Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Upcoming Clinic Application Deadlines

Please note the upcoming clinic application deadlines:

Making Rights Real: The Ghana Project Clinic – Application Deadline Extended to August 25, 2017

Government Lawyer: Semester in Washington Clinic – Applications Due By August 25, 2017

Spanish for Public Interest Lawyers Fall 2017

Spanish for Public Interest Lawyers is a non-credit class that offers HLS students the opportunity to learn Spanish language skills in a legal context, emphasizing language most commonly used in civil and criminal legal services practice. The class will strengthen existing Spanish speaking and comprehension abilities and teach Spanish legal vocabulary to students involved in public interest legal practice. The class will introduce students to general legal Spanish vocabulary (e.g. immigration, human rights, legal aid, etc.). Students will work to develop stronger attorney-client relations by improving communication with Spanish-speaking clients.

STUDENTS MUST HAVE AT LEAST ADVANCED PROFICIENCY IN SPANISH.

To Apply: Email clinical@law.harvard.edu with the following information by 5 PM on Wednesday, August 30:

  • Name
  • Year (1L, 2L, 3L, LL.M.)
  • If applicable, name of the clinic or SPO you will be working with in the spring and any clinic or SPO you have previously worked with.
  • At least one paragraph, in Spanish, describing your general interests and your focus in law sch
  • Bullet points (also in Spanish) that list past or current experiences you’ve had speaking Spanish or working with Spanish-speaking client

Students will be contacted by September 1 with the results of their application. Students who are accepted will receive more information about the class schedule and location. Classes will be held weekly. The first class will meet the week of September 11 and the last class will meet the week of November 13.

In Crimmigration Clinic victory, Supreme Judicial Court rules state law enforcement lacks ‘detainer’ authority

Via Harvard Law Today

Credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts via Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, in a victory for the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program’s Crimmigration Clinic, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts issued a significant ruling on the question of whether Massachusetts police can detain and arrest someone for a U.S. immigration violation.

The court ruled in the case of Lunn v. Commonwealth that the Commonwealth’s law enforcement officers do not have the authority to arrest and detain an individual solely pursuant to a Detainer–a request from federal immigration authorities that a person placed under arrest by local authorities be further detained if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) believes the person may be deportable. The court arrived at the ruling based on the fact that there is no state statutory law or common law authorizing such an arrest.

In March, HIRC’s Crimmigration Clinic filed an amicus brief in Lunn v. Commonwealththat discussed the lack of legislative authorization for Massachusetts law enforcement officers and courts to arrest and detain an individual solely pursuant to an ICE Detainer. Specifically, the brief analyzed other civil arrest and detention authority under Massachusetts law and noted that procedural protections in those instances are absent when someone is held pursuant to an ICE detainer.

Crimmigration Clinic Supervisor and Lecturer on Law Phil Torrey, who is also HIRC’s managing attorney, and supervising attorney for the Harvard Immigration Project, filed the brief with Mark C. Fleming ’97, a partner at WilmerHale and vice-chair of the firm’s appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice.

Following the court’s decision, Torrey said, “In this landmark decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has recognized what advocates have been saying for years — there is no legal authority for Massachusetts law enforcement officer to detain someone solely pursuant to an ICE detainer. It is unlawful.”

Five HLS students helped write the brief: Tess Hellgren ’18, Emma Rekart ’17, Madelyn Finucane ’19, Harleen Gambhir ’19, and Alexander Milvae ’19. Hellgren and Rekart described the case and the brief, from which parts of the decision were drawn, on the HLS Clinical and Pro Bono Programs blog.

The decision, is the first ruling by a state’s high court on the question of whether state or local authorities can detain individuals based solely on a request by federal immigration authorities.

For additional coverage, visit

The New York Times: Court Officers Can’t Hold People Solely Under ICE Detainers, Massachusetts Justices Rule

WBUR“Mass. High Court Rules Local Authorities Can’t Detain People Solely On ICE Detainers”

It’s Time For Congress To Join The Fight Against Food Waste

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Originally published on huffingtonpost.com on July 26, 2017. Written by Emily Broad Leib, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, Deputy Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, DC.

This week, I am excited to join a group of advocates and chefs from Food Policy Action, the National Resource Defense CouncilReFed, and the James Beard Foundation in Washington, D.C. to put food waste on the plates of Congress.

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency and United States Department of Agriculture announced a national goal to halve food waste by 2030, but these agencies and Congress have not yet adopted policies to help us meet this ambitious goal. We are now approaching a critical opportunity to implement such policy change: the U.S. Farm Bill, expected to pass in 2018. This legislation shapes our food and agriculture system, covering everything from rural broadband to food assistance programs—yet the last Farm Bill, enacted in 2014, didn’t put a single dollar towards food waste reduction efforts.

Along with other food waste advocates, we have been working tirelessly to change that. Food waste is a drain on our economy and our environment, and reducing this waste has demonstrated triple bottom-line results: sending healthy, wholesome food to those in need, reducing the negative environmental impacts of food waste, and creating jobs and economic activity. These are the types of solutions our communities and our businesses want to see from Congress.

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Banning the Bomb: Reflections on the UN Negotiations for the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty

Via International Human Rights Clinic

photo of two students at UN

Carina Bentata Gryting and Alice Osman in the UN General Assembly Hall where the negotiations opened in March 2017.

By Carina Bentata Gryting JD ’18, Molly Doggett JD ’17, Lan Mei JD ’17, and Alice Osman LLM ’17

Signing up for the International Human Rights Clinic in spring 2017, we could not have imagined that it would lead us to the United Nations and global negotiations to ban nuclear weapons. With Bonnie Docherty and Anna Crowe as our clinical supervisors, we worked alongside London-based organization Article 36 as well as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the civil society coalition at the conference. We had the unique opportunity to not only witness, but also actually participate in, norm-building at the international level.

It was at times difficult to explain to those not involved in the negotiations why the ban treaty was an important or even a sensible cause. Many people questioned the impact of a treaty being boycotted by the nuclear-armed states and their allies. For those of us participating in the negotiations, however, the purpose behind the treaty was complex but clear.

Nuclear weapons should no longer be the only weapon of mass destruction not prohibited by international law. A categorical ban on nuclear weapons would increase the stigma surrounding the weapons and ramp up pressure on nuclear states to work towards eliminating their arsenals. Moreover, a strong humanitarian motivation drove the treaty. Prior conferences on the impact of nuclear weapons had led many countries to declare the catastrophic effect of nuclear weapons incompatible with any legal or practical purpose. Countries like the Marshall Islands, Algeria, and Kazakhstan suffered from years of testing and their populations have experienced decades-long harm. Victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, known as Hibakusha, along with their children and grandchildren, still deal with the health and environmental consequences of atomic bombs today. Survivors of this use and testing offered compelling testimony for why nuclear weapons should be banned.

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Harvard Mediation Program Welcomes New Clinical Instructor

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Catherine Mondell, Clinical Instructor, Harvard Mediation Program

Catherine Mondell, Clinical Instructor, Harvard Mediation Program

The Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) of Harvard Law School is pleased to announce the addition of a new team member. Catherine Mondell recently joined the staff as Clinical Instructor for the Harvard Mediation Program (HMP), a student practice organization under the auspices of HNMCP.

Cathy will supervise clinical students in the Harvard Mediation Program and work with HMP’s mediators, court liaisons and staff to support continued excellence in the mediation services HMP provides to the community. Alongside her work with HMP, Cathy maintains a private practice which focuses on mediation and arbitration services for complex commercial cases, is an active member of multiple organizations in the Boston area that support and promote dispute resolution alternatives, and has coached and taught mediation and negotiation skills to groups through the Harvard Negotiation Institute at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard, and to graduate students at other area schools.

“The Harvard Mediation Program has a strong commitment to training new mediators, a long-standing track record of providing opportunities for application of mediation skills, and a rich legacy of service to the community,” says Cathy. “I am thrilled to be joining such a fantastic team, and look forward to working with the clinical students as they experience all that the Mediation Program has to offer.

A graduate of Harvard Law School and former Partner at Ropes & Gray, Cathy spent the first 18 years of her legal career successfully litigating business, insurance and securities cases. Throughout that period, she worked with her clients to identify and deploy a wide range of dispute resolution tools, including mediation, arbitration, targeted litigation and structured settlement discussions. As of 2015, Cathy has focused exclusively on work as a mediator, neutral and educator.

“Cathy’s passion for mediation, her keen perspectives as a former litigator and now full-time ADR professional combined with the sensibilities that complement her work, provide a powerful example which students and others in the Mediation Program can learn from and aspire to themselves. It’s exciting to have her on board,” says Maureen (Mo) Griffin, Program Manager at the Harvard Mediation Program.

The Harvard Mediation Program’s (HMP) mission is to enhance the experiences of Harvard Law School students and other members of HMP by providing diverse opportunities to learn, practice, and teach mediation, and to serve the community by promoting effective mediation services.

This mission is accomplished by student board members elected to fulfill a variety of roles, community members, and HMP’s liaisons, who supervise new mediators and provide a constant presence in and connection to the courts that HMP serves.HMP is guided by experienced and dedicated staff members and the Director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program.

The Clinic hires human rights advocates Yee Htun and Salma Waheedi as clinical instructors

Via International Human Rights Clinic

We are thrilled to announce that the Human Rights Program has hired Yee Htun and Salma Waheedi as clinical instructors in our International Human Rights Clinic.

For the past year, Yee and Salma have worked with us as clinical advocacy fellows, supervising projects on everything from land rights and telecommunications policies in Myanmar to torture in Iraq. They also share a strong focus on gender justice.

For Yee, that focus comes from a personal place. She’s spent most of her career as an attorney working on women’s rights, often with refugee and migrant communities. Yee herself was born in Myanmar and immigrated to Canada as a government-sponsored refugee.

“Women’s rights for me is not an abstract concept but a cause to which I have dedicated most of my life’s work to,” said Yee. “Whether it is coordinating and launching the first ever global campaign with Nobel Peace Laureates to stop sexual violence in conflict or offering legal counsel to women’s organizations seeking to enact a prevention of violence against women law, I have done it out of the belief that only when we give power to women and girls do we advance the human rights for all.”

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The Leading Music Law Schools of 2017

Via Billboard

Behind the success of every artist — from the industry mainstays and chart-toppers to rising stars — is a lawyer fielding the deals and disputes that are a constant part of today’s ever-evolving music business. With the rise of new business models and the growing dependence on brand licensing and streaming, attorneys are more important than ever. The scope of their legal expertise is also wider, moving beyond issues of contract law to questions of intellectual property in the digital age and social justice in entertainment.

At which law schools do the top music counselors gain expertise? These 12 stand out as the alma maters of the majority of music’s most accomplished litigators.

Harvard Law School

City: Cambridge, Mass.
Enrollment: 1,771
Tuition and fees: $66,142 per year

Alumni who represent music artists will be on the bill for a two-day arts festival in September celebrating Harvard Law’s bicentennial year. The fest will include performances by clients represented by the school’s long-running Recording Artists Project, a legal-services clinic through which students provide pro bono legal services for Boston-area musicians. RAP and the Committee on Sports & Entertainment Law complement such courses as a new music and digital media class, which under Professor Christopher Bavitz explores music and the way legal principles manifest themselves in practice in the music industry.

Alumnus: Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel, Spotify

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Apply Today for the 2018 HLS Semester in Washington Program!

Deadline: August 25, 2017

Apply Now

The 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.

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 and much more.

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 jwroblewski@law.harvard.edu 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 25, 2017Apply today through the online application process!

LSC’s Project on Predatory Student Lending and Public Citizen Sue to Stop Education Department’s Illegal Regulatory Delay

Via Legal Services Center

The U.S. Department of Education broke the law when it announced a delay of a rule designed to protect students defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges and career training programs, two borrowers said in a lawsuit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The borrowers are represented by Public Citizen and the Project on Predatory Student Lending of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.

The lawsuit was brought by Meaghan Bauer and Stephano Del Rose, former students of the for-profit New England Institute of Art (NEIA) in Brookline, Mass. They allege that NEIA, which is owned by Education Management Corporation (EDMC), engaged in unfair and deceptive practices against them and other students that left them with a useless education, few job prospects and a mountain of debt. The students intend to bring suit against the school for its conduct in court, on behalf of a class. They also have asserted a federal right to have the Education Department cancel loans that the students obtained to attend the school based on the school’s unlawful conduct. The lawsuit seeks to invalidate the Department’s delay of the rule, and would allow the rule to take effect for all borrowers.

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Fueling Our Work to Reduce Food Waste: A Workshop in Maryland

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic 

Once you start working on food waste issues, you start to see it everywhere—from your bleary-eyed 7 a.m. breakfast at your hotel’s buffet to the conference spread of delicious, healthy salads and wraps. Where is all this leftover food going to go? You wonder, recalling the logistical barriers you’ve been researching for weeks. How can we keep it from going to waste?

Food Law and Policy Clinic

At Recovering Food in the Chesapeake Region: Policies, Resources and Innovations, a day-long conference we co-hosted with our partners at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future(CLF) in Silver Spring, Maryland, we clearly had some dedicated advocates in the audience. I say this not just because they asked thoughtful, in-depth questions about food waste reduction and recycling policies, nor because they presented their own clear and effective strategies and success stories of getting food waste policies off the ground. I say this because our 40-some attendees completely cleared the buffet table at the end of the day. Not a single cookie or vegan BLT wrap was left.

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Veterans Legal Clinic Files Class Action Against Massachusetts Treasury on Behalf of Veterans with Bad-Paper Discharges

Via Veterans Legal Clinic

Jeffrey Machado, one of the lead plaintiffs, while serving in Afghanistan.

Jeffrey Machado, one of the lead plaintiffs, while serving in Afghanistan.

On June 29, the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School filed a class action lawsuit in Massachusetts Superior Court on behalf of Army combat veteran Jeffrey Machado and an estimated 4,000 veterans from Massachusetts who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere since 9/11 but are considered to be undeserving of the state’s $1000 Welcome Home Bonus given to servicemembers when they are honorably discharged from the military.

The lead plaintiffs in this suit are two former Soldiers from Massachusetts who deployed to Afghanistan, honorably completed their enlistments, re-enlisted so that they could continue serving their country, and then later left the military with a bad-paper discharge assigned to their final enlistment periods.  Both are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to their deployments and experienced family and health issues that contributed to the conduct that led to the bad-paper discharges.

The Massachusetts Legislature created the Welcome Home Bonus in 2005, continuing a long tradition of providing benefits to returning servicemembers from Massachusetts. However, the Massachusetts State Treasury, which is charged with administering the Bonus program, recently decided that the two veteran plaintiffs were not eligible for the Welcome Home Bonus because their final enlistment periods ended with bad-paper discharges, despite the fact that their prior enlistments during which they had deployed had ended with honorable discharges.

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Pisar family establishes professorship and fund for International Human Rights Clinic

Via Harvard Law Today

Credit: Jerry Berndt

Credit: Jerry Berndt

Harvard Law School has announced that the family of the late Samuel Pisar LL.M. ’55 S.J.D. ’59, has endowed a professorship and a fund to support the International Human Rights Clinic. The funds established by Judith Pisar, Samuel Pisar’s widow, his daughters Helaina Pisar-McKibbin, Alexandra Pisar-Pinto, and Leah F. Pisar, and his stepson Antony Blinken, will be known as the Samuel LL.M. ’55 S.J.D. ’59 and Judith Pisar Professorship of Law, and the Samuel LL.M. ’55 S.J.D. ’59 and Judith Pisar Endowed Fund for Human Rights.

The professorship will have a focus on human rights in honor of Samuel Pisar, a renowned international attorney, presidential adviser, and Holocaust survivor who died in 2015. The clinical fund will support a range of activities at the International Human Rights Clinic, including research, scholarship, events, fellowships, internships, travel, and exchanges with peer institutions.

“We are immensely grateful to the Pisar family for their generous support of our faculty and the International Human Rights Clinic, which will honor a tireless champion for the rule of law, global governance, and human rights,” said Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor at Harvard Law School. “When I addressed the graduating Class of 2016 at Commencement, I chose to highlight Sam’s career and life. His courage, brilliance, hope, and creativity made such a difference across the globe; he advised leaders in the United States and in France, in government and in the private sector. As a survivor of the Holocaust, he showed enormous strength and also later wrote a powerful memoir, and collaborative works of art with Leonard Bernstein. Honored in three continents for his service to international relations and to human rights, he remains an inspiration to me. Through this gift, he will continue to inspire human rights lawyers, advocates, and scholars in the years to come.”

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PLAP court victory helps disabled parolees

Via Harvard Law Today

In May, Massachusetts’ highest court extended the American with Disabilities Act to mentally and physically disabled prisoners seeking parole, ruling that the state must help them get support systems in place in the community. The Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project filed the lawsuit, Crowell v. Massachusetts Parole Board, and Tabitha Cohen ’18 argued the appeal.

Tabitha Cohen

The suit was originally brought in state Superior Court but was dismissed on the motion of the defendant, the state Parole Board. PLAP’s Mike Horrell ’14 represented the plaintiff in the 2012 parole hearing that led to PLAP’s later lawsuit. Tucker DeVoe ’15 briefed and argued the case in the Superior Court. Erin DeGrand ’16 worked on PLAP’s appeal to the state Appeals Court, including coordinating the drafting of the appellate and reply briefs with Keke Wu ’18, Beini Chen ’18, and Ethan Stevenson ’17.

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Addressing Human and Environmental Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in New Ban Treaty

Via International Human Rights Clinic

Bonnie Docherty, associate director at the Clinic, delivering statement to countries negotiating nuclear weapon ban treaty at the UN in New York. Photo courtesy of ICAN.

Bonnie Docherty, associate director at the Clinic, delivering statement to countries negotiating nuclear weapon ban treaty at the UN in New York. Photo courtesy of ICAN.

Member states of the UN General Assembly are currently engaged in historic negotiations of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. At this point, nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not subject to a categorical prohibition in international law. A team from the International Human Rights Clinic, which is participating in the negotiations in New York, has joined the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in urging countries to adopt a strong treaty that is focused on preventing and remediating the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapon use and testing.

Prohibitions on the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of nuclear weapons are necessary but insufficient components of the new treaty. In order to address the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons effectively, states parties must also adopt positive obligations to provide assistance to victims in their territory and to remediate environmental contamination caused by nuclear weapon use and testing. In partnership with London-based NGO Article 36, our clinical team has released papers arguing for the inclusion of victim assistance and environmental remediation treaty provisions.

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Report offers critical recommendations for resettling refugees to safeguard human rights and U.S. national interests

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinical Program

Harvard Law School Report offers strategy for enhancing security, job creation, and equal treatment for all

Cambridge, MA (June 28, 2017) – At a time when the U.S. refugee admissions program is under serious threat and the world’s displaced population is at its highest, over 65 million, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program has released a far-reaching Report. The Report, made possible by a grant from the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation and catalyzed by the current situation facing Syrian refugees, contains extensive recommendations regarding the United States’ historical role in protecting vulnerable refugees, safeguarding foreign policy interests, advancing American job creation, and complying with humanitarian and legal obligations.

The Report, “Fulfilling U.S. Commitment to Refugee Resettlement,” offers new and critical information to Congress and the Executive Branch. The Report

  • Reviews U.S. legal and moral commitments under domestic and international law that together safeguard people fleeing persecution and fearing return to torture;
  • Identifies key national security reasons for supporting and enhancing the refugee program, in keeping with the U.S. foreign policy priorities of preserving regional stability in the Middle East;
  • Provides an in-depth discussion of the robust, multistep security assessment mechanisms already in place for screening refugees—who are already subject to the highest degree of security screening and background checks of any category of traveler to the U.S.—to make it more efficient and effective;
  • Offers viable policy solutions to improve the integration of resettled refugees through enhanced collaboration among government agencies, private resettlement agencies, and sponsors involved in domestic resettlement; and
  • Demonstrates the positive economic impact of refugee resettlement in the United States.

The Report also encourages non-governmental organizations to build on existing public-private partnerships to marshal more resources for resettlement. Drawing on the perspectives of longtime domestic refugee resettlement experts, the Report provides fresh insights into how these public-private partnerships work and the ways in which they can be strengthened.

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CHLPI’s Associate Director Speaks to Healio.com on the Senate Health Care Bill

Via Health Law and Policy Clinic

CHLPI’s Associate Director, Caitlin McCormick-Brault, was interviewed by healio.com for a June 22, 2017 story on the newly released Senate version of the health care bill meant to replace the Affordable Care Act. The article, Senate health care bill takes slower approach to House bill, expert concerns persist, looks at the key differences between the Senate and House health care bills.

Excerpt from the article:

“‘Despite calling itself the “Better Care” Act, the Senate bill would actually be worse for patients, particularly vulnerable patients such as older Americans, patients with chronic illnesses, and those enrolled in Medicaid,’ Caitlin McCormick-Brault, associate director, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law, said in a statement to Healio.com. ‘The Senate bill makes even deeper cuts to Medicaid that the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) does, although they phase them in over the next several years to delay the pain until after the next election cycle.’

According to McCormick-Brault, the Senate bill would result in patients facing higher insurance costs with less robust benefits and higher cost-sharing requirements. She advises physicians that the bill would make patients, particularly those under Medicaid, less likely to seek treatment or follow doctors’ orders when additional care is needed.

‘Doctors who see Medicaid patients will be significantly impacted as many of their patients will lose insurance altogether,’ she said.”

Read Senate health care bill takes slower approach to House bill, expert concerns persist at healio.com.

Webinar on the “Blueprint for a National Food Strategy” Available Online

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

On June 15, 2017, Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School held a webinar to explore the recently released Blueprint for a National Food Strategy. FLPC’s Emily Broad Leib and Emma Clippinger, and Vermont Law School’s Laurie Beyranevand hosted the webinar, which explained the research and findings in the report in more detail, and provided an opportunity to start a dialogue about making the idea of a national food strategy into a reality.

Court Orders Department of Education to Consider Student Loan Relief Application, Calling Request for Further Delay “Frivolous and in Bad Faith”

Via Project on Predatory Student Lending

HLS’s Project on Predatory Student Lending argued that the Department of Education did not consider the arguments or evidence presented by their client before rejecting her claim.

On June 9th, the United States District Court for the Central District of California issued an Order  that directs the Department of Education to rule on the loan relief application of a former Corinthian student that has been pending for over two years.  To date, the Department of Education has not ruled on thousands of applications for loan relief submitted by borrowers whose federal student loans were originated by private banks under the Federal Family Education Loan Program.

The Plaintiff, Sarah Dieffenbacher, filed her first application for loan relief in March 2015. Her loans went into default while her application was still pending.  In late 2016, Sarah received a notice that her wages would be garnished. She works as a home health care phlebotomist to support herself and her four children. She objected to the wage garnishment because the terms of her loan and federal law both provide that Corinthian’s fraudulent actions render her loans unenforceable. She asked the Department to hold the hearing on her objections to which she was entitled.

After the Department of Education overruled her objection, citing the fact that her file included a signed loan contract, and ordered the garnishment to go forward, Sarah filed a lawsuit against the Department in March.  Represented by the Project on Predatory Student Lending of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, she argued that the Department did not consider the arguments or evidence she presented before rejecting her claim. As the Court noted, her application was supported by 254 pages of exhibits, which included a sworn statement from Sarah as well as records from the Attorney General of California regarding documented misconduct on the part of Everest and its parent company.  The Department also did not provide Sarah with the requested hearing before issuing a summary denial.

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Bob Bordone’s last lecture: The seven elements of resiliency in hard times

Via Harvard Law Today

Professor Bob Bordone, who has now given a Last Lecture four times, began his talk to the Class of 2017 with words of appreciation: Getting to know them, he said, ‘has been a tremendous gift.” But then he apologized, explaining that he would follow last year’s lecture, “Best Job Ever,” with one with the more sobering title of “Worst Year Ever.”

After months dominated by the presidential election, and by unrest and tragedies around the world and on campus, “I think there’s a real sense that we might be entering, or have entered, an age where fear and anger, and winning and conquest, and violence are replacing empathy and compassion and generosity and peace as the kind of values that we might want to at least aspire to as people and as a nation,” Bordone observed. Drawing on concepts he teaches in the Negotiation Workshop, personal experiences, and some of his favorite poetry, he offered “a framework, of sorts, that I’m calling The Seven Elements of Resiliency in Hard Times.”

Comparing recent political turmoil to an especially challenging negotiation, Bordone spoke about engagement, noting that there are “a lot more ways to respond than just surrendering or fighting back.” He advised his audience to “[dig] in on what your own gifts are, and what your calling might be … because in fact we need people who are activists and resisters, and we need people, for example, who are peacemakers and bridge builders and facilitators.”

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The Law and Happiness in Bhutan

Via Harvard Law Bulletin

A new law school in the Land of the Thunder Dragon

Stephan Sonnenberg ’06 has been helping to design the law school’s curriculum and will be one of the 11 faculty members.

Credit: Kristen DeRemer
Stephan Sonnenberg ’06 has been helping to design the law school’s curriculum and will be one of the 11 faculty members.

Among the rugged mountains and the swiftly flowing rivers of Bhutan, new legal institutions are taking root. Soon this small country—with just over 750,000 inhabitants—will open its first law school.

In recent years, the Himalayan nation, wedged between China and Tibet to the north and India to the south, has undergone significant political and cultural transformations. In 2006, the nation’s fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, announced that he would step down in favor of his son and he set in motion the drafting of a new constitution to replace an absolute monarchy with a constitutional one. In 2008, a new constitution was ratified. Now, nine years later, the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law will open its doors to its first class in July.

Envisioned by the current king to honor his father and his father’s guiding development philosophy for Bhutan, which he called Gross National Happiness, or GNH, Jigme Singye Wang­chuck School of Law will operate under the motto “Justice, Service, Wisdom.”

GNH may sound a bit hedonistic to some, but its origins are Buddhist. It makes collective happiness the goal of government and emphasizes harmony with nature and traditional values. Where the United States has its “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Bhutan has the four pillars of GNH—economic self-reliance, environmental conservation, cultural preservation and promotion, and good governance.

“The school is the means of bringing GNH and justice to fruition,” says Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck LL.M. ’07, honorable president of Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law.

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Neither Facially Legitimate Nor Bona Fide–Why the Very Text of the Travel Ban Shows It’s Unconstitutional

Via International Human Rights Clinic

This article was first published on Just Security.

International Human Rights ClinicAs the litigation over the travel ban moves to the Supreme Court, the most important passage in the Fourth Circuit’s en banc opinion may be a tangential footnote finding “yet another marker” of illegitimate purpose in the text of the Executive Order. Both the first version of the Executive Order (of January 27) and the second version (of March 6) include language that any informed observer would recognize as evidence that the purpose of the travel ban is to gratify and further incite hostility against Muslims.Advocates seeking to persuade doubting Justices should not be distracted by the voluminous debates about whether candidate Trump’s statements count against the constitutionality of President Trump’s actions.  For Justices inclined to interpret narrowly the standard of review in immigration cases, the explicit statement of purpose in the first EO, and the residual markers in section 11 of the revised EO, should provide the starting point.

In the first EO, the final paragraph of section 1 explained the EO’s purpose as follows:

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.  The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.  In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

As the Fourth Circuit noted, “Numerous amici explain that invoking the specter of ‘honor killings’ is a well-known tactic for stigmatizing and demeaning Islam and painting this religion, and its men, as violent and barbaric.”  The thinly coded incitement throughout this purpose paragraph is perhaps best explained in Aziz Huq’s amicus brief for Muslim Rights, Professional and Public Health Organizations.

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FLPC Director Emily Broad Leib, along with Vermont Law Professor Laurie Beyranevand, Make the Case for a National Strategy in Georgetown’s Food & Drug Law Journal

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

In the most recent issue of Georgetown’s Food and Drug Law Journal, HFLPC’s Director Emily Broad Leib and Laurie Beyranevand, the Senior Faculty Fellow for Food Law and Policy at the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School, lay out their arguments for a comprehensive, national food strategy.  Food encompasses such a wide spectrum of issues—touching public and environmental health, immigration and labor, trade, and safety, among others—and is regulated by dozens of government agencies and a web of laws and regulations. This complexity requires a more efficient and effective approach than the status quo in order to improve our food system outcomes related to the environment, health, safety, and access.

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School have been working together to draft a Blueprint for a National Food Policy Strategy, and released a report with that very title in March of 2017. In it, they make the case that we can and should commit to a national food strategy that addresses and prioritizes food-related issues, and which sets goals that take into account food’s unique cross-section of interests and challenges.

The FDLJ article follows up on the report with an analysis about how such a strategy would tackle some of the hot-button issues at the heart of the most recent presidential campaign, such as reducing regulatory inefficiency, promoting economic development, and incorporating stakeholders’ perspectives—especially those from rural communities—who feel that policymakers in Washington are out of touch with their challenges. The ideal national strategy, they write, should be transparent, accountable, durable, and resilient. The authors argue that the strategy should be created or endorsed by the US government, but concede that if this administration won’t create one, a People’s Food Strategy, similar to the one created in Canada, would be a welcome start. However, they argue that ultimately such a strategy will need government buy-in or endorsement in order to be successful.

The full article is available online here.

Negotiating Climate Change: The Perils of “America First”

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

By Clinical Professor of Law Robert C. Bordone

Clinical Professor Robert Bordone Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School Director, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program

Robert Bordone
Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Director, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program

Much ink has been spent lamenting President Trump’s decision to withdraw from The Paris Agreement. Political leaders, scientists, environmental policy experts, and even U.S. companies have condemned Trump’s move. More than just promoting ecological and humanitarian disaster, President Trump’s decision hurts the United States from a diplomatic and negotiation perspective.

Though certainly oversimplifying, in broad strokes we might argue that there are two divergent approaches to how to think about negotiation on the international stage. The first approach assumes that building trust, promoting positive relationships and partnering with allies consistently over the long term is worthwhile and even essential to achieving one’s foreign policy goals. This approach means that you stand with your allies, trade across issues, and honor commitments made by your predecessors on behalf of your country. This approach characterized (in large part) the foreign policy approach of former President Obama’s administration.

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America Needs To Get More Strategic About Food Policy

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Originally published on huffingtonpost.com on June 14, 2017. Written by Emily Broad Leib, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, Deputy Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, and Laurie Beyranevand, Professor of Law, and Senior Faculty Fellow, Food Law and Policy at the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School.

“Eat your fruits and vegetables” is a simple-enough piece of nutritional advice most Americans have heard since they were young. When you look at America’s food policies, however, that straightforward missive gets incredibly complicated. Though our national nutrition guidance recommends that fruits and vegetables make up more than 50% of our dietary intake, the lion’s share of federal funding for farmers goes to soy, cotton, and corn. In fact, as a nation we produce 24% fewer servings of fruits and vegetables than would be necessary for us to meet that nutrition guidance.

There are many such head-scratching discrepancies all across our country’s food policy landscape. The web of food law in the United States is incredibly complex; for example, on the issue of food safety alone, there are over 15 federal agencies administering 30 different laws! Yet, at present, none of these laws or agencies are coordinated. For an administration that has pushed to reduce the role of regulatory agencies and save taxpayer dollars, the inefficiency of our food policies and laws is even more glaring.

At the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School, we’re committed to streamlining and improving our food policies. Earlier this year, we published Blueprint for a National Food Strategy which makes the case for laying all the pieces of our food policy on the table, together, so that we set goals and priorities, and fit them together in the way that works best. This week, we are hosting a webinar about our Blueprint report; the webinar will explain our research and findings in more detail, and provide an opportunity to kickstart a dialogue about making the idea of a national food strategy into a reality.

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Melissa Korta honored with Harvard Hero Award

Melissa Korta, Coordinator, Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Melissa Korta, Coordinator, Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Melissa Korta, Coordinator in the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP), was among 60 outstanding Harvard staff members from across the University who were elected Harvard Heroes for 2017. Harvard Heroes celebrates the accomplishments of Harvard staff whose work supports the mission of Harvard at the highest levels of contribution, impact and excellence. The annual celebration was held Monday, June 5th, at the Sanders Theatre. Hundreds of staff members from across the university filled the theater and applauded their colleagues for their strong commitment to excellence.

“Three words come to mind when I think of Melissa Korta – anticipation, execution, and excellence”, said Lisa Dealy, Assistant Dean of Clinical and Pro Bono programs. “She anticipates problems, makes sure that we solve them, and that we solve them in a comprehensive way. Melissa’s job requires her to touch every part of our operations, including facilitating relationships with a large group of faculty, staff, students, supervisors, and potential clients of our clinics. She juggles this complexity with ease – her high energy and level of engagement are contagious.”

Melissa started working at OCP in 2012 and was promoted from staff assistant in 2014. She has twice won HLS’s Peer to Peer Award, an employee-owned program that offers staff members a way to acknowledge and express appreciation for co-workers who make a difference in everyday work life.  Also, this year, Melissa was part of the advisory board to HLS’s Emerging Leaders program, a staff run development program focused on developing leadership skills through educational sessions, mentoring events, and community service.

In the words of Lisa Dealy, Melissa “is the glue that holds the office together and she does everything with her characteristic efficiency and good humor!”

Presentation for Judicial Externships at AALS Conference

Hon. Judge John C. Cratsley (left) and Kate Devil Joyce (right)

Hon. Judge John C. Cratsley (left) and Kate Devlin Joyce (right)

Kate Devlin Joyce and retired judge John Cratsley, who direct the judicial externship clinics and classes at Boston College and Harvard Law Schools, recently presented their innovative poster at the 40th Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education in Denver. Recognizing that students in both of their clinics spend many hours doing court observation and assisting their judges with legal research and writing, they developed three simulations, essentially advocacy role plays, for students to do in class. Their poster and accompanying handouts contained these role plays, each of which challenges students with advocacy exercises reflecting moments in court they will likely encounter in practice.

The first contains two jury selection exercises involving the Batson/Soares (MA SJC) issue of the improper use of peremptory challenges, first, by a prosecutor to exclude Hispanic jurors and, second, by defense counsel to exclude female jurors. The second role play challenges students to marshal the arguments necessary to persuade a judge to keep their client in a drug court rehabilitation program.  And the third contains two scenarios in which various degrees of judicial participation in civil case settlement raise questions of moving to disqualify the judge from continuing with the trial.

Each role play is illustrated in the poster and the accompanying handouts contain learning outcomes and performance measurements, a teaching guide, and the role play scripts. The overall goal of the poster and the handouts is to provide teachers of judicial externship clinics with options for more active and engaging classroom activities.

The Diné Bich’iya (Navajo Food Sovereignty) Summit

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

“Food has been used as a weapon against the Navajo Nation.”

With those words, Amber Crotty, a delegate to the Navajo Nation Council, began her closing remarks for the Diné Bich’iya (Navajo Food Sovereignty) Summit. “We’re in the remembering phase,” she continued; the Navajo people have to reconnect with their traditional food ways. The Food Law and Policy Clinic had flown me and my teammate, Katie, and our supervisor, Christina, to Arizona, so that we could attend the summit. All semester, we had been studying the 2014 Farm Bill, to see how the programs authorized by it could be used, or altered, to help the Navajo Nation regain control over its food system.

Regions of the Navajo Nation have obesity rates ranging from 23-60 percent, and 25 percent of people living on the reservation, which stretches across New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, are diabetic. There’s a lot of fast food, and few grocery stores. Hot Cheetos are the best selling snack across the reservation. Traditional foods and other healthy foods are harder to come by than highly processed alternatives, and are far more expensive. At the same time, Navajo farmers face barriers gaining access to land and water, and a lack of infrastructure makes it difficult for them to bring their products to market.

Local advocates have risen to face these challenges, and are working to achieve food sovereignty for the Navajo Nation. As a part of this effort, Navajo Vice President Jonathan Nez sponsored the Diné Bich’iya Summit to create an opportunity for stakeholders to come together, identify issues facing the Navajo food system, and brainstorm solutions.

The summit ran for three days. Christina, Katie, and I spent them flitting from one break out session to another, trying to soak up as much information as we could. We heard from Navajo politicians, like Council Delegate Crotty and Vice President Nez, community organizers, public health professionals, botanists, farmers, and anyone else interested in the Navajo food system. It was exciting to be around so many motivated people eager to make a change. We learned a lot, too!

We weren’t just there to listen, though, and Katie and I spoke at a breakout session on the second day. We presented a food policy toolkit that the Clinic had put together in 2015 (Putting Food Policy to Work in Navajo Nation) and the Clinic’s 2016 report on how to expand farm to school in Navajo Nation (Growing Farm to School Programs on the Navajo Nation). We were joined by two exceptional women, our host, Sonlatsa Jim-Martin of Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment, and Pam Roy, of New Mexico Farm to Table.

Although the summit kept us plenty busy, we still found time to enjoy its setting. We stayed in Chinle, Arizona, which sits right at the lip of the Canyon de Chelly – a deep, dramatic canyon that native peoples have called home for millennia. We hiked to the canyon floor one evening, where the sunset bathed the sheer sandstone walls in golden light. We’d gotten selfie-sticks in our welcome bags at the summit, and they got plenty of use.

It was a privilege to work on this project and to travel to Navajo Nation. I met so many amazing people there, and learned so much about the challenges they face and the work they’re doing to overcome them. It was an inspirational experience, and one I won’t soon forget.

Advocacy in Action

Via Health Law and Policy Clinic

Seeing advocacy in action was the thing that stuck with me the most at the Tackling Lung Cancer in Kentucky Workshop. I was there to present with CHLPI students and staff about current proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and how those proposals could impact the lives of patients living with lung cancer. Our presentation was designed merely to set the backdrop for the more targeted discussions to follow – developing concrete steps to fight lung cancer in Kentucky.

One of the steps that participants quickly coalesced around was one for which the clock was ticking. The latest session of the Kentucky legislature was ending the following week and there was a bill related to tobacco cessation on the docket that advocates in the room hoped to see approved. The bill—SB 89: An Act relating to health benefit coverage for tobacco cessation treatment—would require insurers to provide barrier-free access to tobacco cessation services to its consumers. The bill had passed the Senate nearly unanimously, and was set to pass the House too—if it ever hit the floor. Advocates at the summit were worried that the bill would stall it in the Health and Family Services Committee and the session would expire without a vote.

They were determined not to let this happen. Advocates quickly organized a plan for what to do—namely, have the Kentucky residents in the room call their legislators to discuss the importance of the bill. The issue wasn’t convincing legislators to vote for the bill (it had passed the Senate 35-2). The issue was convincing legislators to make it a priority to pass that bill over other legislation during a period in which time was a scarce resource. The atmosphere in the room was energizing as people realized that their efforts could help score a win on this issue.

I don’t know how many people in the room ended up calling their legislator. I don’t know how many convinced other people to call their legislators. But I do know that the bill passed out of committee and was approved 90-1 in the House.

Their efforts worked, and now it’ll be just a little bit easier to quit smoking in Kentucky.

Alumnus Spotlight—Toby Berkman ’10

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Toby Berkman ’10

Toby Berkman ’10

We caught up with Toby Berkman ’10, a two-time HNMCP clinic student, and current dispute resolution professional, for our alumnus spotlight this year.

During his years at Harvard Law School, Berkman also served as a student mediator in the Harvard Mediation Program, as a Teaching Assistant for the Negotiation Workshop, and after graduation, as the first HNMCP Associate (the title has since changed to Fellow). During his year at HNMCP, Berkman co-wrote, edited, and produced the first DVD teaching tool put out by the Clinic, in conjunction with the law firm WilmerHale, “Critical Decisions in Negotiation.” This fall, Berkman served as a facilitator in HNMCP’s newest, soon-to-be-released, DVD teaching tool on facilitated dialogue, Police-Community Dialogue, and this past spring semester, was a Lecturer in the Negotiation Workshop.

HNMCP: Can you trace any particular influences in your life that lead you to pursue the study of negation and dispute resolution at HLS? Given the range of clinic options available at HLS, why did you choose HNMCP?

Toby Berkman: I’d had a couple of hugely formative experiences in the years before law school. First, I started working for the nonprofit Seeds of Peace, and became friends with young people from countries around the world including Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and others. Then I spent a year as a teacher living in Casablanca, Morocco, and felt this really compelling connection to that place and its incredible cultural diversity, and then some time working for Seeds in Jerusalem. I was experiencing all of this in the early 2000s in the context of September 11 and then the Iraq war. I felt this calling to get involved and do something to promote cross-cultural understanding and dialogue. After a stint as a researcher in D.C. (focusing on international peace operations) I came to law school with a vague notion that I wanted to do something “practical” in the “real world” related to conflict resolution. Truth be told I had very little interest in being a lawyer—at least for the long term.

HNMCP was the one community at HLS where I felt totally at home, both with the other students and the instructors, and where I felt like my work really had meaning and was focused in the direction I wanted. As soon as I started working at the clinic I had this feeling like, “these are my people.”

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