Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Month: April 2013

Former TLC clinical student launches start-up

Former HLS clinical student John Bennett recently launched a Kickstarter project to fund Zen of 180, an LSAT preparation product that provides free explanations to LSAT questions. The project comes out of Zen Way Inc, Bennett’s  education technology startup committed to democratizing access to higher education. Zen Way is a 2013 Harvard University President’s Challenge finalist at the Harvard Innovation Lab.

Bennett, who worked at the Transactional Law Clinics while a student at HLS, found his clinical experience to be an asset when he began Zen Way.

My work with TLC has proven surprisingly helpful in running my business, especially in how to interface with our legal counsel and business consultants.

TLC helped me know which legal resources to use at Harvard, and the various services those groups could offer us. We used HLEP (Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project) to do some initial patent research for us, and have been at the i-lab since it opened to student teams.

Mainly, though, TLC helped me the most in thinking through the intellectual property issues that my business has; the clients I worked with presented challenging questions on patent ownership, creative commons licensing for online content, and even how to market a product that is not protectable under any IP regime.

Watch as Bennett explains Zen of 180 in the Kickstarter video above, or visit the campaign page to learn more about the project.


After the Bombings, Boston Marathon Remains an Inspiration

International Human Rights Clinic Senior Clinical Instructor Bonnie Docherty wrote a blog post for today’s one-week anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. Before she was an internationally renowned arms expert, Docherty was a local reporter for the Middlesex News (now MetroWest Daily News) whose job it was to cover the marathon every year. You can read her post, After the Bombings, Boston Marathon Remains an Inspiration, at the IHRC blog.

Clinical Staff Teach Multiparty Negotiation Class

[L to R] Jonathan Bennett ’12, Alexis Beveridge ’13, Tarik Elhussein ’13, Chris Davis ’14, Jae In Kim ’13, and Rory Van Loo ’07

HLS student Chris Davis’ (’14) reflects on the experience of advising Major League Baseball executives on an upcoming negotiation aimed at the implementation of an international amateur draft. Davis and his team (pictured above) competed for the chance to advise the MLB as part of the course “Advanced Negotiation: Multiparty Negotiation, Group Decision Making, and Teams,”  co-taught by clinical faculty Prof. Robert Bordone and Lecturer on Law Rory Van Loo. Read more here.

In the spirit of Gary Bellow

By Jeanne Segil and Abbey Marr, Co-chairs of the Gary Bellow Public Service award

Photo credit: Jon Chase

On Friday April 12th, the HLS community gathered to honor the legacy of Professor Gary Bellow, founder and former faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Clinical Programs, while recognizing the work of an incredible HLS alumna, Laurel Firestone (HLS ’04) and an inspiring HLS student, Stephanie Davidson (HLS ’13). The Gary Bellow Public Service Award was created in 2001 to recognize excellence in public interest work at HLS and to honor Professor Bellow.  The Award is entirely student-run and given annually by the student body of HLS to a student and alumnus/a whose commitment to social justice makes us proud to be a part of the HLS community.

Dean Minow opened the ceremony, speaking eloquently about Professor Bellow and his commitment to community lawyering and public service. She also introduced Professor Jeanne Charn, the Director of the Bellow-Sacks Access to Civil Legal Services Project and the wife of the late Professor Bellow, who shared the personal stories of faculty and students who fondly remembered Professor Bellow and his charges to his clinical students. Bellow’s presence was felt in the room as the two honorees received recognition for their commitment to legal services and community lawyering.

Laurel Firestone and community organizer Susana de Anda founded the Community Water Center, an environmental justice organization, based in San Joaquin Valley to ensure that access to water is recognized as a human right. Firestone’s dedicated work has impacted change at the community, regional, and state level. Her talk inspired students to “find their purpose,” to look in their own backyards and see people who often remain invisible. She suggested that community organizing is a vital component of creating change and empowering people.

Stephanie Davidson, the current president of the WLA and a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, spoke about her work within these organizations as she dedicated herself to anti-violence activism. Stephanie spoke passionately about her desire to change the paradigm of violence against women work, to move from being reactive to instead think about how to prevent such violence from occurring in the first instance. She plans to dedicate her career to such efforts and we were so excited to hear about the inspiring and important work she will continue to pursue.

The room erupted into standing ovation at the end of these talks as the HLS community demonstrated its appreciation for the work of individuals such as Laurel and Stephanie, committed and conscientious, determined to create change in a world that so needs it.

Jeanne Charn, the Director of the Bellow-Sacks Access to Civil Legal Services Project and the wife of the late Professor Bellow.
Photo credit: Jon Chase

Photo credit: Jon Chase

Photo credit: Jon Chase

International Clinical Collaboration in Argentina

In November 2012, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic arranged for continuing clinical student Marisa Taney ’13 to work with the University of Buenos Aires, CELS, and CAREF. Read about her experience at the HIRC blog; excerpts from her post are below.

“Upon arriving in Argentina, I went to CAREF to set my schedule: three days per week I would participate in the clinic, and the other three to four days I would work on the research project and help out on other tasks as needed. I had the opportunity to interview members of the government-run Comisión del Migrante (the commission within the national public defender’s office dedicated to immigrant advocacy), to confer with attorneys in the field, and to speak with numerous immigrants themselves. I attended workshops and trainings for immigrants to inform them of their rights under the new law and engaged in candid discussions about the immigrant experience in Argentina. Through it all, I learned an enormous amount about the region, the politics, and the social implications of being an immigrant in Argentina”

“During case presentations, the lawyers and interns would pause periodically to ask if I had any questions, and would go to pains to explain banal legal processes if they were unique to Argentina. My peers were as genuinely interested in my experiences in the United States as I was in theirs in Argentina, and they regularly stayed after meetings or class to talk to me or invite me to social events. It was in incredible experience.”

“Not only was it an opportunity for me to learn about another system of immigration law, but it also allowed me to truly engage with a different society and gain multiple perspectives on immigration policy. The geographic and region-specific challenges were different, but the basic issues underlying the work were the same, and the missions of our organizations remarkably parallel. Since returning to the states I have continued to speak with my supervisors and peers in Argentina, collaborating on cases and discussing future opportunities for exchanges.”

Clinical Blog Roundup

A recap of posts from HLS clinics and student practice organizations over the past week.

Tortured for Testimony: Anarchists Get Solitary Confinement for Not Snitching
Posted by Tori Porell at PLAP

Job Opportunities
Posted by HIRC

Business and Human Rights in Ireland: A New Blog
Posted by Shane Darcy, Visiting Fellow, Human Rights Program at IHRC

Filling the News Gap in Cambridge and Beyond
Posted by Cyberlaw

After Protests, Prison Firm Pulls Donation
Posted by Tori Porell at PLAP

Build the Future, Fix Our Schools
Posted by Jeanne Segil, JD ’14, at IHRC

The Queer Case Against Prisons
Posted by Tori Porell at PLAP

Event 4/17: IHRC launches MSI Integrity: A New Business and Human Rights NGO

Wednesday April 17
4:30 – 6:30 PM
Harkness South

Join the International Human Rights Clinic in celebrating the launch of the Institute for Multi-stakeholder Initiative Integrity (MSI Integrity), a non-profit organization that the Clinic has helped get off the ground. MSI Integrity examines the impact and value of voluntary business-related human rights initiatives, such as Fairtrade labeling and the Kimberley Process certification for conflict diamonds. Through research, critical assessment, and shared learning, MSI Integrity aims to ensure that these initiatives protect and promote human rights. Drinks will be served!

2L wins custody

Article written by HLS student Lerae Kroon

After months of advocacy, HLAB student attorney Chris Suenram’s hard work paid off. He delivered a baby to his client.

Suenram’s advocacy reunited Jasmine* with her baby girl after two-and-a-half months apart. Domestic violence forced Jasmine from the home she shared with her husband and his family.

Jasmine and her husband were married overseas through an arranged marriage. They came to Massachusetts with their baby and moved in with his family. She almost immediately became the target of abuse from her husband and his relatives. Jasmine was essentially a slave in the home — she was confined to the house, had no keys, and was not allowed to call her family overseas or do anything without permission.   The family believes female children are “liabilities” and subjected Jasmine to verbal abuse and physical violence.

When Jasmine contacted HLAB, she was staying in a shelter. She spoke very little English and had no family or friends in Massachusetts.  When she fled, her husband prevented her from taking the baby and also did not allow her any further contact.

Once HLAB took her case Suenram got right to work. With the support of his third-year mentor and his supervising attorney, he crafted a legal strategy to meet her immediate goal of getting her baby back.

One step was the hearing for temporary custody at the Probate and Family Court, where Suenram argued for Jasmine to be given full custody of her baby. He prevailed and mother and daughter were reunited.  “The social worker has told me that the transition has gone incredibly well,” said Suenram.

The power disparities in Jasmine’s case are prevalent among clients in HLAB’s Family Law practice. Many HLAB clients are victims of domestic violence, and face financial and emotional obstacles.

“It’s not exaggerating to say that Jasmine could not have obtained this result without legal assistance,” said Suenram. “It’s pretty amazing what she has been able to achieve in terms of standing up for herself and finding people who were able to help her.  She still has a long road ahead, but I am confident that she will be able to achieve a good life for herself and her children.”

*Not her real name

Suenram (’14)

HNMCP Director Robert C. Bordone co-authors innovative new dispute systems design book

Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program Director Robert C. Bordone has co-athored an innovative new dispute systems design book with Nancy H. Rogers, Frank E.A. Sander, and Craig A. McEwen.

The first coursebook of its kind, Designing Systems is a guide for both practitioners and pedagogues—a multi-disciplinary, skills-based, practical reference for the dispute resolution field. The authors use six, real-life case studies developed over the course of the book to illustrate dispute resolution systems theory and practice. They range from the design and construction of eBay’s innovative online dispute resolution mechanism to the groundbreaking work of Cure Violence as it systematically learns how to deploy former gang members as street mediators/violence interrupters on the streets of Chicago.

“I hope,” says Bordone, “this text will serve as a resource for faculty teaching dispute systems design and related courses, as well as to practitioners in the field whose job it is to facilitate the creation and improvement of more effective dispute resolution processes and systems.”

“Finally—the definitive coursebook dealing with designing and implementing alternative dispute resolution programs. One-stop shopping that explains the challenges and solutions in designing ADR Systems to resolve disputes both large and small. Must reading for students and practitioners alike.”
Kenneth R. Feinberg, Administrator of the 9/11 and BP Gulf Oil Spill Compensation Funds

“This is the gold standard for teaching and learning dispute system design. It brings multidisciplinary perspectives and practical wisdom from case studies. Anyone new to dispute system design in any field cannot afford to miss this. Every experiences scholar also will need to read this book to keep up with the next generation of scholarship and practices.”
Clark Freshman, Professor of Law, University of California, Hastings College of Law

Events: April 1 – 14

What: Clinical Registration Opens for 2013-14 Academic Year
When: Wed, April 3, 9am
Note: Clinical registration is for the entire 2013-14 year.

What: Veterans Legal Clinic Panel
When: Wed, April 3, 12-1pm
Where: WCC 2019 Milstein West A
Details: With featured speaker Coleman Nee (Secretary of MA Department of Veterans’ Services), Zach Stolz (Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick) and Dan Nagin (Clinical Professor and Director of HLS’s Veterans Legal Clinic). Join panelists and student members of the Veterans Legal Clinic to learn about the urgent needs of local veterans and the exciting work students are undertaking on their behalf. Lunch provided. (Flyer below)

What: Clinical Registration Closes for 2013-14 Academic Year
When: Fri, April 5, 12:59pm
Note: Clinical registration is for the entire 2013-14 year.

What: Toward a Civil Gideon: The Future of Legal Services
When: Sat, April 6, 10:15-3:30pm
Where: Wasserstein Hall 1015
Details: This symposium will feature scholar-practitioners from around the country discussing the access to justice crisis and how to solve it. Panelists include: Scott Cummings (UCLA); Russell Engler (New England School of Law); Jim Greiner (HLS); David Grossman (HLS); Gene Nichol (Center on Poverty); Deborah Rhode (Stanford); Rebecca Sandefur (U of I); and Richard Zorza (UCLA). If you can’t make it the whole day, feel free to stop by when you are available!

What: The People’s Law School: Community Education Workshops & Open House
When: Sat, April 13, 1-5pm
Where: 122 Boylston Street Jamaica Plain, MA. 02130
Details: Presented by the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School This is a Free Event, Registration Not Required. For More Information Call 617-522-3003 (Flyer below) Continue reading

Human Rights panel discusses cost of Iraq invasion, 10 years after: Video

The Human Rights Program at HLS, brought together representatives from Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, and the Center for Constitutional Rights to discuss the launch of the Right to Heal Initiative, a partnership they formed to “fight for redress.” Read more or watch below.

Human Rights panel