Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Cravath Fellows pursue law projects around the world

Via Harvard Law Today

During Winter Term, students traveled to nine countries to do clinical work and research

Headshot of student

Credit: Lorin Granger

Niku Jafarnia ’19 spent Winter Term in Amman, Jordan, undertaking an independent clinical with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). Her commitment to working with refugees and asylum seekers began in college, when she drew on her Iranian heritage and her fluency in Farsi as an intake volunteer. A semester abroad, and later a Fulbright grant, took her to Turkey, where she lived in a city with a large Iranian and Afghan LGBTI refugee community. “I started teaching them English classes and tried to support them along their journey. I essentially chose to come to law school to be a better advocate for these communities.”

At HLS, Jafarnia became deeply involved in work arising from the executive orders banning travelers from Muslim countries from entering the U.S., gathering a group of classmates to protest at Logan Airport, returning the next week to assist affected travelers and working with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic on its amicus briefs to the 9th Circuit and the Supreme Court. Her Winter Term clinical in Jordan afforded her an opportunity to explore the full effects of the ban, well before the people affected try to enter the U.S. For the two years before the ban, “the U.S. was taking in significantly more refugees than any other place in the world. At the end of the day, even though many more spots have opened up in other countries, it’s just not enough to make up for the decrease in U.S. spots,” she explains.

Working at IRAP allowed her to refine the client intake skills she has been building through the chance to interview clients during her time there. Additionally, drawing on her earlier experience in Turkey, she researched and drafted a memo describing the ways in which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has failed to meet its own standards. IRAP also set up meetings for its interns with a wide range of important actors, from UNHCR and UNICEF to smaller NGOs working on the ground. “It was an amazing opportunity to get an in-depth look as to what issues refugees are facing daily—from a basic, housing-and-needs level, to a policy level in Jordan.”

Traveling to Jordan gave Jafarnia a chance to address these issues from a new comparative lens. “Each country presents a unique set of challenges for refugees”; she notes; Jordan hosts a significant number of refugees, but does not offer employment for them, and is almost entirely landlocked, which makes it more difficult for refugees to leave.

“My hope for the future is to start my own organization, giving refugees legal assistance but also empowering refugees with legal backgrounds to be doing this work themselves,” she explains. “I think countries have to work significantly harder at giving refugees work opportunities. Once you let people in, they need to be given the opportunity to create a life for themselves. There’s an image of people who have been displaced as burdens on the system, when in fact they’re not given the opportunity to be self-sustaining.” Her Winter Term work in Jordan has confirmed for her that this is a change that has to happen very soon.

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Susan Farbstein Honored in Harvard Women’s Law Association’s International Women’s Day Exhibit

Via International Human Rights Clinic

A portrait of Susan Farbstein, Co-Director of our International Human Rights Clinic, on display at Harvard Law School this week in celebration of International Women’s Day.

On this International Women’s Day, and every other day, we’re full of gratitude for all the women who push for change around the world. But we’re feeling particularly happy and proud today to see our very own Susan Farbstein honored in this year’s International Women’s Day portrait exhibit, organized by the Harvard Women’s Law Association (WLA).

Susan, who co-directs our International Human Rights Clinic, is among 25 luminaries celebrated in the Wasserstein Hall exhibit for their “astounding contributions” in the areas of law and policy.

They include Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist and the creator of “Me Too,” a phrase invented to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse in society; Zainah Anwar, a leading feminist activist and scholar in Malaysia, and the current Director of Musawah; Sarah McBride, an LGBT rights activist who serves as the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign; Losang Rabgey, the co-founder of Machik, a nonprofit dedicated to social innovation in Tibet through educational development and capacity building; and Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, and the first woman elected to head a major professional sports union in North America.

It comes as no surprise to us that Susan stands among them. As an expert in Alien Tort Statute litigation, among other things, she has been co-counsel in such landmark human rights cases as Wiwa v. Shellin Re: South African Apartheid Litigation, and now Mamani v. Sanchez de Lozada and Sanchez Berzain. That historic case, which began trial in Federal District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Monday, marks the first time a former head of state stands trial in a civil case in U.S. court for human rights abuses.

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A celebration of immigration

Via Harvard Gazette

With DACA in place for now, day’s events focus on protecting students, and on the artistry that other cultures bestow

Jason Corral and Cindy Zapata of the Immigration and Refugee Clinic advised students of their legal rights during "A Day of Hope of Resistance," part of a series of events exploring questions about the termination of DACA and TPS, deportations, and the current state of immigration policy.

Jason Corral and Cindy Zapata of the Immigration and Refugee Clinic advised students of their legal rights during “A Day of Hope of Resistance,” part of a series of events exploring questions about the termination of DACA and TPS, deportations, and the current state of immigration policy.
Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Life for undocumented immigrants is full of risks. Any encounter with law-enforcement officials — on the sidewalk, while they are driving, or in their homes in the middle of the night — can lead to arrest and possible deportation.

But in all such cases, undocumented immigrants have rights. They have the right to remain silent, to refuse to consent to a search, and to decline to open the front door unless officials have a warrant.

At a workshop on immigrants’ rights held Monday morning at the Memorial Church, attorneys Jason Corral and Cindy Zapata of the Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinical Program shared legal advice on how to deal with the more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws under the Trump administration. Corral has provided legal services to at least 60 undocumented students studying at Harvard.

“In this new day and age, any evidence you can provide, you can end up in removal proceedings,” said Corral.

The event was part of the DACA Seminar, a series of daylong events on campus to highlight, among other things, the future of the federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era initiative that protects young immigrants from deportation.

Nearly 800,000 young immigrants have benefited from the program, but last September the Trump administration announced its end and set March 5 as a deadline for Congress to come up with a solution for those under its protections. But the deadline lost much of its meaning when the Supreme Court said that it would not rule on the administration’s plan to end the program. Federal district judges in New York and California had blocked the move to end DACA.

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International Human Rights Clinic represents relatives of slain Bolivians in landmark case

Via Miami Herald

Landmark case in Florida pits Bolivia’s ex-leader against villagers attacked by his army

Etelvina Ramos Mamani, far left, and her husband, Eloy Rojas Mamani, and their children in Bolivia. They are suing the country’s former president over the death of their 8-year-old daughter, Marlene. Thomas Becker Center for Constitutional Rights

Etelvina Ramos Mamani, far left, and her husband, Eloy Rojas Mamani, and their children in Bolivia. They are suing the country’s former president over the death of their 8-year-old daughter, Marlene. Thomas Becker Center for Constitutional Rights

On a rocky and impoverished rural slice of Bolivia, the noise sounded like corn popping loudly.

Etelvina Ramos Mamani was lying on her bed, weak and feverish. She heard a scream from next to the window. Her 8-year-old daughter, Marlene, suddenly collapsed and tilted her head back, desperately trying to suck air into her lungs — pierced by a bullet fired by Bolivian soldiers.

“Blood was coming out of her chest like a fountain,” Ramos testified Tuesday.

Outside, the government soldiers were charging through the small village, firing away. Hours passed before the shooting stopped. By then, as her relatives held an impromptu wake in the dark, Marlene was dead — an innocent victim of the violent unrest that wracked Bolivia in the fall of 2003.

Ramos took the witness stand Tuesday not in South America, but 3,000 miles away in a Fort Lauderdale federal courtroom.

Her testimony marked the start of a landmark court battle that pits relatives of the poor, mostly indigenous people killed in the chaos against Bolivia’s ex-president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, and his former defense minister, José Carlos Sánchez Berzain.

Tuesday’s testimony marked the first time that a former head of state of a foreign country faced trial in a U.S. civil court for human rights abuses, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing the Mamani family.

“My daughter was innocent. She had not even gone out. She was playing inside the house,” said Ramos, who sported two long braids, a pink sweater and a turquoise skirt typical to the indigenous people of her region.

Her husband, Eloy Ramos Mamani, recalled soldiers chasing and firing on unarmed villagers. “Like scared rabbits they escaped to the hills,” he told jurors.

The couple belongs to one of eight families suing the former Bolivian government leaders under the U.S. Torture Victim Protection Act, which allows suits for extrajudicial killings in foreign lands. The suit was filed in South Florida, where the two former politicians now live after fleeing Bolivia in 2003.

The legal wrangling over the case has lasted for nearly a decade, and the trial is expected to last several weeks before U.S. Judge James Cohn. The relatives of the slain Bolivians are represented by lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic and several high-powered private law firms.

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One win against weapons could fuel another

Via Harvard Gazette

Successful campaign banning landmines could provide blueprint against nuclear arms, panel says

During "From Landmines to Nuclear Weapons," a panel featuring Steve Goose (from left) and Beatrice Fihn and moderated by Bonnie Docherty of the Law School addressed the origins and evolution of humanitarian disarmament while reflecting on their roles negotiating treaties that ban landmines, cluster munitions, and nuclear weapons.

During “From Landmines to Nuclear Weapons,” a panel featuring Steve Goose (from left) and Beatrice Fihn and moderated by Bonnie Docherty of the Law School addressed the origins and evolution of humanitarian disarmament while reflecting on their roles negotiating treaties that ban landmines, cluster munitions, and nuclear weapons.
Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

When the movement began in 1992, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines was considered quixotic, its proponents unrealistically idealistic, its efforts doomed to fail. Twenty-five years and one Nobel Peace Prize later, more than 180 countries have signed its 1997 treaty, agreeing not only to avoid using the weapons but to help remove them from areas where they have been abandoned and remain a danger to life, limbs, and livelihoods.

Nuclear weapons, now a reality of our modern world, could go the same way, say the activists behind the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Indeed, humanitarian rights activists say, they must. On Monday at Harvard Law School’s Austin Hall, the anti-nuclear campaign’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn, joined Steve Goose, co-founder of the landmines-ban group and executive director of Human Rights Watch’s arms division, to discuss the origin and evolution of the mine campaign, and how the tactics of the first can be applied to the next.

“Everybody said it was impossible to do,” said Goose, looking back at the long road to the 1997 landmine treaty. “After we finally did it, people said, ‘Oh, that wasn’t that hard. It was a one-off. Circumstances allowed that to happen.’” They also, he reported, said its success could not be replicated.

Monday’s discussion was designed to prove that false. Indeed, this first public event of Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead (moderated by Bonnie Docherty, associate director of Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection at Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic) started off by outlining the similarities — and the successes — of other recent campaigns.

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Bonnie Docherty Launches Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative

Via International Human Rights Clinic

Bonnie Docherty, Associate Director of Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection, talking with colleagues.

The International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) is thrilled to announce the launch of the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI), which aims to reduce the harm caused by armed conflict through targeted advocacy, leadership development, and the generation of innovative solutions.

The ACCPI will be led by Bonnie Docherty, Lecturer on Law and Associate Director of Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection, who is an internationally renowned leader in the field of humanitarian disarmament. Docherty has worked at the heart of almost every major civil society campaign to ban inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, or curtail their use to minimize the impacts on civilians. She was a critical player in the 2008 cluster munitions ban, as well as the nuclear weapons ban, adopted in July of last year.

“Today’s armed conflicts are causing countless civilian casualties, destroying infrastructure and the environment, and driving people from their homes,” said Docherty, who also works as a Senior Researcher in the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch. “This initiative represents a unique opportunity to provide focused support to the movement dealing with these issues, as well as to students interested in making a career in the field.”

Since she arrived at the Clinic in 2005, Docherty has put clinical students at the heart of her advocacy, supervising them on everything from field research in Lebanon to lobbying at the UN. Under her leadership, and through her mentorship, students have gone on to work as field researchersadvocates in peace negotiations, and policy analysts, actively working to protect civilians from the effects of armed conflict.

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Concern over a DACA deadline

Via Harvard Law Today

At an HLS event, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic directors will discuss legal strategies for fighting back on DACA deadline

Concern over a DACA deadline

Credit: Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
HGSE Professor Roberto Gonzales is one of the organizers of the DACA seminar at Harvard, a series of events exploring questions about the termination of DACA and TPS, deportations, and the current state of immigration policy.

Between 60 and 80 undocumented students are studying at Harvard, and though they’re a small fraction of the student body, some could have their lives eventually turned upside down.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had pegged March 5 as the end date for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which legally shields young immigrant students from deportation. It has been unclear what the government would do after the deadline passes. However, the Supreme Court said on Monday that it would not rule on the administration plan to end the program. Since federal district judges in New York and California previously issued injunctions against its quick end, the March 5 date likely is now too soon for a program phase-out. Still, the students’ worries remain.

To draw attention to the students’ quandary, three Harvard professors and a Ph.D. student in African and African American studies launched the DACA Seminar, a series of events on campus aimed at sparking conversations about the future of DACA and immigration policy and reform, while working to understand the students’ options.

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Emmett Clinic Drafts Amicus Brief Explaining Dicamba Harms

Via Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

The Emmett Clinic filed an amicus brief in a 9th Circuit case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Monsanto’s XtendiMax—a new formulation of the highly-volatile and toxic herbicide dicamba.  EPA conditionally approved the product in 2016, based in part on Monsanto’s assurances that its formulation was less volatile than previous dicamba formulations.  Environmental and farming organizations challenged this decision in court.

Monsanto developed this new herbicide in response to increasing resistance to glyphosate (Roundup) in weeds.  Although dicamba is normally lethal to broadleaf crops such as soybeans and cotton, Monsanto genetically engineered varieties of these crops to be resistant to dicamba.  During the application process, commenters warned EPA that dicamba is very volatile and therefore has a tendency to drift, risking harm to other farmers’ fields or native vegetation.  As the Clinic’s brief explains, EPA’s approval of the herbicide resulted in widespread harm throughout the South and Midwest in 2017: at least 3.6 million acres of soybeans in 24 states were damaged by dicamba drift.  Farmers who want to plant soybeans feel that they have lost their freedom of choice: either they plant Monsanto’s resistant seeds or risk having their crops killed by drift from a neighboring farmer’s field.  EPA should not place farmers in this untenable position.

The Emmett Clinic filed this brief on behalf of several farmer support organizations: Family Farm Defenders, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Iowa Organic Association, Kansas Rural Center, Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing, Inc., Organic Farmers Association, and Save Our Crops Coalition.  Clinic student Heather Romero (JD ’19) and Deputy Director Shaun Goho wrote the brief.

Emmett Clinic Files Brief Supporting Chlorpyrifos Ban

Via Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

The Emmett Clinic filed an amicus brief  in a 9th Circuit case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to ban agricultural uses of the organophosphate chlorpyrifos.  In 2016, EPA had proposed to remove all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act—an action that would have prohibited all use of the pesticide on food crops.  Last year, however, Scott Pruitt reversed course and decided not to ban the pesticide, citing scientific uncertainty.  A coalition of environmental and farmworkers’ organizations have challenged this reversal in court.  The Clinic, representing the Alliance of Nurses for Health Environments, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, Migrant Clinicians Network, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of PSR, submitted an amicus brief in support of this challenge.

The brief explains that a significant body of research from both epidemiological and animal studies has demonstrated that children are vulnerable to long-lasting neurological harm from exposure to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy, even at levels far below the current tolerances permitted by EPA.  In particular, the studies show that chlorpyrifos can alter the very structure of the brain, as well as leading to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other behavioral problems.  In light of the large and robust research data demonstrating these harms, EPA cannot reasonably cite scientific uncertainty as a basis for failing to take action.

Clinic student Ryan Petty (JD ’19) wrote the brief under the supervision of Deputy Director Shaun Goho.

Summer Internships for Law Students

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

Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau hires approximately 15 law students to serve as Summer Legal Interns. Summer Legal Interns will be the primary case handlers on approximately 10-15 cases at a time in the areas of housing, family, government benefits, wage and hour litigation, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).

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Legal Services Center

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

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

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Criminal Justice Institute

Application Deadline: April 27, 2018

Law clerks can expect to perform legal research, draft motions, interview clients and witnesses, perform field investigation, assist CJI clinical instructors with every aspect of the case, attend court proceedings and perform a wide range of research and case preparation duties. CJI is an excellent place for a clerkship as you will be matched with a seasoned clinical instructor, and you will gain valuable experience researching, investigating, drafting motions, and interviewing witnesses.

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Clinic Releases Report on How to Address Climate Change in the Farm Bill

Via Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

The Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic has released its new report, “Opportunities to Address Climate Change in the Farm Bill”, which summarizes the Clinic’s proposals for how to address climate change in the Farm Bill, both during the current authorization process and in the future.  The report provides recommendations for both climate mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase carbon sequestration from agriculture, and climate adaptation strategies to increase the resiliency of farms to the impacts of a changing climate.  The report’s specific recommendations are 1) incorporate resilience measures into crop insurance and conservation compliance to better manage on-farm climate risks under Titles II and XI; 2) ensure the best available science and research—including the outcome of pilot programs—are incorporated into Farm Bill programs; and 3) advance manure management collection and storage methods, as well as biogas development under Title IX to mitigate GHG contributions from livestock.

The paper was authored by Clinic students Sara Dewey, JD’17, Liz Hanson, HKS’18, Claire Horan, JD’18, Deputy Director Shaun Goho, and Director Wendy Jacobs.

Clinic’s case against former Bolivian president for role in 2003 massacre to proceed to trial

Via International Human Rights Clinic

Plaintiffs Eloy Rojas Mamani and Etelvina Ramos Mamani and their children, Rosalia Rojas Ramos, Heide Sonia Rojas Ramos, Nancy Rojas Ramos, Maruja Rojas Ramos, and Marlene Rojas Ramos (named after her sister who died), with Thomas Becker, JD ’08, at top right.

February 20, 2018, Miami, FL – A federal judge has ruled that the former president of Bolivia and his minister of defense must face trial in the United States in a civil case alleging that the Bolivian military massacred more than 50 of its own citizens during a period of civil unrest in 2003. This is the first time that a former head of state will sit before his accusers in a civil human rights trial in a U.S. court. Last week, the judge rejected the defendants’ final effort to avoid trial, denying a motion filed by the former Bolivian president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, and his former defense minister, José Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, both of whom live in the United States. The trial will begin in the federal court in Fort Lauderdale on March 5, 2018.

“The former president and his minister of defense must now listen as we testify about what happened,” said Teófilo Baltazar Cerro, a member of the indigenous Aymara community of Bolivia, which led the protests where the government security forces opened fire. “We look forward to this historic opportunity to have our day in court.”

In Mamani v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín, as detailed in the Court’s February 14 order, the families of eight Bolivians killed filed suit against Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín, alleging that they planned the extrajudicial killings. The lawsuit alleges that, months in advance of the violence, the two defendants devised a plan to kill thousands of civilians, and intentionally used deadly force against political protests in an effort to quash political opposition. In addition to the deaths, more than 400 unarmed civilians were shot and injured.

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Cyberlaw Clinic Year in Review: 2017

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

We in the Cyberlaw Clinic believe that the statute of limitations on year-in-review blog posts expires at the end of the first quarter of the following year. (If you require evidence for this claim, we’ll kindly point you to Orin Kerr’s “Theory of Law.”) With that in mind — as we dig into our newest batch of projects during the Harvard Law School spring term — it seems like a good time to look back and reflect on the past year.  It was — to say the least — an eventful one here in the Cyberlaw Clinic, for students and staff alike.


We had two students enrolled in the Clinic during winter 2017, thirty-four in the spring, and 31 in the fall. Three summer interns ably helped to keep our docket of projects afloat during the summer months. We continued in the mode in which we’ve operated in recent years, with a Cyberlaw Clinic Seminar in the spring and fall complementing the day-to-day work of the Clinic and offering students an opportunity for discussions about substantive and procedural aspects of technology law, including through case rounds focused on our own ongoing projects. We are thrilled that we have been able to scale the program, actively engaging our students and zealously representing our clients as the program has continued to expand.

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Working on real-world issues through the Sports Law Clinic

By Matthew Rosenthal,  J.D. ’19

Matthew Rosenthal,  J.D. ’19

Growing up in New England, sports fandom has been a constant throughout my life. And as my interest in the law grew, I gravitated toward areas of the law that tend to intersect with the world of sports (antitrust, intellectual property, labor, and commercial litigation, to name a few). So when I learned that I would be attending Harvard Law School, I was immediately drawn by the opportunities available to students interested in learning about and working in the sports industry. Among these opportunities (which include the courses taught by Professor Carfagna, the Committee on Sports and Entertainment Law, and the Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law), perhaps the most unique opportunity that the law school has to offer is the Sports Law Clinic.

Through my participation in this clinic, I was able to spend my Winter Term working for the National Football League (NFL) in New York City. Over the course of my clinical experience, I received substantive and challenging assignments from my supervising attorneys. Specifically, I was tasked with a range of assignments that dealt with issues relating to NFL team ownership and stadiums—among the most public-facing and important areas of the league’s business. These assignments required me to apply the skills that I’ve gained in the classroom to real-world issues faced by the most successful professional sports organization in the country. Ultimately, I was able to gain practical, on-the-job experience, while learning from all-star attorneys who have worked their way from law school to the major leagues.

The Sports Law Clinic is perhaps the best program in the country for law students who plan to represent and work for clients in the sports industry. Indeed, my time spent at the NFL proved to be an invaluable complement to my legal education, and the knowledge that I gained during this experience will doubtless carry over into my post-graduation professional endeavors.

Applying Negotiation Skills in the Foreign Service

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

This is the third blog is a new series called “From the Field”. In this series we spotlight stories and insights from former students, friends, and colleagues who are working in the field of dispute resolution.

By Matilda Jansen Brolin, LLM ’16

Matilda Jansen Brolin, LLM ’16

A year after graduating from Harvard Law School (HLS) with an LL.M in 2016, I joined the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and began the Diplomatic Training Program as a young career diplomat. From the application process to what I do at present, I’ve put the pedagogical skills in alternative dispute resolution—developed at HLS through the Negotiation Workshop, courses in mediation and Dispute Systems Design, and in the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) and the Harvard Mediation Program (HMP)—into practice.

The Swedish Foreign Service greatly values negotiation, mediation, and facilitation skills in the people it admits to the Diplomatic Training Program. The assessment of candidates includes a group exercise where participants must agree amongst each other on how to solve a set of problems for a fictitious company and together present the solutions to a CEO, all under severe time constraint. In my case, the many individual interviews ended up largely focusing on my experience as mediator with HMP and the clinical project I did through HNMCP to create and deliver negotiation training in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the Mennonite Central Committee and its in-country partner, Programme Paix et Réconciliation.

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New Sanctuary Cities Case Study Published

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

Harvard Law School Case Studies recently published a new case study that focused on the work of HIRC’s Assistant Director Sabrineh Ardalan. The case study has students play various roles in a legislative simulation before the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. You can download a free copy here.

When asked why she chose to do this simulation, Professor Ardalan said: “I wanted the students in my immigration law class to engage with the complex legal issues presented by the current debate over sanctuary policies and was eager to facilitate a productive debate.”

She also stressed the importance of involving advocates who had participated in Congressional hearings. For her simulation, she had lawyers JJ Rosenbaum, formerly the Legal Director with the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, and Avideh Moussavian, Senior Policy Attorney with the National Immigration Law Center.

Sports Law Clinic: an opportunity to work for teams and connect with alumni

By Jimmy McEntee, J.D. ’18

Portrait photo of Jimmy McEntee, J.D. '18

Jimmy McEntee, J.D. ’18

Thirty-four. That’s how many Harvard Law students participated in the Sports Law Clinic this year. Students worked in all types of sports organizations, such as teams, leagues, agencies, player associations, and athletic departments. The breadth of opportunities available to students is a testament to Professor Peter Carfagna’s vast network in the sports law community. One of the exciting parts of the program is that the number of placements grows each year, as more of Prof. Carfagna’s former students take positions with sports organizations and others learn about the program for the first time.

I was first exposed to working in sports during the summer after my 1L year, when I interned in the Labor Relations Department of Major League Baseball. The following January, I interned in the Legal Department for the National Football League as part of the Sports Law Clinic. I appreciated the opportunity to see the varied types of legal work in league offices and to network with lawyers in those offices.

While I thoroughly enjoyed those experiences, I wanted to see what it was like to work on the team side during my 3L year. I specifically hoped to gain experience working on salary arbitration cases for teams. In Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, select players that qualify for arbitration are eligible to negotiate a raise in salary based on their production. If the team and player cannot reach an agreement regarding a fair salary for the player, the parties then turn to an arbitration hearing to determine that player’s salary for the upcoming season.

After discussing my desire to do salary arbitration work with Prof. Carfagna, he connected me with Daniel Adler ’17, Director of Baseball Operations for the Minnesota Twins, and Don Fishman, Assistant General Manager & Director of Legal Affairs for the Washington Capitals. Through the clinic, I was able to set up placements at the Twins during our J-Term and the Capitals during the spring semester, working on salary arbitration cases with both organizations.

While at the Twins, I prepared research and analysis on a number of the team’s arbitration-eligible players. The salary arbitration process in Major League Baseball takes place in January and February, so the timing of the placement could not have been any better. The experience was incredible, and I loved every minute of my time in Minneapolis. I left the Twins not only with a solid understanding about the salary arbitration process, but also with immense respect for the Twins organization. My placement with the Capitals has just started and I am excited to learn more about the difference in salary arbitration cases between baseball and hockey.

While I am not sure what path my career will take, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work for a number of different sports organizations during law school. There is simply no program like the Sports Law Clinic at Harvard Law School.

Defending the Indigent in Hawaii

By Cameron Pritchett, J.D. ’18

Photo of Cameron Pritchett, J.D. ’18 in front of Federal Public Defender building sign in Honolulu

Cameron Pritchett, J.D. ’18

During winter term, I spent three fantastic weeks at the Federal Public Defender in Honolulu, Hawaii, through HLS’s Independent Clinical Program. Having spent both my 1L and 2L summers at law firms, this was my first opportunity to see a public interest setting.

Client Contact

At HLS, I have been fortunate to take classes with some of the most brilliant legal minds in the country. But due to inherent limitations, a classroom setting can only accomplish so much. The Defenders immediately put me to work doing something I am familiar with: legal research and writing. However, this time, I saw my research make a tangible impact on someone’s life. Since federal defenders carry a lighter case load than do most state defenders, there is more time to thoroughly research legal issues during plea negotiations and in preparation for trial. For example, one of my projects involved drafting a motion in limine to suppress a piece of evidence the government plans to introduce in an upcoming trial. I had the chance to not only conduct research, but also see how the findings influenced the team’s trial strategy.

Value of Competent Defense

Working with Defenders also affected my view of the criminal justice system overall. In the federal system, to say that defendants have an uphill battle is an understatement. My criminal procedure class, under the instruction of Professor Paul Butler, explored many of the inequities in criminal law. But it was still shocking for me to see how these things developed in reality. Whether it is Miranda warnings, searches and seizures, coerced confessions, and a number of other topics, prosecutors have an advantage.

Accordingly, the constitutional right to attorney representation is a bedrock part of our legal system. The Defenders supply counsel to individuals immediately after they are arrested and booked. As defendants speak with pre-trial services regarding basic facts about their background, the Defenders are there to ensure the person’s right against self incrimination. Similarly, it is the Defenders filing motions to secure a defendant’s release pending trial and it is them arguing to continue sentencing for an additional week so that one person had a few more days with his family. In Honolulu, I observed passionate individuals who were unanimously intelligent, dedicated, and professional. And they had to take on some of the most challenging cases one could imagine.

This opportunity has opened my eyes to an entirely different setting where effective lawyering happens. I am still unsure about my career path, but this J-term has certainly piqued my interest in a career as a defense lawyer.

Constitutional Implementation in Kenya

By Rachel Corrigan, Berkeley Law Exchange Student

Rachel Corrigan, Berkeley Law Exchange Student

I spent this January Term in Nairobi, Kenya, working for the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC). The KLRC is a statutory commission that was established in 1982 through the enactment of the Law Reform Commission Act. The mandate of the Commission is to “keep under review all the law of Kenya to ensure its systematic development and reform.” Among other things, the KLRC drafts legislation, reviews existing laws, holds stakeholder consultations, and provides recommendations for the alignment of statutes with the 2010 Kenyan Constitution.

During this January Term, I undertook a project researching and analyzing practical barriers to implementation of Article 27(8) of the 2010 Constitution, which articulates the “two-thirds gender rule.” Article 27(8) requires that “the State shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender.” However, as I discovered throughout my research, the Kenyan Parliament has not succeeded in passing legislation enacting the two-thirds gender rule. Despite multiple bills focused on redesigning the composition of legislative bodies and electoral processes, Kenya has still not implemented the two-thirds gender rule, and most governing bodies are still over two-thirds male.

My project was to find out why this was, and provide recommendations for effectively implementing the two-thirds gender principle. In my research, I learned a great deal about Kenyan electoral processes, constitutional provisions, and comparative law. I also had the opportunity to attend meetings with a former MP and Cabinet Secretary, and with a member of the National Gender and Equality Commission to ask questions about the development of Article 27(8) and remaining barriers to implementation.  Eventually, I was able to produce a comprehensive memo analyzing the issues facing implementation of gender quotas and provide recommendations for Kenya.

My experience at the KLRC was one of the best experiences I have had in law school. I was surprised by how much responsibility and freedom I was given to conduct research and develop concrete recommendations. I also learned a great deal about international and comparative law. I hope other students are able to have as wonderful a clinic placement as I had!


International Arbitration in Hong Kong

By Hayley Evans, J.D. ’19

I spent this January term interning at the International Arbitration Centre in Hong Kong (HKIAC). The Centre provides crucial dispute resolution services—arbitration, mediation, adjudication, and domain names disputes resolution—to a variety of domestic and international clients. HKIAC provides services for dispute types ranging from corporate and finance to maritime, construction, and international trade. A non-profit organization, HKIAC is the third most preferred and used arbitral institution worldwide and the most favored arbitral institution outside of Europe. Established in 1985 in an effort to provide dispute resolution services in Asia, HKIAC has a track record of handling matters involving parties from a large number of jurisdictions; in 2016, HKIAC saw parties from thirty-nine different jurisdictions. The top nationalities of these parties were (by number of cases): Hong Kong, Mainland China, British Virgin Islands, Singapore, and the United States.

Hayley Evans, J.D. ’19

While at HKIAC, I undertook legal research on various topics in the field of international dispute settlement. One of my favorite projects I helped with was conducting research on the quantification of damages in international arbitration for the ICCA/ASIL Task Force on Damages. The Task Force intends to promote consistency and rigor in the quantification of damages in international arbitration, and I assisted with research for an online tool promoting that end. While awards of monetary damages are the most natural forms that remedies tend to take in international commercial and investment arbitration, there are also a variety of equitable remedies that can be used as well. These remedies might include provisions like specific performance and disgorgement of profits. Based on the work that I did at HKIAC for Secretary-General Sarah Grimmer, I actually have the opportunity to continue doing research for the Task Force remotely this semester.

Interning for HKIAC was a wonderful experience. Not only did it provide me with an on-the-ground introduction to the work of an arbitral tribunal, but it also allowed me to work with many talented interns, attorneys, and staff. While there, I learned about interesting procedural issues like consolidation, joinder, and translation of documents, as well as exciting substantive matters like enforcement of foreign arbitral awards and state sovereign immunity. I would definitely recommend an internship at HKIAC to other law students interested in international arbitration.

Working for a sports league through HLS’s Sports Law Clinic

By Benjamin Roth, J.D. ’19

Benjamin Roth, J.D. ’19

Over J-term, I worked at the NFL headquarters in New York for their legal department. For me it was a dream come true to work at a place that fused together my two passions: legal analysis and NFL football.

The first thing that struck me when I arrived was just how professional and polished everyone and everything in the office was. My name was on my cubicle, I had a standing desk with a dual screen setup, and I immediately met with my attorney supervisor.

She assigned me two principle projects. The first was to redo the law enforcement training module on identifying authentic NFL merchandise. The main point of the assignment was to dress up the power point presentation and to update it, and it was a really great way for me to learn about the security features that the NFL employs to protect its fans and partners, the common ways in which counterfeiters fail to emulate authentic merchandise, and the tricks they utilize to fool unwitting consumers into purchasing the bootleg products.

My second project was to research the current law in China regarding the copyrightable status of a live sports broadcast. This project was especially interesting because it was an entirely different kind of research from what I was taught in law school. There were no cases in Westlaw, so I needed to go to the web and be creative. I had to find English translations of cases and articles and I reached out to a speaker at a symposium on the topic. After focusing on publicity rights in class during the semester, it was fascinating to explore the different system in China. This was a memo unlike any I had written over the summer or in school as it wasn’t predictive or persuasive, and so it felt like I was learning an entirely new skill set.

Whereas those initial projects were somewhat out of the box, legal research and writing wise, my last two projects were much more conventional, and one of them was almost a direct review of Prof. Peter Carfagna’s Sports Law class I took this past semester. I was asked by my supervisor to assist a different member of the legal team by writing two separate memos about the laws regarding trademark and publicity rights in video games throughout the United States. It was a very typical law school memo, with a ton of research on Westlaw and the like. It was really interesting to deal with the issue of publicity rights, given that we had done an entire class on it, and it was intellectually satisfying to see the legal difference between the rights of publicity and a trademark in the law. It was especially interesting to me to be able to deal with a national organization like the NFL, and really get to focus on which circuit might be best for which claim.

In between researching and writing the memos I was assigned, I had a chance to learn from a lot of people in different departments. I met some wonderful people and forged new connections. I also learned a lot about being in-house counsel to a big company, and I got to see firsthand what working for a sports league entailed.

A Litigator’s Dream

“No judicial system can be stronger than its trial judges.”
Hon. Henry T. Lummus, The Trial Judge (1937)

With so much classroom emphasis on analyzing appellate decisions, it is refreshing to discover the number of HLS students who seek a trial court experience.  So in addition to the fully enrolled Judicial Process in Trial Courts Clinic in the Spring Semester, the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs and Hon. Judge John C. Cratsley (Ret.) began offering more Independent Clinical placements with judges in the Fall Semester. The result was an increase of nine students, seven placed with judges in the US District Court in Boston and two with Justice Budd in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. All wrote weekly reflections and will complete a paper on some aspect of the role of courts and the work of the judiciary. These students’ reflections describe their goals as learning the details of court practice and procedure, understanding judicial reasoning, evaluating the advocacy they observe, and improving their writing skills. The following blog by one of this Fall’s students, Jimmy Tsouvalas, tells just how important these outcomes were for him:

By James Tsouvalas, J.D. ’18

Portrait photo of James Tsouvalas, J.D. ’18

James Tsouvalas, J.D. ’18

I always wanted to be a litigator.

Growing up, I did not know the job by that name—I had no lawyers in my family—but the idea of fighting for the rights of people who needed help resonated with me. As a kid, I read about lawyers like Thurgood Marshall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Clarence Darrow, and I was fortunate to know from a young age what I wanted to do with my life.

A few months into my time at law school I got my first chance to represent a client through my work with the Tenant Advocacy Project. Arguing on behalf of low-income individuals before Boston Housing Authority administrative hearings helped me feel confident in my career choice. But it became clear early on in law school that one of the best ways to learn how to be an effective litigator was to spend time working for a judge. Judges see the whole gamut of litigators—and their styles—arguing cases from nearly every area of the law. While assisting a judge deciding cases, I would have the opportunity to evaluate the arguments and techniques of litigators, and to conduct important legal research and writing, all under the guidance of an accomplished jurist.

After graduating in May, I am excited to begin my legal career as a law clerk for Judge Sandra S. Ikuta of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then Judge Patricia Millett of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. But with both of my clerkships at the appellate level, I scoured the law school for opportunities to gain experience at the trial court level to flesh-out my legal education.

The Independent Clinical Program provided me with such an opportunity. Through the help of the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, and under the supervision of Hon. John C. Cratsley (Ret.), I was able to land a clinical placement with Chief Judge Patti B. Saris of the United States District Court of Massachusetts. While taking a few classes at the law school, I spent two days a week at the federal courthouse in Boston’s Seaport helping Chief Judge Saris and her clerks prepare for arguments, hear cases, and decide motions. On both criminal and complex civil cases I drafted various memorandums of law on motions pending before the Court—analyzing the arguments of both sides, conducting independent research into the legal questions, and providing recommendations for disposition. And as cases progressed, I was even able to write the drafts of a few opinions. I was also fortunate to spend extensive amounts of time in court with Chief Judge Saris and her clerks. The experience gave me a richer understanding of the trial court process, and of the role of a judge, all under the brilliant example of Chief Judge Saris. I am so grateful to her for the opportunity.

The import of what I learned as a soon-to-be lawyer cannot be overstated: observing the intricacies of trial court proceedings and various styles of advocacy, and honing my legal research and writing skills under brilliant and experienced attorneys, will serve me greatly in my burgeoning career. But even more valuable were the mentorships and friendly conversations with Chief Judge Saris and her law clerks, judicial assistant, courtroom clerk, and docket clerk—a group I could not have developed more admiration for. I am so grateful for the work they do, and as I begin my career, I hope it is one for which they can soon say the same.

The Cyberlaw Guide to Protest Art

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

In the wake of Trump’s election and the resurgence of political art inspired by movements like the Women’s March, the Cyberlaw Clinic was approached by artists seeking clarification of their rights and responsibilities as creators and activists online. In response, a team of Berkman Klein staff, Clinic students, and allied creative folks created this Guide. It’s in plain language, meant to be accessible and helpful for folks across the political spectrum who are using art to engage in civic dialogue, to minimize their risks and maximize their impact.

We took on this project because art plays a significant role in American democracy. Across the political spectrum, protest art — posters, songs, poems, memes, and more —inspires us, gives us a sense of community, and provides insight into how others think and feel about important and often controversial issues.

While protest art has been part of our culture for a very long time, the Internet and social media have changed the available media and the visibility of protest artists. Digital technologies make it easy to find existing works and incorporate them into your own, and art that goes viral online spreads faster than was ever possible in the analog world. Many artists find the law that governs all of this unclear in the physical world, and even murkier online.

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Last Day to Enroll in a Clinic for Spring 2018!

Clinics with Open Seats

The following spring clinics still have a few seats available!

If interested, please email Maggie Bay ( by the end of the day.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office ( with any questions.

Kensinger Named Co-winner of 2018 ABA Tax Section Spragens Pro Bono Award

Via Legal Services Center

Legal Services Center volunteer tax attorney Dale Kensinger has been named recipient of the Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award from the American Bar Association’s Tax Section. He will receive the award at a luncheon on February 10, when the Tax Section holds its mid-year meeting in San Diego, California.

The ABA Tax Section established the award in 2002 “to recognize one or more individuals or law firms for outstanding and sustained achievements in pro bono activities in tax law. In 2007 the award was renamed in honor of the late Janet Spragens, who received the award in 2006 in recognition of her dedication to the development of low income taxpayer clinics throughout the United States.”

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Cyberlaw Clinic Assists with Amicus Effort in Byrd v. U.S.

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments last Tuesday, January 9th, in Byrd v. United States, Case No. No. 16-1371.  The case concerns the question of whether a person can assert Fourth Amendment protections in connection with a search of a rental car in which that person was not an authorized driver.  The case raises important questions about privacy in response to law enforcement, including about standing to assert defenses under the Fourth Amendment and about the interplay between private contracts (such as the contract between one renting a car and the rental car company) and Fourth Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court has posted a transcript and audio recording of the oral argument. Helpful reports about the case and argument include:

The Cyberlaw Clinic was pleased to have had the opportunity to support our friends and regular collaborators Restore the Fourth with the drafting of an amicus brief, filed in support of petitioner Terrence Byrd.  The brief focuses on the interplay between contracts and Constitutional protections, arguing that private agreements should not limit Fourth Amendment rights.  Fall 2017 Cyberlaw Clinic students Chloe Goodwin, Matthew Sacco, Devony Schmidt, and Brian Yost worked on the brief alongside Kendra Albert and Vivek Krishnamurthy on the Clinic’s teaching team, and Mahesha Subbaraman, Restore the Fourth’s counsel.

Carrying on a legacy

Via Harvard Law Today

Carrying on a legacy

Credit: David M. Barron/Oxygen Group Photography,br> Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III with Shayna, Stacy and Lev Grossman.

On Saturday, November 20, family, friends, students and colleagues of the late Harvard Law School Clinical Professor David Grossman gathered at HLS to celebrate his life, honor his community activism and support his fight for social justice at the second annual David A. Grossman (DAG) Fund fundraiser.

Grossman, who passed away in 2015 after a long battle with cancer, was a passionate and tireless advocate for low-income residents in Boston and beyond who were threatened with displacement from their homes. An expert in housing law, he dedicated his career to fighting on behalf of struggling tenants, homeowners, and communities.

As the managing attorney of the Housing Unit at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and later as the faculty director and managing attorney of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Grossman fought for the rights of underprivileged Bostonians who could not otherwise afford legal counsel to challenge unfair housing practices, while mentoring and inspiring hundreds of law students at Harvard Law School to do the same.

In honor of his commitment to protecting those in need, Professor Grossman’s widow, Stacy Grossman, founded the DAG Fund for Social Justice in 2015 to support first-year HLS graduates using the power of the law to advance social justice and effect positive community change.

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Gaining a global perspective on securities regulation

By Elizabeth Ferrie, J.D. ’19

Photo of Elizabeth Ferrie, J.D. ’19 standing infront of ASIC sign

Elizabeth Ferrie, J.D. ’19

This January, I interned at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in Sydney, Australia. I was fortunate to have dedicated supervisors and mentors that provided me with a broad range of experiences to enhance my knowledge of international capital markets.

My 3 weeks at the ASIC were a great learning opportunity and instilled in me the importance of a global business perspective. Indeed, most of my assignments involved an intricate understanding of global market structures and coordination with foreign securities regulators in investigations. I performed research and drafted memos on a variety of cases tackling market manipulation. Having taken a Securities Regulation course in the fall provided useful background knowledge since there are many fundamental commonalities in the approaches taken by securities regulators in both the U.S. and Australia. For example, I noticed striking similarities between U.S. and Australian securities laws while helping advise senior attorneys about ASIC’s disclosure obligations to a third party under the Freedom of Information Act. 

I have a strong interest in international law and business, especially as it relates to the Asia-Pacific region. Previously, I spent my 1L summer at a corporate law firm in Seoul, South Korea and I will be working at a corporate law firm in NYC for my 2L summer. However, this was my first experience performing legal work for a government organization and it was incredibly meaningful to gain experience outside of the private sector in a foreign jurisdiction.

For the 15-page paper requirement that accompanies the independent clinical project, I will be writing a paper comparing the approaches of securities regulators around the world in regards to cryptocurrency regulation under the supervision of Professor Kathryn Spier. It is an emerging area and there is notable variation in the approaches of different countries in classifying and regulating cryptocurrencies. I am excited to gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating topic.

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

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

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

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

Community Enterprise Project Helps Empower Small Business Owners in Boston

By Alex Glancy, J.D. ’19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality

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