Last month, three graduating students, Samuel Weiss ’14, Catherine B. Cooper ’14, and David Baake ’14, received Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowships. The fellowship is designed to identify and help develop new leaders in social justice. All three students participated in the Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. Here is what they had to say about their experiences:

Catherine B. Cooper ’14

Catherine B. Cooper ’14

“My clinical experience at HLS was instrumental in preparing me to be a Ford Fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Through the International Human Rights Clinic, I gained skills in litigation, documentation, and human rights advocacy that are essential for both my fellowship and long-term career.  But I am particularly grateful for the incredible people I have had the opportunity to work with.  Through the International Human Rights Clinic, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic, and Harvard Immigration Project, I found brilliant mentors who were both inspiring and challenging and a community of public interest students who were mutually supportive and extremely dedicated to clinical work.”

Catherine will serve as a legal fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights. She will be advocating for reproductive freedom both domestically and globally.

David Baake ’14

David Baake ’14

David Baake, who participated in the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic said “My experience… was one of the highlights of my time in law school. I was able to work on a variety of interesting and important projects, including a memorandum for a Massachusetts state representative, a Supreme Court amicus brief, and a white paper on offshore drilling. These experiences allowed me to develop practical skills that were not emphasized in other aspects of the law school curriculum. They also allowed me to develop a relationship with Professor Jacobs, who has been an excellent teacher and mentor.”

David will be working as a legal fellow in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate Center in Washington, D.C. He will be supporting the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan through advocacy and litigation.

Samuel Weiss ’14

Samuel Weiss ’14

Samuel participated in the Capital Punishment Clinic and the Crimmigration Clinic. “While the idea of focusing immigration enforcement on folks with criminal convictions has intuitive appeal, in the Crimmigration Clinic we got to see how often good people faced devastating consequences for trivial crimes,” he said. “The statutes most relevant to crimmigration are extremely punitive, especially to people with drug convictions, and often suck discretion out of the system so that immigration judges are left to rubber stamp removal orders. The poor drafting of these statutes makes them confusing but also means that there is room for advocates to be creative in trying to win their clients’ relief. The fact that immigrants facing deportation have no right to counsel creates a huge opportunity for students to help folks navigate an incredibly complex and punitive system. As an experienced practitioner in exactly these types of cases, Phil Torrey was able to closely mentor us as we tried to help folks find some avenue for relief.”

Samuel will work as a legal fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Center for Justice, in Washington, D.C. During his fellowship he will seek to end the use of prolonged solitary confinement through class-action litigation and policy advocacy.

Please read more about the students in the HLS News article Three from HLS named Ford Fellows; Harris is keynote speaker