and clinical@law.harvard.edu

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

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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Hundreds Of Mass. Volunteer Poll Monitors Ready For Election Day

On November 2, 2016, the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs organized a training session aimed at helping volunteers spot common voting problems on election day.

Via wbur 90.9

A voter marks his ballot inside a voting booth at a polling site for the New Hampshire primary February in Nashua. (David Goldman/AP)

A voter marks his ballot inside a voting booth at a polling site for the New Hampshire primary February in Nashua. (David Goldman/AP)

A nonpartisan Boston-based organization is training election protection volunteers to monitor the voting process across the country on Election Day.

Given the heated political rhetoric ahead of Nov. 8, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice says it’s seeing increased desire from folks wanting to get involved, including here in Massachusetts.

At a recent packed, all-ages training session at Harvard Law School, Sophia Hall detailed volunteer poll monitoring.

Hall is a staff attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee and is coordinating the volunteers in collaboration with local partners like the ACLU and the Women’s League of Voters.

The groups are banding together to help monitor polling places for issues like voter intimidation and access to translators — basically anything that could prevent someone from being able to cast their ballot.

Many of the volunteers at the training will be deployed into 11 cities throughout the state on Election Day — including Boston, Springfield, Lawrence and New Bedford.

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FLPC Releases Toolkit to Promote Food Waste Reduction

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

food-waste-toolkit-coverToday the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) releases Keeping Food Out of the Landfill: Policy Ideas for States and Localities. This toolkit provides comprehensive information on eight different policy areas that states and localities can consider as they ramp up efforts to reduce food waste. There are great opportunities for food waste reduction at the federal level, but much can be done by states and localities, whose involvement in finding solutions to food waste and food recovery is vital. The toolkit includes recommendations for each of the policy areas, which can be utilized by legislators, advocates, food donors, and food recovery organizations to call for policy changes.

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The Ghana Project

Via Harvard Law Today

A clinical class supports local organizations’ efforts to improve social welfare

City street in Nima, Accra, Ghana, 2001.

Credit: Courtesy of The Ghana Project Clinic
City street in Nima, Accra, Ghana, 2001.

In Nima, a large community in the center of Accra, Ghana, water flows through the plumbing system of a small human rights advocacy office for only a few hours each day. Professor Lucie White and some of the first students in Making Rights Real: the Ghana Project learned this the hard way. One morning they arrived at the Legal Resources Centre to find the office flooded and all of the clients’ files drenched. The previous day, a student had inadvertently left the spigot open after finding it dry. Everyone then worked together to lay each piece of paper outside in the courtyard to dry in the African sun.

That could have spelled the end of the Ghana Project. Instead, it marked the beginning of a true partnership to work for underserved Ghanaians. Sustained through mutual trust, it has now enabled more than 200 HLS students to gain first-hand experience working for economic rights, development, and social justice.

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Going global

Via Harvard Law Today

Highlighting the international experiences of five of the 2016 Chayes Fellows

In the summer of 2016, 87 Harvard Law School students worked in 30 countries on a diverse array of projects; 19 of those students traveled to 13 countries through the Chayes International Public Service Fellowship Program. Chayes Fellows spend eight weeks working within the governments of developing nations, or with the inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations that support them. Their projects take many forms (see a related gallery), this year addressing topics ranging from violence against children in Thailand to transitional justice processes in Colombia to freedom of expression in Poland. The profiles below highlight the experiences of five of the 2016 Chayes Fellows.

Edith Sangüeza ’18
Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración, Mexico City, Mexico

Edith Sangüeza ’18

Credit: Lorin Granger

Edith Sangüeza’s interest in immigration issues goes back to her undergraduate degree in ethnicity, race, and migration. But it wasn’t until she was faced with the reality of immigration issues as a teacher in California and Mexico that she considered immigration law as a career path. Working with a large Latino population, Sangüeza heard first-hand from her students and their families of the vulnerability and day-to-day difficulties they faced. “I realized I couldn’t doanything. I could listen and be aware, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it, and I saw law school as a way to actually learn more about immigration policy and learn about the laws we have and about how to be an advocate.”

As a 1L, Sangüeza joined the Harvard Immigration Project’s Removal Defense Project, and took Professor Gerald Neuman’s Immigration Law class. For the summer, she knew she wanted to return to Mexico, work on direct client representation, and learn more about policy from the Mexican perspective.

With the Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración (IMUMI), an organization dedicated to advocating for migrant women and children, Sangüeza worked with Emily Norman ‘15, an IMUMI immigration lawyer and 2013 Chayes Fellow. Sangüeza interviewed and drafted declarations for clients seeking humanitarian visas in categories designated for victims of criminal activity and violence against women, and wrote a paper on the challenges faced by transnational families, who are often unable to access social services if they do not have specific, and difficult to obtain, identification documents.

“It was fascinating to see what immigration looks like from outside the U.S., seeing what the challenges are, the different processes, and getting a chance to compare it to the Mexican immigration system,” says Sangüeza, “it was important to see that there is life in Mexico after deportation–that one can build a productive and happy life. But it shouldn’t be as difficult as it is–they shouldn’t have so many legal obstacles on top of all the practical obstacles that they face.”

Sangüeza’s experience has reaffirmed her desire to work in the immigration field. She is again working with the Removal Defense Team, as well as with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau’s family practice, and is hoping to spend her next summer working on issues at the intersection of criminal law and immigration.

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Student Spotlight—Lisa Dicker ’17

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Lisa Dicker“Lisa, you are great at arguing! You should be a lawyer.”

While growing up this was a statement I frequently heard. It was true. I was excellent at arguing. I loved the thrill of the heightened emotions, the adrenaline of crafting my next point, and the satisfaction of watching my opponent squirm. What I didn’t love was the aftermath—the relationships that were damaged, the pain of not being heard, and the emptiness when a resolution was not reached.

In undergrad I took a step away from what seemed to be my predestined path of law school and studied international relations and Asian studies. My international relations classes told me that the drivers of conflict were political and economic power, but my Asian studies classes showed me that religion, history, culture, pride, fear, and reputation all also had an impact on conflict and its resolution. I found my way back on the path to law school because I wanted to explore international conflict resolution as a practitioner who bridged the gap between the perceived drivers of conflict and the underlying factors that also impact it.

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Celebrating 10 years of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Program

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

HNMCP Staff Photo 2016-17On November 5th, 2016, we will host a gala event to mark the 10th anniversary of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program. The event will bring together students, faculty, clients, dispute resolution practitioners and others to celebrate the first decade of the HNMCP’s work and to lay the groundwork for the second.

The events of the day will kick off with an introduction by HNMCP Director, Professor Bob Bordone and Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. We will offer two panel discussions in the morning. The first, Dispute Systems Design: Expanding Horizons, will bring together Professor Joseph Stulberg, Stacie Smith, Stephan Sonnenberg ’06, and Seanan Fong HDS’16, to discuss the ways in which dispute systems design principles are being used outside of the traditional organizational context. The second panel, Political Dialogue: Promise and Perils of Facilitation, will focus on the role of facilitated dialogue in bringing people together across ideological divides. Heather Scheiwe Kulp, Suzanne Ghais, Liz Joyner, Fr. Josh Thomas and Toby Berkman ’10 will share their thoughts with the audience.

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Former Irish President Connects Climate Change and Human Rights

Via Harvard Crimson

Former Irish President Mary Robinson

Former President of Ireland Mary T. W. Robinson speaks about climate justice at Harvard Law School on Thursday. Robinson, who has previously served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, was appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to be his Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate. MEGAN M. ROSS

Mary T.W. Robinson, a former president of Ireland and current United Nations Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate, spoke about widespread human displacement due to climate change at a discussion at Harvard Law School on Thursday evening.

Law School Dean Martha L. Minow moderated the discussion in front of a packed audience. “There is nobody on earth who is more involved, who has done more on the subjects that bring us here today,” Minow said when introducing Robinson.

Robinson has previously served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Climate Change. She is also president of the Mary Robinson Foundation—Climate Justice.

During the conversation, Robinson emphasized the need for international policies promoting sustainability, especially given the increasing vulnerability of millions of people living close to sea level. The discussion included an examination of empirical data and observations regarding the effects of climate change, as well as the suggesting of proposals for effective policy responses. …

The discussion is part of a three-day conference hosted at the Law School aiming to investigate the challenges of climate change, displacement, and human rights. The conference is sponsored by the International Human Rights Clinic, the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic.

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An interview with TAP student leaders

The Tenant Advocacy Project (affectionately known as TAP) represents clients in benefits termination, public housing eviction, and application denial hearings at housing authorities. TAP co-presidents Emily Seelenfreund, J.D. ’17 and Laura Dismore J.D. ’17 reflect on their time with the organization.

OCP: What interested you in working with TAP?

ES: I came to law school because I wanted to use a legal degree to make an impact in the public sector. It’s all too easy to spend 1L in a bubble but I didn’t want to become removed from the issues that impact my future clients. I chose TAP because of the opportunity to directly represent clients right from the get-go and because equitable access to housing is such a vitally important right.

Laura Dismore J.D. '17

Laura Dismore J.D. ’17

LD: TAP caught my attention from the very beginning – I remember realizing that I had never thought about how much housing (and particularly housing instability) can affect other aspects of people’s lives. The more I learned about TAP, the various local and state bureaucracies our clients (and, by extension, TAP members) have to navigate, and the areas of law that intersect with housing, the more excited I was to participate.

OCP: Can you describe a memorable case or project that you have worked on?

Emily Seelenfreund, J.D. '17

Emily Seelenfreund, J.D. ’17

ES: I met one of my most memorable clients last year at an outreach event I coordinated with Haley House. She was facing termination of her Section 8 subsidy, without which she was unable to afford housing. At the hearing my client gave powerful testimony about how the abuse she had suffered as a child had led to a life of addiction but how with the help of Haley House and other programs she was taking control of her life. The Housing Authority found her mitigating evidence persuasive and our client retained her subsidy and was therefore able to continue turning her life around.

LD: Last year, I worked on a priority status denial case. My client had been displaced by a fire, but the housing authority had denied him natural disaster priority status because he hadn’t been able to provide documentation of his tenancy (or of the fire itself). That’s because his lease and all his other documents were burned up in the fire that made him homeless, and because the Fire Department had no record of the blaze despite multiple news articles describing its devastation. I was able to track down his landlady and get her to sign sworn statements about his tenancy. The fire report was tricky, but we eventually found it thanks to one firefighter with an incredibly good memory: the report had been filed incorrectly, which is why my client couldn’t retrieve it despite diligent efforts. The housing authority ultimately reversed their decision and gave him priority status on the waitlist, which was an exciting victory. But even now, six years after the fire and almost a full year after he went to the top of the waitlist, my former client has yet to be given a voucher and is currently still homeless.

OCP: How would you evaluate your learning experience? Do you feel you’ve gained new skills in working with TAP?

ES: TAP has been an invaluable learning experience and among the most compelling experiences during my time at HLS. I’ve come to really understand the importance of coordination among legal services organizations, as so many of our clients are facing battles not just with their housing- but also their disability, veterans, childcare, and other services. I’ve also learned the importance of persistence- oftentimes receiving necessary documentation from other service providers requires multiple follow-ups and perseverance. TAP has two experienced clinical instructors and working with them allows students to gain experience working under supervision while still managing their own caseload.

OCP: What would you say is your biggest learning experience? 

LD: Aside from the substantive legal concepts, the biggest learning experience for me has been the importance of fighting for our clients in whatever way we can. Working on a case last year, I had to follow up with a client’s former landlady who did not want to talk to me. In fact, she hung up on me the first time I called. I told my supervisor the landlady was unresponsive and that there wasn’t much we could do. My supervisor’s response will probably echo in my ears for the rest of my life: “Wow, you’re giving up on this very easily.” No one had ever told me that before, but I realized she was absolutely right. We came up with a strategy to try to get the landlady to work with us, and it succeeded! We got the documentation we needed and ultimately won the case. And I learned that if your clients need you to go to the mat for them, you do it, even if it’s scary and you’re not sure how.

HLS students recognized for their pro bono service hours

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs offers its heartfelt congratulations to the 27 Harvard Law students that will be recognized by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services for their commitment to pro bono work. The ceremony will be held at the Adams Courthouse on October 26th and the students will be listed on the SJC’s Pro Bono Honor Roll website.

The recognition is presented annually to law firms, solo practitioners, in-house corporate counsel offices, government attorney offices, non-profit organizations, law school faculties, and law students who certify that, in the calendar year of 2015, they have contributed at least 50 hours of legal services without receiving pay or academic credit.

Pro Bono Honor Roll Students:

Roi Bachmutsky, JD ’17

Aldel Brown, JD ’17

Alexander Chen, JD ’17

Ryan Cohen, JD ’17

Michael Contillo, J.D. ’17

Joanna Cornell, JD ’18

Andrene Dabaghi, JD ’17

Laura Dismore, JD ’17

Lauren Godles, JD ’17

Eric S. Goodwin, JD ’18

George Hageman, JD ’17

Andrew Hanson, JD ’17

Shaylyn Harper, JD ’17

Ha Ryong Jung, JD ’18

Mario Hoang N. Nguyen, JD ’17

Sean Henryk Parys, JD ’17

Kelly Jo Popkin, JD ’17

Katherine Sandson, JD ’17

Stephanie Schuyler, JD ’17

Rebecca Schwarz, JD ’18

Marin Tollefson, JD ’17

Michael Trujillo, JD ’18

Loren Voss, JD ’17

Kasey Wang, JD ’17

Yong Lucien Wang, JD ’18

Emily Wilkinson, JD ’17

Pamela Yaacoub, JD ’17

 

Counseling artists: An opportunity for real-world application of the law

By Terron East, J.D. ’17

While the music industry has undergone an influx of substantial changes within recent decades, critics have argued that the legal frameworks designed to govern this industry have become anachronistic and incompatible with the industry’s seemingly inseparable relationship with modern technology. Recently proposed legislation, such as the Songwriter Equity Act, has sought to mend such gaping holes within copyright law by allowing for a more just level of compensation for spins of composers’ musical compositions on internet radio stations. However, while this recommended revision to the Copyright Act offers a possible solution to the unfair levels of compensation reaped by composers, such a solution is by no means a panacea to the problems that plague musicians.

Formed in 1998, the Recording Artists Project (RAP) was created with the objective of providing fledgling artists with the legal counsel necessary to protect their musical rights and build their brand, long before they’re able to take advantage of any newly proposed changes to royalties from radio play. As potential streams of revenue are continually presented to new artists throughout the onset of their careers, it has become more important than ever for these musicians to become aware of their intellectual property rights in order for their careers to flourish. More importantly, RAP serves as an indelible opportunity for HLS students to not only gain first-hand interaction with clients, but also grants students the opportunity for real world application of copyright and trademark law. Having served as both a student participant for RAP and intake director, I’ve been involved in a number of RAP projects throughout my time at HLS, ranging from LLC formations and band agreements to contract negotiations with record labels and copyright split agreements amongst several different musicians.

In addition to providing students with an outlet to apply Intellectual Property law, RAP has made concerted efforts to assist in the long-term career goals of its HLS participants. Accordingly, RAP has regularly hosted speaker events ranging from discussions regarding recent musical copyright infringement suits and their potential fallout, to panel discussions regarding the changing roles of record labels and managers within the current digital climate of music. Moreover, RAP wishes to form a community of students who have a passionate interest in entertainment law. As such, RAP also hosts excursions to events such as Berklee College of Music’s Urban Music Symposium. Such networking opportunities allow for students to both learn of recent changes within the music market and also to form ties with other HLS students interested in a career path in entertainment law as well.

HLS Advocates for Human Rights: Finding a Community

A group of this year’s Advocates project members.

A group of this year’s Advocates project members.

By MacKennan Graziano, J.D. ’17

I came to law school with the express purpose of working in international human rights law. Immediately upon starting at HLS, I realized that this was not going to be a straightforward or easy career path. Flooded by corporate firm events and constant appeals to participate in the Early Interview Program (EIP), it became incredibly important for me to find a community of people dedicated to human rights advocacy. I wanted a group of peers with whom I could navigate an uncertain career path. I have found that community in HLS Advocates for Human Rights.

Advocates is a place for students to work on semester and year-long projects on various human rights topics. Our projects are designed and led by the students themselves under the supervision of an attorney from a partner organization who works in the field. These student-initiated projects give students a chance to work on the human rights issues they are most passionate about.

I joined Advocates as a 1L project member and continued 2L year as a project leader. With the help of six amazing students, I ran a project in partnership with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, which looked at local laws across Massachusetts that affect homeless people. This project involved meticulously going through municipal codes and working with local governments to get their records on arrests and fines under those laws. Together we were able to engage with the local communities using international human rights as a framework. Advocates projects are a place where as early as 1L year you can start to develop practical human rights skills and learn what it is like to do human rights work on a day-to-day basis.

Now as Co-President, I have the honor and privilege of overseeing the work of our dedicated project teams. This year we have projects on a myriad of topics, all timely and important within the human rights world. These include corporate accountability in Israel/Palestine, sexual violence in South African prisons, engagement with the UN on business and human rights issues in Thailand, domestic non-consensual pornography legislation, international criminal law violations in Syria, and human rights compliance by non-state actors. In Advocates, I have found not only a space to develop my skills as a human rights advocate, but a community of people who care deeply about human rights and who have helped me navigate a more uncertain life path.

Finding my path with HLEP

By Arielle Friehling,  J.D. ’17
Arielle Friehling, J.D. '17

Arielle Friehling, J.D. ’17

I came to Harvard entirely sure that I wanted to attend law school and entirely unsure of what I would do with my legal education. I entered 1L year hopeful that something in class would suddenly call out to me and lead me directly to a career path. Unfortunately, I failed to take into account the theoretical focus and survey style of the first year curriculum.

So when the Student Activities Fair arrived, I reveled in the opportunity to explore options outside the classroom. My goal was to get hands-on experience and learn about new areas of law. I left the Fair with a handful of brochures and my name on a dozen email lists.

Fortunately, I stuck with the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project, despite its lack of an obvious and catchy acronym (“HLEP,” how do I pronounce that?). Within a few weeks, I was in charge of four other law students – including two 2Ls – and under the supervision of a practicing attorney on a client project team. After a long day of briefing cases and discussing the occasional absurd hypothetical, I got to work on a real client matter, addressing questions whose answers would determine the trajectory of a real business, and interfacing with a real entrepreneur whose charisma and innovative spirit I greatly admired.

It took only as long as my first client meeting to decide that these are the kinds of clients I want to work with in my career. Beyond being intelligent, hardworking, and sensible, my client believed in his company. Listening to him explain his business plan, market research, and product development, I couldn’t help but get excited about his startup. Here was this talented innovator trying to create something incredible, yet he felt inhibited by the looming storm cloud that is the law.

I finally saw where I could fit into the legal profession: I may not be an idea person myself, but I am inspired by those who are, and I want to help them create things by taking the legal concerns off their overly-crowded plates.

For this project, my team researched international trade law, tariffs, and import regulations, after anticipating patent and trademark questions based on the client’s application (my first exposure to the fairly standard occurrence in startup advising where a quick legal consultation reveals myriad previously unrecognized issues). After a successful advisory relationship, I decided to take on a leadership role where I supported a group of team leads as they managed their client projects, researching issues ranging from corporate form to equity division to intellectual property protection.

Since last December, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as President of HLEP (pronounced ‘H’-Lep, I’ve learned), during which time I’ve worked to give new members the chance to experience the “a-ha” moment I felt when I worked with my first client.

Harvard Immigration Project: A voice for the immigrant community

By Amy Volz, J.D. ’18
Amy Volz, J.D. '18

Amy Volz, J.D. ’18 at the 2016 HIP Symposium

The Harvard Immigration Project (HIP) is excited to serve as a voice on campus for immigration advocacy during a year in which debates about U.S. immigration policy and the global migrant crisis have put this area of the law in unusual focus. We strive to elevate the voice of the immigrant community on the HLS campus while providing students with meaningful hands-on experience in immigration and refugee law.

I joined HIP’s Immigration Services Project (ISP) in the fall of my 1L year. My case partner, another 1L from my section, and I were matched with a client from Central America who had recently been granted asylum in the U.S. with the help of the Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinic (HIRC). Our goal was to assist her with her application for permanent residency in the United States. Over the course of the semester, we met with our client several times to collect the required documents and prepare her application. While we continued assembling her materials over the winter, we took on a second client, also an asylee from Central America. We sent out both applications in the spring and waited impatiently for news from Department of Homeland Security!

The good news came over the summer: both of our clients were granted permanent residency in the U.S. Having learned over the course of the year what our clients had been through on the road to these applications, it was incredibly rewarding to witness their elation when their green cards arrived. They are now on the path to citizenship and can finally build their lives in Boston with the protections and benefits of permanent residency.

My experience with HIP has reaffirmed my commitment to working  for the public interest in a client-centered role. I’m fortunate to have met a community of passionate and talented people with a wealth of experience in advocacy work. This year, as Co-President, I’m excited for HIP to continue serving as a resource for students interested in immigration law. HIP members also work on two other legal services projects: the Removal Defense Project, in which students represent ICE detainees in bond hearings before the Boston Immigration Court, and the International Refugee Assistance Project, which provides legal representation to refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. We are also developing initiatives to provide students interested in immigration policy with resources to get engaged in the local community. Finally, we host regular speaker events with practitioners, judges, and HLS professors to highlight current issues in immigration and refugee law and look forward to our second annual HIP Symposium next spring!

Royalties, Rap And Race: The Top 10 Law Schools That Teach Real-Life Music Issues

Via Billboard

Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images
Langdell Hall Library on the campus of Harvard Law School, where law students offer music clients pro bono advice on topics from copyrights to contracts.

Behind the success of every hitmaker are the lawyers, fielding the deliberations, deals and disputes that are a constant part of today’s music business.

While attorneys have always been important to artists and music ­companies, new business models, from brand licensing to streaming, have only increased the need for legal expertise. The scope of that expertise is also wider than ever, moving beyond issues of contract law to questions of intellectual property in the digital age.

At which law schools do the top music lawyers gain that expertise? These 10 stand out as the alma maters of the majority of the music ­industry’s most accomplished attorneys.

HARVARD LAW SCHOOL
Cambridge, Mass.

For the past two decades, aspiring attorneys at Harvard Law School have offered pro bono legal advice to young musicians, producers and other music professionals through the student-run Recording Artists Project. RAP has an affiliation with Boston’s Berklee College of Music and offers its students guidance on matters from contracts to copyrights. Among those who have benefited is Berklee alumna Esperanza Spalding.

Alumnus: Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel, Spotify

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Bringing help and hope to Mississippi Delta

Susana Cervantes, J.D. '17

Susana Cervantes, J.D. ’17

By Susana Cervantes, J.D. ’17
Student Leader, Mississippi Delta Project

I initially joined the Mississippi Delta Project (“MDP”) my 1L fall as a way to stay connected to the region that had charmed its way into a special place in my heart. While I’m originally from California and went to college in Boston, I spent the two years before law school as a high school teacher with Teach for America in Jackson, Mississippi. Many people in the nation only know Mississippi for its failures: for example, the fact that it has some of the highest rates of obesity, teen pregnancy, and child poverty in the nation. These troubles are real, and especially so in the Mississippi Delta, an area of deeply entrenched generational poverty and racial divides. But at the same time, these statistics belie the beauty of Mississippi and the indefatigable spirit of its people. Living in Mississippi I got to see the hopes that many of my students had for a better future, and the work that they, my colleagues, and others were doing to make that future a reality.

When I moved back to the Northeast for law school, it was important for me to continue contributing in some way to that movement for change, so I joined the Child and Youth Advocacy Team of MDP. Doing so ended up also being a great way to build up some of my lawyerly skills and understanding. My team was partnering with the Mississippi State Health Department to encourage “Baby-Friendly” hospital policies that would promote breastfeeding. As part of my research for the project, I had the chance to talk with health department officials in other states that had launched similar, successful initiatives. In the process, I learned a lot about implementing effective policy, and the many stakeholders and considerations involved in taking an idea from its initial conception to its ultimate fruition. I also grew significantly as a policy writer by contributing to and editing portions of the final report that we delivered to our client.

Looking back, I can see some of the rippling effects that our work has had over the past couple of years. When we started our Baby-Friendly Hospital project, Mississippi had zero hospitals that were officially certified by UNICEF/WHO as “Baby-Friendly.” Since the release of our report, one Mississippi hospital has been certified as Baby-Friendly and at least two more are on their way. Our report also helped build the foundation to do more work around breastfeeding in Mississippi. For example, last year, another MDP team successfully campaigned to pass a state law that affirmatively protects the right of breastfeeding employees to express milk in the workplace. Seeing these kinds of results has been incredibly rewarding.

I’ve also been fortunate in my new role as Co-Chair of the project because I’ve gotten to hear from lots of new and returning members about why they joined and why they have stayed. Some have deep ties to Mississippi or other areas of the South, having been raised there and perhaps hoping to return to work there after graduation. Some, like me, aren’t from the region, but have spent some time there and become fascinated by its charms. Others have never set foot past the Mason-Dixon line before, but are intrigued by the opportunity to do domestic policy work. But above all, they share a deep and inspiring passion for creating a meaningful impact in a region that can benefit from our time and resources. The joy of collaborating with them, as well as with our amazing clients and partners on the ground in Mississippi, regularly reminds me why I’ve chosen to work in public interest law and policy.

HLS Negotiators: Building skills and building community

By Lisa Dicker, J.D. ’17 and Katie Kelly, J.D. ’17
Lisa Dicker, J.D. '17 and Katie Kelly, J.D. '17

Lisa Dicker, J.D. ’17 and Katie Kelly, J.D. ’17

HLS Negotiators has been a pivotal part of our experience at HLS. We both joined Negotiators the first semester of 1L to learn more about the field of dispute resolution, and we quickly realized that regardless of what career path we ended up following, the skills of negotiation, effective communication, and deal-making would be essential. Because we see this skillset as key to all law students, as board elections approached at the end of our 1L year, we made the decision to run for the Co-President positions with the purpose of expanding the work of Negotiators. Negotiators takes on client projects on a semester or yearly basis, so there is a unique opportunity for leaders in Negotiators to bring in projects that they are interested in leading, and the staff of the Harvard Negotiation Mediation Clinical Program provides student-leaders with guidance and support to make our ideas become realities.

As Co-Presidents we were responsible for the overall function of the organization, training new members, building community, communicating with client project leaders, and overseeing the budget. We identified an interest in Negotiators becoming more involved with the greater Boston community, especially youth. We created and co-led a client project team that designed and delivered a coaching program for local high school students to learn an introduction to interpersonal negotiation and effective communication. In April of our 2L year, we brought over 20 students of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School’s peer mediation program to HLS for our 8-hour coaching program. This allowed Negotiators members to engage and form relationships with the community. It also allowed us to use the skills we have developed at HLS through Negotiators to help build a foundation for effective communication in high school students, shifting their perspectives about how to approach interpersonal negotiations and relationships.

Serving as Co-Presidents and as client project leaders gave us the opportunity to deepen our knowledge of dispute resolution theory and practice while also gaining experience in direct client service, building community relationships, leading peer teams, and managing internal structures. Through Negotiators and our other ADR involvement at HLS, we’ve been struck by how this work transcends substance areas, fields, cultures, and ages. From high school students to lawyers to diplomats, the skill set learned and taught by Negotiators is needed in all aspects of life and work. As a Student Practice Organization, HLS Negotiators hopes to help members of the HLS and Boston communities build and hone these skills to positively influence how we engage with the world.

Clinical Opportunity for Collaborative, Community-Based Transactional Work

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 akool@law.harvard.edu and clinical@law.harvard.edu

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

Representing prisoners and shaping the rules

Credit: Brooks Kraft

Credit: Brooks Kraft

By Dixie Tauber, J.D. ’17
Communications Director
Prison Legal Assistance Project

The Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) is honored to participate in Pro Bono Week! PLAP differs from other SPOs in that all students are able to join. Because of this, we are a group comprised of students with all different experiences and interests. While some PLAPers join the organization already dedicated to criminal justice reform and educated on the topic, others join without any prior knowledge or experience in the field. I joined on a whim after being encouraged by a friend, and have never looked back.

From the beginning of 1L year, PLAP provides students with the opportunity for direct client interaction and representation. Our clients contact us from prison requesting legal assistance and representation in Department of Corrections (DOC) hearings. We represent them, deliver closing arguments, and cross-examine witnesses. Working on a client’s case often times turns into a collaborative learning experience for all.

Recently, PLAP’s focus has extended far beyond just direct representation. In early October, 2Ls Andrew Dillon, Annemarie Manhardt, and Katherine Robinson testified at a DOC hearing regarding proposed changes to the current DOC regulations. The students submitted written testimony supporting some of the changes, and articulating concerns with others, and then were given the opportunity to speak in front of DOC representatives, families of incarcerated people, and representatives of the correction officers union. While it remains to be seen whether the DOC will incorporate any of our comments into the amended regulations, Katherine states that she is glad to have had this opportunity to voice our clients’ concerns, share the experiences of student attorneys who navigate these regulations, and help shape the rules that dictate so much of our clients’ lives. It is our hope that by providing both direct representation and this type of advocacy, we can make as big of an impact in the lives of prisoners as possible.

Lessons from the Harvard Mediation Program

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By Benjamin Hecht,  J.D. ’18
Communications Director, Harvard Mediation Program

In law school, especially as 1Ls, we are convinced that being a law student means certain things. Our role models—professors, impressive alumni, upperclassmen—define the experience as revolving around specific markers of prestige. Clerking. Journals. Ames. And, perhaps most of all, arguing before a judge in court. That being a lawyer means litigating is reinforced by everything from movies and television to our casebooks themselves; when we learn the law almost entirely through appellate opinions, the lesson becomes that lawyering means standing before a panel of robed figures.

But for me, the most important thing I’ve learned at Harvard Law School is that I was all wrong.

Litigation plays an outsized role in how society attempts to solve problems. To be sure, court-talking lawyers are important, but they are just one of many types. The modern field of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has grown in response to the shortcomings of litigation, particularly the cost, time, and dissatisfying results symptomatic of court-imposed outcomes.

From my early days here, the Harvard Mediation Program (HMP) stood out as a way to answer a nagging question about the legal system and to help me achieve one of my main law school goals. The question was this: why does litigation sometimes seem so dissatisfying? The answer: because it often is. Every law student reads cases where the outcome just isn’t “right,” whether because it seems divorced from common sense or because a sympathetic party gets the short end of the stick.
Mediating with HMP has taught me there are other options. Parties working together within a flexible, collaborative process can arrive at win-win solutions that are less likely to emerge through the blunt instrument of litigation. In a low cost, neutral setting, people can share concerns, discover what makes the other party tick, and better understand what interests underlie their own positions.

Abraham Lincoln said it best: “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often the real loser—in fees, and expenses, and waste of time. As a peace-maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.”

HMP has also helped me fulfill one of my top goals for law school: to acquire the “soft” skills I think are critical to being a lawyer—and to growing as a person. HMP members get exceptional training in how to listen, help speakers feel comfortable and heard, identify the forces animating disputes, and encourage sustainable outcomes. It’s gratifying to see parties respond to the skills I learned by opening up, recognizing each other’s views, and seeking common ground. As a mediator, it has been incredibly rewarding and empowering to talk through problems with people and help them realize a solution. I’ve had people hug me with tears in their eyes after a mediation, which is a grounding reminder of the “real world” after spending so much time in the HLS bubble.

HMP training also has value beyond the mediation context; it informs my every day life more than anything else I’ve learned in Cambridge. Mediation skills are a great way to improve interactions with friends, family, partners, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances. The “pop science” literature is rich with discussions of how showing real interest in others (rather than waiting for our own turns to speak) strengthens relationships and leads to success. And you know what? It’s true.

HMP is an amazing community of people, a terrific place to learn valuable skills, and a wonderful way to give back to the community by helping real people solve real problems.

Invisible Wounds of War

Via HLS News

Helping veterans recover from sexual trauma

Invisible Wounds of War Veterans Clinic HLB Fall 2016

Credit: Illustration by Shonagh Rae

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

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

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

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

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