Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

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Hipper Than HIP: Harvard Law School’s Immigration SPO

HIP students participating in Citizenship Day in Boston on September 23, 2018

By: Austin Davis, J.D. ’19

The Harvard Law School Immigration Project (HIP) has been the best part of my law school experience. Nothing but respect for the other SPOs – HIP just can’t compete with calling a social event “PLAPpy Hour” – but I’ve found the most engaged, dependable, and passionate students anywhere at HIP.

I joined HIP because immigrants are the cornerstone of my family and my country, and immigrant rights are under siege. But I also joined because spending all my time in the classroom was giving me hives. I wanted to work with an actual person, dive into their story, and help bring some humanity to law.

HIP’s work provides the perfect outlet for that energy. Some members assist families with byzantine green card applications or work authorization forms. Others represent indigent clients at bond hearings, or provide Know Your Rights presentations to groups of non– United States citizens at local community centers.

Personally, I’ve spent most of my time working with HIP’s chapter of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). It’s an international organization with chapters at 28 law schools that works with refugees abroad and former war-zone translators for the United States. And during my 1L year, I had the chance to work on a case with a fellow 1L partner and lawyers from the New York City firm Cleary Gottlieb.

The stakes were high. Our clients were a same-sex couple tortured by their government and abused by their families in their country of origin. They had fled to a second country, where the revelation of their sexual orientation had led to further physical and sexual assaults. They were broke, they didn’t speak the language, and suffered ongoing harassment and violence.

As lawyers in touch via Skype and living an ocean away, our role was soberingly limited. But we could help them push through the refugee system, to get out of their situation and receive resettlement clearance for Europe or the United States. And to that end, we did successfully petition the United Nations for our clients to receive an expedited refugee determination. That was the first step they needed in order to activate the international resettlement mechanisms, and we cut their resettlement wait time down by well over a year – a year which, by our clients’ account, would have proved very dangerous.

But this case makes up just one part of my HIP involvement. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend “advice and counsel” sessions organized by HIP’s Community Outreach Initiative (COI). On one occasion, we students and our legal supervisors spent a couple hours in a Chelsea church basement talking with a gathered group of Haitian noncitizens. We helped provide honest, on-the-fly assessments of whatever concerns they had: their immigration status, the visa risks of leaving the country, or the president’s mood.

In addition, I’ve participated in Boston’s Citizenship Day with HIP’s Immigration Services Project (ISP), where we worked through the fine details of certain US citizenship forms with people preparing their applications. All in all, everything I’ve done through HIP has been client-centered, challenging, and immensely rewarding.

Plus, back at school, it’s been a delight to be surrounded by so many law students looking to do real work in the world. It was an essential community for me as a 1L, trying to navigate this gigantic law school. And over my three years with HIP, I’ve really valued how our members bring so many different perspectives, experiences, and motivations. It’s rarer than it should be to have people with a professional focus on the Central American humanitarian crises engaging with people focused on the Syrian civil war. In HIP, they come together, and we learn so much from each other.

HIP has provided the most meaningful experiences for me at law school, through the legal service work or making great friends. It doesn’t matter what year in law school you are or your background in immigration law: I’d highly recommend that all HLS students consider joining HIP.


Why TAP Defined My Law School Experience

Elizabeth Gyori J.D. ’19

By: Elizabeth Gyori, J.D. ’19

The notice came in a white envelope, hand-delivered by a staffer at the project-based Section 8 development that my elderly grandparents lived in. From the outside, it looked like it could be a notice that they received on a weekly basis. However, this was a “Notice to Cease.” From what my immigrant Chinese family could tell, it meant eviction. Then about to enter my first year of law school at Harvard Law School (HLS), I took charge of the situation. I knew nothing about subsidized housing and the rights afforded to my grandparents who spoke no English. Fumbling my way through preserving affordable housing for my grandparents and noticing the lack of culturally-competent legal services afforded to low-income tenants pushed me to join the Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP) as a 1L. My transformative time in TAP has not only led me to serve as the organization’s Co-President, but I hope to continue the fight for housing justice after graduation.

TAP is a student practice organization that provides representation and advice to tenants of subsidized housing who are facing eviction, subsidy termination, application denial or transfer denial. Every year, approximately 40 law students conduct a wide array of legal advocacy before local housing authorities. This ranges from reasonable accommodation requests for tenants with disabilities to representing clients at administrative hearings—a more informal, court-like proceeding—about eviction or termination of a rent subsidy. The ultimate goal of TAP’s practice is not only to ensure that tenants remain housed, but also that they are able to thrive in their affordable housing. Thus, student advocates work closely with social service providers in the Greater Boston area and conduct advocacy on policy issues that affect TAP’s client population. TAP’s intake process, run by a nine-student Intake Review Committee, allows advocates to shape the priorities and caseload of the organization. At the end of their time in TAP, students will have amassed a wealth of knowledge about many areas of the law and developed their trial advocacy, negotiation, legal research and writing, and client interviewing skills.

This skill acquisition is not the only reason why students join or return to TAP year after year. Students are also interested in housing justice and how it intersects with other pressing social issues. For example, one of my clients, who is elderly and disabled, was facing voucher termination because her son became addicted to opioids after a surgery and was arrested for possession of drugs. The arrest was not near her apartment and her son was actually away at college at the time. She had no idea about her son’s addiction, and in the years since, her son had turned his life around. Even still, the overlapping web of the criminal justice system, the nation’s opioid crisis, and other public health issues threatened my client’s stable housing. My colleagues and I worked with the son’s public defender, filed reasonable accommodation requests for my client’s disabilities, represented her at several hearings about her termination, and referred her to social services. Like every advocate, I grew immensely by getting to know and working closely with my client. I developed my legal research and writing skills, my understanding of how the administrative process is related to later court practice (i.e., preserving the record), and my ability to work effectively with clients with disabilities, especially translating complex legal concepts into everyday language. Personally, I was moved by the trusting relationships that organically formed between my client, her son, and me. Their resilience re-energized me. Further, I was grateful to have the opportunity to see and trace first-hand how housing justice is deeply linked to many other areas of law and policy, including disability law, criminal law, economic justice and public health. This front-row seat allows TAPpers to become passionate and effective legal aid and community lawyers, policymakers, and impact litigators, among many other career paths after graduation.

Moreover, TAP’s vibrant community, which gives students a space to engage with the Greater Boston community, discuss various social issues and reflect on law school, is where many TAPpers make life-long friends. Key to this community has been TAP’s long-time Clinical Instructors, Lynn Weissberg and Marcia Peters, who have supervised students for over 30 years. Lynn, who founded TAP in 1981, has been a strong advocate for housing justice in the Greater Boston area, from the days of rent control until today. Marcia, who joined TAP a few years after TAP’s founding, has similarly fiercely fought for the rights of low-income tenants. On each case that they supervised, Marcia and Lynn not only brought wisdom and legal insight, but they have taught, by example, generations of TAPpers what it means to zealously advocate for your client. Though Marcia retired this past April and Lynn retired in October, TAP’s community is only expanding. We are excited to welcome Shelley Barron to the TAP family as our new Clinical Instructor. Since her start this past June, we have seen how her background in housing law, family law and working with survivors of domestic violence has strengthened our advocacy for clients.

In the summer before law school, I was able to help my grandparents remain in their affordable housing. But as I have explored housing justice more and more throughout law school, I have realized that lack of culturally-competent representation is not the only barrier to affordable housing. Rather, sheer lack of enough affordable housing, housing policies and laws that clash with communities’ differing conceptions of family and dignified living, and the effect of intersecting issues like economic injustice prevent the fulfillment of housing as a human right in the United States. I hope to bring my skills, experiences, personal background and understanding of the Asian American community to my future work in housing justice. As I look towards graduation and practicing law in the “real world,” I only hope that I can be as brave and resilient and my TAP clients, as fierce and compassionate as Lynn, Marcia and Shelley, and as dedicated to housing and social justice as my fellow TAPpers.

Students Receive Wisdom on Building a Pro Bono Practice in a Large Law Firm

Pictured from left to right: Sue Finegan, MintzLevin, William (Rob) Roberts ’10, Ropes & Gray, and Tory Hartmann ’17, WilmerHale

Three influential law firm attorneys committed to serving their community spoke to a room full of students about how law firm associates can get involved in pro bono work at a large law firm. Susan (Sue) Finegan is a nationally recognized pro bono leader. She is the Pro Bono Partner at Mintz Levin, and was driven to the law profession to help people. She has served as the lead counsel in a number of high profile litigation matters, such as the Trump administration’s travel ban and seeing through the passage of a Massachusetts restraining order law for sexual assault survivors. She current serves as co-chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission. The two other panelists, William (Rob) Roberts ’10 and Victoria (Tory) Hartmann ’17, are HLS alums who built a foundation for their pro bono work throughout their time at HLS. Roberts, who is an associate in the Litigation and Enforcement group at Ropes & Gray, participated in the Predatory Student Lending Clinic as a student. His current practice at Ropes focuses on complex commercial disputes, bankruptcy litigation, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance. He also serves as the family law team leader for the firm’s partnership with Dorchester House. Tory Hartmann is an alum of the Food Law and Policy Clinic. Now at WilmerHale, Hartmann advises public and private companies on an array of corporate matters, including strategic investments, cross-border outsourcing deals, and SEC filings. Each of the panelists spoke to the breadth of issues they have worked on in their pro bono portfolio, ranging from protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), reuniting separated families, working with domestic abuse survivors and homeless women, to helping farmers and other individuals and entities providing food get established. The panelists described how their intentional efforts to get involved in pro bono work and their firm’s support of that work allowed them to frequently engage in public service opportunities.

Finegan emphasized that the three firms represented on the panel had a long history of commitment to the community and are strategic about hiring lawyers with special skills that can be helpful in serving the community: “I think a lot of these firms, and these three in particular, have decades long commitment to certain initiatives in the community of Boston and in other cities that we operate in. Even before pro bono was a defined thing, the founders of our firms were doing things in the community for free . . . There’s a real obligation as lawyers, [and] as professionals, to use [these special] skills in any way we can.”

Roberts agreed that law firms believe in doing meaningful pro bono work, stating that, “Firms are looking for these types of issues that make an impact.” Roberts recounted a year where he performed an impressive 1,100 hours of pro bono work, exceeding his billable hours. When asked about how the firm viewed this imbalance, he replied, “at the end of the day people see if you’re doing good work and they appreciate the work you’re doing whether it’s pro bono or billable.” The challenge, he said, is in maintaining organization and flexibility to bounce between different issues.

There can be tremendous leadership growth for associates to initiate a pro bono project and take the helms of leading a case. Finegan said that it is a great professional development opportunity for associates to be primarily responsible for someone’s well-being when leading a pro bono project, a chance that occurs less frequently in some of the firm’s bigger cases when the partners largely drive the work. The panelists encouraged students to get the experience and exposure of leading a project and driving a litigation strategy early on in one’s career.

Hartmann encouraged students who were planning to work in law firms, but have a strong inclination for public interest, to ask the firms up front about their pro bono work. She encouraged students to ask summer associates during interviews and meet and greet sessions about the kinds of pro bono projects they had worked on. “Everyone should have an answer,” she declared. She also encouraged students to ask if pro bono hours count the same as billable hours and to make sure the projects include challenging and substantive work. That way, she said, a student can tell how much a firm values their pro bono practice. Finegan highlighted that at Mintz Levin, “Our pro bono matters are just as important as our client matters, and in some ways, in my perspective more important because these are clients who would otherwise not get helped.”

Thank you to the Harvard Women’s Law Association for co-sponsoring the event.

Climate Defense Project Emphasizes Movement Lawyering to Empower and Protect Climate Activists

Pictured left to right: Climate Defense Project Co-Founders Alice Cherry ’16 and Ted Hamilton ‘16

“We like to think of ourselves as climate activists with bar licenses . . .” said Ted Hamilton, one of the co-founders of the Climate Defense Project (CDP). CDP was founded in 2016 by three HLS alumni (Alice Cherry ’16, Ted Hamilton ’16, and Kelsey Skaggs ‘16) to “use the legal system as its own avenue of activism” in climate defense work. Since its founding, the organization has represented a number of climate activists who engage in nonviolent civil disobedience to combat climate change, who would otherwise lack access to reliable legal support. CDP addresses this need by providing legal support for activists, connecting attorneys with communities and campaigns, and pursuing climate impact litigation.

Before CDP was born, the founders themselves were active participants in the climate movement. In 2014, seven students, including the three founders, filed a lawsuit against Harvard University over its fossil fuel investments. The plaintiffs claimed that Harvard was violating its charitable mission by contributing to environmentally and socially harmful activities through investing in fossil fuel companies’ business actions. The group knew their chances of success were slim, but still found it important to put political pressure on the university to take immediate action to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. The case was dismissed by the Massachusetts Appeal Court nearly two years later, but Cherry and Hamilton said that the experience of litigating, speaking to the press, and making political arguments in the court and the court of public opinion prepared them for their current roles in running a nonprofit. From their experience pursuing litigation, Hamilton said, “We realized there was a real need for this sort of proactive movement lawyering for the climate movement . . . . and to proactively use the legal system and legal ideas to advance the movement’s goals.”

CDP primarily provides criminal defense for climate activists. Increasingly, climate activists are using civil disobedience tactics as a call to action, urging politicians and other powerful decision makers to immediately address the problems contributing the climate’s deterioration. “The planet is dying and our clients are getting arrested for trying to do something about that,” Cherry remarked. In their cases, CDP often uses the climate necessity defense, a common technique used by climate activists, which states that a person’s actions were justified by the climate emergency, or the need for drastic action to reduce the need for fossil fuels. In one such case, protestors were arrested for demonstrating against a liquid natural gas plant in Tacoma, Washington that was built on indigenous land. CDP spoke to a local indigenous elder, who served as an expert witness in the case. She gave a history of the land and the violations of treaties over the land throughout the years. Her testimony, in addition to fact that the indigenous group granted permission for the protestors to take action, helped the protestors to be cleared of the trespass and obstruction charges against them. CDP was also involved in a case in Minnesota, where the activists from Oregon and Washington, known as the “Valve Turners” manually shut off the emergency valves on the tar-sands pipelines that transports tar-sands oil from Canada to the U.S. The activists justified their actions as necessary because of the imminent threat that fossil fuels pose. Three of the five protestors were tried and convicted of felony charges, but in a win for the activists, a state judge dismissed all charges earlier this month.

These court cases, victorious or not, often helps to spread a message and adds legitimacy to the climate action movement, Cherry said. The two also discussed that political trials provide a forum and process for fact finding, adds procedural safeguards and opportunities to vet information, and can facilitate democratic deliberation on important social issues. Cherry stated, “Through jury verdicts, people get to be the voice of the community. They get to participate in a form of direct democracy at a time people are kind of shut out of other democratic institutions.”

Cherry also discussed the intersection of climate change with other issues. “You really can’t understand climate injustice without understanding racial and gender injustice, and of course, capitalism. We exploit people as well as resources.” She said that intersectionality is going to be key for the climate movement going forward to make climate change feel “immediate, tangible, and morally compelling for people.”

Both Hamilton and Cherry spoke highly of the decision to start their own organization, and encouraged students to do so also if there was a need they felt was currently unaddressed. They shared the challenges of building a nonprofit, but also how having connections both within and outside of Harvard gave them the support and resources to be successful.

Thank you to the Harvard Environmental Law Society for co-sponsoring this event.

Protecting Civil Liberties and Rights with Oren Nimni of Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston

Pictured left to right: Harvard Law School Professor Nikolas Bowie ’14 and Oren Nimni, Lawyers for Civil Rights

Harvard Law Professor Nikolas Bowie ’14 and Oren Nimni of Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) Boston sat down to have a conversation about the LCR’s recent litigation efforts to advance civil rights and economic justice. Nimni spoke about his commitment to advancing justice for people of color and immigrants and described his grassroots approach to developing legal strategies.

Nimni is currently litigating a case against the Trump administration to protect immigrants from Haiti, Honduras, and El Salvador with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In the mid-summer of 2018, the Trump administration announced it was terminating TPS status for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Sudan. In light of the announcement, immigration and civil rights advocacy groups like the LCR initiated litigation to prevent the terminations. They claimed that the cancellation of the program had a discriminatory motive that violated the law. In early October, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen ordered the administration to halt its plan, ruling that the administration violated the Equal Protection Clause by basing its decision “on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants.” Nimni emphasized the importance of the decision nationwide, but especially in Boston which has a high immigrant population. He highlighted that speaking with community members and prioritizing their needs was central to developing the legal theories they pursued.

Nimni has also been involved in other efforts to combat racial discrimination, including LCR Boston’s suits against the Boston Police Department (BPD) for racial profiling and internal discrimination within employment. He has also helped with reunifying families who were separated at the border due to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. LCR filed a lawsuit on behalf of children seeking damages from federal officials for forcibly separating families. Nimni was quoted in WBUR 90.9 saying that the lawsuit seeks to “hold the government accountable” and petition for “. . . the government [to] attempt to repair some of the harm that they’ve done to these kids.”

Nimni distinguished LCR as an organization that embodies the community-lawyering approach, letting communities drive the litigation. It is a model that appealed to him and one that he uses as he develops new legal strategies. He also said the organization had a strict focus on protecting the rights and interests of marginalized communities. “We’re in a really particular moment right now in the law where things are really bad and that provides a pretty sober reminder of the way that law works,” he told the audience. But, Nimni said, there are a number of organizations nationally and in Boston that are engaging in exciting and creative litigation strategies around immigration, mass incarceration, and education, among others. Nimni concluded by encouraging students to participate in direct services work through clinics or other opportunities. He also advocated that students stay in Boston, arguing that there are underserved communities in cities that are not well-established civil rights hubs that need creative, and talented lawyers to help defend their interests.

Thank you to the National Lawyers Guild – HLS Chapter for co-sponsoring this event.

Regulatory Hackers Aren’t Fixing Society. They’re Getting Rich


Source: Pixabay

By: Susan Crawford

Recently I was invited to join a panel to discuss Regulatory Hacking: A Playbook for Startups, a new book by venture capitalist Evan Burfield. The book is sort of a guide for new companies looking for a win-win—doing good by doing well—in highly regulated sectors like health and education. It argues that startups have the opportunity to make trillions of dollars solving global challenges that, in the past, would have been addressed by governments or nonprofits.

Burfield sat at the center of our semicircle of five speakers, all female save for him. He’s a large-framed, confidence-radiating man with a light English accent—an earlier generation might have called him “clubbable.” His message was one of intelligent cooperation by startups with government. He urged the small crowd of students to “map power dynamics” when they launch their businesses. The book’s introduction says it “provides a history of Elon Musk as the ultimate regulatory hacker,” but Musk’s name didn’t come up—maybe because the Musk news of late hasn’t been that adulatory.

The panel discussion took place on sunny afternoon, in a high-floor classroom that looked east over the towers of upper Manhattan. Burfield spoke easily and at length, and as he did I watched a large private helicopter loop lazily toward its landing pad by the East River.

Once the event petered to a close, he ran off to catch a plane. He’s a busy, successful person, a family man as well, with a daughter named Endeavour. (She makes an appearance in the first sentence of the book, asking Alexa to play a song for her.)

Two other speakers on that panel were women with experience as New York City employees—one current, one former— who talked about weaving startups into the workings of government in various ways. They too were confident and competent, as was the woman entrepreneur who, with me, rounded out the panel. We were all appropriately deferential to Burfield; it was his book, after all. (The New York Times, in its review of Regulatory Hacking, called it “chock-full of checklists, matrices, diagrams and jargon all of uneven usefulness.”)

But the talk and the helicopter darkened my mood. It’s tough to find moments of clarity in the calamitous, disorienting era we’re in, but for me that afternoon stands out. Something was off.

By temperament and by training, I am optimistic most of the time. In that room, though, I sensed the assumptions of our age operating in high, silent gear: Business is the most important agent of change in society; government exists to “cooperate” and is mostly incapable and toothless (while simultaneously, if ineptly, threatening); nothing is going to be done about the harrowing, multiple, structural unfairnesses of our time; women who want to survive and be invited to future panel discussions need to be appropriately deferential; and our destiny as a society is being charted by people who never use public transportation. Or fly commercial.

I did speak up, politely, that afternoon. I said many things are profoundly wrong with the way we live in America, and that what we really need to do is make sure government has the capacity and resources to ensure—using technology as a tool, but mostly through sound policy—that everyone with a belly button can lead a thriving life. I urged the students in the audience to spend some time working in government themselves, so that they could see how many people at City Hall are doing their best against impossible odds. I smiled as I spoke; I don’t like sounding like a crank. But it was both saddening and alarming.

Luckily, someone seemingly at the very heart of the Aspen-Davos-Harvard win-win consensus has emerged with a terrific book that takes up many of these themes: Anand Giridharadas, with Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. Giridharadas’ work gives me hope that we can start marking a cut in the continuous history we inhabit. We may be launching a new historical narrative.

Giridharadas is an insider. He’s been on the TED stage, at the Aspen Ideas Festival, at the Harvard Kennedy School. (Although I teach at Harvard, I’ve never met him.) And he, like me, is horrified by the blinkered, superficial, and self-serving rhetoric of the privileged class as it looks to avoid personal pain in a thoroughly unfair world.

Giridharadas crisply categorizes the breathless rhetoric of individual startuppy idealism that rolls out from the stages of conferences on the social enterprise circuit. The language routinely used by startup leaders claiming to improve people’s lives—”we will change the world!”—masks a profound desire to avoid confrontation with the unfair and unequal status quo experienced by many Americans. The way things are, after all, is serving the interests of the well-born and well-connected.

One jarring anecdote in Winners Take All has a budgeting startup called Even doing some user-centered-design-ish interviewing of a gig-economy worker, named Heather Jacobs. Jacobs is barely making it, panicked by a punishing commute, staggering student debt, and insecure work hours. The interviewer wants to make sure that Even will meet Jacob’s needs. Could a subscription app help smooth Heather’s jagged paychecks, ensuring by automatic saving of excess incoming cash that she had enough money each month to cover her bills?

“If you asked the question, ‘What is the best way to help Heather Jacobs?’ the honest answer probably wouldn’t be to charge her $260 a year to smooth her income,” Giridharadas writes. He points out that you might, instead, try to fix the systems that are keeping Heather Jacobs poor—you would want to make sure that transit, affordable housing, and student loan assistance were part of the fabric of American life. But then you wouldn’t have much of a startup.

Giridharadas’ message is that the world could be arranged in different ways. But no one in the well-connected world he documents is interested in that restructuring. The people Giridharadas writes about are looking to make a pile of money from doing good, assisted by thought leaders, most foundations, and a guileless, money-oriented public. They face little foundational, structural criticism; no one on the conference circuit wants to be a harsh critic or a genuine public intellectual. Who wants to attack the people who have flown you in to speak?

Most of the time, we are ants crawling across a vast tablecloth, unaware of our context or our destiny. But right now things are off enough that we might want to raise our heads to look around. Hacking is not going to cut it.

Student Reflections From the Border

Via the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

Source: Pixabay

In August, HLS students Alessandra De La Tejera ’20, Josephine Herman ’20, Evan Hindman ’19, and Andrew Patterson ’20, and HIRC attorneys Sabi Ardalan and Cindy Zapata spent a week in Texas volunteering with RAICES, an organization that offers free and low-cost immigration legal services in Central and South Texas. They worked at the Karnes Detention Center, where they met with fathers and sons who had been forcibly separated from each other under President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy. Three students have offered their thoughts on this powerful and eye-opening experience.

Alessandra De La Tejera ‘20:

Judges have the discretion to hear the cases before them with cynicism or with humanity and empathy. People often disagree about which should be applied when victim’s advocacy organizations disparage progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner when he reduces standards for the lengths of sentences and probationary periods, or comparable organizations are outraged when a college rapist is let off with a slap on the wrist, quite transparently because of his status and race. Asylum, however, is one area of the law that is, by definition, humanitarian. Naturally, then, I would expect the treatment of asylum-seekers to be humanitarian. It is not.

I stood next to Alberto*, a client I represented in a hearing to review his credible fear finding, and watched helpless as the Judge essentially cross-examined my client over every tiny discrepancy or omission in his Credible Fear Interview (CFI). Alberto told the Judge about his issues with the interpreter, who was switched halfway through the interview, and who continuously interrupted and talked over him. He told the Judge about how he cannot read or write and his difficulty understanding the questions. He told the Judge about how his son was brought in toward the end of the interview, distracting him before he could mention his fear over working for a political party.

In response, the Judge rattled off the boilerplate questions, barely giving Alberto a chance to nod between each question:

“You were asked, ‘Did you understand my questions today?’ and you said yes.”

“You were also read a summary of your claim, and they asked if it was correct, and you said yes.”

“You were asked if there were any changes you wanted to make, or if you wanted to add anything, and you said no.”

“You were asked if there was anything else that was important to your claim that you hadn’t discussed, and you said no.”

He then found Alberto not credible, and affirmed his negative credible fear finding.

Considering the context Alberto was in, it’s understandable that he was unable to truly comprehending the significance of those questions. Still, in this preliminary review, for which he only needed to provide some evidence that he could prevail on an asylum claim if it were adjudicated, none of that reasonable compassion was extended to him.

The asylum system is failing in its core purpose of humanitarianism. Direct representation is critical because these individuals want and deserve an advocate, or at the very least a companion to walk them through this process. Still, that company is only so helpful, and it does not compensate for the fact that even with representation, many lose. Policy work is then critical because the laws and their application need to change in order for representation to become effective. Policy work can only do so much, however, when the laws as they stand do nothing to prevent judges and other immigration officials from using their discretion to reject statutorily valid asylum claims. Representation of compassionate perspectives in the judiciary is then critical, so that those with discretionary power wield it with empathy. In short, as I left the Karnes Detention Center, my somber takeaway was that there is a lot of work to do, and everywhere.

*Client’s name has been changed to maintain confidentiality.

Josephine Herman ‘20:

Karnes is a family detention center, which means that it houses adults and their minor children during the early stages of the asylum process during which credible fear interviews (CFIs) are conducted. Although there are toys in the visitation area and colorful posters on the walls, it is impossible to ignore that Karnes was built as a prison for adults. Clients are called in groups to meet with lawyers, legal assistants, and volunteers about their cases. Although the staff try to use the private rooms to discuss clients’ personal cases, often they are full and so a client and a volunteer sit in the crowded, loud visitation room to discuss the clients’ asylum claim—which usually means hearing about the worst experiences of their lives.

“Part one: the harm you have suffered.” Clients discuss sexual and domestic violence, beatings, shootings, stabbings, extortion, threats to their lives, threats to their children’s lives, threats to kill their whole families. They talk about men in loose clothing and tattoos (a sign of gangs) who lurk outside of their homes. For the sake of time and the law, I move quickly past the persecution element. This is not usually where people have trouble in their cases—the vast majority show horrific harm and threats.

“Part two: the motive of the harm.” This is where most claims fail, but often a client does have a way to meet the motive, or nexus, element—it’s just that it is unclear to the adjudicator. I ask about their religion and whether they go to church. I ask what the person who raped them said while he did it. I ask them about whether there is something different about them, or about their family, that people don’t like.

“Part three: why the police or government can’t or won’t help you.” Sometimes, this question is met with incredulity. Of course, the police won’t help in countries where they are in league with the gangs, or against a certain political party, or abusers themselves. It can be challenging to ask a client to explain something that is just a fact of life in his or her home country. Often, when I ask them how they know that the police won’t help, the answer is simple, “everyone knows.”

“Part four: why isn’t it safe in your home country? Why can’t you hide?” The gangs have contacts all over. My abuser is a powerful man. The government is against my party. I don’t know anyone else. The city is even more dangerous. I was a farmer, I don’t have a way to work that’s not my land. I tried to move and they found me. They even found me in another country.

Although each story is unique, and has its own tragic and horrifying details, the days are long and they start to blend together. RAICES staff arrive at 10 a.m. and leave when the visitation room closes at 8 p.m. Then, there is the long drive back to San Antonio and preparations for the next day. Volunteers help them to work more efficiently on complex cases and on getting through the dozens of people that might pass through visitation daily. The days are both repetitive and unpredictable. This summer, with the family separations, staff dealt with unexpected transfers and retaliations by ICE against protesting fathers.

They are still there, still doing the work, day in and day out.

Andrew Patterson ‘20:

Over the course of three days volunteering at the Karnes Detention Center in Texas, we watched the soul drain from an immigration judge’s body. We had all heard the stories of judges in these proceedings haranguing asylum-seekers, silencing advocates, and summarily denying claims. We would learn that those stories told of a system whose injustices run too deep for any one government official to escape with their humanity fully intact.

During the first day of hearings to review negative credible fear findings, the judge was reasonable, and while he mostly denied relief, he was at least pretending to apply the law correctly and was treating both advocates and their clients with dignity and respect. He respectfully and thoroughly detailed his disagreement with the lawyers’ arguments and explained his decisions.

By the second day, we observed a shift. He was moving through hearings more quickly. His mood had darkened and, in his impatient declarations that the lawyers were only present and speaking “at his discretion,” we began to see the process wearing him down. He was misstating the legal standards, mixing up the higher bar for those who had already been previously deported from United States with the lower one for those who had just entered for the first time. The interpreter also began making serious mistakes – she repeatedly mistranslated things in ways that were actually prejudicial to one of my clients and made it seem as though he was a criminal, and my deferential protests seemed to infuriate both interpreter and judge. By this time, he must have sat through more than a dozen hearings, each lasting about 45 minutes, listening to horrific stories of violence in Central America. He had repeated this process all day, for at least two days straight, for at least eight hours each day. At least the lawyers, sleep-deprived and harried as we were, did not have to shoulder the weight of making decisions about people’s horrifying circumstances for hours and days on end.

On day three, the judge was exhausted and irritable and had abandoned all pretense of justice. My client, mentioned above, who had the most obviously defective credible fear interview that I encountered that week, compellingly recounted his story of horrific persecution on account of his race only for the judge to declare, inexplicably, that he had not testified that he was persecuted on account of his race. Later that day, one of my colleagues was actually shut out of the courtroom as she tried to protest the fact that her client was being forced to go forward without an interpreter who spoke her client’s native language. The transformation from two days prior stunned all of us.

It is unfair to everyone to require judges to make these life-and-death decisions under these conditions. I doubt whether anyone can maintain their humanity when called upon to preside over this procession of human misery for days at a time, with no respite, trying to perform the delicate task of questioning human beings about the worst experiences of their lives in order to make a judgment about whether those experiences satisfy the strictures of the asylum statute. It was sobering to witness the human costs of forcing immigration judges to adjudicate “what amount to death penalty cases… in traffic court settings.” Unfortunately, the government actors near our southern border are more interested in the efficient denial of claims than weighing them justly.

Please note that these entries have been edited for brevity.

Copyright Law Just Got Better for Video Game History


Source: Pexels

By: Ian Birnbaum and Matthew Gault

A new ruling from the Librarian of Congress is good news for video game preservation. In an 85-page ruling that covered everything from electronic aircraft controls to farm equipment diagnostic software, the Librarian of Congress carved out fair use exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for video games and software in general. These exemptions will make it easier for archivists to save historic video games and for museums to share that cultural history with the public.

“The Acting Register found that the record supported granting an expansion in the relatively discrete circumstances where a preservation institution legally possesses a copy of a video game’s server code and the game’s local code,” the Librarian of Congress said. “In such circumstances, the preservation activities described by proponents are likely to be fair uses.”

These rules are definitely good news for single-player games. “The big change for single-player games happened during the last DMCA review process in 2015, when the Copyright Office decided that museums and archives could break the online authentication for single-player titles that were just phoning home to a server for copy protection reasons,” Phil Salvador—a Washington, DC-area librarian and archivist who runs The Obscuritory, a site that focuses on discussing and preserving obscure, old games—told Motherboard. That 2015 ruling was due to expire this year, but thanks to pressure from activists it was renewed today instead.

“These rules are a big win,” Kendra Albert, a Clinical Instructional Fellow at the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School, told Motherboard. Albert represented the Software Preservation Network, which was one of the parties arguing for the change at the Copyright Office. “The 2015 rules cracked the door open for many things, but the exemptions that were granted here are potentially much, much broader.”


Read the full article here.

HLS Named One of the Top Music Law Schools in 2018


Recording Artists Project (RAP) Board Members, left to right:  Graham Duff, Jenna El-Fakih, Rebecca Rechtszaid, Caley Petrucci, Danielle Walling, and Kike Aluko.

Billboard spotlights Harvard Law School’s entertainment and media law courses and the Recording Artist Project in a line up of 12 institutions who have produced “many of the music industry’s most accomplished lawyers.”


This year’s Harvard Law curriculum includes a class covering entertainment and media law, a course on music and digital media, and an entertainment law clinic to complement its many intellectual-property and contracts-focused classes. Students can also moonlight at the legal services clinic, Recording Artists Project, where they gain hands-on experience working with local musicians. The clinic celebrates its 20th year in October with a gala keynoted by entertainment lawyer and alumnus Donald Passman. This past year, as part of Harvard Law’s bicentennial celebration, the school held a Harvard Law School in the Arts event, with alumnus Clive Davis serving as honorary chairman. He also spoke to students about the 2017 documentary Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives.

Alumnus: Spotify general counsel/vp business and legal affairs Horacio Gutierrez

Read the full article here.

Lee Gelernt: A Fierce Advocate Reuniting Separated Families

Lee Gelernt, Deputy Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project

In the spring of 2018, the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy on immigrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border by separating families and children.  A new report from Amnesty International cites that over 6,000 people, half of whom are children, were separated from their families at the border since the policy was implemented. The ACLU promptly sprung into action, initiating a national class action lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop the practice. The case sought to reunite a mother and daughter who had been forced apart and detained separately 2,000 miles away from each other. The pair was seeking asylum in the U.S. after fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lee Gelernt, Deputy Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who spearheaded the lawsuit, spoke to HLS staff and students about the litigation’s claims and the ongoing efforts to reunify families.

The lawsuit claimed that Trump’s separation policy violated the Constitution’s due process clause, the asylum statute, which protects asylum seekers, and the government’s own directive to keep families intact. On June 26, federal Judge Dana Sabraw issued an injunction declaring Trump’s separation policy unconstitutional and required the administration to reunite the families. The administration suggested that the ACLU should use its networks to find the parents, but the judge retorted that it was “100%” the government’s responsibility to find the migrant parents it had separated and deported. The ACLU did organize efforts to help, and first prioritized reuniting children 5 and under with their parents. The task was quite daunting. In September, NPR reported that 304 parents had been deported and remained outside of the U.S. – many of whom were in Guatemala. Gelernt said the government kept poor records of the individuals they deported, and that they were “sitting on information, including phone numbers, [that they had] that could help find these parents.” Gelernt himself traveled to Guatemala to search for some of these parents. “I never expected to be in Guatemala looking for parents.” For those parents that he and other volunteers found, they explained to them their rights and presented them with a distressing choice: to be reunited with their children or to let them remain in the U.S. to pursue asylum independently. Gelernt said that two-thirds of the parents who were deported let their children remain in the U.S., reasoning that having their children return to their home country was too dangerous.

In his 25 plus years of civil rights work, Gelernt said the family separation policy is worst thing he’s ever seen. “It’s as The Washington Post described it: “gratuitous cruelty.” Being detained is a traumatizing experience in and of itself, especially for a child, Gelernt said, compounded with the fact that these children were being forcibly torn from their parents. In some cases, young children had been separated from their parents for so long, their children no longer recognized them. Judge Sabraw asserted the severe consequences of policy and leaving families broken, warning that, “For every parent who is not located there will be a permanently orphaned child.”

As heart wrenching as the issue was, Gelernt says it rallied political unity among conservatives and liberals. Immigration policy is a polarizing issue in Washington, but the public outcry denouncing Trump’s “crack down” on immigration mobilized politicians from both sides of the aisle to speak out. A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found that eighty-eight percent of voters opposed the policy, and said that the families should remain together while their cases move through immigration court. While the bipartisan calls against inhumane policies helped stop the administration, lasting immigration reform won’t come from this administration any time soon, Gelernt said. Any real, substantive change will have to be through the courts and through large public outcry, as many civil rights victories in the past have occurred. Gelernt noted that the ongoing challenge will be to maintain public scrutiny on the administration’s immigration policies and decisions, and not letting the public lose focus on the issue. He encouraged students to organize, volunteer, and to continue to keep the issue in the public light.

Thank you to our co-sponsors, HLS ACLU, Child and Youth Advocates (CYA), HLS Immigration Project, and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC).

Harvard Trio Studies Post Office Needs



By: Mark Mahoney

N’West Iowa residents who are worried about the future of their respective post offices will have a chance to voice their viewpoints to a group of Ivy League scholars this weekend.

A three-member team from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA, that is working to protect U.S. post offices will be in the region Saturday-Monday, Oct. 13-15, to visit with residents, especially during community meetings in Calumet and Hartley.

Team members — such as 24-year-old Madelyn “Maddy” Petersen, a third-year law student who has ties to Hartley and Spirit Lake — are holding community meetings to conduct research for Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic.

“Our project and our clinic believe in the universal service of the post office,” Petersen said. “We know that some towns in northwest Iowa have seen closures and then also there have been a bunch of towns that have experienced reductions in services, reductions in hours or kind of a shift in how the mail is delivered.”

‘Really listen’

The main goal of the Harvard Law School team’s trip to N’West Iowa is to have conversations with residents to understand how they have been affected by post office closures and reductions of hours and services that the U.S. Postal Service has implemented during the past decade.

Petersen, fellow third-year law student Elizabeth “Liz” Gyori, 27, of New York City and clinical instructor Amelia Evans of the International Human Rights Clinic want to report the stories and perspectives of area community members to a wide audience and key stakeholders.

“We do want to look into what else could this massive infrastructure of the post office kind of do or serve or be in communities, particularly in smaller communities in northwest Iowa,” Petersen said. “Sometimes there aren’t always the services there that those communities need.”

Evans explained more about the Harvard Law School team’s project to protect U.S. post offices.

“One of the things that we really want to do with this is really listen to what communities want us to do,” she said.

“Rather than coming in and deciding that we’re going to have a report, we’ve decided that what we’re going to do is come in and ask some questions and really listen and then go away from there and figure out what’s best,” she said.

A Northwest Iowa Development study — titled “Impact of the Closure of Post Offices in Northwest Iowa” — from April 2012 was one reason why the Harvard Law School team decided to focus on the region as part of its project.

“We saw that and thought that kind of provides a little bit of a baseline of information that we could then kind of follow up on,” Petersen said.

‘Badly affected’

Petersen’s ties to N’West Iowa — she attended elementary and middle school in Spirit Lake and her parents, Matt and Laurinda Petersen, graduated from high school in Hartley — were another reason why the Harvard Law School team’s first trip for its project is to the northwest corner of the Hawkeye State.

“I was kind of drawn to wanting to go back and report on some of these places,” the younger Petersen said. “When looking at some of the communities that were being talked about, I was like, ‘Oh, those are the communities I grew up around.’ It was an easy choice to kind of come in and see if we could talk to some more people about what happened.”

According to the Harvard Law School team, 572 U.S. post offices across Iowa — including in Alton, Alvord, Archer, Ashton, Boyden, Calumet, Doon, Granville, Harris, Hospers, Ireton, Larchwood, Lester, Little Rock, Maurice, Melvin, Ocheyedan and Sutherland — have had their business hours reduced during the past decade.

In addition, 34 U.S. post offices across the state have been closed, which — plus the reduced business hours at others — led Evans to note, “Iowa has been pretty badly affected by this.”

The Harvard Law School team is interested in the noneconomic value of U.S. post offices and their employees to N’West Iowa residents and the places they live, as well as the economic impact of the changes that have been made to many of the federal facilities.

“What sort of community function does it play?” Evans said. “We’ve heard a lot of interesting stories about people who have a relationship with their mail person, where if they haven’t cleared their mail for a while, they have permission to knock on the door and see if that person is OK.

“It’s those qualitative aspects that we feel are really important to capture, too, so as much as we’re interested in what are the economic consequences, what we’re really interested in is what’s the really human experience of public post offices and what it could be,” she said.

RAP Presents HLS Alum Don S. Passman to Talk about the Inside of the Music Industry

Join the Recording Artists Project at Harvard Law in welcoming back Harvard Law School Alumnus Don S. Passman, author of music industry bible All You Need to Know About the Music Industry. Mr. Passman is a partner at Beverly Hills music law boutique Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown. Mr. Passman’s impressive client list includes superstars like Adele and Taylor Swift, among others.

You don’t want to miss out on this amazing opportunity to hear from one of the most respected attorneys in the industry. Please direct any inquiries to  hlsrap at

The Recording Artists Project (RAP) is a student practice organization at Harvard Law School providing pro bono legal assistance to local artists, musicians, record labels, clubs, and new media companies. It has been mentioned in The Hollywood Reporter’s article America’s Top 10 Entertainment Law Schools.

The event will take place on Friday, October 26 from 4-6pm.  Register for the event here.

HLS Students Honored for Their Pro Bono Work

HLS alumna Amy Volz, J.D. ’18 and the other recipients of the 2018 Adams Pro Bono award pictured (left to right) with Chief Justice Ralph Gants ’80, Justice Kimberly Budd ’91, and Elizabeth Ennen Esq., Chair of the SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services.

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs offers its heartfelt congratulations to the 55 Harvard Law students that were recognized by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services for their commitment to pro bono work. The ceremony was held at the Adams Courthouse on October 18 and the students are listed on the SJC’s Pro Bono Honor Roll website.

The recognition is presented annually to law firms, solo practitioners, in-house corporate counsel offices, government attorney offices, non-profit organizations, law school faculties, and law students who certify that they have contributed at least 50 hours of legal services without receiving pay or academic credit.

Alumua Amy Volz ’18 was also honored with a Pro Bono Publico Award for being someone who demonstrated an outstanding and exceptional commitment to providing unpaid legal services to those in need for her extensive pro bono work at HLS. During her time at HLS, Volz contributed thousands of hours of pro bono service to clients through the Harvard Immigration Project (HIP), the International Human Rights Clinic, and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC).


Charmaine Archer JD’19 Karin Drucker JD’19 Margaret Huang JD’19 Daniel Reis JD’20
Lindsay Bailey JD’19 Jenna El-Fakih JD’20 Milo Rohr Inglehart JD’19  Joseph Rosenberg JD’19
Megan Barnes JD’19 Ian Eppler JD’19  Jason Kohn JD’19 Bradford Sherman JD’19
Nathan Berla-Shulock JD’19 Mingming Feng JD ’20  Sarah Libowsky JD’20  Laura Smith JD’20
Katrina Marie Black JD’19 Rebecca Friedman JD’19 Daniela Lorenzo JD’19  Elizabeth Soltan JD’19
Laura Bloomer JD’19 Lindsay Funk JD ’20 Marissa Marandola JD’19 Benjamin Spiegel JD’20
Elizabeth Carr JD’20 Anna Gee JD ’19 Deborah Mariottini JD’19 Teresa Spinelli JD’19
Jenny M. Chan JD’19 Kaitlyn Gerber JD’19 Allena Martin JD’19  Bing Sun JD’19
Willy Chotzen-Freund JD’19 Jillian Goodman JD ’19  Marissa McGarry JD’19  Isabelle Sun JD’19
Chloe Cotton JD’20 Elizabeth H. Gyori JD ’19 Patrick Nowak JD’19 Jianing Xie JD’19
D Dangaran JD’20 Andrew Leon Hanna JD’19  Kiera O’Rourke JD’20
Alyxandra Darensbourg JD’20  Michael Haley JD’19  David Papas JD’19
Dalia Deak JD’19  Josephine Herman JD’20 Madelyn Petersen JD’19
Lolita De Palma JD’20  Felipe Hernandez JD’20  Heather Pickerell JD’20
Yang Ding JD’19 Rebekah K. Holtz JD’19 Emanuel Powell JD’ 19

Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute Honors Jemele Hill as its 2018 Trailblazer Lecturer

On September 19, 2018, Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) presented its 4th Annual Trailblazer Lecture Series: A Discussion with Jemele Hill.  Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) is the nation’s premier public defender clinic.  Its students learn to provide client-centered representation, developing their advocacy skills to help their clients both in and out of the court room. Led by both CJI’s Director, Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and its Deputy Director, Professor Dehlia Umunna, CJI provides law students with a rigorous educational experience while also ensuring that clients accused or convicted of crime and/or delinquency are provided with high quality legal representation.  The mission of CJI is to educate Harvard Law School students in becoming effective, ethical and zealous criminal defense lawyer-advocates through practice in representing indigent individuals involved in the Massachusetts court system as well as to research and present issues and debates about the criminal and juvenile justice systems in order to affect local and national reform.

CJI’s annual Trailblazer Lecture honors and recognizes individuals pioneering social, legal, and political change. Jemele Hill, an award winning journalist and sports commentator was named CJI’s 2018 Trailblazer Lecturer. The Trailblazer Lecture, as Professor Ron Sullivan described, honors “people who are bold enough to make an impact in our country and in our world.” Jemele Hill’s commitment to use her voice to speak truth to power and her platform as a catalyst for change has opened up a new dialogue about sports culture.

Former ESPN personality Jemele Hill garnered national attention for calling President Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter shortly after the Charlottesville riots. The White House quickly called for her dismissal, stating that Hill’s tweet was “a fireable offense.” ESPN issued a statement saying that Hill’s comments were inappropriate and not reflective of the company’s views. Hill was also in the midst of another controversy over remarks she made on Twitter about Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said that players who “disrespect the flag” will not play, referencing the recent NFL protests during the national anthem. ESPN suspended her for two weeks for a second violation of its social media policy. Hill withstood the backlash, but shortly thereafter, Hill and ESPN split ways.

In a field where championships, athletic success, and outcomes dominate sports journalism, Hill had a desire to raise awareness about the intersection of race, sports, culture, and gender. Her identity as a black female sports journalist put her in a unique position to cover complicated issues in sports. Oftentimes, Hill was the only black woman covering sports in the newsroom. In 2005, while Hill was working at the Orlando Sentinel, she was the only black female sports journalist on a daily newspaper in North America – 1 out of 305 sports journalists. “That is something I thought was an embarrassing statement about sports journalism in North America,” she said. “Because there was no way I was the only person gifted enough—that was a black woman—to write about sports. It was just representative of the lack of representation that we had in our industry – still have in our industry – that is still largely white and male.”

Hill stated that the lack of diversity within sports journalism and who makes news judgment decisions contributes to the deficiency of the conversations about the intricacies of sports, race, and politics. But Hill thinks sports might be the best place to have these conversations. Hill cited the Ray Rice scandal as an example of the complex dynamics of domestic violence, race and sports. Rice, a professional football player, punched his then fiancée in an elevator to the point of unconsciousness. Hill discussed how domestic violence for women of color is complicated, not just because the issue itself is difficult, but also because “black women know the cost of calling the police on a black man and what that could do to him.”

Hill also talked about the rise of activism among athletes particularly since the era of Michael Jordan. “Michael Jordan taught athletes how to globally brand themselves while remaining apolitical . . . His activism was showing that a black man could be a marketing dynamo . . . however it came at a cost.” She contrasted Jordan’s legacy with that of LeBron James, who was a leader in the Miami Heat’s decision to wear hoodies honoring Trayvon Martin’s death. She discussed how many Heat players come from communities where they have been profiled by the police before, and have an understanding of the fractured relationship between minority communities and the police. She noted that these athletes are raising black children and black sons in mostly white, affluent neighborhoods, and they know if one of their kids is in the neighborhood playing around and someone doesn’t recognize their child, they could very well experience the same nightmare as Trayvon Martin’s parents.

Instead of having these tough conversations, Hill says, the focus on sports news has been on not aggravating sports fans who prefer that the networks just “stick to sports.” But sports is embedded in politics from its very core, Hill argues. It is a political act for residents to vote on building a new stadium, allowing municipalities to use taxpayers’ funds to subsidize corporate wealth. Hill says that issues such as racism, police brutality, inequality, and social justice aren’t simply politics, but issues of morality. “We have decided to put everything the political crockpot. Everything is not politics – some things are just right and wrong.”

After twelve years at ESPN, Hill has decided she wants to be a part of the larger political dialogue in a deeper and a meaningful way. Hill is now a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she will focus on the intersection of race, sports, and politics. She is also the narrator for LeBron James’ documentary Shut Up and Dribble.

Watch the video of the lecture here.

Clinical Professor Esme Caramello Honored as one the 2018 Top Women of Law

Clinical Professor Esme Caramello ’99 is among the 2018 Top Women of Law honored by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. The award ceremony, held on October 18, honors “legal educators, trailblazers, and role models who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in social justice advocacy and business.”

Professor Caramello joined the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB) in 2009 as deputy director and clinical instructor after having worked in the Housing Unit at HLS’s WilmerHale Legal Services Center and at Suffolk University Law School’s Housing Clinic. As a clinical instructor at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center, she worked with students to help protect the rights of low-income tenants and homeowners. She was appointed to clinical professor of law in 2014 by Dean Martha Minow and shortly thereafter became the faculty director at HLAB.

“Esme’s experience in tenants’ rights is second to none,” said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. “Under her guidance, students connect practice and theory to solve important legal and policy issues affecting low-income individuals. Passionate and compassionate, her strategic approach ensures that the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau will continue to lead in vital work.”

Professor Caramello currently serves on several boards, including the Boston Bar Foundation, and the Cambridge City Manager’s Advisory Committee, and the Access to Justice Commission, where she serves on the Access to Attorneys Committee and co-chairs the Justice for All Housing Working Group. Professor Caramello also helped found the Developing Justice project at HLS, an initiative that uses technology to close the justice gap.

Professor Caramello is an inspiration to many students, faculty, and staff. In 2014, she was honored by HLS, the Women’s Law Association, and the Law and International Development Society in their photo exhibition for International Women’s Day, entitled Inspiring Change, Inspiring Us. HLAB alum Annie Lee who nominated Esme at the time wrote:

I’m inspired by Esme Caramello who works tirelessly to help low-income tenants facing eviction…When she’s not in court, Esme’s in the Bureau teaching and mentoring HLAB student attorneys. She’s generous with her time and dedicated to making us astute, ethical, and compassionate lawyers. I feel so lucky to have gotten to work with Esme on an eviction case last year. She let me take the reins in the case and strategize how to keep an elderly African-American woman in her home. She’s an excellent clinical instructor and has mentored me, as well as multiple classes of HLS men and women.

Caramello is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Delayed Obama-Era Rule on Student Debt Relief Is to Take Effect

Via The New York Times 



By: Stacy Cowley

A long-delayed federal rule intended to protect student loan borrowers who were defrauded by their schools went into effect on Tuesday, after a judge rejected an industry challenge and the Education Department ended efforts to stall it any longer.

The new rule, finalized in the last few months of President Barack Obama’s administration, is intended to strengthen a system called borrower defense that allows forgiveness of federal student loans for borrowers who were cheated by schools that lied about their job placement rates or otherwise broke state consumer protection laws.

The new rule could expedite the claims of more than 100,000 borrowers, many of whom attended for-profit schools, including ITT and Corinthian, that went out of business in recent years.

“We’re really gratified,” said Eileen Connor, the director of litigation at Harvard Law School’s Project on Predatory Student Lending, which represented several student borrowers who challenged the department’s delay. “These regulations have a lot of critical protections in them for student borrowers and taxpayers.”

The new rule requires the Education Department to create a “clear, fair, and transparent” process for handling borrowers’ loan discharge requests, many of which have sat for years in the department’s backlog. It also orders the department to automatically forgive the loans of some students at schools that closed, without requiring borrowers to apply for that relief.

The rule was supposed to take effect in July 2017. Shortly before that deadline, the Education secretary, Betsy DeVos, suspended the rule and announced plans to rewrite it. But federal agencies must follow a specific process for adopting or changing rules, and Judge Randolph D. Moss, a federal judge in Washington, ruled last month that the Education Department had failed to meet that standard. The department’s decision to delay the rule was “arbitrary and capricious,” he wrote.

Judge Moss ordered the rule to take effect but suspended his ruling until he could hear arguments in a lawsuit brought by the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools, an industry group whose members include for-profit colleges.

On Tuesday, Judge Moss rejected the group’s request for an injunction. That removed the last obstacle blocking the rule and put it into immediate effect.

A spokeswoman for the California trade group declined to comment on Judge Moss’s ruling.

Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said that Ms. DeVos “respects the role of the court and accepts the court’s decision.” However, Ms. DeVos still hopes to rewrite the rule.

“The secretary continues to believe the rule promulgated by the previous administration is bad policy, and the department will continue the work of finalizing a rule that protects both borrowers and taxpayers,” Ms. Hill said.

The soonest any new rule written by Ms. DeVos’s department could take effect is July 2020, which leaves the Obama-era rule in place until then. Ms. Hill said the department would provide more information “soon” on how it would be carried out.

Of the 166,000 forgiveness claims that had been received as of June 30, nearly 106,000 were still pending, according to department data. The department rejected 9,000 applications and approved almost 48,000, discharging $535 million in student loan debt. Taxpayers absorb that loss.

The new rule tries to cushion the blow to taxpayers by requiring schools that are at risk of generating fraud claims to provide financial collateral. That part of the rule has been fiercely opposed by industry groups.

Legal fights about the rule’s nuances are likely to continue. In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Moss wrote that his decision was “not the first (and presumably not the last) chapter” in the fight.

Defrauded Students Win Class Certification in Lawsuit Against DeVos

Via Courthouse News Service


By: Nicholas Iovino

More than 100,000 students defrauded by Corinthian Colleges can team up to sue Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for rolling back Obama-era rules that provided full debt forgiveness, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Sallie Kim certified a nationwide class of approximately 110,000 students who claim the Education Department improperly used their private data to create a new Average Earnings rule that forces students to pay off at least some loan debt.

“It’s a recognition by the court that in fact this whole group of people was affected in the same way,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Toby Merrill, with the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

Lead plaintiff Martin Manriquez sued DeVos on Dec. 20, 2017, the same day the Education Department unveiled a new formula requiring borrowers to pay back at least some debt based on the average earnings of graduates from each Corinthian Colleges program.

In May, Kim granted a preliminary injunction blocking the department from collecting on loans from more than 60,000 students who already applied for debt relief, but she refused to wipe out all of their debt as the case moved forward.

The U.S. Justice Department filed an appeal against the injunction and asked Kim to delay ruling on class certification until the Ninth Circuit decides that appeal. But Kim found the Ninth Circuit could benefit from her class certification ruling if it chooses to review the scope of the injunction. The rest of the case will remain on hold pending appeal.

In granting the injunction, Kim found it likely that the Education Department obtained income data from the Social Security Administration by improperly sharing borrowers’ personal information in violation of the Privacy Act of 1974.

Even if the appeals court disagrees with Kim’s finding on Privacy Act violations, it could also approve the injunction based on the department’s alleged failure to adequately justify revoking full debt relief for defrauded students, Merrill said.

“The Ninth Circuit can affirm on any grounds, so it has a panoply of options,” Merrill explained.

The Department of Education and Justice Department did not immediately return requests for comment Monday afternoon.

But the Education Department has previously said it never promised full debt relief. It said the new policy was enacted to help protect taxpayer money and make sure students are only compensated for “actual harm suffered.” The department further contends that privacy law exemptions allow it to use personal information for “programmatic disclosures” and “routine uses.”

Corinthian Colleges declared bankruptcy and collapsed in April 2015 after investigations by the Department of Education and numerous state attorneys general revealed fraud at more than 100 college campuses. The for-profit institution was accused of misleading students about the value of its educational programs and their ability to get higher-paying jobs after completing those programs.

Some students borrowed up to $100,000 for an education the plaintiffs have denounced as “worthless.”

Merrill said Corinthian and other for-profit colleges specifically targeted vulnerable groups of people, including single moms and communities of color.

Securing full debt relief is critical, the borrower advocate added, because many former students must choose between basic life necessities and paying off the debt. A failure to make payments on time can lead to garnished wages and bad credit, which makes it harder to find housing or buy a car to get to and from work.

“People are really suffering,” Merrill lamented.

In the opening brief for its appeal, the U.S. Justice Department wrote that Kim’s injunction is unjustified because there is “no ongoing violation of the Privacy Act” or imminent threat of future violations.

“A past violation of the Privacy Act does not ‘taint’ the use of an otherwise valid rule,” the Justice Department argued in its brief.

Last month, another federal judge in Washington D.C. blocked the Education Department from delaying the borrower-defense rule, which lets all students defrauded by for-profit colleges apply for and obtain full debt relief.

Trump administration says it’s ending ACA ‘sabotage,’ experts say it comes at great risk to patients


Source: Ted Eytan,

By: Janel Miller

The average premium for the second lowest cost silver health insurance plans — the one used to determine final premium tax credits — will drop by a “historical” 1.5% for the first-time since the implementation of the federally-facilitated exchange in 2014, according to CMS.

However, experts told Healio Family Medicine that the agency’s actions put profit over patients and puts the well-being of many Americans at risk.

CMS claims

The average change in premium costs may not seem like a lot but is significant when put into historical context, Seema Verma, CMS administrator, said in a conference call with reporters.

“This is a very positive change from the double-digit increases we have seen over the past 2 years,” she said, noting that some states had seen increases of 200% and higher. The change in premiums was just one of the health insurance-related accomplishments under the Trump administration she lauded during the call.

According to Verma, states will soon be able to use waivers to increase their flexibility in sustaining their insurance markets. In addition, for the first time in several years, there will be an increase in insurance providers on the federal health insurance exchange market, she said.

“While some have been accusing [the Trump administration] of sabotage, the reality is we have been doing everything we can to mitigate the damage caused by Obamacare,” Verma said.

Experts weigh in

Arthur Caplan, PhD, founding head of medical ethics at New York University School of Medicine, and Robert Greenwald, JD, faculty director, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School said in interviews CMS should not be patting itself on the back.

“The idea that the Trump administration is trying to save patients is ludicrous,” Caplan said in an interview. “It has permitted lousy cheap coverage, cheap, almost worthless policies to be sold,”  adding that is the “real reason why” CMS can make an announcement like this one.

“Putting this pig in a dress by claiming they’re helping people doesn’t make what they’re really trying to do — make the Affordable Care Act a footnote in history — go away. They’re putting money over people,” Caplan added.

“In no way does the Trump administration deserve credit for the state of the marketplace,” Greenwald agreed. “They have done everything in their power to destabilize it.”

According to Greenwald, states and insurance companies positively balanced the Trump administration’s actions by funding outreach and navigation efforts to promote the marketplace, adopting their own individual mandates to assure that there is diversity among marketplace applicants, passing laws that banned or limited the introduction of “junk” insurance plans, introducing a reinsurance system that results in lower premiums in their marketplaces, and allocating premium rate increases into silver-level plan premiums only.

Greenwald added it is not too late for clinicians and others to make their thoughts about health insurance known.

“If the American people want to see a strong marketplace this year, and the years ahead, they need to voice their opposition to efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the health insurance marketplace,” he told Healio Family Medicine.

When does the ‘affordable’ in the Affordable Care Act kick in?

Via The Hill 

Source: Pexels

By: Merrill Matthews

It’s a good thing Democrats made health insurance “affordable” when they passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010. I’d hate to see how much health insurance would cost if it were expensive.

The Kaiser Family Foundation just released its annual survey of employer-sponsored coverage, finding that the average premium for family coverage increased 5 percent to $19,616.

To put that in perspective, the real median household income in 2017 was $61,372. Thus family health coverage costs nearly a third of the median family’s income.

But citing the average family premium of nearly $20,000, as high as that is, can be misleading. A small employer, especially a one with older-than-average employees, likely blew through $20,000 a few years ago. The premium for a couple in their 50s with a teenager can easily run $25,000. Bump that up by $4,000 or more for each additional child.

However, those outrageously high premiums would be even higher if employers and health insurers hadn’t taken a number of steps to contain the cost explosion by adjusting benefits and exposing employees to significantly higher out-of-pocket costs.

The Kaiser survey points out that since 2008, annual deductibles for covered workers have increased 212 percent — eight times the rate of inflation. And to think Democrats used to call high deductible coverage “junk insurance.” Yet, under ObamaCare deductibles have exploded.

Insurers are also taking steps to increase out-of-pocket spending in less-noticeable ways. For example, in years past insurers charged one copay for a generic drug, say $10, and a slightly higher copay for a brand name drug, say $25.

Then insurers moved to three copay tiers or more. The generic might still require a $10 copay, while some brand name drug copays could run between $25 and $250.

In addition, some insurers now require co-insurance of 20 percent to 40 percent of a drug’s cost for some of the newest and most expensive drugs. If a drug costs $5,000 a month — and some cancer drugs cost that much or more — 40 percent co-insurance could cost the patient several thousand dollars a month. And that comes on top of other health care-related expenses and premium costs.

Imposing such high co-insurance rates on specific drugs has raised concerns that insurers were trying to discourage some of the sickest patients from enrolling in their plans. As Kaiser Health News noted a few years ago:

  • In 2016, Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights alleging that health plans “offered by seven insurers in eight states are discriminatory because they don’t cover drugs that are essential to the treatment of HIV or require high out-of-pocket spending by patients for covered drugs.”
  • Consulting company Avalere Health found that several insurers’ silver plans had been adversely targeting some of the sickest populations with higher drug costs. “An analysis found that in the case of five classes of drugs that treat cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis, fewer silver plans in 2016 placed all the drugs in the class in the top tier with the highest cost sharing or charged patients more than 40 percent of the cost for each drug in the class.” Pulling some of the most expensive drugs from the top tier was likely due to protests and threats of legal action.

To be fair, insurers and employers felt they had to take steps in order to control their costs, otherwise premiums would likely have been even higher than they are.

Other factors are also playing a role in the premium increases. Hospital systems were consolidating prior to ObamaCare, but the ACA put that trend on steroids, enabling hospitals to demand higher reimbursements from insurers.

Consulting firm Kaufman Hall reported in January there were 115 hospital and health system mergers and acquisitions in 2017, up 13 percent from 2016, and the largest number in recent history. For comparison, there were 50 hospital M&A transitions in 2009, the year before ObamaCare passed.

Unfortunately, options for containing premium increases and coverage reductions are limited. The Trump administration is trying to provide as much insurer and state flexibility as possible under ObamaCare, but it’s unclear yet as to how much those efforts can achieve.

And there’s a new proposal, the Health Care Choices Proposal, backed by a number of health policy analysts. It seeks to block grant current federal health care spending on Medicaid and ObamaCare to the states along with some regulatory reductions.

Since Washington has done such a terrible job trying to make health insurance affordable, maybe it’s time to give the states a chance. How much worse could they do?

Clinical Instructor John Salsberg Quoted in Boston Globe Article about MA Show Cause Hearings

Inside Our Secret Courts

Via The Boston Globe

Credit: Brooks Kraft

Senior Clinical Instructor for Harvard Defenders John Salsberg was quoted in an article describing Massachusetts’ unique “show cause hearings,” hearings that are presided over by court clerks and usually held in private, to determine if there is probable cause to issue a criminal complaint.

“Criminal defense attorney John Salsberg said he has seen countless cases that have been correctly resolved in clerks’ hearings — cases that should never have gone into the regular criminal justice system. Since the 1980s, he has worked as a supervising attorney with the Harvard Defenders, a Harvard Law School organization that represents individuals at these [hearings]. ‘Just because something’s a crime doesn’t mean it needs to be prosecuted,’ Salsberg said. “And I think the clerks have enough experience to know which complaints should end up issuing and which shouldn’t.’”

John elaborated on his statement to the Globe, saying: “Harvard Defenders is the only program in Massachusetts which provides free legal services to the indigent accused defendant who has not been arrested. At show cause hearings we first identify and challenge charges which are legally deficient. If there’s enough evidence to establish probable cause to issue a complaint, we focus on alternative dispositions so that our clients can avoid the stigma of a criminal record and collateral consequences, such as inability to get a job, loss of public housing and deportation. Oftentimes, the police see the need to bring a case before the court, but provide people an opportunity to change their behavior. One of the benefits of private hearings is to provide a safe environment for an apology, which doesn’t have to be public. The system works well, as it currently operates and doesn’t need substantial change.”

Read the full article here.

How Tech Swagger Triggered the Era of Distrust in Government


Source: Pixabay

By: Susan Crawford

Last month, I heard Jill Lepore give a talk about These Truths, her single-volume history of America from the 15th century through the 2016 presidential election. She got her biggest laugh when she made fun of WIRED for predicting in 2000 that the internet would both lead to the end of political division and be a place where government interference would be senseless.

There are many famous WIRED moments that also fit this description, including Jon Katz’s assertion in 1997 that Netizens had nothing but contempt for government, John Perry Barlow’s 1996 Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, or the Joshua Quittner profile of EFF in 1994 depicting Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder Mitchell Kapor and the fabled Esther Dyson as people who “got it.” Their goal was to have the net be a wiring together of humanity that would restructure civilization. The EFF would “find a way of preserving the ideology of the ’60s,” Kapor told WIRED.

Much of that early libertarian net culture—white, rich, smart, and full of “let’s just geek around it” swagger when it came to government—has become mainstream in Western democracies in 2018. Paradoxically, that ideology came from a time when, in fact, government was doing a lot for people.

Those baby boomers profiled by WIRED had only known a United States full of generous government support for education, a time of continuous upward mobility,  and an America that could carry out enormous and inspiring public infrastructure projects – including requiring that phone companies permit competing internet service providers to use their lines. The voices in WIRED were those of a very secure bunch of people. And they were bored by it all; they saw government as a set of clueless, bland bureaucracies. Who needed that?

As it turns out, we all did. Today, globally interconnected changes in climate and widespread disdain for democratic institutions are the key titanic, messy trends that are likely to begin producing shocking results 25 years from now. At that point, with the globe dealing with punishing heat and alarming levels of water, it won’t be internet technology that will be doing the disrupting. There are signs that the internet will be fading from view as distinctive “place” promoting political and social changes. Indeed, if we keep to our current course, communications capacity and what humans do online may be controlled by a few highly profitable actors who will be uninterested in teh unpredictable. Given this context, there is a substantial risk that 25 years from now the breathlessly libertarian views trumpeted by WIRED’s early voices will have reached their unpleasant apotheosis.

I hope I am wrong.


Read the full article here

Delegation from the Philippines Visits HLS Clinical Program

By: Alexis Farmer

A delegation of thirteen dignitaries from the Philippines touring law school clinical programs on the east coast made their first stop at Harvard Law School (HLS). Comprised of law school deans, Supreme Court justices, attorneys, U.S. Embassy representatives, and a representative from the Asia Foundation, the delegation spent two days visiting HLS and meeting clinical students and faculty to discuss how our clinical programs are structured. The group is interested in implementing new clinical programs in various law schools throughout the Philippines. Harvard is one of three law schools the delegation will visit.

A cozy brick building near the Stony Brook stop in Jamaica Plain is usually not the first image that comes to mind when one thinks of Harvard Law School, but this is where the delegation made its first campus stop – the Legal Services Center (LSC). Vice Dean for Experiential and Clinical Education Dan Nagin gave a brief history of clinical legal education and an overview of the clinical pedagogy at HLS. He described the significance of having a legal services center rooted in an underserved and high-need community, and the importance of having legal services accessible to populations who might otherwise not know where to find help or who find it difficult to travel to Cambridge.  A panel of LSC clinicians and students expanded on the impact their work has on the community and on students’ professional development. They discussed the type of work students are engaged in and what skillsets students acquire in the hands-on, experiential learning environment. The delegation was interested in hearing the nuts and bolts of the program’s design and asked questions about balancing client and student needs, how to grade students and evaluate their skills, how to prepare them to show up in court and represent clients, and how the clinical program is integrated into the curriculum.

The delegation was able to have their questions answered by learning about of the various structures and formats of the clinics – from the coordinated programming at LSC, to the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic’s hybrid format with in house and community based placements, to the student-led Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB). The group saw the variety in autonomy and direction students had in deciding the cases they wanted to pursue and the type of work they engaged in. The group also got the opportunity to see HLAB and LSC students in action.

On the 5th floor of the Edward Brooke Courthouse, students staffed the Attorney for the Day table, as unrepresented litigants facing hearings and deadlines began to line up and seek legal guidance from the students and their clinical instructors.

On this particular Thursday in housing court, the hallways were bustling with commotion – attorneys and clients met quickly before entering the courtroom; a woman called for medical attention for a man who had fallen ill in the courtroom, and young children looked for ways to keep themselves entertained. Maureen McDonagh, LSC Managing Attorney, arranged for the delegation meet with retired Judge Jeffery M. Winik, who was serving on recall. He spoke about the value of students representing real clients in the courtroom and how much it helped the court. After speaking with the judge, the delegation had the opportunity to sit in the jury box as they witnessed an HLAB student, Emanuel Powell, powerfully and confidently present his case. Emanuel, and his supervising attorney Esme Caramello, represented a client challenging her landlord for failing to conduct a lead inspection while her daughter and infant grandchild occupied the apartment. The delegation was very impressed with Emanuel’s presentation, and remarked that he was well prepared and persuasive. They saw firsthand how comprehensive clinical training could prepare students to be active, and thoughtful practitioners.

Following the court session, the delegation visited the Family Court Services Center, where they heard an overview of the support services offered in Massachusetts trial courts. The centers are designed to help people navigate the intimidating court system, by serving as a welcoming and friendly space open to all court users. Sheriece M. Perry Esq., Acting-Co Director of the Department of Support Services, shared with the group the critical role that clinical students, interns, and volunteer attorneys have in advising individuals that need legal help, but often cannot afford it.

The group had lunch time discussions about clinical legal education with Lisa Dealy, Dean for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, and the Hon. John C. Cratsley (ret.).

The trip concluded with a reception for the delegations, where JD and LLM students from the Philippians, faculty, and staff joined the group in celebrating their visit. The group left with a lasting impression of the clinical program’s commitment to providing opportunities for students to develop critical legal skills while simultaneously advancing access to justice.

California, New York and 6 Other States Side with Scammed Students in Battle with DeVos

Via MarketWatch 


By: Jillian Berman

Several states are throwing their support behind scammed student-loan borrowers hoping for relief.

Led by Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, eight states including, Massachusetts, New York and Illinois, filed an amicus brief [last] Wednesday in a closely-watched class-action lawsuit challenging Betsy DeVos-led Department of Education’s approach to calculating relief for federal student-loan borrowers who say they’ve been scammed by their schools.

An amicus brief, also known as a friend-of-the-court brief, allows entities with an interest in the litigation to weigh in with what they believe to be relevant information about the case.

At issue in the case is whether the agency can legally provide only a partial discharge of federal student-loans a group of borrowers acquired to attend Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit college chain that collapsed in 2015 amid claims the school misled students about job placement and graduation rates. During the Obama administration these borrowers received a full discharge of their loans.

In the brief, the states’ attorneys general argue that these borrowers are entitled to full relief under the law, known as borrower defense, which aims to make federal student-loan borrowers whole who have been defrauded by their schools.

“Amici States have a strong interest in safeguarding the economic well-being of their residents who the Department has already determined are qualified for complete cancellation of their federal student loans because they were defrauded into attending various educational programs offered by Corinthian,” the state attorneys general write in the brief.

. . .

Other states, including Massachusetts and Illinois, provided the Department with thousands of pages of evidence that Corinthian violated the law in their state, according to the brief. What’s more, state attorneys general offices took pains to find residents who might be eligible for relief.

The states hired a company to the tune of at least $290,000 to coordinate contacting borrowers, according to the brief. They also created their own bespoke outreach efforts. For example, in Massachusetts, the attorney general’s office held 19 workshops across the state to help students fill out the claim form. They also called, emailed and mailed letters to borrowers who were likely qualified for relief.

The states “spent significant resources trying to ensure that people who were eligible for loan cancellation because of Corinthian fraud would get it,” said Eileen Connor, the director of Harvard Law School’s Project on Predatory Student Lending, one of the organizations representing the borrowers. “It’s just really outrageous that the Department really capriciously turned away from that.”

The policy being challenged in the suit would allow for borrowers determined by the Department to have received some benefit from their education — based on whether the average earnings of their Corinthian program is 50% or more of the earnings of a typical graduate in a comparable program — to receive only a partial discharge of their loans.

Read the full article here.

Lack of Planning Has Left Parts of N.J. Without Grocery Stores Nearby

Via NJ. com

Source: Pexels

By: Ekaterina Valiotis

New Jersey has 25 percent fewer supermarkets per capita than the national average, according to the Harvard University Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation. Unfortunately, the Garden State does not live up to is name for many, with 340,000 New Jersey residents living in food deserts.

Nothing could be more fundamental to our well-being than healthy food and nutrition, and people have become increasingly focused on the sourcing and quality of what they eat.

As a nation, several decades into an obesity epidemic that has brought far-reaching and negative consequences, we are waking up to the fact that the items we select at the supermarket will go a long way towards determining the quality and length of our lives.

Unfortunately, though the knowledge of how to eat better is becoming more universal, access to healthy food is not distributed evenly. For every high-end, expensive supermarket that opens in a wealthy or upper-middle class neighborhood, large parts of our population, particularly in urban areas, remain bereft of such choices.

Read the full article here.

How It Feels When Students Stand Up to the Department of Education and Win

Via the Legal Services Center

Source: Pixabay

Meaghan Bauer and Stephen Del Rose, former students of EDMC-owned New England Institute of Art, were cheated by their school and left with a massive pile of debt.

Like the hundreds of thousands of students who were cheated by predatory for-profit colleges, they trusted in institutions like their school and their government. Their school not only let them down, but actively misled, cheated and harmed them. Then, the Department of Education doubled down on that harm. Under Betsy DeVos, the Department repeatedly delayed the implementation of a new Borrower Defense rule, which offered critical protections for students and would have allowed them to bring their case against their school to court on behalf of a class.

Meaghan and Stephen fought back. They filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of Education for illegally delaying a rule intended to protect borrowers’ rights. And this month, a federal judge agreed – ruling that the Department of Education broke the law when it delayed the rule.

When she learned of the ruling, Meaghan Bauer was elated. But despite her happiness about winning a major victory for students, Meaghan was still angry. She said:

We are supposed to be able to trust our government and know that when they make a new policy it is with our best interests in mind. It is really sad that the government dragged this out for so long and acted so childishly that they needed a judge to tell them that what they are doing is illegal. I hope this ruling reminds the government of its obligation to care for its citizens who are the future of this country, instead of focusing on lining the pockets of for profit institutions. They should admit they were wrong and take the necessary actions to remedy their policies and reestablish some of the faith in our government that has been lost.

Meaghan and Stephen are represented by the Project on Predatory Student Lending and Public Citizen. Click here to read more about their case.

How Policy Could Impact Food Waste (Part One)

Via Waste360 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Sixty-three million tons of food is wasted in the U.S. every year, a staggering volume that exacerbates multiple issues within the food system. It translates to huge losses along the supply chain. It wastes water and fertilizer. Then, there are environmental concerns, as rotting organics pile on landfills and release methane into the air.

On the flip side, focused efforts to reduce food waste create jobs, provide opportunity to make compost and energy and could help feed the 40 million hungry people in the U.S., according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The problems and opportunities around food waste are why organizations like Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and nonprofit Rethink Food Waste through Economics and Data (ReFED) are pushing for policy around this issue.

ReFED recently put out its “Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent,” a national study and action plan to cut food waste at scale.

“When we published the Roadmap report, we found a few top-level areas that can be used to accelerate food waste reduction, with one area being public policy. You can get more people involved,” says Chris Hunt, communications director for ReFED.

A lot is going on at the state level. And the first comprehensive piece of federal legislation around food waste has been in the works for a couple of years.

“Some current laws make it hard to reduce food waste, like date label laws in several states that restrict donations past a certain date,” says Hunt.

“But laws can also provide incentive to do good, like tax incentives for donating. So, laws can be a barrier, or they can be used to drive people to make better decisions,” says Emily Broad Leib, director of Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic.

In the most recent legislative session, 91 pieces of food waste-related laws were proposed in 30 states, 22 of which have passed into law.

“There’s been a lot of activity. But a lot of change is needed yet,” says Broad Leib.

Read the full article here.

Emily Broad Leib Named One of the 28 Inspirational People Working to Reduce Food Waste


Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) Director Emily Broad Leib is one of 28 “food waste warriors” named by Food Tank.  Food Tank has highlighted chefs, scientists, activists, academics, entrepreneurs, and others who are working to prevent food loss and waste across the globe.


Emily Broad Leib (Assistant Clinical Professor, Harvard Law School), U.S.

Emily Broad Leib’s work in food law and policy in the U.S. has earned her recognition as a national leader in the subject. Founder of Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, Broad Leib uses her position to tackle major issues in the food system, including food waste. Her project, “Reducing Food Waste as a Key to Addressing Climate Change,” was awarded Harvard University’s Climate Change Solutions Fund in 2015. Her work on topics such as food safety regulations and food date labels, in collaboration with others at the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, has been highlighted in the media and through speaking engagements.

Read the full article here.

Crimmigration Clinic Issues Resources for Advocates Defending the Rights of Immigrants

Via Harvard Law Today

The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program’s Crimmigration Clinic and the Immigrant Defense Project issued two new resources for advocates and attorneys defending the rights of immigrants fighting removal to countries where they will be persecuted.

A report,“United States Failure to Comply with the Refugee Convention: Misapplication of the Particularly Serious Crime Bar to Deny Refugees Protection from Removal to Countries Where Their Life or Freedom is Threatened,” examines how U.S. implementation and interpretation of the “particularly serious crime” bar to withholding of removal and asylum in the U.S. fails to comply with the Refugee Convention. It also looks at how the U.S. diverges from the standards and practices of the international community and other countries.

Another resource,“Particularly Serious Crime” Bars on Asylum and Withholding of Removal: Legal Standards and Sample Case Determinations,” is designed to aid in the legal representation of immigrants in criminal and removal proceedings. Specifically, this chart is designed to help attorneys evaluate whether a criminal conviction constitutes a “particularly serious crime” barring asylum or withholding of removal.

Harvard Law School Lecturer on Law Phil Torrey, HIRC managing attorney and supervisor of the Crimmigration Clinic, helped create these resources, along with Clarissa Lehne ’18 and Collin Poirot ’18.

While a student at the Crimmigration Clinic at HLS, Lehne successfully argued before the Board of Immigration Appeals that her client’s conviction should not result in his detention and deportation. Poirot is current a Public Service Venture Fund Fellow working on immigrant rights at Project South.

Crimmigration—the intersection of criminal and immigration law—is the newest policy area for HIRC, one of oldest clinical programs at Harvard Law School. In addition to its broader Immigration and Refugee Advocacy clinic, HIRC offers Torrey’s crimmigration clinic in the spring: an opportunity for students to gain direct experience working on and contributing to case law in this field. Learn more about the clinic and read an interview with Phil Torrey at Harvard Magazine.

The Lawsuits Challenging DeVos’ Anti-Student Higher Education Agenda

Via the Center for American Progress

By: Sara Garcia

Under the leadership of Secretary Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Department of Education has sought to unravel protections for college students. In an attempt to push back against the department’s dubious legal maneuvers, a number of state attorneys general, civil rights organizations, and advocacy groups have engaged the courts. The National Student Legal Defense Network (NSLDN), the Harvard Legal Services Center, the National Consumer Law Center, and others have sought to prevent the rollback of crucial regulations and bring more transparency to the department’s decision-making.

Earlier this month, a federal judge issued a blockbuster decision in one of these cases, ruling that the department had illegally delayed the Obama administration’s borrower defense regulation, which provides students who have been misled by their institutions the ability to seek relief from their federal student loans. While the judge has yet to decide if the department will need to begin implementing borrower defense, the decision is proof of the importance of challenging the extreme measures that Secretary DeVos and her department have taken to undo protections for students.

This column details some of the most troubling cases currently under review in the areas of consumer protection, accountability, student loan servicing, and civil rights.

Read the full article here.

25 Harvard Law Professors to Sign NYT Op-Ed Demanding Senate Reject Kavanaugh

Via The Harvard Crimson

By: Alexandria A. Chaidez

Roughly two dozen Harvard Law School professors have signed a New York Times editorial arguing that the United States Senate should not confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Harvard affiliates — including former Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and Laurence Tribe — joined more than 1,000 law professors across the country in signing the editorial, published online Wednesday. The professors wrote that Kavanaugh displayed a lack of “impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land” in the heated testimony he gave during a nationally televised hearing held Sept. 27 in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Judge Kavanaugh exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry,” the letter read. “Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly aggressive with questioners.”

As of Wednesday evening, 25 Harvard Law professors had signed the article, which authors indicated “will be updated as more signatures are received.” The signatories plan to present the story as a letter to the United States Senate on Oct. 4.

Kavanaugh testified in front of the Senate committee to address allegations of sexual misconduct raised by Palo Alto psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of attempting to rape her at a house party in 1982 in suburban Maryland. Ford recounted these allegations in detail to the Judiciary Committee last Thursday before Kavanaugh himself testified.

After Ford went public with her allegations, two more women — Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick — came forward with their own charges. Ramirez said Kavanaugh shoved his penis in her face at a party during their freshman year at Yale College and Swetnick issued a statement in which she said she saw Kavanaugh engage in “inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women during the early 1980s.”

Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied these allegations. During last Thursday’s hearing, he vehemently and angrily insisted that the women’s tales of sexual misconduct formed part of a partisan plot by the Democrats to ruin his nomination.

The professors did not take a stance on the allegations against Kavanaugh, focusing instead on the judge’s temperament and writing that “we have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh.”

The Crimson reported Monday evening that Kavanaugh will not return to teach at the Law School this winter; he was originally slated to teach a class titled “The Supreme Court Since 2005” for three weeks starting in early January. Kavanaugh has lectured at the Law School for roughly a decade.

In their letter, the professors wrote that “judicial temperament” numbers among the “most important qualities of a judge” and that Kavanaugh’s lack of composure at his hearing is “disqualifying” for a nomination “for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.”

The professors also criticized Kavanaugh for calling the hearing “partisan” and for displaying agitation over Senators’ questions.

“Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators,” the professors wrote.

Law School Dean John F. Manning ’82 was not among the letter’s signatories.

As of late Wednesday, the letter had been signed by the following:

SABI ARDALAN Assistant Clinical Professor, Harvard Law School

CHRISTOPHER T. BAVITZ WilmerHale Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

ELIZABETH BARTHOLET Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

CHRISTINE DESAN Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

SUSAN H. FARBSTEIN Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

JUDGE NANCY GERTNER Retired, Harvard Law School

ROBERT GREENWALD Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

MICHAEL GREGORY Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

JANET HALLEY Royall Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

JON HANSON Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

ADRIAAN LANNI Touroff-Glueck Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

BRUCE H. MANN Carl F. Schipper, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

FRANK MICHELMAN Robert Walmsley University Professor, Emeritus, Harvard Law School

MARTHA MINOW 300th Anniversary University Professor, Harvard University

ROBERT H. MNOOKIN Williston Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

INTISAR RABB Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

DAPHNA RENAN Assistant Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

DAVID L. SHAPIRO William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School

JOSEPH WILLIAM SINGER Bussey Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

CAROL S. STEIKER Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

MATTHEW C. STEPHENSON Eli Goldston Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

LAURENCE TRIBE Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School

LUCIE WHITE Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

ALEX WHITING Professor of Practice, Harvard Law School

JONATHAN ZITTRAIN George Bemis Professor of International Law, Harvard Law School

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