Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Cyberlaw Clinic — Academic Year in Review: 2015-16

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

As often happens during the heat of the New England summer, we on the Cyberlaw Clinic team find ourselves thinking about the past academic year and looking ahead to the next. It is a great time to pause and reflect on the work of our students and the overall state of our program, which has now served the HLS student body and the broader technology law and policy community for more than sixteen years. This post serves as something of an “academic year in review” for the 2015-16 school year and a preview of things to come.

The Clinic settled into an energized and productive routine over the last two years due in large part to the fact that our stellar students have been led by a stellar teaching team — Clinical Professors Chris Bavitz and Susan Crawford, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law Dalia Ritvo, Clinical Instructor Vivek Krishnamurthy, Clinical Fellow Andy Sellars, and Project Coordinator Kira Hessekiel. Given all our successes of the past couple of years, it is with mixed emotions that we bid farewell to two integral members of that team — Dalia Ritvo and Andy Sellars — each of whom is moving on from the Clinic this summer. Dalia, our former Assistant Director, is heading home to Colorado, where she will be closer to family. And, Andy is taking the helm of a brand new tech clinical program just across the Charles River at Boston University, where he and his students will serve BU and MIT students. Both Andy and Dalia will maintain ties to the Berkman Klein Center in 2016-17 as Affiliates, and we know that they will continue to be friends, colleagues, and collaborators in years to come.

In the midst of these changes, we are pleased to report that Vivek Krishnamurthy has been promoted to Assistant Director of the Cyberlaw Clinic and will play a vital role in managing the program going forward. Vivek has also been appointed Lecturer on Law for the coming academic year and will co-teach the Cyberlaw Clinic Seminar with Chris Bavitz. Vivek joined the Clinic in fall 2014, and his diligent work in recent years has significantly expanded the Clinic’s focus on issues relating to human rights, digital civil liberties, and corporate social responsibility. We could not be more excited to have Vivek on board in these expanded roles.

And, as if that weren’t enough excitement on the staffing front…  we’re hiring! Multiple positions, in in fact — a Clinical Instructor and one or two Clinical Fellows. Please help spread the word far and wide as we look to expand our team.

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HLS’s Summer Speaker Series, from the Eyes and Ears of a Student Intern

Every summer, the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs and the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising organize a series of lunch-time sessions for Harvard Law School interns to learn about the institution and emerging issues in the field of law. This year, students met with various speakers including Eloise Lawrence, Clinical Instructor who teaches in the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB); Phil Torrey, Senior Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law who teaches in the Crimmigration Clinic and leads the Harvard Immigration Project; Janson Wu, HLS ’02, Executive Director of the Legal Advocates & Defenders for the GLBTQ Community (GLAD); Chris Pierce, Social Worker teaching students in two clinics and three Student Practice Organizations; as well as Jessica Soban, Dean of Admissions for Harvard Law School. 

The following story is written by our own student intern, Courtney Timmins who is a rising senior at Boston College. 

By Courtney Timmins 
Intern, Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Courtney Timmins

Courtney Timmins

While interning at Harvard Law School’s Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs this summer, I have been most fortunate to listen to and speak with various brilliant affiliates of Harvard Law School in an intimate, casual setting. The discussions have underscored how much work there is to be done in the world and how much progress there is to be made. Rather than allowing this to be daunting, however, these speakers act with relentlessness and passion, inspiring me to draw from the collective energy and look for a path to positive outcomes. Hearing them share their personal experiences has been more poignant and stirring than reading articles or watching news stories about groups of people who are defined in terms of their gender, race, age, sexuality, socioeconomic background, or countless other perfunctory modifiers. The speakers I’ve listened to care about the individual human beings and they serve as paragons who work fiercely and tirelessly to protect their fundamental rights.

Chris Pierce, an upbeat social worker (which, before meeting him, I would have thought to be an oxymoron) talked about how he maintains a positive outlook on life amid the daily struggles he hears from his clients. Janson Wu, in an informal Q & A session, shared various accomplishments and disappointments he’s experienced in his work at GLAD. He shared with us what one person can do to fight discrimination and improve equal rights policies in the world.  Phil Torrey explained how he became involved with “crimmigration,” or criminalization and immigration, and how the two fields have become imprudently coupled over recent years.  He shared his thoughts about teaching at HLS, working with the Harvard Immigration Project, and his work at the intersection of immigration and criminal law.  Eloise Lawrence of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau shared the same fiery passion as other lecturers, hers stoked by issues of housing law and policy.  Like many of her colleagues, Eloise has observed a problematic system that she now works actively to change.

Jessica Soban, HLS’ Chief Admissions Officer sat back and listened to students’ questions while sharing her expertise and candid opinions on law school, careers, and finding one’s role in the larger world.  One might expect to feel intimidated after a talk with an admissions officer from one of the top law schools in the country.  Instead, Jessica’s friendly, approachable nature and positive attitude left me feeling encouraged and driven. Her talk served as tacit reassurance that I should not and will not stop to achieve the education, career, and purpose as a contributing citizen, which I have always wanted and sought to cultivate long before I realized that going to law school was a perfect way to accomplish it.

These speakers demonstrated how much there is to learn in the field of law and how little of it I know right now. This was not discouraging but rather quite motivating, because I’ve realized the possibilities of making a positive difference through the study of law.  Someday, I hope to become as informed, insightful, and devoted as the speakers.  They conveyed how enchanting it is to breach the surface of both oneself and the world, to transcend one’s biased perspective and explore depths that lead to true knowledge and understanding of the greater context in which we live – the history from the past, the grounding of the present, and the hope for the future.

Veterans clinic files rulemaking petition on access for veterans with ‘bad-paper’ discharges

Via HLS News

Underserved_cover_borderMore than 125,000 veterans who have served since 9/11 are denied access to basic services like health care by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a report by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. The report, “Underserved,” presents new findings about how the VA’s regulations exclude hundreds of thousands of veterans with “bad-paper” discharges, contrary to the text and intent of the 1944 G.I. Bill of Rights, which established the current VA eligibility standard. The clinic issued the report on behalf of two veterans advocacy organizations, Swords to Plowshares and the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP).

“Congress meant for the VA to provide basic services to nearly all the men and women who served in uniform,” said Dana Montalto, an attorney and Liman Fellow in the Veterans Legal Clinic. “Yet, the VA’s regulations have operated to exclude more and more veterans from getting the care and support that they deserve.”

The Clinic found that 6.5 percent of veterans who have served since 9/11 are excluded from the VA — twice the rate for Vietnam era veterans and nearly four times the rate for World War II era veterans. Many of those veterans have mental or physical injuries because of their service, and many served in combat or other hardship conditions, but nevertheless cannot get health care, disability compensation, or other supportive services because of the VA’s regulations.

“Since the Veterans Legal Clinic opened our doors in 2012, we have heard from scores of veterans who wrongfully or unjustly received less-than-honorable discharges,” said Clinical Professor Dan Nagin, who directs the Veterans Legal Clinic. “There exists a dearth of legal resources for these veterans, and our students have represented many in correcting their discharges and gaining access to the basic services that they deserve.”

Students in the clinic have represented an Iraq War veteran who was less-than-honorably discharged for one-time drug use on the night that he attempted to commit suicide, a post-9/11 veteran who was wrongfully discharged on the basis of an incorrect diagnosis of personality disorder, and a veteran discharged for his sexual orientation under the now-repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

The clinic has been able to continue to expand its work in this area since the arrival of fellow Dana Montalto in 2014. In addition to providing representation to more veterans, she has established the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership, which trains and supports private attorneys to represent veterans in discharge-upgrade petitions. Montalto has also spearheaded systemic reform initiatives, including writing the report “Underserved”.

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Maggie Morgan on Immigrant Healthcare Options

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

Maggie Morgan, Albert M. Sacks Clinical & Advocacy Fellow at HIRC, sat down with us to discuss the history and future of healthcare options for documented and undocumented immigrants in the United States. In particular, Maggie explains the protection and limitations under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Read a recent publication by Maggie Morgan on a similar topic.

2016-17 Clinical Opportunities with the Community Enterprise Project

Clinical Opportunity for Collaborative, Community-Based Transactional Work

The Community Enterprise Project (offered in both the fall and spring semesters) 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 our blog:

Apply Now!

To apply to CEP, please submit a statement of interest (no more than 200 words) and resume. CEP applications should be addressed to Brian Price and Amanda Kool and submitted via e-mail to and

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.

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 3, 4, or 5 clinical credits and do not need to register in the associated clinical seminar.

Shining a light at PLAP

2015-09-26 16.38.24 2

Priscila Santos

By Priscila Santos, 2L
Suffolk University School of Law 

When I applied for an internship at Harvard Law School’s Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP), I was a bit nervous. The internship is hands-on and you get the responsibilities of a lawyer with a student attorney title. At PLAP, students take either disciplinary or parole hearing cases and, with the assistance of the supervising attorney, they handle legal cases from beginning to end. Students handling disciplinary hearings visit clients in prison, conduct discovery, perform cross-examinations, argue motions to dismiss or consolidate, and make closing arguments. Students working on parole hearings prepare clients to be examined by the Parole Board. They also prepare written submissions and give opening and closing statements at the hearing. The internship has taken me out of my comfort zone and helped me improve my writing skills and ability to make better oral arguments.

My first case involved a parole revocation hearing. While going through my client’s paperwork, I was surprised to see a dark childhood experience of abuse. Yet, when I met my client for the first time, I found a loving, kind, and intelligent person who unfortunately had turned to drugs to cope with depression, leading to a prison sentence. I very much wanted to make a convincing argument so that this person could have a second chance in life. But this was my first hearing, and my client’s faith in me made me nervous. I prepared for the argument by thoroughly going through the case file and strategizing with my supervising attorney. We showed our client’s plans for treatment for substance abuse and ultimately convinced the Board to grant parole.

The biggest learning curve and the biggest challenge so far, has been speaking, writing, and acting like a lawyer. In most places, an aspiring 2L does not have a chance to work at a hands-on organization like PLAP. I feel humbled to have this opportunity and to work on prisoners’ rights. The trend of neglect, poverty, and drugs is saddening. Every time I meet a prisoner, I think about what went wrong and how can I help to change the status-quo.

I was once told that the meaning of life is to shine a light in dark places, and I feel that is what we do at PLAP. We provide services to people that have been neglected by society and sometimes even family. We forget that these men and women are human beings with real feelings. I believe that understanding their past, showing compassion, and defending their few outstanding rights, might just be the trigger that will help them lead a better life after prison.

American Lawyer releases National and International Firms Pro Bono Rankings

Illustration by Neil Webb for The American Lawyer.

Illustration by Neil Webb for The American Lawyer

Recently, the American Lawyer released the annual National and International Firms Pro Bono Rankings.

The report ranks the nation’s 200 highest-grossing firms by their pro bono score for work performed by U.S.-based lawyers. Half of the score comes from the average number of pro bono hours per lawyer in 2015, while the other half represents the percentage of lawyers who performed more than 20 hours of pro bono work.

Internationally, the report ranks firms with at least 20 non-U.S. lawyers by their scores for pro bono performed by those lawyers. Half of the score comes from the average number of pro bono hours performed by lawyers outside of the U.S. in 2015. The other half comes from the percentage of lawyers outside the U.S. who did more than 20 hours of pro bono work.

We encourage students to review this report and consider it a resource when evaluating law firms and incorporating pro bono work into their legal careers. Students can find additional pro bono resources on the Student Pro Bono Resources section of our website.

Moving On: Deborah Popowski to Be Executive Director of NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice

Via International Human Rights Clinic


Photo credit: Kris Snibbe

Today we have the mixed blessing of announcing that one of our favorite people is moving on:Deborah Popowski, JD ’08, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law, is bringing her considerable talents to New York University (NYU) School of Law as Executive Director of its Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.

It comes as no surprise to us that she was chosen for this leadership role. For the past seven years, Deborah has proven herself to be a visionary inside the International Human Rights Clinic, carving out a critical niche for U.S.-based work. In her time here, she led clinical projects on issues ranging from protest and assembly rights to the right to heal for U.S. service members and Iraqis. She also created a clinical seminar, “Human Rights Advocacy and the United States,” with the Human Rights Program’s former executive director, Clinical Professor Jim Cavallaro.

In particular, Deborah distinguished herself in recent years as a national leader in the grassroots movement to hold U.S. health professionals accountable for torture in the national security sphere. Her approach was both innovative and in-depth: through professional misconduct complaints, legislative advocacy, media outreach and academic conferences, she worked with clients to highlight the actions of psychologists at Guantánamo.

That work helped build pressure and momentum for the American Psychological Association’shistoric resolution last August to ban psychologists from national security interrogations. It was a moment many thought would never come.

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Phil Torrey Presents to the Immigration and Nationality Law Review

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

This past April, Phil Torrey, HIRC Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law,  traveled to Ohio to speak to the Immigration and Nationality Law Review at Cincinnati Law. In his presentation, Phil discussed how the Immigration and Nationality Act’s definition of conviction seemingly violates the core principles of federalism upon which our nation is built. You can find the speech below:

An article outlining the topics discussed will be published sometime this summer.

Crimmigration Clinic 2016

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

Students enrolled in the Crimmigration Clinic at Harvard Law School engaged in cutting-edge research and immersed themselves in legal proceedings at the intersection of criminal and immigration law. The four students enrolled in this Clinic were constantly occupied in this evolving field, partaking in mock arguments of appellate court cases and going to immigration court to observe hearings. The Clinic worked on four main projects this past year, all of which made innovative contributions to the field of Crimmigration.

First, the Crimmigration Clinic worked with criminal defense attorneys in Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute  and throughout the country who represent noncitizens in criminal defense proceedings. Since 2010, these attorneys have a constitutional duty to advise their noncitizen clients about the immigration consequences of criminal charges. Crimmigration is a constantly evolving and complex field of law and often criminal defense attorneys need help deciphering immigration consequences. Thus, the Crimmigration Clinic has helped meet that need by working with criminal defense attorneys to ensure their clients receive proper advice.

The second Crimmigration Clinic project was spurred by a 2015 Supreme Court ruling which determined that non-citizens can not be deported if they are convicted of possessing a drug that is on a state drug schedule but not the federal drug schedule. Last year, clinical students mapped out the federal drug schedule since its inception – the first comprehensive list of this kind. This year, the Massachusetts drug schedules were mapped out by the Clinic. This information can now be applied in retrospect to prevent the deportation of noncitizens when a mismatch between state and federal drug schedules is evident.

The third project entailed conducting a survey of federal cases that interpreted the “particularly serious crime” bar to asylum and withholding of removal in the United States. This survey divided offenses by different categories (property, drug, violence, etc.) and will hopefully provide a more consistent framework for Crimmigration rulings in the future.

The Crimmigration Clinic also works with vulnerable populations in immigration detention facilities to ensure they receive appropriate protections. For example, a recent study found that at any given time there are 75 transgender women in immigration detention facilities, and many of them will experience some form of sexual assault. This year, Clinical students drafted a memorandum outlining the myriad of claims an individual could potentially bring against the federal government to seek recourse for abusive practices at a detention facility.

Crimmigration Clinical students have the unique ability to contribute to an emerging field while helping individuals who find themselves subject to both criminal law and immigration law. By working with local and national practitioners and nonprofit organizations, students make a lasting and crucial impact in this field.

Statement On The End Of The In Re South African Apartheid Litigation

Via International Human Rights Clinic

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a major corporate accountability case,Ntsebeza, et al., v. Ford Motor Co., et al., that represented the last opportunity for South Africans to achieve justice in U.S. courts for apartheid-era crimes. The U.S. corporations – Ford and IBM – were alleged to have purposefully facilitated violations of international law by enabling the denationalization and violent suppression, including extrajudicial killings, of black South Africans living under the apartheid regime. What began fourteen years ago as litigation against dozens of multinational corporations has effectively ended without ever even entering discovery.

We are deeply disappointed for our clients and the communities who suffered as a direct result of corporate complicity in violence and oppression. We are also extremely concerned about the reluctance of U.S. courts to take on powerful corporate actors that have involved themselves in human rights abuses abroad.

The U.S.-based legal team for the Ntsebeza plaintiffs was led by Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman, LLP and includes Judith Brown Chomsky of the Law Offices of Judith Brown Chomsky, and Diane Sammons and Jay Rice of Nagel Rice LLP as well as Tyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein from the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School. The South African-based legal team for the Ntsebeza plaintiffs was led by Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza and includes attorneys John Ngcebetsha, Gugulethu Madlanga, and Medi Mokuena, and Advocate Michael Osborne. The Ntsebeza case was part of broader litigation known as the In re South African Apartheid Litigation, which included the companion case, Balintulo, et al., v. Ford Motor Co., et al. (formerly known as the Khulumani case).

Q & A with Veronika Polakova ’16

Veronika Polakova '16

Veronika Polakova ’16

This summer, the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP) will be publishing profiles of HLS alumni who participated in clinics and student practice organizations. This is the second in the series. 

OCP: What can you tell us about where you grew up and what interested you the most in coming to Harvard Law?

VP: I grew up in Prague, Czech Republic, but my family moved to the DC area when I was 15. In college, I studied economics at the University of Virginia and then worked for two years doing tax policy research at a public policy think tank in DC. Law school had long been at the back of my mind, but my tax policy work after college really cemented my decision to come to HLS and to focus on tax law.

OCP: What stands out from your time at HLS? What were the journals, clinics or related student practice organizations you participated in?

VP: My time at HLS was full of highlights, but to give some examples, I loved my J-term classes. As a 2L I took the Negotiation Workshop and as a 3L I cross-registered for Persuasion at HKS. In both classes, I was completely immersed in one topic for a short period of time and had many opportunities to practice the new skills I was learning, which I found really rewarding.

And yes, I was involved with all three! I was an editor of the Harvard Business Law Review as a 1L and became the Executive Operations Chair in my 2L year, a role that focused on event planning and operations, which was a refreshing change of pace to sub-citing. As a 2L, I participated in the Transactional Law Clinics and in the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Program as a 3L. And lastly, I worked with Harvard TaxHelp throughout law school.

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

VP: My experience in my two clinics and in my SPO was very different. In the Transactional Law Clinics, I was the point of contact for four clients over the course of the semester, who needed help with small business and nonprofit formation questions, so I got to know them well and had a chance to think about their problems in depth. In the Harvard Mediation Program, I regularly mediated or observed mediations in small claims court with new parties bringing new cases every week. And in TaxHelp, I helped students and low-income members of the community file their state and federal taxes every spring. But the one unifying feature of all three experiences was how rewarding it felt to help real people with their real-life problems—whether by filling out their 1040, drafting a mediated settlement agreement, or incorporating their new business.

OCP: What new skills and/or knowledge did you gain from these experiences?

VP: I definitely feel like I learned a lot! Mediation gave me a toolkit for approaching disputes—questions to ask and things to consider when trying to resolve a conflict. In the Transactional Law Clinics, I put into practice the theory I learned in my Corporations class—drafting a certificate of incorporation or issuing stock certificates. And thanks to TaxHelp, I definitely better appreciate the complexity of the tax code and feel more confident doing my own taxes.

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

VP: I think clinics can be somewhat daunting since they are so different from the 1L required classes. But for me they were definitely some of the most rewarding experiences at HLS because they allowed me to work on real issues, however small. So for those considering clinics, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and give them a try. HLS has so many different clinics that you can definitely find a good fit.

For those starting clinics in the fall, don’t be discouraged when you’re not sure what to do next and the right answer is not in a casebook. Those moments can be frustrating, but they pass, and the ability to ultimately find and present a solution to your clients’ problems makes them worth it.

Limitations on the undocumented

Via HLS News

Supreme-Court_istock (hi res)

A deadlocked Supreme Court dealt a major blow to President Obama’s executive actions to grant relief from deportation to nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The 4-4 tie in U.S. v. Texas, a challenge by that state and 25 others against Obama’s executive actions, leaves in place an injunction by a lower court that blocked the government from implementing two programs that would protect both children and their parents from deportation.

“I’m disappointed,” said Deborah Anker, clinical professor of law and director of theHarvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program at Harvard Law School. “What this means is that it puts hundreds of thousands of people at risk of deportation, including parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents.”

What it means legally is that after the court’s one-sentence decision, which mentioned “an equally divided court,” it is up to the presiding judge in Brownsville, Texas, to decide whether or not to go forward with a trial.

“The decision on the merits of the case are still going to be litigated,” she said. “The decision by the Supreme Court is not an affirmation of either position.”

Phil Torrey, lecturer on law with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program and the supervising attorney for the Harvard Immigration Project, hopes the ruling will help galvanize the movement for immigration reform.

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Q & A with Aaron Bray ’16

Aaron Bray '16

Aaron Bray ’16

This summer, the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP) will be publishing profiles of HLS alumni who participated in clinics and student practice organizations. This is the first in the series. 

OCP: What interested you the most in coming to Harvard Law?

AB: I was born and raised in Dorchester, one of Boston’s grittiest neighborhoods. Even though Harvard Square is only a couple of train stops away, when you’re surrounded by poverty and violence, a place like Harvard seems like a completely different world. One of the reasons I decided to go to Harvard Law was because I wanted to join the Harvard Defenders and have the opportunity to represent members of my community starting in the fall of my first semester.

OCP: What stands out from your time at HLS?

AB: Some of my fondest memories of my time at HLS are the opportunities I had to represent Boston residents in criminal matters as a member of both the Harvard Defenders and the Criminal Justice Institute. Being able to walk into Dorchester and Roxbury District Court not as a defendant but as an advocate for my people was a truly humbling experience.

OCP: What was your experience at CJI and Harvard Defenders? Are there any memorable moments that stand out to you the most?

AB: Being a student attorney in the Criminal Justice Institute, I had the privilege to represent several young people in juvenile court. By far, the most rewarding aspect of representing those young people was helping them get their cases dismissed and giving them a clean slate. Having the ability to get second chances for young people from my neighborhood has probably been one of my proudest achievements. I’m still in touch with most of them and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the future.

OCP: What new skills and/or knowledge did you gain?

I took a course on negotiation at HLS and being a student attorney allowed me to apply some of those skills in my dealings with prosecutors and judges. Although some of the skills I learned in the classroom served me well, often times I had to rely on my street smarts to secure favorable outcomes for my clients. The most valuable skill I developed in my clinical work was learning when to apply my legal training and when to trust my gut instincts.

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

AB: Approach your task with curiosity. I learned far more from clinical work than I did in the classroom and I believe that was a product of approaching every case with an open mind.

CHLPI Attends American Diabetes Association 76th Scientific Sessions

Via Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation

ADA Scientific Sessions_speakers

(l-r) Sarah Downer, CHLPI; Dr. Seth Berkowitz, Massachusetts General Hospital; Kim Prendergast, Feeding America; and Kate Hilliard, Food Bank of Corpus Christi.

On June 13, 2016, CHLPI Clinical Instructor Sarah Downer presented to over 100 attendees at the American Diabetes Association’s 76th Scientific Sessions on policy and advocacy tools to address diabetes in low-income populations. In a session titledImproving Diabetes Outcomes in Low-Income Populations: When Food Access is the problem, Sarah joined Massachusetts General Hospital expert in diabetes clinical care Dr. Seth Berkowitz, Feeding America Consulting Project Manager Kim Prendergast, and Nutrition Education Manager of the Food Bank of Corpus Christi Kate Hilliard to discuss the link between diabetes and diet.

Dr. Berkowitz shared the latest research on how food insecurity increases the risk of diabetesand contributes to worse diabetes outcomes. Kim Prendergast described Feeding America’s member food bank partnerships with healthcare providers and the impact of the organization’s innovative diabetes-appropriate food box intervention for individuals with diabetes. Kate Hilliard discussed strategies her food bank uses to reach the underserved populations in Corpus Christi, including individuals who move frequently, do not speak English, and/or do not have health insurance.

Closing the panel, Sarah called on the attendees to be advocates for policy change and champions of using food and nutrition interventions to address diabetes. She outlined  policy priorities including: (1) requiring/incentivizing screening for food insecurity in the clinical setting, (2) developing braided funding streams for healthcare and community-based resource providers to support delivery of enhanced services, (3) increasing research into the impact of different levels of food-based interventions on diabetes, and (4) acting immediately to conduct pilot and demonstration projects within our current public healthcare systems.

Attendees were enthusiastic about pursuing opportunities to expand access to medically-tailored food to their patients, who face numerous health and resource challenges and often must make terrible choices between paying for medication or buying food.

Support for second chances

Via Harvard Gazette

HLS students Work to Get Prisoner Sentences Review Before Obama Leaves Office

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Harvard Law School (HLS) students Josh Looney ’18 (left) and Chloe Goodwin ’18 (center) are part of a group of 26 students working with HLS legal fellow Anna Kastner (right) on the Clemency Project, which aims to gain clemency for felons serving time.

HLS students join in clemency initiative

Early in the spring, first-year Harvard Law School (HLS) students Chloe Goodwin, Nora Ellingsen, and Josh Looney jumped at the opportunity to volunteer with a national organization to help felons get a second shot at life.

Working with Clemency Project 2014, a coalition that supports petitions by nonviolent drug offenders for executive clemency, the students wound up enlightened and inspired.

“It was a wake-up moment for me,” said Looney, who plans to pursue a career in criminal defense. “I realized that what I was doing was really different from writing a brief for class.”

With a group of 26 students working under the supervision of pro bono attorneys from the Boston law firms Goodwin Procter and Clements & Pineault, HLS provided the largest contingent of students among the law schools participating in the project.

Clemency Project 2014 stems from President Obama’s efforts to grant clemency to nonviolent felons serving harsh sentences, as part of a wider push for criminal justice reform.

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Losing Control: The Dangers of Killer Robots

Via International Human Rights Clinic

This piece originally appeared in The Conversation on June 16, 2016

New technology could lead humans to relinquish control over decisions to use lethal force. As artificial intelligence advances, the possibility that machines could independently select and fire on targets is fast approaching. Fully autonomous weapons, also known as “killer robots,” are quickly moving from the realm of science fiction toward reality.

The unmanned Sea Hunter gets underway. At present it sails without weapons, but it exemplifies the move toward greater autonomy.U.S. Navy/John F. Williams

These weapons, which could operate on land, in the air or at sea, threaten to revolutionize armed conflict and law enforcement in alarming ways. Proponents say these killer robots are necessarybecause modern combat moves so quickly, and because having robots do the fighting would keep soldiers and police officers out of harm’s way. But the threats to humanity would outweigh any military or law enforcement benefits.

Removing humans from the targeting decision would create a dangerous world. Machines would make life-and-death determinations outside of human control. The risk of disproportionate harm or erroneous targeting of civilians would increase. No person could be held responsible.

Given the moral, legal and accountability risks of fully autonomous weapons, preempting their development, production and use cannot wait. The best way to handle this threat is an international, legally binding ban on weapons that lack meaningful human control.

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New Clinic Project with the White House, Dept of Education and Dept of Labor

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

HNMCP Director Prof. Bob Bordone and HNMCP Asst. Director Rachel Viscomi at the United State of Women Summit

HNMCP Director Prof. Bob Bordone and HNMCP Asst. Director Rachel Viscomi at the United State of Women Summit

Today, at the first-ever United State of Women Summit, the Obama administration, private-sector companies, foundations and organizations announced $50 million in commitments, along with new policies, tools and partnerships that will continue to expand opportunity for women and girls. These announcements include a pledge by more than two dozen leading companies to take actions to continue to close the gender pay gap, new resources to empower community college students to negotiate their first salaries, new campaigns to change how our country values caregiving and improve portrayals of women in media, and enhanced global efforts to promote gender quality worldwide.

The Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) is very proud to be part of this massive and important initiative. HNMCP will be conducting a clinic project with the Departments of Education and Labor to bring negotiation skills training to women in community colleges who are preparing for their first jobs, and their first salary negotiations.

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Law of Asylum 2016 ed. – Just released!

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

Law of Asylum closely discusses topics of broad and current interest. The distinction and particularity of social group claims are examined, such as in the recent Matter of A-R-C-G-. This decision entailed the finding of a Guatemalan woman who was subject to severe spousal abuse as eligible for asylum. The 2016 edition of Law of Asylum expands and updates the Procedures Appendix, added last year, to provide an invaluable framework for practitioners and researchers alike.

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Clinical program receives grant from Milstein Foundation to launch Syrian Refugee Resettlement Project

Via HLS News

Clinical Professor Deborah Anker LL.M. '84

Credit: Michael Malyszko
Clinical Professor Deborah Anker LL.M. ’84, founder and director of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program has received a generous grant from the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation to launch the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Project.

The Obama Administration has committed to resettling at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the current fiscal year. Due to bottlenecks in processing, the United States has fallen far short of its goal to date. Over the next six months, the Clinic will be working to gather and analyze information regarding current obstacles to efficient processing of Syrians destined for U.S. resettlement. The Clinic will compile a compendium of relevant laws and regulations related to refugee resettlement, document current practice, and make practical recommendations for improvements to those processes. The report will be broadly disseminated to both Congress and the Administration and will include specific recommendations for reform.

In describing the Project, Clinical Professor of Law and Director Deborah Anker explained, “Working with expert consultants Amy Nelson, formerly Director of the Refugee Processing Center at the Department of State, and Sana F. Shtasel (HKS `88), Senior Advisor to the Multi-Faith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, and with the input of key government agencies, we are excited to gather together the International Rescue Committee, HIAS, International Refugee Assistance Project, and Human Rights Watch, as part of our exceptional Advisory Board — all of which have long-standing policy and on-the-ground experience in international refugee resettlement.” She notes that the UN General Assembly has designated June 20 as World Refugee Day to show identification with and compassion for refugees around the world. “It is a fitting moment to announce the HLS Syrian Refugee Resettlement Project,” Anker said.

Abby Milstein ’76 and Howard Milstein ’77 serve on the Executive Committee of the Dean’s Advisory Board, and Mrs. Milstein also serves on the Visiting Committee of Harvard Law School.

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Clinic’s Shaun Goho Authors Paper on the Legal Implications of Report-Back in Household Exposure Studies

Via Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

Staff Attorney Shaun Goho recently authored a paper that was accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives entitled The Legal Implications of Report-Back in Household Exposure Studies.

In a household exposure study, researchers sample the air or dust in a home and analyze those samples to determine the presence and concentration of different chemicals. It is common in such studies to notify the owners or occupants of those homes about the results of the analysis of the samples taken from their homes—a process known as report-back. Because report-back in household exposure studies provides information about the presence of potentially-harmful chemicals inside a home, it is possible that the receipt of such results will create legal duties for the study participants.

This paper is the first study to systemically examine the potential legal implications of report-back in household exposure studies. After reviewing federal and state hazardous waste laws, real estate transfer laws, landlord/tenant laws, and premises liability tort laws, Goho concludes that in most circumstances, study participants will not have any legal duties to disclose their individual study results to other people or government agencies. In the rare circumstances when such a duty will arise, it is usually when the identified chemical is one that could be harmful to the occupants of the home—meaning that the study participants are still better off learning their individual results, even if a legal disclosure duty might therefore arise.

Goho recommends that researchers should continue to share the results of household exposure studies with participants, but that they should disclose these legal risks through the informed the consent process. The paper includes recommended language for informed consent forms.

This paper results from a multi-year collaboration between the Clinic and the Silent Spring Institute.

Click here to view the abstract and review the advance publication on the Environmental Health Perspectives website.

Clinic Supports Public Citizen and EFF in Small Justice Amicus Effort

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

The Cyberlaw Clinic supported Public Citizen and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in filing an amicus brief (pdf) today in the case, Small Justice LLC v. Xcentric Ventures LLC, Case No. 15-1506, pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.  The case raises important questions about the interplay between copyright law and laws protecting free expression, including the immunity granted to platforms that host content uploaded by users pursuant to Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act.  Paul Levy of Public Citizen wrote a detailed post about the brief here.

The case has a long and somewhat convoluted history, arising from a report entitled “Complaint Review: Richard A. Goren” (“the Report”). The Report was posted to the consumer reporting website Ripoff Report on January 31, 2012.  Mr. Goren filed a defamation lawsuit against the pseudonymous poster of the Report, and a justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court ruled that the copyright in the Report should be transferred to Mr. Goren.  Mr. Goren and his company, Small Justice LLC, then used the transferred copyright in an attempt to enforce rights against Ripoff Report’s parent company, Xcentric Ventures, and have the review removed.

The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts refused to give force to the involuntary transfer of copyright.  Amici argued in their brief to the Court of Appeals that this was the right result, noting that, “[i]f Goren’s end run around section 230 were permitted to succeed, it could create a roadmap whereby any plaintiff, regardless of the merits of his claims, could skew public discussion by suppressing critical speech.”

Fall 2015 Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic students Charles McGonigal and Will Piereson and former Clinical Fellow Andy Sellars, along with the Clinic’s Managing Director Christopher Bavitz, contributed to the brief.

Attorney and law professor Michael Gregory to present keynote address on trauma-sensitive schools

Via Indiana University Bloomington Newsroom

Michael Gregory

Clinical Professor of Law Michael Gregory

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A panel discussion on legal issues involving transgender students and a keynote lecture on trauma-sensitive schools will be among the highlights of the annual Martha McCarthy Education Law and Policy Institute: The Future of Professional Ethics, presented by the Educational Leadership & Policy Studies program at the Indiana University School of Education.

Registration is now open for the conference, which is free and open to the public and will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 9 at Willkie Auditorium. A complete listing of the events is on the conference website.

The keynote address, “Trauma-Sensitive Schools,” will be delivered by Michael Gregory, clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School and senior attorney at the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative. Gregory’s talk is part of the Future of Professional Ethics 2015-16 Workshop series, sponsored by 12 units at Indiana University, including the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions and The Media School.

Educational leaders, attorneys and professors from across the country — including Martha McCarthy, Presidential Professor at Loyola Marymount University and Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus at IU Bloomington — will take part in various panel discussions on current legal, policy and ethical issues in education, such as student harassment, bullying, student and employee privacy, and technology in schools.

The institute concludes with a roundtable discussion on transgender student legal issues led by Thomas Aberli, a Louisville principal featured recently by The New York Times and National Public Radio for his school’s policies protecting transgender student rights. Other roundtable discussion topics include the privatization of public education, students with disabilities, women in administration, and racial discrimination in school discipline.

About the Martha McCarthy Education Law and Policy Institute: This is the third year that the conference will carry the name of Martha McCarthy. Organizers renamed the longtime conference in 2013 for McCarthy, a faculty member at the IU School of Education from 1975 to 2011 who is nationally recognized as an expert in education law. Her research has covered a variety of education leadership and policy matters, including student engagement, equity in schools and teacher preparation.

Semester in Washington Clinic

Winter-Spring 2017 or Spring 2017
Applications Due August 19, 2016

The HLS Semester in Washington Program is an extraordinary opportunity to work at the intersection of government, policy, and practice while pursuing your particular interests. Clinic participants spend the spring semester (or winter & spring semesters) living in Washington and working as legal interns in federal offices in the Executive, Legislative, or Judicial Branches. The placements, in offices where lawyers provide legal advice and assistance on policy, legislative, or regulatory matters, are developed collaboratively between the students and the Program Director to match to the students’ interests.

Previous placements have included the White House Counsel’s Office, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights, Criminal, and Environmental Divisions, the Department of Defense’s Office of General Counsel, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Senate Judiciary, Armed Services and Energy Committees, and many more.

The Program also has course and writing components that complement the placements. These components focus on what it means to do great policy making and on developing the skills to make it happen.

To learn more about the program, take a look at the clinic’s blog, where you can find information on the course portion of the program, learn about the students who have participated in the Program and their placements, and much more. You can also find information about the clinic on the HLS website.

Finally, if you have any questions or want to discuss how the clinic might help further your goals, you can email the Clinic Director, Jonathan Wroblewski, at or give him a call at 202-514-4730. He’d love to hear from you!

The initial application deadline for the Clinic is August 19, 2016. Apply today through the online application process!

Clinic Files Reply Brief in Petition for Certiorari in Apartheid Litigation

Via International Human Rights Clinic

Last week, the International Human Rights Clinic and co-counsel filed our reply brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, responding to Ford and IBM’s opposition to the petition for a writ of certiorari in the in re South African Apartheid Litigation. The reply brief points out the clear circuit splits that require the Supreme Court’s attention, flatly rejecting Defendants’ claim to the contrary.

The petition, which was filed in February, asks the Supreme Court to resolve the splits among the circuits over the standard for aiding and abetting liability under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”); the question of when claims “touch and concern” the United States; and the availability of corporate liability under the ATS. The reply notes how “IBM and Ford do not seriously dispute the existence of these conflicts.” Despite Defendants’ attempts to argue otherwise, the reply brief makes clear that the Second Circuit, in a series of decisions culminating in the Apartheid litigation opinion, has adopted “the most restrictive rules governing ATS liability.” These rules conflict with Supreme Court decisions, other circuits’ rulings, and basic principles of international law. The Supreme Court needs to take up these essential and timely issues, which are the most important ones facing current and future ATS litigation.

Alumni Spotlight—Paul Yoo ‘09

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Paul YooHNMCP: How did you engage with alternative dispute resolution during your years at Harvard Law School?

Paul Yoo: One of my goals before joining HLS was to make sure I took as many ADR/negotiation courses that I could. I took the Negotiation Workshop to build my foundation and continued coursework in Dispute Systems Design and HNMCP. When I wasn’t taking classes I was a TA for Harvard Negotiate Institute, the Negotiation Workshop, or International Negotiations. I was also part of the Harvard Negotiators team that competed in an international competition in Paris.  We did not win the tournament, but we won hearts and minds.

HNMCP: Can you trace any particular influences that led you to study negotiation? Given the range of clinic options available at HLS, why did you choose HNMCP

PY: I was fascinated by the art and science of negotiation when I took a conflict resolution seminar with Prof. Lee Ross during my undergraduate at Stanford University. I continued my academic interest in the space by writing a thesis on North Korea’s negotiation strategies, and knew I wanted to immediately practice negotiating once I entered law school. While I had some basic understanding of negotiations, I never comprehended what it meant to become an effective mediator before coming across what HNMCP offered to its students. From the multi-party stakeholder dynamics to the balance between client empathy and objectivity, I found mediation much more challenging than traditional negotiations. More than the course topic, however, I chose to take HNMCP because of the incredible leadership team.

HNMCP: What was both the challenges and the rewards of your project with the La Raza Roundtable?

PY: The La Raza project was one of my most memorable experiences at HLS. La Raza and former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed had asked HNMCP to develop a stakeholder assessment during a time when tensions were high between the Latino community and the police department. The historic tension between multiple groups and the number of polarizing issues amongst them made it impossible to complete a quick mediation and was a source of significant challenge to our team. For example, La Raza felt the SJPD disproportionately targeted Latinos by arresting individuals under laws that gave the police too much discretion. Despite these challenges, the stakeholders remained dedicated and they ultimately resolved one of the more contentious issues. As a result of the HNMCP project, along with facilitation efforts by Stanford, the County of Santa Clara issued new guidelines to law enforcement declaring that driving without a license or driving with a suspended license would be processed as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor. I hope that the work HNMCP began in San Jose continues to guide how communities and police departments can develop detailed and substantive solutions to the long-standing problems we often witness in the press.

HNMCP: What were the most important skills you learned through your negotiation training?

PY: Before negotiation training, I often confused communication with speaking.  I’ve come to learn that communication is about an effective exchange and connection of ideas and that is much easier to do if you’re taught how to listen through a very active method and empowering set of tools. I may not remember the design process of every dispute system or all the six steps to create value out of conflict, but the core of the approach—the act of listening for and sharing a set of interests—is something I will continuously pursue.

HNMCP: Can you give an example of when these have been useful?

PY: One of my very first projects as a management consultant fresh out of law school was to develop a negotiation strategy for a major airline. The airline’s labor contracts were all coming up for renewal and the company had historically provided its staff with generous pay and perks. The company wasn’t interested in traditional hardline tactics but was facing major increases in fuel costs and more aggressive price wars. I literally used the Handbook of Dispute Resolution and all my class notes to generate pages of creative options until we landed on a few that made sense for both sides.

HNMCP: How are you using these skills in your current work?

PY: I find myself negotiating with parties almost every single day. If I’m not in direct negotiations, I am preparing for the next one by looking at industry analysis, the direct and indirect stakeholders, and by building up my BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement).  I would never have been as diligent in my preparation without the mentorship I gained from HNMCP and its faculty.

Paul Yoo is the head of business development and strategic partnerships at The Honest Company.  In his current role, he negotiates with distributors, retailers, licensees/licensors, and other companies to help the company grow across new industries and geographies. Prior to joining Honest, he was a senior manager at McKinsey. Paul lives in LA with his wife, Chrissy, and one-year-old son, Lucas.

Toby Merrill wins Compass Working Capital’s Aspire Award

Toby Merrill, Director of LSC’s Project on Predatory Student Lending

L-R: Eileen Connor, Director of Litigation, Project on Predatory Student Lending; Dan Nagin, Vice Dean for Clinical and Experiential Education, Clinical Professor of Law, and Faculty Director, Legal Services Center; Toby Merrill, Director of LSC’s Project on Predatory Student Lending; and Phuong Luong, Director of Financial Services, Compass Working Capital.

At its annual benefit on May 23rd, Toby Merrill, Director of the Legal Services Center’s Project on Predatory Student Lending, received the Aspire Award from Compass Working Capital. The Award recognizes Toby’s tireless efforts to provide legal counseling and representation to Compass’ client community. The Aspire Award is presented each year to an individual or organization who has made an extraordinary contribution to Compass’s pursuit of its mission.

Compass is a Boston-based nonprofit organization that provides financial services to low-income families, empowering families to build savings and financial capabilities as a pathway out of poverty. Toby has been working with Compass since 2012, shortly after she founded the Project on Predatory Student Lending, which represents low-income student loan borrowers in predatory lending cases against for-profit and occupational schools and related entities. Toby has counseled and represented many Compass clients, and has partnered with Compass to train its coaches on consumer debt issues facing low-income families.

The Listening Room, Episode 1: A Seat at the Table

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

From a public school to negotiations over the Iran nuclear program to a neighborhood in Baltimore, group decisionmaking is inevitably impacted by who’s at the table—and who’s not. In this inaugural episode of “The Listening Room,” we hear about three very different experiences trying to get individuals to the negotiating table—and what happened once they were there.

Listen to the Podcast

The Listening Room: An Introduction

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Conflict, as a topic, is conducive to stories. Conflict forms the heart of a good novel; it gives color and character to an otherwise placid movie; it even features heavily in the lyrics to our favorite songs. Similarly, the ways we handle conflict in our lives or work constitute narratives—sometimes, those narratives tell of dramatic breakthroughs or historic deals; other narratives describe quieter moments of revelation or subtle shifts in attitude or stance.

In seeking a medium for collecting and sharing some of these stories, we were motivated by questions about conflict, our ways of handling conflict, and our field of negotiation and conflict management: What does it mean to be a “practitioner” of this work? In what ways are we all “practitioners,” regardless of our profession or background? What are the moments and contexts in which this work feels resonant and impactful? What are the moments in which it feels futile, and why? And, most importantly, what can we learn from sharing our stories with one another? Is there something to be gained—or gleaned—by comparing notes? By sitting down, so to speak, with someone else who might be engaging with the same skills and concepts, but do so a world away from our own? Is there really as much space between our separate worlds as we think?

“The Listening Room,” a new podcast from HNMCP, seeks to carve out a space to explore these questions. In each episode, we focus on a theme, and feature interviews with several individuals whose experiences in their lives or work tell a story of negotiation, mediation, conflict management, dialogue, or group decisionmaking related to that theme. This podcast grows out of our continued excitement to learn more about our field. It also reflects our deep belief that by sharing with one another the novels, movies, and hit song lyrics that tell our own life stories, we can discover vast reservoirs of wisdom and shared understanding about handling conflict.

Together with a special group of first-year students in HLS Negotiators, we are thrilled to present this new project, and we also seek your engagement and feedback. In each episode we invite listeners to record their own voice memos and send them to us; we would also love to read your thoughts—please use our contact form to send us your thoughts. We hope that this podcast provokes your own reflections and questions, and we invite you to share those with us. Thank you for listening!

Sara & Deanna

Sara del Nido Budish ’13 is a Clinical Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program. Deanna Parrish ’16 is an alumna of HNMCP, HLS Real Talk facilitator, and former Negotiation Workshop TA.

Video Slideshow: “Women’s Voices Matter” in Myanmar

Via International Human Rights Clinic

The International Human Rights Clinic had the great honor last month of hosting a three-day workshop in Yangon for some of the leading women advocates in Myanmar- all of them pioneers in their various fields, and all of them pushing for change. The training, facilitated by The Op-Ed Project, focused on voice and messaging in the media’s opinion sections, where women’s bylines are too rarely found.

The title of the workshop: “Write to Change the World.”

Below, some images from those three days, with thanks and appreciation for what these women have done to strengthen the world already, and what they will surely do in the decades to come.

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