Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 5)

A Warm Welcome to Gabriela Follett

Gabriela Follett, Program Assistant, Human Rights Program

Gabriela Follett, Program Assistant, Human Rights Program

Via the Human Rights Program 

Gabriela Follett is the Program Assistant for the Human Rights Program. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of Vermont, where she studied Environmental Studies with a focus on Food Justice. Gabbie’s passion for advocacy work about gender-based sexual violence on college campuses began while she was an undergraduate student at the University of Vermont. She worked closely with the Women’s Center on the launch of a campaign, “You Could be the First to Know,” a video guide for friends who are the “first to know” about an assault.

In her current position, she assists with the administration of post-graduate and summer fellowships, organizes various conferences and events, and supports the Visiting Fellows Program.

A Warm Welcome to Katherine Talbot

 

Katherine Talbot, Program Associate, International Human Rights Clinic

Katherine Talbot, Program Associate, International Human Rights Clinic

Via the International Human Rights Clinic  

Katherine Talbot is the Program Associate for the International Human Rights Clinic. Prior to coming to Harvard Law School, she supported three faculty members at Harvard Business School as a Faculty Assistant.

Katherine has an M.A. in International Relations from St. John’s University in Rome, Italy, and a B.A. in Government and Politics from St. John’s University in Queens, New York.

A Warm Welcome to Stephanie Davidson

Stephanie Davidson, Attorney and Clinical Fellow, Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic

Stephanie Davidson, Attorney and Clinical Fellow, Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic

Via the Legal Services Center (LSC) 

Stephanie Davidson joined the Legal Services Center (LSC) in July as an Attorney and Clinical Fellow. The Clinic primarily serves clients through the Passageway Health Law Collaborative, a partnership with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital where attorneys, law students, and Passageway social workers to work together to confront domestic violence from a public health perspective. 

Davidson’s addition to LSC will allow the Family Law and Domestic Violence Clinic to accept more students and cases for the upcoming academic term, and to engage in more extensive community outreach throughout the year. Davidson will be representing clients in family law cases, conducting community education programs, and assisting in the supervision of law students.

Davidson joins Nnena Odim, Senior Clinical Instructor and Associate Director of the Family Law Clinic, who states “I am really looking forward to working with Stephanie. She comes to LSC with such dedication and commitment to improving the lives of victims and survivors of domestic violence. While we will never be able to fully satisfy the unmet needs of the population that we serve, having Stephanie join our team means that we will be better able to address the legal needs of people affected by domestic violence, particularly families with children.”

Davidson has already begun representing clients and preparing the Clinic’s docket for the next set of clinical students. Returning from The Suffolk Family and Probate Court after her first court appearance as an LSC staff member, Davidson said, “I’m thrilled to be providing desperately needed legal services to domestic violence survivors in a clinical setting. These cases provide excellent clinical experiences for students, not only because of the severity of the problem, but also because the legal issues domestic violence survivors encounter illustrate how poverty, violence, and gender intersect in the lives of Boston-area families.”

A Warm Welcome to Andy Sellars

Andy Sellars, Corydon B. Dunham First Amendment Fellow, Cyberlaw Clinic

Andy Sellars, Corydon B. Dunham First Amendment Fellow, Cyberlaw Clinic

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

Andy Sellars is the Berkman Center’s Corydon B. Dunham First Amendment Fellow, and works at the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic. He previously was the Assistant Director of the Berkman’s Digital Media Law Project.

He received his J.D. with high honors from the George Washington University Law School, where he was awarded the Peter D. Rosenberg Award for Patent and Intellectual Property Law and the Jan Jancin Award from the American Intellectual Property Law Association. During his summers in law school he interned at the Cyberlaw Clinic, working on a wide variety of intellectual property and cyberlaw matters. Prior to law school, Andy worked in the music industry, including for the festival production and promotion company Great Northeast Productions and as assistant tour manager and stage manager for the band moe. He received his undergraduate degree in music, summa cum laude, from Northeastern University in 2008, where he interned at the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts (now part of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston). He is also a trustee with the Boston chapter of the Awesome Foundation.

A Warm Welcome to Cheryl Bratt

Cheryl Bratt, Administrative Director, Child Advocacy Program

Cheryl Bratt, Administrative Director, Child Advocacy Program

Cheryl Bratt is the new Administrative Director for the Child Advocacy Program. She comes most recently from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was a clinical fellow in the Pediatric Advocacy Clinic, a medical-legal partnership that unites healthcare providers, lawyers, and social workers to improve the health outcomes of low-income children and their families. There, she supervised students litigating family, special education, and housing law cases and co-taught the clinic seminar. Previously, she was a senior associate at WilmerHale LLP, in Boston, Massachusetts, specializing in securities litigation and representing a variety of pro bono clients in education and family law matters. She also clerked for the Honorable Norman H. Stahl on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and for the Honorable Mary A. McLaughlin on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She graduated from the University of Michigan Law School. Before law school, she taught eighth grade language arts in New Orleans, Louisiana through Teach For America and later worked for the organization as a regional director.

Classroom Hours are no Substitute for Clinical Experience

HLSBy Tanya Fridland, J.D. ’14 

The Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) has taught me that client work does not run on a student schedule. It has also taught me that no amount of classroom hours can substitute for a clinical experience. The day I most remember from CJI was the third time my elderly, motorized wheelchair-bound client was in court to defend the charge of threat against her. My supervisor and I had mooted our argument for a motion to dismiss, and we argued it well. However, the law was against us. At a probable cause level, the Judge would only grant the motion to dismiss based on the facts alleged in the complaint, so he could not take into account my client’s many disabilities.

My client was frustrated and was ready to give up on the court system when I told her that our motion to dismiss had been denied. She made the journey to court for that third time for our pre-trial hearing shortly after that. Because she was unable to arrange medical transport, she actually rode her motorized wheelchair to court that day in the frigid February weather. When she arrived and I asked her how she was, she answered “froze.” After several hours of waiting for her case to be called, she grew more and more impatient. Eventually, the stress of the case and of the day got to her, and she started to break down.

My supervisor, Dehlia Umunna, and I took my client outside of the courtroom into the lobby of the Roxbury courthouse. I tried to talk reason to my client, to explain that this was just another procedural day, and to make her understand that even though we could not get a good outcome for her based on a probable cause standard, that she would almost certainly win her case at trial. To my shock, my client burst into tears. It was at this point that Dehlia stepped in with the story of Joseph from the Bible, comparing my client’s resilience in the midst of injustice to that of Joseph’s. My client calmed down and we went back inside the courtroom. It was that day that I realized representing clients and being a trial lawyer requires more than an understanding of the law or a tenacity in the courtroom. Being a trial lawyer also means being part-life coach, part-religious counselor, and part-friend.

5 Weeks, 5 Trials, 5 Wins plus 2 Appellate Arguments

Tyler Giannini Receives Teaching Award, Stresses the Importance of Solidarity

Via the International Human Rights Clinic

This afternoon, during the Class Day ceremony, Tyler Giannini stood up to the podium and accepted from the Class of 2014 the Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence. It was a thrilling moment for those of us who know him, and work with him, and see this as a tribute not just to Tyler himself, but to clinical education at Harvard Law School.

You can also read his speech here.

People’s Law School: HLS student helps community members

2By Jewel Hand, J.D. ’15

Recently, I was able to contribute to the Legal Services Center’s second annual People’s Law School. It is a unique day-long community outreach program designed to teach people their basic rights as borrowers, tenants, disabled citizens, and veterans, among many other things. Workshops throughout the day informed and empowered approximately 100 local citizens, while one-on-one counseling allowed the staff and students to give more individualized legal advice. The day ended with intake interviews for individuals with legal issues that make them candidates for the Center’s services. As a current student advocate at the Center, I was able to take part in the program at all levels: from planning and setup, to teaching a workshop, to individual counseling and conducting an intake interview. I feel fortunate to have contributed to a program that clearly helped so many individuals while also practicing valuable skills as a counselor and advocate. I hope the People’s Law School continues to grow and that I can contribute again next year!

Prison Legal Assistance Project: Student Wins Disciplinary Hearing Appeal

David Hanyok '16

David Hanyok ’16

By David Hanyok J.D. ’16

I took this case after doing intake on the client’s case. He was friendly and appreciative of every bit of help we could offer. The situation was hard to believe: after drugs were found in the client’s cell — which he shared with two other prisoners, and in which two more had recently been placed briefly — he was removed from a minimum security placement where he worked two jobs and was on the Boston University honor roll. He lost the two jobs, could no longer attend his classes, and his pending release on parole was suddenly put in jeopardy. All of this happened after he had taken a drug test that was negative for all substances.

The hearing itself was easy. The reporting officer was cooperative, and he didn’t dispute that the drugs were found in a common space. Further, the case was plagued with procedural problems — evidence that someone had thrown away, failures to follow procedures for drug cases, and more. In the end, the hearing officer recognized that he had no evidence suggesting that the drugs belonged to my client rather than any of the other four inmates with access to the cell.

Still, my client was found guilty on one extremely minor contraband charge. He admitted the contraband was his, though some of it was religious property and another piece was a lock he had received at another facility. With little to go on, legally speaking, we submitted an appeal stressing simply the unfairness of the situation. Our client, poised to get out of prison with two jobs and well on his way to earning a degree, had already lost that opportunity. Because of the guilty finding, he was at further risk of having his parole revoked because of property that many inmates have and that corrections officers almost always allow.

Incredibly, the appeal worked. The superintendent dismissed the final charge, and the feeling of helping a man with so much promise get out of prison and move on with his life was truly unforgettable. Also, having heard so many stories about the Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) clients being found guilty despite blatantly inadequate evidence, it was heartening that a prison official would take seriously a claim based exclusively on fundamental fairness.

HLS-CTS Independent Clinical Opportunity, 2014-2015

Are you interested in counterterrorism policy and prosecution and related national security matters? This is to inform you of an opportunity for HLS students to perform research and analytical work with the Counterterrorism Section (CTS) and the Office of Law and Policy (OL&P), of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice as an independent clinical project, with Professors Heymann and Rosenberg acting as faculty sponsors. The program has been offered for the past ten years, and will continue for the 2014-2015 academic year.

As in the past, next year’s program will require students to perform clinical work during the Fall and Spring semesters. In addition, in the unlikely event an emergency project arises, students may be called upon to work during the Winter term (but only if such work does not conflict with the students’ normal Winter Term course obligations). Admission into the program is selective; to maximize the education value of challenging work and close supervision, enrollment will be limited to no more than four students. Selection will be based on a student’s academic performance, relevant experience, professional recommendations, and interest in the subject matter. All admitted students must also satisfy the security clearance requirements for the Department of Justice Volunteer Internship Program, sign a confidentiality agreement, and attend a mandatory orientation session in Cambridge at the beginning of the Fall semester.

Clinical credits are awarded through the independent clinical work program. Grading is Credit/Fail. Two clinical credits may be awarded (1 Fall credit + 1 Spring credit) and will be recorded on students’ transcripts at the end of the Spring semester. Due to the highly confidential nature of this program, students have the following independent clinical requirements waived: final paper and weekly emails. Standard clinical conditions preclude enrollees in the program from taking any other clinical course during the period of enrollment.

You may obtain further information about the HLS-CTS Independent Clinical offering by reading the last year’s Memorandum of Understanding as next year’s program will be similarly administrated. To apply, simply submit your most recent grade sheet and resume to Kim Peterson ( kpeterso at law.harvard.edu), Assistant to David Rosenberg, on or before 4 p.m. on June 30, 2014.

This clinical program offers an extraordinary opportunity for both public service (including satisfying the pro bono requirement) and professional training.

Pro Bono Work with Aspiring Musicians

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer Harvard Law School grad Elliot Schwab is a pop star ... somewhat. His myriad activities at Harvard also included songwriting, and Schwab knew he’d found success when he hopped into a Jerusalem taxi during a clerkship for an Israeli judge last summer, and one of his songs started playing on the radio.


Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Harvard Law School grad Elliot Schwab is a pop star … somewhat. His myriad activities at Harvard also included songwriting, and Schwab knew he’d found success when he hopped into a Jerusalem taxi during a clerkship for an Israeli judge last summer, and one of his songs started playing on the radio.

Via the Harvard Gazette

Law School graduate Eliot Schwab multitasks, from music to real estate to Talmudic studies.

While at Harvard Law School (HLS), he worked for an Israeli supreme court judge, raised two small children with his wife, studied Talmudic law, labored on a U.S. Supreme Court petition, served as a project manager for an international legal and policy consulting firm, took classes at Harvard Business School and Harvard College, and prepared for a career in real estate law, all while doing pro bono work with aspiring musicians.

Oh, and he’s a songwriter too.

“I have a hard time turning down cool opportunities that arise,” said Schwab, who will head to New York with his family for a job with the firm Simpson Thacher after graduation. “And in a place like Harvard, cool opportunities arise all the time.”

The New York native’s route to Cambridge was less traditional than the average HLS student’s. Schwab had studied exclusively in yeshivas in the United States and Israel, educational institutions whose prime focus is on ancient Jewish law. The work perfectly prepared him for HLS and beyond, he said, teaching him how to analyze theoretical underpinnings and providing him with “a strong foundation in moral, religious, cultural, and ethical spheres.

“That sort of an education turns out to be excellent training for law school and life.” …

His musical experience came in handy at HLS. He provided free counsel to music industry artists and producers through the School’s Recording Artists Project clinic. He also helped craft a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court with HLS Professor Charles Nesson that urged the court to hear the case of Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University student sued by the recording industry and fined by federal courts for illegally downloading and distributing songs.

Continue reading the full story here.

Class of 2014 Performs 341,951 Hours of Free Legal Service!

Congratulations to the Class of 2014 for their great accomplishment of 341,951 pro bono hours. Students traveled to 43 U.S. states and 38 different countries, averaging 582 hours each at 590 different organizations. 76 percent of the graduating J.D. students participated in one clinic, and out of that, 52 percent participated in two or more clinics. Here are some highlights:

  • Kimberly Newberry won the Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award in honor of her 2,329 pro bono hours, the highest number in the class.
  • 98 students performed more than 1,000 pro bono hours.
  • A total of 9 students – Zachary Hill, Lerae Kroon, Ruthzee Louijeune, Esther Mulder, Kimberly Newberry, Matthew Nickell, Jeanne Segil, Nicole Summers, and Tanika Paz – performed more than 2,000 pro bono hours.

Congratulations to the Class of 2014!

Kimberly Newberry Wins the Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award

Kimberly Newberry, J.D. '14

Kimberly Newberry, J.D. ’14

Congratulations to Kimberly Newberry for winning the 2014 Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award! During her time at the Harvard Law School, she completed 2,329 hours of pro bono service, the highest number of pro bono service hours in the 2014 graduating class.

Kimberly is truly dedicated to learning how to be a criminal defense lawyer and to advocating for justice in the capital defense system. She started working her 1L year with the Harvard Defenders and the Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP). As a 3L, Kimberly was the Co-Managing Director of PLAP. She also participated in a spring break pro bono trip to the Mississippi Delta where students presented a workshop and drafted a guide on estate planning for small farmers.

Kimberly has done a clinic in every semester possible including the Housing Law Clinic and the Criminal Justice Institute. She was even willing to go to Kentucky in the middle of winter for the Capital Punishment Clinic at the Kentucky Capital Post-Conviction Conflict Unit where she researched a unique 8th Amendment claim and drafted the pleading.

Kimberly has also volunteered at Prisoner’s Legal Services in Boston, representing incarcerated individuals in their suits against the prisons for civil rights violations. She spent her summers at the Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans and the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta.

“My participation in clinics and student practice organizations throughout law school has been the most rewarding part of my legal education. Getting to represent a variety of truly inspiring clients and getting supervision from some phenomenal attorneys who care so much about the work they are doing allowed me to not only learn practical legal skills but also see the power and responsibility of having a law degree,” said Kimberly. “These experiences taught me that change really is possible and gave me the confidence to be a part of it.”

One supervisor said, “Kimberly has been the most enjoyable intern I have ever supervised… Working with her allowed me to look at two cases that I’ve been on for years in a new light.”

The Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award is granted each year in honor of Professor Andrew Kaufman who has been instrumental in creating and supporting the Pro Bono Service Program at HLS.

Congratulations HLS Exemplary Clinical Student Award Winners!

Lerae Kroon, J.D. ’14

Lerae Kroon, J.D. ’14

Every year, the Clinical and Pro Bono Programs recognizes graduating students who exemplify putting theory into practice through clinical work. This year’s winners are  Lerae Kroon ’14 and Brett Heeger ’14. Students have demonstrated excellence in representing individual clients, undertaking group advocacy and policy reform projects. They have kept with the clinical teaching model, and shown thoughtfulness and compassion in their practice and contributed to the clinics and SPOs in a meaningful way.

Lerae has been a student at the  Harvard Legal Aid Bureau for the past two years. She has an unwavering commitment to serve Boston’s low-income communities, and is passionate about using the law as a tool  for social justice. She has developed a deep understanding of family, housing and wage and hour law. In addition to her own cases, she has served as a mentor for others, stepped  in on short notice to cover motions and even a very challenging case almost on the eve of trial. Although fully prepared for trial, her case settled at the last minute and she was really  disappointed not to have the opportunity to cross examine the opposing party! She also managed the communications portfolio at the Bureau, and as a result launched a brand  new website for the Bureau. Her clinical instructor, Stephanie Goldenhersh, notes that “Lerae shines, even amongst the cream of the crop”.

“I am so thankful for the clinical opportunities at HLS, and for the chance to put my legal skills to practice so early on in my career with TAP and HLAB,” said Lerae. “The opportunity to learn how to be a better advocate while simultaneously providing much-needed legal services to individuals facing homelessness, violence, and other legal problems was not only invaluable to me, but also to the greater Boston community.”

Brett has spent several semesters in the Transactional Law Clinics, as well as being a regular volunteer for the Harvard Immigration Project. He first enrolled in the clinic out of an interest in using the tools of transactional law to foster economic development in Boston neighborhoods. He initiated meetings with community leaders in the areas surrounding Jamaica Plain and soon proved that he had a knack for the collaborative, project based model of lawyering, and that the community was hungry for the services. Out of Brett’s work, the Community Enterprise Project (CEP) was reborn and now boasts six students, four ongoing projects and a permanent full-time staff member. To clients, city officials and community leaders, Brett represents the face of CEP and a point of access to legal resources at HLS. His work has furthered meaningful community engagement in economic development, has reached into traditionally underserved corners of Boston, and has allowed him to build considerable skill as a community lawyer.

Brett Heeger, J.D. ’14

Brett Heeger, J.D. ’14

“My time working with the clients, students, staff, faculty, and community partners I have met through my clinical work has been the true highlight of my law school experience. I am immensely grateful for the support, advice, and partnership that has come from these individuals, and deeply honored to receive this award as a celebration of our work together,” said Brett.

Graduating Students Help Examine the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct

John-Adams-Courthouse-exteriorBy Hon. Judge John C. Cratsley (Rte.)

Stephanie Phillips and Alex Pepper, two graduating students in Judge Cratsley’s Judicial Process in Community Courts Clinic and Seminar, have written their seminar papers in association with an on-going project of the Supreme Judicial Court examining revisions to the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct. The SJC Committee to Study the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct is chaired by the Honorable Cynthia Cohen, HLS ’75, of the Appeals Court and staffed by Senior Attorney Barbara Berenson, HLS ’84.

Graduating students Stephanie Phillips and Alex Pepper worked with Barbara Berenson to select paper topics that matched issues of interest to the committee’s work. As a result, Stephanie wrote about the ethical issues for judges when they receive free or discounted legal services for defending themselves before the Commission on Judicial Conduct (JNC). This issue recently came into the public spotlight after the Boston Globe revealed that a judge, accused before the JNC of systemic bias against the Commonwealth in criminal cases, disclosed that a law firm had provided him with pro bono legal services for his ultimately successful defense. Stephanie explored the multiple issues of judicial ethics involved as well as a variety of solutions found in other states, such as full disclosure, gift limits, and state reimbursement for accused judges.

Stephanie Phillips , J.D. ’14

Stephanie Phillips , J.D. ’14

“I hope that our research will be of assistance to Ms. Berenson’s committee reviewing the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct. The course, paired with our clinical placements in local courts, provided an invaluable learning experience for me,” said Stephanie.

Alex, on the other hand, tackled the structure and workings of state judicial ethics advisory boards which exist through the U.S. Every state now has some type of informal procedure for obtaining ethical advice. Because some committee members have expressed an interest in understanding variations among judicial ethics advisory boards, Alex’s paper examined the size of such committees, their rules, their composition and their source of authority ending with “Lessons for Massachusetts”.

“The opportunity to research questions of current relevance while having access to those most interested in the material is wonderful. It made my research more interesting to conduct and, I hope, more useful in results,” said Alex.

“Having thoughtful law students drill down into complex issues is very helpful,” said Berenson. “I am very grateful to Judge Cratsley and his students for their willingness to engage with these important topics.”

From Arraignments to the Supreme Judicial Court: A Year at Harvard’s Criminal Justice Institute

Jeanne Segil, J.D. ’14

Jeanne Segil, J.D. ’14

By Jeanne Segil, J.D. ’14

When I walked through security at the courthouse for our last mock trial as part of the Trial Advocacy Workshop, the security guard looked at my trial partner and I (we are often confused for being younger than our actual ages) and he said, “someday you will be real lawyers.” I smiled to myself as I doubted that he knew that one week later we would be at arraignments in district court in Massachusetts, representing our very own clients as student attorneys.

My experience at CJI has been a rollercoaster of emotions—it can be heartbreaking to navigate our way through a broken criminal justice system with our clients depending on us to fight for just outcomes. I have one client who was seventeen at the time he allegedly committed an offense and the Massachusetts legislature unanimously passed a bill to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include seventeen-year-olds. His alleged offense occurred shortly before the passage of the bill, thus we worked tirelessly to argue that the bill should be applied retroactively. Another case raising the same issue was ultimately heard in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), where the SJC held that it was not retroactive.

While I understood that the Commonwealth had valid legal arguments regarding retroactivity, I couldn’t help but wonder, why make those arguments? Why oppose having seventeen-year-olds in the more lenient juvenile justice system when the Massachusetts legislature unanimously believes they belong there? We confronted this same unquestioning stance every day in court. We heard our clients’ stories, we understood their situations, and we became disillusioned when nobody else seemed to take that time. During those moments, I remembered words by Bryan Stevenson, the Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who said we need “more hope, more forgiveness, more justice.” And that is one of my takeaways from this year at CJI—while the problems within the criminal justice system are complex and overwhelming, some of the solutions are beautiful and simple. Our clients are capable of achieving great things in their lives; we need to start viewing people in a way that recognizes their humanity and enables them to reach their potential.

These views brought me from trial court all the way to an oral argument with a single Justice at the SJC, the first time a CJI student has argued at the SJC in 15 years. The issue being heard regarded the authority of the trial court to allow pretrial diversion for a first-time OUI offense. Pretrial diversion would allow my client to complete an educational program and not have a criminal record. My client graduated high school with honors while working to support his family, received an academic scholarship to attend college, and has made the Dean’s List at college. He is a unique and wonderful young man who deserves a second chance. I am still awaiting the results of this case but it was a truly remarkable experience to be heard in that courtroom and have an SJC Justice devote time to learning about my client, his amazing achievements in the past, and his potential to make a positive difference in this world. That experience reminded me to be hopeful that our system can change for the better.

And amidst these ups and downs, I feel so grateful for the constant support within CJI. We have incredible supervising attorneys who are always there for us and ensure that we never feel alone. And we have each other, my colleagues at CJI who will drop whatever they are doing to deliver a subpoena, go on an investigation, and do whatever it takes to help another CJI student. We share in each other’s victories and comfort one another in hard times. It is through getting to know my CJI colleagues, our supervising attorneys and staff, and our tremendous and resilient clients, that I have faith that we can slowly move mountains and make changes in our criminal justice system.

“My time with Project No One Leaves constantly reminded me why I came to law school…”

Matt Nickell, J.D. '14

Matt Nickell, J.D. ’14

By Matt Nickell, J.D. ’14

I started going to Project No One Leaves’ Saturday morning canvasses in my first year of law school. Project No One Leave (PNOL) stood out to me when I got to HLS because it was one of the only organizations on campus that got law students out of Cambridge and into Boston communities to do housing justice work. Project No One Leaves was started by HLS students at the start of the economic crash in 2008 to connect people facing foreclosure with legal resources and community groups that could help them defend against foreclosure and eviction. Canvassing with PNOL was a great way to see and enrich my understanding of Boston’s geography, history, and culture. More important, it gave me the opportunity to work side-by-side with community organizers, homeowners, and tenants as part of a broader movement resisting the forces that perpetuate poverty, inequality, and segregation.

My time with PNOL these past three years has been tremendously eventful. A pivotal experience was attending my first meeting at City Life / Vida Urbana, a community organization (and PNOL ally) that brings together tenants and homeowners facing foreclosure and eviction to fight back against banks and predatory investor-landlords. The level of energy, activity, and engagement in the room was a testament to the transformative power of communities to transform lives and neighborhoods through direct action. Another major highlight was helping organize PNOL’s fourth annual foreclosure conference earlier this year. We drew 250 lawyers, community organizers, professors, and others from over eleven states to talk about the current state of the foreclosure crisis, including the new dilemmas we are seeing on the ground and the solutions needed to address them.

The most important thing about PNOL for me has been the people. Canvassing with PNOL allowed me to work with amazing students whose commitment to social justice has been incredibly inspirational – people like my Co-President Tyler Anderson, whose thoughtfulness and diligence kept the organization’s gears moving these past two years; our Conference Director David Curtis, who helped organize and run our conference this spring; and our Canvassing Director Donna Harati, who mapped out and planned many of our canvasses this past year.

The people I met during PNOL’s weekly canvasses have been equally inspirational. Almost every homeowner and tenant who answered my knock at the door was extremely kind and courteous, but many had sad stories to tell that could move anyone to tears. Homeowners had been preyed on by banks that exploited their vulnerability, tenants did not know whom to contact about needed property repairs and health code violations, and many had recently lost jobs, health insurance, or family members. Fortunately, many of the people I met became active advocates for change themselves, attending City Life meetings and speaking out against the predatory practices that devastated their communities. As a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau’s Foreclosure Task Force, I had the privilege to work with a number of the homeowners and tenants I canvassed, defending them against eviction in Boston Housing Court. But the real strength of the people I met came from their families and their communities, not from within the courtroom.

My time with PNOL constantly reminded me why I came to law school and redoubled my commitment to working in the public interest. To be part of an organization that allowed me to work with non-lawyers and non-students to push forward a grassroots model for systemic change has been a tremendous privilege. Though of course I wish that foreclosure and displacement would stop plaguing the communities I care about, I hope that organizations like PNOL continue to bring people from various backgrounds together to make those communities healthier, happier, and stronger.

A Second Release in Geneva: “Advancing the Debate on Killer Robots”

Stop-Killer-Robots-2Via the International Human Rights Clinic
By Joseph Klingler, JD ’14

In Geneva today, the Clinic and Human Rights Watch released the latest in a series of publications calling for a preemptive ban on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. The weapons- also called “killer robots”- would be capable of selecting and firing upon targets without any meaningful human control.

The joint paper, entitled “Advancing the Debate on Killer Robots,” systematically rebuts 12 arguments that have been raised by critics of a ban. Its release coincides with a major international disarmament conference dedicated to fully autonomous weapons, being held at the UN in Geneva this week. More than 400 delegates from government, international organizations, and civil society have gathered to discuss the weapons under the framework of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, a treaty that governs problematic weapons.

Stop Killer Robots 2Clinical students Evelyn Kachaje, JD ’15, and Joseph Klingler, JD ’14, who along with Yukti Choudhary, LLM ’14 helped Senior Clinical Instructor Bonnie Docherty draft the paper, are attending the talks. The Clinic is working with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations, to increase momentum towards an eventual treaty banning fully autonomous weapons.

On Monday, before the conference began, the Clinic and Human Rights Watch released “Shaking the Foundations: The Human Rights Implications of Killer Robots.” The report found that fully autonomous weapons threaten fundamental human rights and principles: the right to life, the right to a remedy, and the principle of dignity.

Congratulations to our Colleague Gerald Wall on his Legal Services Award

Photo by Philip-Lauren Photography

Gerald Wall, Greater Boston Legal Services Photo by Philip-Lauren Photography

The Massachusetts Bar Association will honor Gerald Wall with an Access to Justice Award, for his exemplary legal skills and service to the community. He is a Clinic Supervisor at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic and Senior Attorney at the Greater Boston Legal Services.

Gerald Wall is the most senior attorney in GBLS’ Immigration Unit, with a 40-year career in legal services. According to the Massachusetts Bar Association, he credits his longevity to both the satisfaction he gets from making a direct impact on real clients, and the “hard work and collegial nature” of his like-minded co-workers.

Students from the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic revere him. “He is the best mentor I have ever had. He is supportive, kind, patient, responsive, and encourages me to take more responsibilities. I feel really luck to have Jerry as my mentor, for his guidance and generous support” said Peng Lin, J.D. ’14.

“I can’t thank him enough for his kindness and patience in mentoring me. His commitment and dedication to his work inspired me to continue to work in asylum representation and advocacy after I graduate,” said Morgan Davis, J.D. ’15, another student.

The Massachusetts Bar Association describes Wall as more invested in his work than any other attorney in the Commonwealth. The first immigration cases he handled with GBLS involved El Salvadoran refugees seeking asylum in the United States from violence and death squads during their home country’s civil war. “Not only did Wall advocate for many of these individuals, he and his wife pursued adoption, ultimately bringing in to their family a 3-year-old son and 21-month-old daughter.”

“We are so proud of Gerry. He’s been a superb model and teacher for our students for so many years; his gentleness, experience, and sense of commitment will be carried forward by the students and clients whose lives he has changed,” said Deborah Anker,Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic.

The 2014 Annual Dinner Awards will be held at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel on Thursday, May 15.

Graduating Student Reflects on her Experience with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

Lerae Kroon, J.D. '14

Lerae Kroon, J.D. ’14

By Lerae Kroon,
J.D. ’14

The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau’s dual mission of service and learning was exactly what I was looking for when I came to law school. I hope to provide civil legal services to low-income populations as a career, and after sitting in my 1L classes for a year I was ready to jump into the work. Because the Bureau is student run, I knew that I would not only get unparalleled litigation experience and mentorship from my clinical instructors, but also be able to take ownership over HLAB’s mission of community lawyering in the Greater Boston Community.

In my two years at HLAB I have represented clients as the lead attorney in housing, family, wage & hour, and benefits cases. During my first week I helped my client obtain a restraining order against her physically abusive husband. Since then I have prepared for trials, negotiated settlements, obtained a $90,000 judgment for a worker who had not been paid, and been in housing court more times than I can count. Throughout, I had complete control of all elements of my cases from intake to case closing, but was always able to turn to my clinical instructor for feedback, advice and support. The Bureau also offered me the experience of finding alternative ways to address the current shortage of legal services. I co-led a class that teaches pro-se litigants how to file for divorce, and I regularly assisted tenants through the Attorney for the Day program at Boston Housing Court.

The opportunity to do the work I care about, surrounded by both my clinical instructors and my fellow Bureau members was an incredible way to start my legal career. I gained skills in client counseling, negotiation, legal writing, and oral advocacy; perhaps more importantly I gained the confidence to be a zealous advocate for the population I plan to serve. As a member of HLAB’s board of directors I was able to better understand how to run a legal services organization and think critically about how to most effectively deliver legal services and to expand access to justice to the many low-income people in our community. HLAB celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, and I plan to do my best to carry on its rich history of innovation and service with me as I begin my career.

Clinic Student Advocates for Survivor of Domestic Violence

Akhila Kolisetty, J.D. ’15

By Akhila Kolisetty ’15

As I sat in the courtroom with my client, waiting for the judge to call us for a pre-trial hearing, we saw my client’s abusive husband enter the room. Immediately, she became nervous and tense. In that moment – as she started tearing up and remembering the past abuse he had put her through – I saw the impact that a lawyer and advocate can make in the lives of survivors of domestic violence. I listened to my client’s needs, reassured her that she would be safe, and that we would achieve the best possible outcome in her divorce case.

A few minutes after this conversation, I had the chance to present the key issues in the case before a family court judge. In my opening statement, I detailed the history of abuse my client had gone through. I explained why she deserved custody of her children, why she should reside in the marital home, and receive child support. Through discovery, I had gathered evidence of a substantial sum of money that my client should have received during the marriage, so I also argued why she deserved a portion of those assets. The judge was sympathetic to our requests and gave us more time to collect critical evidence needed before a trial. I left feeling that the case would have a positive outcome, and my client left feeling a sense of hope for the future.

The experience of representing low-income survivors of domestic violence was an incredible one. I had come to law school with a deep interest in improving my ability to advocate for survivors of domestic abuse. Prior to law school, I had volunteered as an advocate providing peer support to immigrant survivors of violence but often felt that I lacked the capacity to fully advocate for them. The Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic helped me pair empathy with crucial skills in negotiation, oral advocacy and legal writing, to be a much stronger advocate for clients. I not only learned to represent clients in pre-trial hearings, but also conducted discovery, helped clients file for divorce, and advised them on their options. Throughout this process, I received helpful feedback that concretely improved my skills.

Many survivors of domestic violence are immigrants and low-income; they have difficulty navigating the court system and lack the finances to hire a lawyer. Furthermore, abusers often appear confident in court, while survivors of abuse feel intimidated when required to speak in court alongside their abusive partners. Lawyers in family law cases can help survivors of abuse advocate for themselves and ensure that they obtain the financial resources and the independence they need in order to move forward and thrive. Lawyers can also simply listen to difficult stories, acknowledge past abuse, and serve as a support system.

The Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic helped me develop vital skills needed to become such a lawyer and advocate, while also providing a needed service to a vulnerable population. I cannot think of a better experience to have as a law student.

Spring break road trips lead to the clinic, the delta, and the desert

Via HLS News

Developed and sponsored by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, several teams of HLS students traveled across the US to work with humanitarians along the Arizona border, Bostonians trying to seal their criminal records, immigrants in Texas and children in the Mississippi Delta.

This is the 10th year that the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs has funded alternative spring break trips for students. These trips originated in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when students went to New Orleans to assist displaced families. “These trips have provided students with unique experiences. Students often come back from these trips and remark on how eye-opening and transformative their trip was,” said Lisa Dealy, Assistant Dean for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

Continue reading the full story on HLS News.

Massachusetts Joint Use Toolkit Encourages Healthier Communities

Via the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation

As part of Massachusetts’ ongoing efforts to fight childhood obesity, the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and the Harvard School of Public Health partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to produce the Massachusetts Joint Use Toolkit – a dynamic resource for communities seeking to engage their residents in healthier, more active lifestyles.

Across Massachusetts, communities are searching for ways to help residents live active and healthy lives. The Massachusetts Joint Use Toolkit is a how-to guide for community members seeking to access public buildings and spaces afterhours so residents can exercise and engage in other recreational activities. This Toolkit helps communities maximize the use of schools, playgrounds, parks, libraries, and town halls, by offering children and their families a safe, familiar place to get fit. The Toolkit describes the process of sharing space from A to Z; it addresses location, funding, safety, and liability, and provides a Model Joint Use Agreement that communities can use to safely open unused spaces to the public.

Read the full report here.

Treating Our “Situations” with Science, Not Shame

Katherine L. Record
Senior Clinical Fellow in the Health Law and Policy Clinic

The New England Journal of Medicine published an op-ed by Katherine Record, Senior Fellow at the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation. _________________________________
By Katherine L. Record, J.D., M.P.H.

“We all have situations in our lives,” Antoinette Tuff reminded the heavily armed Michael Brandon Hill, as he stood before her holding an Atlanta elementary school hostage. Seeing the terror in Hill’s eyes, Tuff did something that is all too rare — she reassured him that he was not alone, that he could find treatment, feel better, and have another day.

Hill was lucky: Tuff saved him from making the gravest mistake of his life and spending the rest of it behind bars. She may even have saved his life, not to mention those of the terrified children in the building.

Yet Tuff should not have been the first to recognize that Hill had stopped taking his medications and that his bipolar disorder was spinning out of control. As was the case with many perpetrators of recent gun-related tragedies, Hill’s condition was no secret: he was sick and needed care.

The same was true of Aaron Alexis. The 34-year-old veteran had sought treatment twice, just weeks before he murdered 12 civilians in the Washington Navy Yard. He had visited a Veterans Affairs hospital and had spelled out his symptoms to police: hotel walls were emitting microwaves and speaking to him. The police passed his reports on to the Navy, but the military took no action to help him secure care.

People with severe mental illness account for a negligible fraction of crime, and mental illness alone is not a predictor of violence.1 Yet the haunting recurrence of massacres perpetrated by people known to have symptoms of untreated conditions demands attention — and not just from the press, which uses these stories to associate mental illness with unspeakable violence, a link that perpetuates groundless stigma. Rather than ignore the common thread running through these cases, in an attempt to avoid propagating the myth that all mentally ill people are dangerous, we must take the opportunity to highlight the dreary outlook the mentally ill currently face.

Continue reading the full Op-Ed in the New England Journal of Medicine here.

Student Wins Hearing for Housing Client

Amanda Morejon, J.D. ’16

By Amanda Morejon ’16

When I accepted my first case with the Tenant Advocacy Project, it seemed straightforward enough. My client, a wheel-chair dependent man in his late 60s, had applied to the Boston Housing Authority’s Public Housing Program several years ago. In the last few years he had become very active in his church and neighborhood community and maintained his skills as a former chef. After moving to the top of the wait-list and passing all the neighbor screenings and financial requirements, his application was denied due to an old criminal record.

My first thought was that the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) simply did not realize that my client had changed his life. I imagined that once the BHA saw the mitigating evidence, their opinion of my client would change. I was surprised to find that they had already reviewed letters of support from his former employers and letters from his church community. I quickly learned that the Occupancy Department at the BHA will not approve an applicant who has any criminal record no matter how minor or how old the record is. Fortunately, my client could appeal the decision and contacted the Tenant Advocacy Project.

I was assigned to his case in September and almost four months later (a day before my last exam) we were informed that the Appeal Hearing would take place in two weeks, on the first day that students returned to campus from winter break.

With the guidance of my supervisor, Lynn Weissberg, I prepared the case for our hearing. I compiled the mitigating evidence and character reference letters, gathered additional letters of support, analyzed the BHA’s Admissions & Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP), researched similar cases with favorable outcomes, drafted direct examination questions for my client, and wrote my closing argument. In the two weeks leading up to the hearing, I went over the material with him, reviewed his criminal record, and discussed the changes he had made in his life after his last conviction. My client’s testimony would serve as the strongest source of mitigating evidence so ensuring he felt comfortable answering my direct examination questions was hugely important.

On the day of the hearing, everything came together. My client was able to clearly communicate with the Hearing Officer and answered both my questions and her questions directly. His thoughtful character and commitment to his community shone through in his testimony. His cousin and his close friend both attended and testified regarding his character. Sixteen business days later we received the decision and the denial of public housing was overturned. This wonderful news meant that my client was placed back at the top of the wait-list.

Without the guidance of my supervisor, the general support from the TAP community, and my client’s trust and patience, we may not have achieved this outcome. Knowing that unfair decisions can be overturned and indigent individuals like my client can have their voices heard has given me much hope and confidence. With due diligence we can work to ensure that people’s rights to receive public housing are protected.

Our Semester in Washington

Clinic Students Visit Congressman Joe Kennedy

By Jonathan Wroblewski
Clinic Director

The 2014 edition of the Harvard Law School Semester in Washington has now ended. It’s been a terrific semester full of unusual weather, lots of learning and new experiences, and a few surprises.

In these last three months, we have tried to model and learn from great government policy lawyers. We’ve done so by exploring issues arising from our placements and our work in government, and also from the headlines: from data privacy to marijuana policy; from intellectual property protection to foreign affairs; from international trade and investment to crime and justice. We’ve learned from one another and from leaders in government and the private sector. We met fascinating people, including Chief Judge Patti Saris of Massachusetts, Justice Elena Kagan, Chief Judge Ricardo Hinojosa of Texas, Monika Bickert of Facebook’s policy shop (and Kaitlin and Emily, too), Congressman Joe Kennedy, and an energetic group of young White House staffers from the Counsel’s Office and the National Security Staff.

We’ve looked at what policy making means and the building blocks that make up rigorous and thoughtful policy making. We worked on some critical skills for the policy lawyer and heard some pretty good “Elevator Pitches.” We visited the Supreme Court and watched two terrific oral advocates argue before the Court. We set goals for ourselves; met many; and missed a few too. We worked hard at our placements and shared and learned from each other’s experiences. We thought about the ethical responsibilities of the government lawyer and what it means to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, while the President and the Attorney General were regularly being criticized for failing to do so. We tried to figure out what makes a great organization great and how leadership figures in to that. We ventured outside the Washington of tourists and monuments and served some of the people who call Washington home. We shared a few meals together and got to know one another a bit better. For each of us, there were expectations met, expectations missed, and surprises too.

Clinic Director Jonathan Wroblewski (Right) and Students at the White House Briefing Room

Most gratifying is that we were able to create a small community of learning away from Cambridge. I have enjoyed getting to know each of you a bit and sharing some of our experiences over the past three months. Please don’t hesitate to call on me if there is ever anything I can do for you. For our graduating 3-Ls, my congratulations to you all on a job well done. For our 2-Ls, I will be in Cambridge in the fall to recruit for our Semester in Washington Class of 2015, and I hope to see some of you there. For all of you, if you are ever near the Main Justice Building, please drop me a line and let’s find time to catch up.

My best to all. Enjoy the summer!

Students Help Federal District Court Judges

Lauren Moxley 2L

Two of the fifteen students enrolled in the Judicial Process in Community Courts Clinic, Lauren Moxley (2L) and Andrew Spore (2L), have had the unique experience of interning in federal district court. Through their clinical placements, Lauren and Andrew have had the opportunity to observe judicial proceedings, perform legal research, write bench memos, proof read orders and opinions, and even draft legal opinions. The experience has proven enriching to Lauren and Andrew, who both have an interest in the federal judiciary system.

Lauren Moxley is interning with Hon. William G. Young in United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. “I’ve had an incredible experience thus far,” Lauren said. “I’ve spent the bulk of my time researching and writing on issues relating to a claim for Social Security disability benefits. Though Social Security cases can sometimes be considered some of the more dry issues litigated in federal court, as a first assignment it has been a fascinating and meaningful opportunity to grapple with the legal and factual issues at play.” Lauren added that the experience has also prepared her for post-graduation plans: “I’m clerking on a federal court when I graduate, so it has been a particularly valuable learning experience—and, frankly, a delight—to observe and work alongside Judge Young and his fabulous clerks.”

Andrew Spore (2L)

Andrew Spore is interning in the same court with Hon. Denise J. Casper. “It has been enlightening,” he said. “In addition to observing court proceedings, I have researched and drafted orders related to various Rule 12 defenses, some with very interesting facts. Closely observing the decision-maker at work has been a great experience and has helped me better understand the role of the trial advocate. As a law student, it is easy to sometimes feel an indeterminacy in the law as we are encouraged to argue every issue from both sides. It has been a nice change to be in the position of coming down definitely on one side. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone interested in litigating.”

Hon. Judge John Cratsley (Rte.) who directs the Judicial Process in Community Courts Clinic, said that he appreciated the opportunities provided by Judges Young and Casper as their judicial placements expand the perspectives offered in the classroom discussion.

Class of 2014 Chooses Tyler Giannini for its Teaching Excellence Award

Via Human Rights Program Blog

Posted by Human Rights Program faculty and staff:

As friends and colleagues of Tyler Giannini, we are thrilled that the Class of 2014 has chosen to award him the Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence. All of us appreciate and benefit so much from his vision and commitment to our clinic and program–as a human rights advocate, a clinician, and an innovator in the field and in the classroom. It is wonderful to see his dedication to his students recognized with this award.

Tyler is a rare find, a triple threat: an advocate-teacher-scholar who embraces all these roles and finds in them a harmony that is truly a joy to witness and learn from. Anyone who works with him can sense the passion that he brings to work. It is evident in the emotion, care, and impeccable commitment to quality that he invests into everything he produces, from U.S. Supreme Court briefs to course syllabi to student role-plays. Tyler works this way because he cares deeply about teaching his students to be thoughtful and effective human rights practitioners, and because he believes so strongly in the value of the work that he does each and every day.

We are moved and beyond excited that Tyler has received this well-deserved recognition. We couldn’t be prouder of him. Thank you, Class of 2014.

Clinic Student and Harvard Team Take First Place in Sports Case Competition

On February 8th, Sports Law Clinic student Alex Rosen, ’14 participated in the inaugural Game Day Sports Case Competition, sponsored by UCLA Anderson School of Management. Alex and his team pictured left won first place in the competition, bringing home a $5,000 prize.

According to the HLS News article, the competition focused on client consulting and negotiation related to the potential move of an NFL franchise to Los Angeles. Eighteen teams comprised of approximately 90 students flew in from around the country to participate in the event, which was judged by leading academics and sports industry professionals.

Speaking about his experience in the competition and education at Harvard Law School, Alex said that the Sports Law Clinic provided him with an opportunity to learn about the sports industry while still being enrolled as a full-time law student. “The practical legal experience I received went above and beyond my expectations and, I believe, was the most efficient use of my “class time” at HLS,” he said. “Professor Carfagna encourages students to find placements that are of interest to them and does not hesitate to tap into his deep network to make a match. He has also been a great mentor and supporter of other sports law initiatives, including our Harvard team that attended the Game Day Sports Case Competition. The clinic was a big reason why I chose to attend HLS and has given me a head start as I look to begin my professional career in the area of sports law,” said Alex.

Read the full HLS News article ‘Harvard team takes first place in sports case competition’ here.

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