Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Category: In the News (page 1 of 10)

Clinical Education at HLS: Four Experiences

Via Harvard Law Today 

Credit: Dana Smith

With 29 clinics in a wide range of fields of law and policy, students develop skills in an experiential program that constantly adapts to their interests, as well as to new approaches and areas of the law.  “Our clinics have a particular power because students aren’t mere interns or simply second-chairing cases—we are grooming them for leadership in the world,” says Clinical Professor Daniel Nagin, vice dean for experiential and clinical education and faculty director of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center.

Over 1,000 students enrolled in clinics this past year, either at one of 18 in-house clinics supervised by clinical faculty or through 11 externship clinics, including one that is focused on the role of state attorneys general, which, in an era rife with debate over states’ rights, is in huge demand. Some 700 students engaged in pro bono work through one of the 11 in-house Student Practice Organizations, which assist clients from Cambridge to the Mississippi Delta.

The HLS clinical program is one of the largest providers of free legal services in New England. In Boston and Cambridge alone, 3,556 clients were served in 2016, and hundreds more were represented in other parts of the state and country, and internationally.

“The level of expertise of the faculty and staff, the incredible students, and the phenomenal resources of the law school allow us to be a nimble program that can respond to the needs of clients and, more broadly, to the rule of law in the world,” says Lisa Dealy, assistant dean for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

For a glimpse of the clinics today, here are accounts of four projects connected to pressing legal and social issues: environmental protection, gentrification of low-income neighborhoods, immigrants’ rights, and prisoners’ rights in an age of mass incarceration.

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No Crime to Be Poor

Via Harvard Law Today

Credit: Lindy Drew

There is no shortage of serious legal issues facing poor people in Greater St. Louis, especially people of color, says Blake Strode ’15, who was born and raised in the area. Just three years out of HLS, Strode is back home fighting the criminalization of poverty as executive director of ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit civil rights law firm in St. Louis that has filed landmark cases that have already improved the lives of tens of thousands of low-income people.

Strode, who majored in international economics and Spanish at the University of Arkansas and toured the world for three years as a tennis professional before law school, always planned to go into public interest law. At HLS, he represented prisoners in disciplinary and parole hearings through the Prison Legal Assistance Project, helped fight evictions and foreclosures in Boston through Project No One Leaves, and was a student in the Housing Law Clinic at the Legal Services Center.

Not long after the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Strode read a white paper on the over-policing of people of color in north St. Louis County that ArchCity Defenders had just published. The paper, which presaged a later Department of Justice report, “was the first time I’d seen that level of analysis of that problem in St. Louis,” he says. He reached out to the organization’s executive director and co-founder, Thomas Harvey, and soon found himself back in his hometown with a Skadden Fellowship to do housing-related work.

ArchCity had recently filed several cases challenging the constitutionality of modern-day debtors’ prisons—the jailing of poor people because they are unable to pay court fines and fees—and Strode changed his focus to helping build the organization’s civil rights litigation unit through impact litigation targeting this practice as well as police misconduct and inhumane jail conditions. In his short time there, he and his colleagues have filed more than 30 civil rights lawsuits in federal court, partnering on some with Civil Rights Corps in Washington, D.C., founded by Alec Karakatsanis ’08. Strode played a significant role in obtaining a landmark judgment against the city of Jennings for imprisoning people unable to pay municipal fines: $4.75 million for a class of about 2,000 people. Settled in 2016, the case resulted in sweeping policy changes that serve as a model for legal reforms in other courts.

In January 2018, at the age of 30, Strode was named ArchCity’s new executive director when Harvey decided to leave.

“My goal is the same as our organizational goal: to combat the criminalization of poverty and state violence against poor people and people of color,” he says.

“Our clients are poor and overwhelmingly people of color, which in St. Louis means overwhelmingly black. We are seeking systemic change with and for them, which is only possible through a concerted effort of both legal and nonlegal advocacy. We’re calling for nothing less than that.”

ArchCity, which relies heavily on private donations, was primarily a volunteer organization until a few years ago; it now has a full-time staff of 20, half of whom are lawyers, Strode says. Yet there is so much need in the community that growth is a top priority, he adds. That means building capacity in order to represent more clients and expanding to other parts of the state. ArchCity is a holistic provider, so growth also means expanding advocacy in housing, access to education, and consumer matters.

And while ArchCity’s victories are heartening, “even those, we have to work very hard to hold on to, and those gains aren’t enough,” Strode says. The work can be especially difficult in a politically conservative area like Missouri, “where millions of people face the greatest systemic challenges on a day-to-day basis because those challenges are institutional and deep-seated.” However, he adds, “The ways our clients engage in fighting back are really inspiring and inspire us to remain committed.”

Natalie Trigo Reyes ’19 wants to help vulnerable communities—starting at home in Puerto Rico

Via Harvard Law Today

Credit: Mark Ostow
Natalie Trigo Reyes ’19

After Hurricane Maria roared over Puerto Rico in September 2017, crippling the island where Natalie Trigo Reyes ’19 grew up and where much of her family still lived, she felt “completely overwhelmed.” Within days, however, she put together an event that raised about $40,000 for relief efforts, collected enough emergency goods to fill three large trucks, and joined Harvard Law Professor Andrew Manuel Crespo ’08 and Lee Mestre of the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs to plan the school’s response to the disaster.

Using her contacts (Trigo Reyes co-founded a non-profit in San Juan in 2012 to support public-private partnerships), she helped to organize a mission to Puerto Rico over the law school’s spring break to provide legal and humanitarian aid. “Natalie was our connection to this world of different NGOs, community leaders and charitable organizations,” says Crespo. “Any time we hit some sort of issue, bump, or question, Natalie said, ‘I’m on this.’”

Months after Maria hit, tens of thousands of Puerto Rican residents are still living without adequate shelter. About a dozen of the 29 Harvard Law students on the trip helped to repair houses damaged by the storm.  The others, including Trigo Reyes, worked with local lawyers in the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Recovery Centers located around the island, helping residents file appeals to try to claim disaster relief they had been denied. About 60 percent of the claims filed with FEMA by Puerto Rico’s residents for money to rebuild homes have been rejected for insufficient documentation, according to reports.  Many houses have been passed informally from generation to generation, so much of the work focused on establishing a chain of ownership through affidavits, old land registry forms, or death certificates. This was complicated by the fact that Puerto Rico, which was a Spanish colony until 1898, has a legal code different from the rest of the U.S., based partly on the Spanish civil system. Trigo Reyes and the other students tried to get through as many FEMA appeals as they could—she remembers one morning when she filed 11—yet at the same time they wanted to take time for people who were traumatized by the storm and its aftermath, and needed to tell their stories. “Having the opportunity to go to these remote locations and help people claim [what is] rightfully theirs was really emotional for me,” says Trigo Reyes. “These are U.S. citizens, and they are entitled to these FEMA benefits.”

The work she did in Puerto Rico grew naturally out of her personal values and professional experience. She came to HLS with a degree in economics and six years of work in federal government, including in the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Chambers of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (as special assistant to the justice, she accompanied her on two trips to Puerto Rico). The HLS trip this spring also tied in with Trigo Reyes’ quest to seek out creative ways to use the law on behalf of vulnerable communities.

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In Clinic Case, Jury Finds Former Bolivian President Responsible for Extrajudicial Killings of Indigenous People; Awards $10 Million in Damages

Via International Human Rights Clinic

April 3, 2018 – In a landmark decision today, a federal jury found the former president of Bolivia and his minister of defense responsible for extrajudicial killings carried out by the Bolivian military in September and October 2003. The decision comes after a ten-year legal battle spearheaded by family members of eight people killed in what is known in Bolivia as the “Gas War.” It marked the first time in U.S. history a former head of state has sat before his accusers in a U.S. human rights trial. The jury awarded a total of $10 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs.

Both the former Bolivian president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, and his former defense minister, José Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, have lived in the United States since they fled Bolivia following the massacre known as “Black October.”  During that period, more than 50 people were killed and hundreds were injured. In Bolivia, in 2011, former military commanders and government officials who acted under Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín’s authority were convicted for their roles in the killings. Both Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín were indicted in the same case, but could not be tried in abstentia under Bolivian law.

The lawsuit originated in the International Human Rights Clinic, and dozens of students have worked on the case since 2006.

“After many years of fighting for justice for our family members and the people of Bolivia, we celebrate this historic victory,” said Teófilo Baltazar Cerro, a plaintiff and member of the indigenous Aymara community of Bolivia, who were victims of the defendants’ decision to use massive military force against the population. “Fifteen years after they fled justice, we have finally held Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín to account for the massacre they unleashed against our people.”

In Mamani v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín, the families of eight Bolivians who were killed filed suit against Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín in 2007. Today’s verdict affirms the plaintiffs’ claims that the two defendants were legally responsible for the extrajudicial killings and made decisions to deploy military forces in civilian communities in order to violently quash opposition to their policies.

“To me, it was the biggest honor of my life to work with the plaintiffs and learn from them in their struggle for justice,” said Thomas Becker ’08, who brought the idea for the lawsuit to IHRC after spending time in Bolivia and learning about the massacre there. “It’s an extraordinary privilege to witness this and be a small part of this.”

The three-week trial included the testimony of 29 witnesses from across Bolivia who recounted their experiences of the 2003 killings. Twenty-three appeared in person. Eight plaintiffs testified about the deaths of their family members, including: Etelvina Ramos Mamani and Eloy Rojas Mamani, whose eight-year-old daughter Marlene was killed in front of her mother when a single shot was fired through the window; Teófilo Baltazar Cerro, whose pregnant wife Teodosia was killed after a bullet was fired through the wall of a house; Felicidad Rosa Huanca Quispe, whose 69-year-old father Raul was shot and killed along a roadside; and Gonzalo Mamani Aguilar, whose father Arturo was shot and killed while tending his crops.

One witness, a former soldier in the Bolivian military, testified about being ordered to shoot at “anything that moves” in a civilian community, while another recounted witnessing a military officer kill a soldier for refusing to follow orders to shoot at unarmed civilians. Witnesses recounted how tanks rolled through in the streets and soldiers shot for hours on end. Others testified about how the president and minister of defense committed to a military option instead of pursuing dialogue with community leaders to reach a peaceful resolution.

In 2016, a U.S. appeals court held that the plaintiffs could proceed with their claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), which authorizes suits for monetary damages in U.S. federal court for extrajudicial killings. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín then sought and were denied a review by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017, and the case moved forward in U.S. District Court. After a review of the evidence gathered by both sides, District Court Judge James I. Cohn ruled on February 14 that the plaintiffs had presented sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

“There are just no words for what the plaintiffs have done over the past ten years to seek justice for their lost loved ones as well as many others who were killed in Bolivia,” said Tyler Giannini, Co-Director of Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic. “Today the jury gave the plaintiffs a huge victory, and showed that the former president and his defense minister are not above the law.”

“When I heard the verdict, I almost couldn’t believe it,” added Susan Farbstein, Co-Director of Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic. “The only thing I could think of was: We didn’t let down the plaintiffs, we didn’t disappoint them, we did our jobs.”

The plaintiffs and their litigation team.

The plaintiffs and their litigation team.

As co-counsel, the International Human Rights Clinic has been involved in all phases of the litigation from the outset, including researching and drafting for the complaint and various motions and briefs, assisting with oral arguments, and undertaking more than a dozen investigative missions to Bolivia since 2007. Over the past year, during the discovery phase, students traveled to Bolivia numerous times, and assisted with document review, interrogatories, and the depositions of plaintiffs, witnesses and experts; more than a half dozen students worked on every facet of the case during the three weeks of trial.

“It was fascinating to work under the legal team and have complete faith in their talent and ability to manage such a complex case,” said Amy Volz ’18, who traveled to Bolivia on four fact-finding trips. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

After the jury announced its verdict, the defendants made a motion asking the judge to overturn the jury’s finding of liability against both defendants. Both parties will submit briefing on this issue in the coming weeks.

“We’re not one to leave halfway through the fight,” said Baltazar Cerro. “We will struggle until the last moment.”

In addition to the Clinic, a team of lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights and the law firms of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Schonbrun, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman, LLP, and Akerman LLP are representing the family members. Lawyers from the Center for Law, Justice and Society (Dejusticia) are cooperating attorneys.

Blast from the past – Harvard-Backed Legal Aid Office To have Board From Community

Via Harvard Crimson 

Published August 1, 1969

A Harvard-sponsored office which provides legal said to low-income residents of Cambridge will soon be guided by a policy-making board composed largely of representatives of the community served by the office.

This week, the Community Legal Assistance Office (CLAO) sent letters to 15 community organizations–including local planning teams, a tenant seat, and a welfare rights organization–and asked each organization to designate a representative for the board.

Of the board’s initial 29 members, 17 will be community representatives, while most of the remainder will be Harvard Law School students and Faculty, and representatives of City and state bar associations.

The powers of the policy-making board have not yet been defined, but it is expected that the board will have a major say in determining the future course of the legal aid office.

“As the board considers policy issues, it presumably will develop more and more insight into what the most productive and responsive relationship between community and law school can be for a joint venture in legal services. One can anticipate, therefore, that the most appropriate formal relationships among everyone involved with CLAO will come into sharper and sharper focus as the board continues to function,” the office’s letter said.

Founded in October, 1966, the CLAO office is funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity and by the Harvard Law School. The bulk of CLAO’s financing comes from the OEO, while the law school pays primarily for handling criminal cases, which Congress had forbidden OEO to pay for.

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Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead

Via Harvard Law Today

Experts gather to reflect on a growing movement to end the international proliferation of inhumane and indiscriminate weapons

Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead 1

Credit: Heratch Ekmekjian
In early March, international experts gathered for “Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead,” the inaugural conference of the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI) at Harvard Law School.

Earlier this month, about two dozen international experts gathered for “Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead,” the inaugural conference of the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI) at Harvard Law School.

Drawing on their own involvement in creating international law, conference participants reflected on the development of the humanitarian disarmament movement, which strives to end civilian suffering caused by inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, and discussed where the movement should go from here. Humanitarian disarmament is a key focus of the ACCPI, which formally launched under the leadership of Associate Director Bonnie Docherty ’01 on March 5.

“I was thrilled to have the key players in humanitarian disarmament on campus, and the energy they brought was inspiring,” said Docherty. “It was the perfect way to kick off the ACCPI.”

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Third Symposium on Legal, Cultural and Strategic Issues in Counterterror Operations takes place at HLS

Among the Countertenor Law Symposium presenters were Christopher Anzalone (first row, third from left) a scholar at the Kennedy School of Government and Dr. John Park (first row, fourth from left), Director of the Korea Working Group.

Among the Countertenor Law Symposium presenters were Christopher Anzalone (first row, third from left) a scholar at the Kennedy School of Government and Dr. John Park (first row, fourth from left), Director of the Korea Working Group.

On March 3, Harvard Law School hosted the third annual Symposium on Legal, Cultural and Strategic Issues in Counterterror Operations. The day-long symposium was organized by John Fitzpatrick, JD ’87, a Senior Clinical Instructor at Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) and Staff Sergeants Lisa Baskall and Derek Piatt of the Army’s 3rd Legal Operations Detachment. Over two dozen active duty and reservist uniformed Army Judge Advocates and Paralegals attended the day-long presentations by several speakers from Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School.

Fitzpatrick teaches and supervises hundreds of HLS students in PLAP, and is also a Major in the US Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He has previously taken leaves of absence for an active duty Army tour in Afghanistan and for human rights-related assignments in Congo and Niger. Fitzpatrick said he is excited about organizing this annual event, which aims to break down barriers and build bridges between private academia and the military.

“These communities of knowledge benefit exponentially from a greater awareness of what is going on over the other side of their proverbial fences” he said. “Such an increased situational awareness makes our military that much more an effective fighting force, and in turn allows our academic communities to be better-informed about current perspectives and concerns in our military.”

The speakers included Christopher Anzalone, an International Security Program scholar at HKS’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Dr. John Park, Director of HKS’s Korea Working Group. Mr. Anzalone, a leading authority on the Somalian insurgent factions addressed current political, legal and cultural aspects of the Somalian conflict. Dr. Park, a renowned specialist on North Korea and frequent news commentator discussed developments in the Korean crisis.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to participate in the Legal, Cultural and Strategic Issues in Counterterror Operations Symposium” Anzalone said. “I spoke about the complex interaction between politics, different societal groups and actors, and the political, financial, and military involvement of the US, UN, EU, and African Union in the ongoing insurgency in Somalia and why it is vital to understand how US involvement affects state-society relations on the ground.”

Anna Crowe, LLM '12 being introduced to Counterterror Law Symposium attendees by Harvard PLAP's John Fitzpatrick, JD '87.

Anna Crowe, LLM ’12 being introduced to Counterterror Law Symposium attendees by Harvard PLAP’s John Fitzpatrick, JD ’87.

Mr. Anzalone and Dr. Park were followed by two HLS speakers from the Human Rights Program, Anna Crowe, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law in the International Human Rights Clinic, and Yasser Hamdani, a Visiting Fellow in the Human Rights Program. Ms. Crowe spoke about the legal and practical hazards confronting noncombatants in the active battle space and other areas of armed conflict, as well as challenges facing refugees displaced by armed conflict.  “The Symposium sparked rich discussions on crucial legal questions that arise in and after armed conflict, and I was so glad to have the opportunity to be part of these discussions, and help in the goal of building bridges between the military and academia,” she said.

Human Rights Fellow Yasser Hamdani (left) shown with John Fitzpatrick, JD ’87.

Mr. Hamdani, a well-known Advocate in Pakistan’s High Courts, a news media commentator on law and politics, and member of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, spoke about the future and possibilities of the rule of law in Pakistan. “The Symposium gave me an opportunity to interact with the legal minds in the US Army and to bring attention to key issues in the often fraught and contentious US-Pakistan equation. I was glad to have had the opportunity to present my point of view as a Pakistani who is personally invested in greater cooperation between the two countries.”

Fitzpatrick said the experts brought impressive depth of knowledge and insight to the Symposium. “We are incredibly grateful to them for their generous time and helping make this event a success.”

Kensinger Named Co-winner of 2018 ABA Tax Section Spragens Pro Bono Award

Via Legal Services Center

Legal Services Center volunteer tax attorney Dale Kensinger has been named recipient of the Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award from the American Bar Association’s Tax Section. He will receive the award at a luncheon on February 10, when the Tax Section holds its mid-year meeting in San Diego, California.

The ABA Tax Section established the award in 2002 “to recognize one or more individuals or law firms for outstanding and sustained achievements in pro bono activities in tax law. In 2007 the award was renamed in honor of the late Janet Spragens, who received the award in 2006 in recognition of her dedication to the development of low income taxpayer clinics throughout the United States.”

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Carrying on a legacy

Via Harvard Law Today

Carrying on a legacy

Credit: David M. Barron/Oxygen Group Photography,br> Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III with Shayna, Stacy and Lev Grossman.

On Saturday, November 20, family, friends, students and colleagues of the late Harvard Law School Clinical Professor David Grossman gathered at HLS to celebrate his life, honor his community activism and support his fight for social justice at the second annual David A. Grossman (DAG) Fund fundraiser.

Grossman, who passed away in 2015 after a long battle with cancer, was a passionate and tireless advocate for low-income residents in Boston and beyond who were threatened with displacement from their homes. An expert in housing law, he dedicated his career to fighting on behalf of struggling tenants, homeowners, and communities.

As the managing attorney of the Housing Unit at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and later as the faculty director and managing attorney of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Grossman fought for the rights of underprivileged Bostonians who could not otherwise afford legal counsel to challenge unfair housing practices, while mentoring and inspiring hundreds of law students at Harvard Law School to do the same.

In honor of his commitment to protecting those in need, Professor Grossman’s widow, Stacy Grossman, founded the DAG Fund for Social Justice in 2015 to support first-year HLS graduates using the power of the law to advance social justice and effect positive community change.

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The Hidden Health Crisis of the Opioid Epidemic

Via Health Law and Policy Clinic

Originally published by Reuters on December 7, 2017. Written by Robert Greenwald, faculty director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School and Ryan Clary, executive director of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable.

The American epidemic of opioid abuse is finally getting the attention it warrants. While policy solutions continue to be inadequate, the decision by President Trump to declare a national opioid emergency has helped to increase discussion about the problem and how the country can solve it. But the conversation also needs to address a dangerous—and largely ignored—interconnected public health crisis wreaking havoc among young Americans.

The problem is that more Americans than ever are injecting opioids and inadvertently infecting themselves with hepatitis C. Shared needles mean shared blood-borne infections—and that’s how the opioid crisis has created a new generation of hepatitis C patients. The number of reported hepatitis C infections nearly tripled from 2010 to 2015, with the virus is spreading at an unprecedented rate among young people under 30—who are now, for the first time, the most at-risk population for contracting and transmitting hepatitis C.

In the United States, an estimated 3.5 million people, and likely more, are currently living with hepatitis C. The virus kills nearly 20,000 Americans each year—more than HIV and all other infectious diseases combined.

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Project on Predatory Student Lending’s Director of Litigation, Eileen Connor, selected for the 2017 “Rising Star” award from the National Consumer Law Center

Via Legal Services Center

The Project on Predatory Student Lending’s Director of Litigation, Eileen Connor, has been selected for the 2017 “Rising Star” award from the National Consumer Law Center for her significant contributions to consumer law. Eileen’s award comes as a result of her Second Circuit victory in the case Salazar v. King. Her clients were defrauded by the predatory practices of the now-defunct Wilfred Beauty Academy.

Wilfred, a for-profit chain of cosmetology and business trade schools, came under government investigation in the 1980s for the misuse of student aid funds and the falsification of loan applications. The result of the investigation was an overwhelming amount of evidence proving Wilfred’s fraud in certifying students’ eligibility for loans. In 1996, the Department of Education found that Wilfred’s fraudulent practices were widespread and recommended that all Wilfred students who were improperly enrolled receive a loan discharge, reimbursement for money they had paid, and a restoration of their credit. Despite its own recommendation, the Department continued to collect on these loans, including through involuntary collection methods such as seizing tax refunds and garnishing wages.

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Students help groups to pursue climate action

Via Harvard Gazette

Photo of students in Alaska

Photo by Caroline Lauer
Vik Bakshi (left), Caroline Lauer, and Yuan Zhang were part of a team of graduate students that traveled to Alaska to develop an innovative plan for reducing carbon emissions by preserving existing forest land.

How could preserving forests in Alaska or reducing nitrogen fertilizer runoff on farms in the Midwest help an organization interested in mitigating climate impact?

This was one of the questions posed to diverse teams of graduate students brought together as part of the new, multidisciplinary “Climate Solutions Living Lab” course launched by Harvard University last spring to help push forward the transition to a carbon-free future that supports planetary and human health.

Led by Wendy Jacobs, the Emmett Clinical Professor of Environmental Law and director of the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School, and developed in collaboration with the Harvard Office for Sustainability, the three-year research and teaching project was funded by the University as part of its living lab initiative to use the campus as a test bed for innovative sustainability solutions that can then be replicated across much broader levels.

“No single professional discipline can tackle climate change in isolation; collaboration is critical,” said Jacobs. “We designed this course to address real-world challenges faced by climate leaders who are interested in investing in off-site emissions-reduction projects that can be proven to deliver environmental and social benefit.”

The course’s outcomes are expected to offer Harvard clear strategies for how it can most effectively pursue high-quality, off-site emissions projects in the short term as part of the University’s longstanding commitment to modeling how organizations can dramatically reduce the climate impact of their operations. These same strategies, says Jacobs, can be implemented by other organizations.

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Women refugees and why law matters

Via Harvard Law Today

In many ways, Jane’s life in Kenya was idyllic. She was an educated, confident professional woman with a flourishing career. She owned her own perfume business, and was four months into a prestigious new job in the banking sector. She was an active member of a close-knit church community, and she was raising a daughter she dearly loved, whom she had named “Angel” after her miraculous recovery from infant health problems.

There was only one problem in her life: her husband. In the privacy of their home, he had become increasingly violent and abusive.

When her husband deliberately burned their four-year-old daughter’s hand, and then brutally beat Jane and tried to strangle her, she realized that he was truly capable of killing her. She knew that he had powerful connections, and could find her anywhere in Kenya. Using a tourist visa she had obtained to visit her brother in the U.S. later in the year, she and her daughter quickly booked a flight to Boston, with no long-term plan.

After landing, Jane took her daughter directly to the Boston Children’s Hospital to have the dressing changed on her burned hand. There, a social worker put her in touch with Greater Boston Legal Services.

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Clinic alumna wins International ‘Outstanding Young Lawyer’ Award

Via The Gleaner

Photo of Malene Alleyne posing with her Outstanding Young Lawyer award

Malene Alleyne posing with her Outstanding Young Lawyer award

Jamaican human rights lawyer Malene Alleyne is the latest recipient of the prestigious Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year award from the International Bar Association (IBA).

The award was presented recently at an awards breakfast at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, Australia.

This award is presented annually to a young lawyer who has shown not only excellence in his/her work and achievements in his/her career to date but also a commitment to professional and ethical standards as well as a commitment to the larger community.

“I am honoured to take this award home to Jamaica,” said Malene. “This award highlights the important contributions that Caribbean lawyers have made and continue to make to the global community.”

Malene has had a stellar career as an academic and human rights lawyer. She earned an LLM from Harvard Law School, where she specialised in international human rights law, and a Master of Advanced Studies in International Relations with a specialisation in political science from the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva.

Malene received her law degree from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, and a Legal Education Certificate of Merit from the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica.

Before studying law, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Eckerd College.

Malene is a former associate at the Jamaican law firm Myers Fletcher and Gordon. She began her human rights career in 2013 when she joined the inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, DC.

At the commission, Malene reviewed human rights complaints against Organisation of American States members.

“I believe that respect for human rights is the cornerstone of democratic governance,” said Malene.

“Human rights must be mainstreamed through every aspect of government, business, and social life. This is the wish I have for Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world.”

In 2016, Malene decided to pursue an LLM at Harvard, but she maintained a close connection to human rights practice through her work with the Harvard International Human Rights Clinic and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program.

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The Justice Gap

America’s unfulfilled promise of “equal justice under law”

Via Harvard Magazine

Almost a century ago, a young Boston lawyer named Reginald Heber Smith published a landmark book called Justice and the Poor. It was about how people struggling economically were faring in the American legal system and why American lawyers needed to provide them with free legal aid. He wrote, “Nothing rankles more in the human heart than the feeling of injustice.” At the time, there were only 41 legal-aid organizations in the country, with a total of about 60 lawyers. The Boston Legal Aid Society, founded in 1900, was one of them. As a student at Harvard Law School, Smith had spent his summers as a volunteer there. When he graduated in 1913, he became the leader of that four-lawyer office and instituted a “daily time sheet”—on which lawyers recorded the hours they spent on cases—as a tool for increasing efficiency in addressing the 2,000 or so cases the society had on behalf of clients.

Smith’s book recounted how American lawyers had devised a system of substantive law and legal procedure so convoluted that it denied access to justice to anyone who didn’t have a lawyer to navigate it. That system, he contended, had to be fixed by greatly multiplying the number of legal-aid societies. Smith wrote, “It must be possible for the humble to invoke the protection of the law, through proper proceedings in the courts, for any invasion of his rights by whomsoever attempted, or freedom and equality vanish into nothingness.” His goal was to give “reality to equality by making it a living thing.” He warned that “denial of justice is the short cut to anarchy.”

Portrait photo of Daniel Nagin

Daniel Nagin
Photograph by Jim Harrison

If the bar provided lawyers for free, the poor would have access to justice and society would benefit. Smith’s vision was of lawyers for the poor providing the full range of legal services that lawyers for the rich were expected to deliver. His book’s introduction summarized his view: “Class hostilities would diminish, the turbulent marketplace would return to stability, and the poor’s disposition toward righteous conflict would be diverted. Society would be cleansed of its anarchistic elements, and the confidence of poor people in lawyers and the legal system would be re-established.”

Smith’s vision has never been realized in the United States, but it haunts the debate about how best to serve the legal needs of poor and low-income Americans—and about whether we even know what works best to solve the problems of this group. Poverty’s effects on human health are well documented: lives tend to be sadder, harder, and shorter. But the effects on poor and low-income people’s lives of needing a lawyer and not having one are not well documented at all.

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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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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.

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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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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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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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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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.

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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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!”

Coding for Justice

Via Harvard Law Bulletin, Spring 2017

A new technology fellowship multiplies the impact of Harvard’s legal clinics

Credit: Tony Luong Bill Palin imagines and builds technology to help HLS clinics expand access to justice.

Credit: Tony Luong

Bill Palin imagines and builds technology to help HLS clinics expand access to justice.

It takes a lot of preparation to rev up a new case. That’s true in all law offices, including Harvard’s legal clinics. As a clinical law student who was cross-enrolled in an undergraduate computer science course, Jeffrey Roderick ’17 wondered whether he could streamline the process through technology. “Automating certain tasks can help students spend more time in clinics doing what they signed up for, which is to intelligently and creatively represent their clients,” Roderick says. He had the perfect person to turn to for guidance: William “Bill” Palin, Harvard Law’s inaugural Access to Justice/Technology Fellow.

With Palin’s help, Roderick developed a prototype that automates client intake and prepares the initial boilerplate documents that get a case rolling. Roderick estimates that the tool saves five to six hours per case, leaving more time for investigative fact-gathering and legal research.

That’s just one example of how Palin’s presence on campus is improving the ability of HLS’s clinics to represent disadvantaged clients.

A 2012 graduate of Suffolk Law School, Palin opened a solo practice in Cambridge. He added “software developer” to his resume after teaching himself to code with books borrowed from the Cambridge Public Library. He was creating award-winning legal apps, guest-lecturing at Yale Law School, and teaching at Suffolk Law and MIT before he came to Harvard Law School in September 2016. His task: to launch a project called “Developing Justice,” a response to the shortage of affordable legal services for poor and middle-class people who face eviction, child custody and support disputes, foreclosure, consumer fraud, and denials of benefits. Palin’s role is to imagine and custom-build technology that brings efficiencies to legal aid practice, boosts client advocacy, and expands the actionable knowledge of legal clinicians.

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ITT Trustee to Stop Collection on All “Temporary Credit” Accounts

Via Project on Predatory Student Lending

Yesterday, the court overseeing ITT’s bankruptcy case approved a motion to stop collection on all ITT “Temporary Credits.” ITT used unfair and deceptive tactics to get students to sign up for Temporary Credits, including by describing Temporary Credits as grants and threatening to expel students if they did not agree to the debt. Even after ITT filed for bankruptcy, its servicers and debt collectors continued to harass students to collect these Temporary Credits.

Former ITT students have consistently objected to ITT’s ongoing collection efforts. In January, the Project on Predatory Student Lending filed an adversary complaint in the bankruptcy case on behalf of hundreds of thousands of former ITT students, arguing that the debts were incurred as a result of ITT’s unfair and deceptive practices and asking the court to block the estate from collecting these accounts. The students then objected to the trustee’s request to hire more contractors to try to collect these Temporary Credits. The class of former students is currently represented by the Project on Predatory Student Lending and Jenner & Block LLP.

Former ITT students are gratified that the trustee has now decided to stop pursuing these accounts. Stopping collection on Temporary Credits is an important first step, but any ongoing collection on ITT-generated debt continues to harm students unjustifiably. Former ITT students continue to face collections on billions of dollars of federal and private student debts that the company generated by its unfair and deceptive practices.

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