Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Massachusetts Considers Digital Right to Repair

By Alex Noonan J.D. ’19

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

On September 26, 2017, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure heard testimony on proposed digital “right to repair” bills H.143 and S.96. The two proposed bills would require manufacturers of digital devices to provide diagnostic, repair, and service information to independent technicians and owners of devices, information that is currently only available to technicians selected and authorized by the manufacturers. The bills would further require manufacturers allow independent technicians and owners to purchase replacement parts and service tools at a reasonable price. The bills by their terms relieve manufacturers of the obligation to reveal any trade secret; however, they do not address the practicality of providing service manuals and diagnostic information without exposing trade secrets, particularly for manufacturers who rely heavily on trade secret protection.

Massachusetts has tackled right to repair before. In 2012, Massachusetts became the first state to pass right to repair legislation for motor vehicles. Rather than face future legislation from other states, auto manufacturers agreed to make the Massachusetts law their national standard.

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New Winter Term Course Offered by Clinical Faculty

Lawyering for Justice in the United States

This seminar will allow students who have participated in an HLS clinic or SPO to draw on their collective experiences to explore questions about lawyering for justice in the United States in 2018. The course will take a deep dive into the why and how of systemic change and the role of lawyers in supporting it. Students will have conversations with each other and with faculty from a wide variety of HLS clinical programs, engaging in deep, guided reflection on their own past or ongoing clinical work. Students and faculty together will explore contemporary problems through a structural lens and will practice creative problem-solving geared toward identifying and evaluating potential structural solutions.

This course is by-application.  Interested students must submit: a resume (detailing their relevant legal practice experience), a short explanation of their interest in justice in the United States, how the course fits into their goals for law school and beyond, and what they hope to gain from the course.

Applications are due by Wednesday, October 25.

Read Course Catalog description

About Political Dialogue in a Confrontational Culture

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program 

Portrait photo of Oriol Valentí

Oriol Valentí i Vidal ‘17

Last week, images of the Spanish police brutally cracking down on voters in Catalonia’s illegal referendum on secession popped up on computer screens around the world, bringing with them a wave of international attention and unprecedented internal anxiety. 42.34% of eligible voters cast their vote, the majority of whom (90%) supported secession from Spain. Aside from the failed coup d’état in 1981, this represents Spain’s most profound constitutional crisis since democracy was restored in 1978, and remains a hot debate in Catalonia.

After finishing my LL.M. at Harvard Law School a few months ago, I came back to Spain: first to Madrid, and then—coinciding with the referendum for the independence of Catalonia—to Barcelona. However, as much as I was excited to be back home, viewing such extreme polarization first-hand worried me. Although Spanish political culture tends to be confrontational, the current level of social tension has seemed, at least to me, unparalleled.

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Independent Clinical with the MacArthur Justice Center Criminal Justice Appellate Clinic

Location: Washington D.C.

Applications Due: October 20, 2017

The Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center in Washington, D.C. (“MJC”) is offering a two-credit winter term clinical opportunity for students who are interested in appellate litigation and passionate about criminal justice issues.

Students admitted to the clinic will travel to Washington, D.C. office for the winter term to work full-time on appeals before federal circuit courts and/or the U.S. Supreme Court, which raise important issues related to civil rights and the criminal justice system. Students will have the opportunity to make a substantial contribution to the office’s ongoing appellate cases, including performing research and draft legal analysis for briefs that will be filed in federal court. Students will gain exposure to the broader appellate process, which may include participation in client interaction and strategic decision-making, analysis of factual records, and participation in moot oral arguments (depending upon the stage of their assigned appeals). Students will also have the option of continuing the clinic in the spring semester, allowing more substantial involvement in their assigned appeals and increased exposure to appellate litigation.

MJC is one of the nation’s premier civil rights organizations and champions criminal justice reform through litigation, in areas that include police misconduct, rights of the accused, issues facing indigent prisoners, the death penalty, and the rights of detainees. The organization’s Washington, D.C. office focuses specifically on appellate litigation as a vehicle for achieving change in these areas. Examples of issues raised in MJC appeals include:

  • Unsettled questions of criminal procedure under the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments (search & seizure, privilege against self-incrimination, right to a jury, right to counsel);
  • Fundamental trial rights under the Due Process Clause, including issues unique to capital trials;
  • Issues facing indigent prisoners, including the constitutional rights of prisoners to be free from cruel and unusual treatment by prison officials and access to courts;
  • Constitutional challenges to the use of solitary confinement in the prison system;
  • Challenges to certain discriminatory executive actions outside of the criminal justice system, including discriminatory practices of Immigrations and Custom Enforcement and discrimination against Muslim travelers at the border.

Students admitted to the clinic will be supervised by Amir H. Ali, who founded MJC’s Washington, D.C. office and serves as Supreme Court & Appellate Counsel. Mr. Ali will be a Lecturer at the law school during the spring term, providing opportunities to meet with students who continue the clinic during the spring semester.

Application:

Students interested in this clinic should submit a resume, an unedited writing sample, and a statement of interest (less than 300 words) that includes: (i) the student’s reason for applying to the clinic, including particular criminal justice issues the student is interested in; (ii) any prior exposure to appellate and/or criminal justice issues; (iii) whether the student would be interested in continuing the clinic during the Spring semester. Applications should be submitted to clinical@law.harvard.edu by October 20, 2017.

Limited funding for students’ travel/accommodations in Washington, D.C. will be available through the Office of Clinical Programs. Students will be notified of their application results by October 23, 2017.  Accepted students will be required to submit an Independent Clinical Application to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs by October 31, 2017.

Students interested in applying for funding must submit the Independent Clinical Funding Application by October 31, 2017 as well.

Public Education Policy and Consulting Clinic Info Session

The Center for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL) at Columbia University invites you to apply to participate in a 13-credit, full-semester course “Public Education Policy and Consulting Clinic”. This course brings together students from Harvard Law School and students in residence from law, business, education, and policy schools at Columbia, Harvard, Michigan, NYU, Penn, Vanderbilt, Yale, and other universities.

Through seminars and consulting projects, CPRL students immerse themselves in theory and hands-on practice needed to spur transformational change in public education. The consulting projects with education and other public sector organizations give students the chance to work on interdisciplinary teams under the guidance of full-time professionals with experience in P-12 management, consulting, and education research.

CPRL welcomes applications for the spring Spring 2018 semester. CPRL offers a limited number of scholarships granting up to $20,000 toward students’ home tuition, available for enrolled students who commit to starting their careers following graduation in legal or management positions in public or nonprofit organizations in the education sector. CPRL offers substantial job-placement support.

For course details and application information, see the attached FAQs and Course Announcement.

Interested? Attend an info session with Professor James S. Liebman, Columbia Law Professor and former Chief Accountability Officer of the NYC Department of Education Tuesday, 10/17 at 12:00PM in room WCC 3034. Please click here to register if you plan on attending. Lunch will be served!

Email cprl@law.columbia.edu to learn more and to speak with current CPRL students and alumni.

Helping low-income clients navigate the IRS

Tax Clinic students fight for clients’ rights, file potentially precedent-setting appeals

Via Harvard Law Today

The client worked at a minimum wage retail job earning $13,000 a year and was the family’s sole breadwinner. Because she and her aging mother had agreed to foster a relative’s child whose parents had been incarcerated, she filed a federal tax return claiming the earned income tax credit and advanced child tax credit, both of which are designed to benefit low-income households.

Then an IRS audit ruled her ineligible for those benefits – which would have brought an additional $5,000 into the household – saying the child’s foster care status did not qualify her as a dependent for purposes of these credits. But thanks to tenacious legal research and petition-filing by a Harvard Law School student working in the Tax Clinic of the Legal Services Center at HLS, the IRS ruling was overturned and the client received much needed additional income.

Leveling the playing field

Low-income clients come to Harvard’s Tax Clinic because they need an advocate to fight for their legal rights – rights that are meaningless if clients lack access to a lawyer to stand up for them.

Tax debt and the liens which the IRS files can prevent clients from getting jobs, while fixing tax problems allows them to reenter the job market and has a positive impact on their credit ratings.

Tax Clinic clients are military veterans, immigrants, or survivors of domestic violence. They find themselves under audit or in Tax Court because they have been victimized by scoundrel fly-by-night tax preparers who submit faulty returns on their behalf. Or they have survived abusive domestic relationships only to discover that spouses kept them in the dark about nefarious, unreported financial dealings that have potentially devastating tax consequences. Still others are vets who fail to file tax returns after losing jobs or businesses because they suffer from service-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

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IHRC’s partner in negotiations of Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty wins Nobel Peace Prize

Via Harvard Law Today

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), with which Harvard’s International Human Rights Clinic collaborated during the negotiations of a nuclear weapons ban treaty, received the Nobel Peace Prize today. The honor reflects international recognition of the humanitarian approach to disarmament, a movement that strives to minimize civilian suffering from inhumane weapons.

Members of the Harvard team (second to right), including Bonnie Docherty, Anna Crowe, and Lan Mei ’17, in a negotiating session of the new treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Credit: Ralf Schlesener
Members of the Harvard team (second to right), including Bonnie Docherty, Anna Crowe, and Lan Mei ’17, in a negotiating session of the new treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Over the past decade, ICAN has changed the course of nuclear disarmament by shifting the focus from national security to the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences these weapons cause.  Their work and the invaluable advocacy of survivors of nuclear weapons used in conflict and testing helped lead to an international ban on the weapons this summer.

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Clinic’s Partner in Negotiations of Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Via International Human Rights Clinic

The “positive obligations” advocacy team, including IHRC students and supervisors, moments after adoption of the nuclear weapon ban treaty on July 7, 2017.

We are thrilled to announce that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), with which we collaborated during the negotiations of a nuclear weapon ban treaty, received the Nobel Peace Prize today. The honor reflects international recognition of the humanitarian approach to disarmament, a movement that strives to minimize civilian suffering from inhumane weapons.

Over the past decade, ICAN has changed the course of nuclear disarmament by shifting the focus from national security to the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences these weapons cause.  Their work and the invaluable advocacy of survivors of nuclear weapons use in conflict and testing helped lead to an international ban on the weapons this summer.

The International Human Rights Clinic joined ICAN and UK-based disarmament organization Article 36 in the efforts for the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Supervisors Bonnie Docherty and Anna Crowe, along with a team of four students, provided legal support to the campaign during the treaty negotiations at the United Nations in New York.  They also advocated successfully for the inclusion of obligations to assist victims and remediate the environment harmed.

More than 120 countries adopted the treaty in July. Fifty-three have signed the treaty since it opened for signature last month. In so doing, those countries have committed to abiding by the object and purpose of the instrument.

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Support for the Harvard Community in the wake of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Sweeps

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

As you may have heard, there have been nationwide Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids targeting people living in areas that have designated themselves as ‘sanctuary cities.’ The sweeps have resulted in several hundred arrests across the country, and it is believed that approximately 50 people were arrested in Massachusetts. We have information that one person in Boston was arrested, but we do not know of anybody in Cambridge having been arrested. We are not aware of anyone affiliated with Harvard having been arrested.

We want to let the Harvard Community know that we stand ready to provide legal and social work support to members of the Harvard Community who are affected by this raid or any other ICE enforcement practices. We also want to reiterate that the Harvard University Police Department does not play any role in enforcing federal immigration laws, and federal authorities would need a warrant in order to access private spaces on campus. Should any member of our community be approached by immigration authorities, they should be referred to the HUPD.

We want to reiterate that we have not heard of a specific sweep that has affected anybody at Harvard or affiliated with Harvard. We will do our best to keep the Harvard Community informed as we obtain any further information.

Please feel free to reach out to us at 617-495-6648 or on our 24 hour hotline at 857-242-6755 walk in hours remain after 3:00 pm. For students in Harvard College, you may also wish to be in touch with the Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for advice and support at kderzon@fas.edu 617-496-4731.

New Markets Lab – Independent Clinical Program – January 2018

The New Markets Lab, a non-profit law and development center, will supervise an independent clinical project in January 2018 to offer students an opportunity to see firsthand the impact that the economic legal and regulatory environment has on development and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.  The independent clinical project will take place in both Washington, D.C. and Tanzania, where the New Markets Lab is working with partners on the ground, including the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, Tanzania Horticultural Association, and African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership, among others. The program will expose students to the roles of government, business, and international institutions in interacting with and shaping the enabling environment for business and trade to encourage agricultural development at the grassroots level.

The 2018 winter term independent clinical placement will involve working with the New Markets Lab to develop a Case Study that applies understanding of law and regulation to challenges affecting enterprises in the agricultural sector. As in past years, it will also include consultations with agribusinesses, local organizations and institutions, and public sector and civil society representatives to better understand how legal and regulatory needs and challenges are dealt with in the market and how local institutions could be strengthened in this area.  As part of the program, students are also required to produce a 15-page paper that conforms to the independent clinical program guidelines and is supervised by a Faculty Sponsor.

Application 

Students interested in applying should email their resume and a short statement of interest by October 20, 2017 to Katrin Kuhlmann at kkuhlmann at newmarketslab.org

Students will be notified of their application results by October 23.

Accepted students will need to secure a faculty sponsor and submit and Independent Clinical Application to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs by October 31, 2017.

Funding

This project is being funded through the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, and, therefore, there is no need to submit a funding application. It is anticipated that students who are selected for the program will have their transportation and housing costs covered.

Please feel free to email Ms. Kuhlmann if you have questions about the project and/or are trying to decide whether to apply.  She can be reached at kkuhlmann at newmarketslab.org, with a copy to Shannon Keating (skeating@newmarketslab.org), or by telephone on 202-309-5564 or 617-998-1569.

Helping Low-Income Clients Navigate the IRS

Via Federal Tax Clinic

Professor Keith Fogg, right, who heads the Tax Clinic, with Fellow Audrey Patten

Professor Keith Fogg, right, who heads the Tax Clinic, with Fellow Audrey Patten

Tax Clinic students and faculty fight for clients’ rights, file potentially precedent-setting appeals.

The client worked at a minimum wage retail job earning $13,000 a year and was the family’s sole breadwinner. Because she and her aging mother had agreed to foster a relative’s child whose parents had been incarcerated, she filed a federal tax return claiming the earned income tax credit and advanced child tax credit, both of which are designed to benefit low-income households.

Then an IRS audit ruled her ineligible for those benefits – which would have brought an additional $5,000 into the household – saying the child’s foster care status did not qualify her as a dependent for purposes of these credits. But thanks to tenacious legal research and petition-filing by a Harvard Law School student working in the Tax Clinic of the Legal Services Center at HLS, the IRS ruling was overturned and the client received much needed additional income.

Leveling the playing field

Low-income clients come to Harvard’s Tax Clinic because they need an advocate to fight for their legal rights – rights that are meaningless if clients lack access to a lawyer to stand up for them.

Tax debt and the liens which the IRS files can prevent clients from getting jobs, while fixing tax problems allows them to reenter the job market and has a positive impact on their credit ratings.

Tax Clinic clients are military veterans, immigrants, or survivors of domestic violence. They find themselves under audit or in Tax Court because they have been victimized by scoundrel fly-by-night tax preparers who submit faulty returns on their behalf. Or they have survived abusive domestic relationships only to discover that spouses kept them in the dark about nefarious, unreported financial dealings that have potentially devastating tax consequences. Still others are vets who fail to file tax returns after losing jobs or businesses because they suffer from service-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

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President Trump’s Latest Travel Ban Continues to Exceed His Authority under the INA

Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

On September 24, President Trump issued a new proclamation restricting travel to the United States from eight countries— Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, Venezuela, and North Korea. On Monday, the Supreme Court cancelled oral arguments scheduled for October 10 on the consolidated cases related to the previous iteration of Trump’s travel ban and will consider whether that case is rendered moot by the new proclamation.

The new travel ban, like the previous ones, exceeds the President’s authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as HIRC set forth in an amicus brief filed last week. The brief filed by immigration law scholars in the Supreme Court against President Trump’s Executive Order 13780, commonly referred to as the “Muslim ban” or “travel ban.”

The Court consolidated two related cases: Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Projectand Trump v. State of Hawaii, the former brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC); the latter filed by the State of Hawaii to challenge President Trump’s March 6 Executive Order.

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Student Spotlight: Corey Linehan ’18

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Portrait photo of Corey Linehan ’18

Corey Linehan ’18

It is an odd scene: thirty or so strangers gesticulating, nipping at each other, and slowly repositioning their cars along a single-lane road in exurban Missouri. We’re all here to catch our two-minute glimpse of the Great American Eclipse. Parking space is scarce, and everyone wants a spot. Still, we might, with a little creativity squeeze everyone in and preserve the view from our chosen bluff.

This shuffling draws my memory back to the first day of the “Negotiation Workshop.” During the opening plenary, the teaching team highlights how every student has extensive negotiation experience. Here in Lone Elk Park, I see exactly how.

My path to the dispute resolution community at Harvard began just forty miles from this midwestern park. As a high school teacher in north St. Louis County, I witnessed and participated in policy disputes about educational equity and racial justice that drew national attention. I came to law school to study how law shapes conflicts like those. In the “Negotiation Workshop,” I also found the opportunity to explore the human elements that ultimately define them.

Since then, opportunities provided by the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) have challenged me to take those human questions as seriously as the legal ones. My clinical team, for example, was asked to evaluate and propose revisions to a special education dispute resolution process for Washington, DC public schools. Rachel Krol, our clinical instructor, encouraged us to learn from community members in creative ways: attending a family engagement summit, examining chatter about our client on social media, and more.

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To Dialogue: Moving Towards Conversation About Refugee Resettlement in Maine

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

A team from the student practice organization Harvard Law School Negotiators worked throughout the Spring 2017 semester with Catholic Charities Maine on a new project entitled, “To Dialogue: Moving Towards Conversation About Refugee Resettlement in Maine.”

Mark Tomaier ’17, one of the project leaders, said of the experience, “This has been one of the most meaningful projects I’ve had in law school.” Tomaier led the project alongside Naomi Campbell ’17. In the Fall of 2016 both were students in HNMCP’s advanced course “The Lawyer as Facilitator.” Their work around dialogue and refugee resettlement in Maine this Spring drew heavily upon pedagogical theory in negotiation and facilitation they’d learned in the classroom.

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Clinic Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Members of Congress in Support of Access to Law

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

image of a courthouseOn September 25, 2017, the Cyberlaw Clinic and local counsel Catherine Gellis filed an amicus brief on behalf of members of Congress Zoe Lofgren (D-CA 19th District) and Darrell Issa (R-CA 49th District) in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The brief supports defendant-appellant Public.Resource.org (Public Resource) in the case American Society of Testing Engineers (ASTM) et. al. v. Public.Resource.org, Case No. 17-7035 (D.C. Cir.). The appeal — a consolidation of two district court cases, both filed by standard developing organizations (SDOs) — addresses the copyrightability of the law and standards incorporated therein. The crux of the case is whether the text of applicable law may be shared freely by non-profit organizations like Public Resource. 

When model codes and standards become part of federal, state, or local regulations, the text is often not reproduced in the location where the law is published. Rather, citizens interested in reading the content of enacted statutes and regs must access the incorporated materials via the SDOs’ publication channels. These may come with high access fees or remain incompatible with online accessibility tools for the disabled. Public Resource acquired copies of a number of standards and codes, made them public, and was sued for copyright and trademark infringement by the SDOs.

The Clinic previously filed amicus briefs on behalf of legal scholars in support of Public Resource in both cases brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  The district court ruled in favor of both sets of plaintiffs-appellees, the “ASTM Plaintiffs”—ASTMNational Fire Protection Association, Inc. (NFPA), and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)—and the “AERA Plaintiffs”—American Education Resource Association (AERA), American Psychological Association (APA), and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), finding copyright and trademark infringement in the publication on Public Resource’s website of model codes and standards incorporated into law.

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A Victory for Survivor-Tenants in Housing Court

Group photo of students in the Housing Law Clinic

Spring 2017 students in the Housing Law Clinic

By Nino Monea ’17

Every Thursday, the decadent Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston turns ugly. That’s the day of the week for the summary process docket, a euphemism for eviction cases. The building is named after the man who co-authored the Fair Housing Act, but there’s precious little about the modern housing court that could be described as fair. Each week, the tenants facing eviction, typically one hundred or more, are crowded into an undersized courtroom at nine in the morning as the clerk starts taking the roll call. Should you miss your name—perhaps you’re late because you had trouble finding childcare or someone to cover your shift at work—you’ll automatically lose, no questions asked. Ninety percent of tenants do not have a lawyer; nearly ninety percent of landlords do. The vast majority of tenants will end the day by signing one-sided settlements that absolve the landlord of any wrongdoing, waive all rights to appeal, and demand the tenant vacate within a matter of months, weeks, or even days. Those who are evicted suffer from long stretches of homelessness, decreased educational outcomes, and elevated rates of depression and suicide.

These problems are particularly acute for survivors of domestic violence. Over one-third of women in the United States have experienced domestic violence. Its effects are grave and far-reaching. Domestic violence is the leading cause of female homicides, and children who witness it experience similar trauma to those subjected to physical abuse. Cruelly, those who experience domestic violence are often victimized twice: once by the abuser, and again by the legal system. For it is not uncommon for the victim to be evicted because they are blamed for a “disturbance” on the property or even because they simply called the police.

In my final semester of law school, I had the privilege to represent some of these tenants through the Legal Services Center’s Housing Justice for Survivors Project. No class taught me as much. I learned about the practicalities of representing clients, whether it was negotiating with opposing counsel or responding to woefully incomplete discovery productions. I learned how important it is to work with community organizers like City Life/Viva Urbana or social workers to properly represent clients. And I learned that, despite all of the challenges that low-income, unrepresented people face, justice can be done in the most inspiring ways.

This happens in large ways and small. It can be helping a tenant who is illegally charged pet fees for her service animal receive a refund. It can be advocating for a survivor of domestic violence whose landlord refused to allow her exercise her right to terminate a lease early to escape her abuser. It can even mean helping on a case that went all the way up to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC).

I, along with Tara Knoll ’17 and Michael Zhang ’18, had the opportunity to write an amicus brief in the SJC under the supervision of Julia Devanthéry. We wrote in support of a tenant whose situation is all too common. She is an immigrant, a mother, and a fighter. Unfortunately, she was also in an abusive relationship. Her husband refused to add her to the lease on their apartment as part of the abuse, which impaired her ability to exercise certain legal rights, most pertinently, the right to contest an eviction. She eventually got a restraining order against her abuser, removing him from the home and her awarding full custody of the children. But, almost immediately after she did so, the landlord served an eviction notice after alleging that she was an “unauthorized individual” despite the fact that she lived in the apartment and was raising her children there. Because her husband had refused to add her to the lease, the landlord claimed she did not have the power to defend herself against the eviction. The housing court agreed and ruled she was not entitled to intervene in the eviction proceedings.

Our argument had three main parts (1) domestic violence is a severe and pervasive problem and driving force of family eviction and homelessness, (2) the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was designed to protect tenants in just such a situation, and (3) the tenant should be allowed to contest the eviction even if she was not on the lease.

The Supreme Judicial Court not only ruled in favor of the tenant, it did so decisively. It interpreted the rule that allows parties to join a lawsuit broadly. All a person needs to do to join a lawsuit is to claim an interest in the outcome of the eviction. This means that even if a survivor is kept off the lease, they can still challenge an eviction if the practical consequence is losing one’s home. Furthermore, the Court held that a mother can act to challenge the eviction on behalf of her children, who also stood to lose their home.

Although the Court’s ruling does not guarantee that the tenant will ultimately get to stay in her home—it only held she had the power to challenge the eviction—it is nonetheless a meaningful victory. It opens the courtroom door to victims of domestic violence and parents to stand up and exercise their rights. I’m proud of the small role I played in the case. For the work of the clinic is the highest embodiment of Harvard Law School’s mission: to contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.

On DACA, questions top answers

Via Harvard Law Today

Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program Staff Attorney Jason Corrall on HKS panel

Photo of panelists at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer.
Dan Balz (moderator) (from left) Chief Correspondent, The Washington Post, Fall 2017 Resident Fellow, Institute of Politics; Carlos Rojas, Special Projects Consultant, Youth on Board Massachusetts-based Immigrant Rights Advocate; Roberto Gonzalez, Professor of Education, HGSE; Jason Corral, Staff Attorney, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, talk during the panel: “DACA what’s next” after Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals inside the JFK Jr. Forum.

When the Trump administration announced on Sept. 5 that it intended to upend the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which has banned deportation of many young immigrants, the move seemed to set a general course for what would come next.

But by the time the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics (IOP) held a John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on the issue Friday, the decision had become murkier again, underlining both the significance and the complexity of the issues surrounding immigration, documentation, and legal rights for those young people.

Opening the discussion on “DACA: What’s Next,” moderator Dan Balz, chief correspondent for the Washington Post and a fall resident fellow at the IOP, summarized recent developments, asking the panel members — Carlos Rojas, an immigrant rights advocate and special projects consultant for Youth on Board; Roberto G. Gonzalez, professor of education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; and Jason Corral, staff attorney, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical program — for their take on the social media back and forth.

In announcing an end to the current program, President Trump had said he wanted Congress to determine a replacement policy within six months. But last week he tweeted: “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?”

Yet Rojas, who was brought to this country from Colombia at age 4, dismissed the idea that such tweets represented any real reversal. “His tweets are demonstrative of his role — an incredibly destructive, confusing, muddled role,” said Rojas, whose mother fled Colombia with her son because of violence that had claimed her brother. “Our ability to raise families and hold jobs is now in jeopardy.”

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Lawyers Discuss CIA Torture Lawsuit

Via Harvard Crimson

Two members of the legal team that settled a lawsuit earlier this year against the psychologists who designed and implemented a Central Intelligence Agency torture program spoke Friday afternoon at the Law School about their work on the landmark case.

Paul L. Hoffman—a civil and human rights lawyer and lecturer at the Law School—and criminal defense lawyer Lawrence S. Lustberg played major roles on the American Civil Liberties Union’s litigation team in Salim v. Mitchell, filed on behalf of three former CIA detainees. The case accused two psychologists, James E. Mitchell and John B. Jessen, of designing “cruel, inhuman” interrogation techniques that were used against detainees Suleiman A. Salim, Mohamed A. Ben Soud, and Gul Rahman in secret CIA prisons.

The case, which was settled in August, is one of the most high-profile attempts to date to hold the U.S. government accountable for using techniques considered to be torture in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Numerous detainees have filed lawsuits challenging torture by the US government. Mr. Salim, Mr. Ben Soud were the first ones to ever have their case get this far, get to the eve of trial, get to a settlement,” Lustberg said. “Nobody had ever entered into a settlement with a CIA operative before in the history of the nation.”

More broadly, Lustberg said, the case illustrated the tension in public interest litigation between a client’s best interest and a litigation team’s cause.

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The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau: Fight Trump’s Threat to Defund the Legal Services Corporation

Via Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

Weeks into office, Donald Trump took aim at the 40-year-old Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the single largest funder of civil legal aid, serving two million low-income people nationwide who can’t afford legal representation. His proposal? Destroy LSC’s entire budget —$503 million—every penny of which currently goes toward providing access to justice in our country’s courts. This decision affects us directly: Massachusetts receives $5.1 million in LSC funding and more than 757,235 of the Commonwealth’s residents are eligible for civil legal aid support.

While neither Appropriations Committee has adopted such a drastic measure, the House bill cuts the LSC’s budget by about 25%, and the Senate bill maintains the current funding level. Our message? No cuts; not now, not ever. Civil legal aid is already overburdened and underfunded. Without lawyers to help low-income people enforce their rights, those rights become meaningless, empty promises. These funding threats attack our justice system. We won’t stand for it; you shouldn’t either.

Photo of the building of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau located on Everett Street

Credit: Brooks Kraft
Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

We, the student attorneys, staff, and faculty of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB), know that if the White House demolishes LSC, it takes our nation’s prized promise down with it: equal justice under law. If Congress slashes the agency’s funding, it’ll destroy a legal aid lifeline millions of low-income Americans rely on, and exacerbate longstanding inequities that low-income communities of color face in our judicial system. The dignity of low-income people—children, veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, and domestic violence victims—is at stake in courtrooms across our country, and right here in the Commonwealth.

Though HLAB itself doesn’t receive LSC funding, as the second largest provider of civil legal aid in the Greater Boston Area, we know the LSC’s value, and how critical civil legal aid is to providing people with tools to protect their families, homes, health, and livelihoods. Every day we are forced to turn away potential clients, many of whom we refer to LSC-funded organizations, such as the Volunteer Lawyers Project, because we lack the capacity to serve them. But even with the LSC, we can’t meet the current overwhelming need for legal services in our community, from Dorchester to East Boston to Jamaica Plain. There’s already not enough LSC funding to go around—even small cuts would devastate access to justice.

If acted upon, Trump’s proposed cuts to LSC’s full budget will hit all 50 states, hard, and its aftershocks will leave many of our neighbors without the representation they so desperately need and deserve. Defunding LSC means that more domestic violence victims will face their abusers in court alone. It means more tenants who face hefty, arbitrary rent hikes from Boston gentrification projects will be evicted from their homes or continue to endure dangerously sub-standard housing conditions, especially when facing well-resourced landlord attorneys. And that’s only a handful of the consequences we stand to face.

Money shouldn’t determine one’s right to have parenting time, to be free from an abuser, or to stay in one’s home or in this country. The LSC and civil legal aid organizations like ours help level the playing field by providing legal assistance and representation, clinics, pro bono and court-based services, and access to information, language resources, and forms. It fulfills our nation’s bedrock promise of justice for all, not just for the few who can afford it.

When legal services are under attack, what will we do? Stand up and fight back. What can you do? Call your representative. Attend town halls, marches, meetings at City Life Vida Urbana, a tenant rights organization fighting evictions in Boston. Write an op-ed or letter to the editor in your local paper. Donate to a legal services organization. The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau will stand with you, alongside the millions of Americans who deserve the right to counsel. Access to justice is worth fighting for.

Alumnus Alec Karakatsanis and his Civil Rights Corps organization win $14.3 million settlement

Alec Karakatsanis ’08, alumnus of Harvard Defenders and the Criminal Justice Institute and founder of Civil Rights Corps (CRC) is making headlines for his effort to end the practice of jailing people for failure to pay fines or fees.  Recently, CRC won a $14.3 million settlement for over 25,000 impoverished people in Rutherford County, Tennessee, who were the victims of the County’s decision to privatize its probation system. HLS students doing pro bono work over their spring break helped on the case in 2015 and 2016. You can read more via:

The Murfreesboro Post

Rutherford County and Providence Community Corrections have settled a class action lawsuit over private probation practices for $14.3 million, a move compensating nearly 30,000 Tennesseans for fees the company allegedly extorted from probationers.

The private company is paying $14 million and Rutherford County is contributing $300,000 to class action members, according to court documents.

“This case is a tragic illustration of what happens when for-profit companies are allowed to turn the criminal legal system into a mechanism for making money,” said Civil Rights Corps attorney Elizabeth Rossi.

When PCC took over Rutherford County’s probation system several years ago, rather than receiving a fee from the county, it earned millions in profits annually by requiring payments from low-income people under its supervision. Often this meant having probationers sent to jail because they couldn’t afford to pay its private fees and trapping them in a cycle of debt, endless probation extensions and more jail time, the plaintiffs’ attorneys contend.

“The pursuit of money over justice has corrupted our legal system,” said Civil Rights Corps Executive Director and founder Alec Karakatsanis. “No human being should be put in a cage because she cannot make a payment, and no local government should make important decisions about liberty based on profit. We’re pleased that there is agreement to end these exploitative practices forever in Rutherford County.” Continue reading

Independent Clinical with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Location: Washington D.C.

Applications Due: October 20, 2017

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious faiths. Becket seeks interns for the winter term to work in its Washington, D.C. office on a variety of Supreme Court, appellate and trial-level matters. Such work might include representing: religious ministries seeking protection from government mandates to violate their faith; Native Americans seeking the right to use eagle feathers in their religious ceremonies; prisoners seeking the right to exercise religion while incarcerated; members of the military seeking accommodations to allow them to continue to serve while meeting religious requirements for their appearance or dress; and mosques, churches, and temples challenging zoning decisions that restrict their ability to build houses of worship or other ministries.

Interested students are requested to send a resume and cover email to clinical@law.harvard.edu and Chelise Fox at cfox@becketlaw.org by 5pm on Friday October 20, 2017.

Students who are selected must submit an independent clinical application to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP) by October 31, 2017.

Students will be eligible for housing expense reimbursement from Becket.

Students seeking reimbursements for travel will need to submit a funding request to OCP by October 31, 2017.

LSC Alumna Leading the Way for People with Disabilities

Via Legal Services Center

Haben Girma, a Harvard Law School alum and alum of LSC’s Disability Litigation Unit (now the Safety Net Project), is featured on the cover of the September issue of the American Bar Association Journal for her consulting and public speaking work encouraging companies to hire people with disabilities and to develop fully accessible products and services. Girma has worked with organizations ranging from Apple and Google to Pearson Education and the American Alliance of Museums.

Before going into consulting, this former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom fellow practiced litigation for more than two years with the nonprofit organization Disability Rights Advocates.

Girma is a first-generation immigrant who has both limited hearing and vision and refers to herself as “Deafblind.” She was named one of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels.

Successfully Protecting Housing Rights of Sexual Assault and Domestic Abuse Survivors

Via Legal Services Center

photo of apartment buildings

Getting out of a lease to leave an unsafe home

Attorneys and students in LSC’s Housing Justice for Survivors Project are working on multiple fronts to protect the rights of survivors of sexual assault and physically abusive relationships to ensure that they have safe, affordable housing. Sometimes that means helping tenants break a lease to relocate quickly. In other cases, it means fighting to help them hold onto an apartment the survivor formerly shared with an abuser.

Their efforts are leading to favorable rulings in the courts and greater understanding of state laws that protect survivors from being re-victimized.
Most recently, their work filing an amicus brief in one case has helped lead to a major court ruling in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. That ruling ensures that even if a survivor’s name is not on a lease, even if she/he is labelled an “unauthorized occupant” by the landlord, or even if she/he is accused of fraud for living in the apartment without being on the lease, she/he still may have a valid claim to the apartment and that claim should be heard at trial.

Survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking often have to leave their homes with little notice or planning in order to avoid harm by a perpetrator who knows where they live. Clients of LSC have had to leave their homes because their perpetrator lived upstairs, because they were getting ready to file criminal charges and feared retribution, because their abuser threatened their safety in and around their homes, or because their rapist worked around the corner from where they live.

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LSC Reaches Out to Homeless and At-Risk Vets at Stand Down 2017

Via Legal Services Center

Group photo of the Legal Services Center staff

Members of the Veterans Clinic at LSC with volunteers from Veterans Legal Services as well as the MA Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Francisco Urena

A team of lawyers from LSC’s Veterans Clinic joined staff and volunteer lawyers from Veterans Legal Services  to offer legal advice at  the 2017 Greater Boston Stand Down on September 8 at City Hall Plaza. More than 100 Veterans who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness came to the legal services tent as part of the day’s events.

Stand Downs take place across the country and bring together community providers and Veterans in one place to make it easier for Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to access services such as employment assistance, housing assistance, medical care, wellness programs, legal support, and prevention services.

The event in Boston was organized by the New England Center and Home for Veterans.

LSC has participated in the Greater Boston Stand Down for several years, and a number of veterans who attend the event each year ultimately become LSC clients to receive in-depth legal representation on issues such as VA and disability benefits, SNAP and other public benefits, tax controversies, or issues concerning housing law, family law, estate planning, and consumer law.

HRP Welcomes New Staff and Visiting Fellows

Via International Human Rights Clinic

Photo of Debbie Frempong and Dana Walters side by side

Debbie Frempong and Dana Walters, the new program assistants at HRP.

Now that the semester is underway, we want to extend our warmest welcome to all of the new staff and Visiting Fellows at the Human Rights Program. They are, in a word, fantastic.

Debbie Frempong, the new Program Assistant for the International Human Rights Clinic, comes to us from Harvard Divinity School, where she graduated with an MTS in Religion, Politics and Ethics. She holds a B.A. in Public Policy and Politics from Pomona College.

Debbie is taking on many of the responsibilities previously held by Katherine Young, who until recently worked as Program Associate. This summer, she was promoted to Program Manager, in charge of administrative management of the International Human Rights Clinic and the financial administration of the Human Rights Program.

Dana Walters, the new Program Assistant for the Academic Program, comes to us from the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, where she was a coordinator, and the Atlantic Media Company, where she was a fellow. Dana holds a B.A. in English and American Literatures from Middlebury College and an M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago, where she was previously pursuing a doctorate.

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Spotlight on Student Practice Organizations

Harvard Law School has 11 Student Practice Organizations (SPOs) providing students a wide range of opportunities to gain practical legal experience starting in their 1L year.  Each SPO is headed by 2L and 3L students who serve in leadership positions and one or more supervising attorneys who provide legal oversight and supervision. Most SPOs also work closely with an HLS clinic so students enjoy a cohesive experience in the respective area of the law during their time at HLS.

Every fall semester, Student Practice Organizations host information sessions to familiarize new students with their work and application process. A list of these events and deadlines can be found here. Most (but not all) SPOs require an application and all of them require students to complete a training. Everyone, including LL.M. students, is welcomed and encouraged to participate in SPO practice.

While students do not receive academic credit for participating in SPOs, their hours can count towards the 50-hour pro bono graduation requirement starting 1L year.

Student responsibilities and time commitment vary across SPOs. Students who participate have found the experience to be positive and meaningful. They report they enjoy the community they build with other students while helping real people and communities in need of legal services.

Here are some of their reflections:

Harvard Law School Library: A trove of resources for clinics and student practice organizations

The Harvard Law School library offers a wealth of resources including information guides, tools, and toolkits relevant to students and faculty working in clinics and student practice organizations (SPOs). With the front-line lawyer in mind, the library covers more than 50 subject areas, each one detailing the best way to get started with legal research, including pertinent regulations, case law, and journal articles.

There are also more than 10 Library Liaisons, assigned to the clinics and SPOs, ready to help clinical faculty, staff, and students develop efficient research skills and techniques through training sessions and individual meetings.

More than that, clinics and SPOs have access to a number of online tools, including:

  • LexisNexis, where a dedicated LexisNexis on-campus-representative can offer trainings on topics related to a specific clinic’s subject matter;
  • WestlawNext for quick access to textual forms and clauses, fillable PDF forms, and drafting aids;
  • Bloomberg Law to find a topic and keep current on issues; and
  • Practicing Law Institute Discover Plus for access to more than 50,000 documents, including treatises, course handbooks, answers books, transcripts, and forms.

Recently, the library began offering free and total access to Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education’s (MCLE) OnlinePass, a searchable database containing all MCLE’s live and archived webcasts, books, forms, and practice-area professional development plans.

OCP encourages you explore these resources and connect with your library liaison, individually or as a group, to meet your specific clinic or SPO needs.

For more information please visit the library’s Services for HLS Clinics and SPOs website.

Guidance to undocumented/DACAmented members of the Harvard University community

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

University President Drew Faust recently sent a letter to President Trump urging him to continue the DACA Program and to vigorously defend it in federal courts. In her letter President Faust writes: “At Harvard and other institutions of higher education across the country, DACA has made it possible for talented and motivated students to pursue their education and explore meaningful ways of contributing to our communities and economy.”

The University will continue to advocate for the continuance of DACA and will continue to support DACA and undocumented students with resources needed to thrive in their academic endeavors at Harvard and beyond. In that context, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic at Harvard Law School extends the following guidance to individuals concerned about DACA status.

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Welcoming Kendra Albert and Kicking Off the 2017-18 Academic Year!

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

With September just around the corner, we here in the Cyberlaw Clinic are eager to get the fall semester underway. And, we are especially excited to announce that the start of the new term comes with a new addition to our practice and teaching team in the form of the one and only Kendra Albert! Kendra is a familiar face around Harvard Law School and the Berkman Klein Center, having worked at Berkman before attending law school at HLS. Kendra was a student in the Cyberlaw Clinic during the spring term of their third year, back in 2016. Kendra spent a year in private practice at Zeitgeist Law in San Francisco from 2016-17 before rejoining us as a Clinical Instructional Fellow this week.  We are delighted to have Kendra on board and anticipate that they will contribute to a wide variety of our projects involving privacy, copyright, and related issues.

Portrait photo of Kendra Albert, Clinical Instructional Fellow, Cyberlaw Clinic

Kendra Albert, Clinical Instructional Fellow, Cyberlaw Clinic

Kendra’s arrival comes in the midst of some additional staff changes at the Clinic. We are delighted to report that Jessica Fjeld has assumed the role of Acting Assistant Director of the Clinic and has been appointed a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. In that capacity, Jess will co-teach the Cyberlaw Clinic Seminar along with Clinical Professor Chris Bavitz this fall. Vivek Krishnamurthy will take on the role of Clinic Attorney, splitting his time between Clinic projects concerning technology and human rights and Berkman Klein Center research initiatives (primarily from his new homebase on the west coast).

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FLPC Welcomes New Team Member Katie Sandson

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Portrait photo of Katie Sandson, Clinical Fellow, Food Law and Policy Clinic

Katie Sandson, Clinical Fellow, Food Law and Policy Clinic

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) is happy to welcome Katie Sandson to the team as a Clinical Fellow!

Katie first became involved with the Food Law and Policy Clinic as a student in the Food Law and Policy Seminar in the fall of 2015. During law school, she spent three semesters with FLPC as a clinical student, focusing primarily on state and federal food waste and food recovery initiatives, as well as the clinic’s work in Navajo Nation. As a law student, Katie also participated in the Employment Law Clinic and the Tenant Advocacy Project, worked as a research assistant on the Access to Justice Lab’s Intimate Partner Violence Triage Study, and was a member of the Senior Board of the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender.

Katie received her B.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis and her J.D. from Harvard Law School, cum laude, in 2017.

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