Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Tag: Recording Artists Project

Student Practice Organizations Panel 2019

Students attend 2019 SPO Panel

Student Practice Organizations often provide 1Ls with their first opportunity to gain practical legal experience at HLS. Each SPO is typically led by a student board consisting of 2L and 3L students and is supervised by a licensed attorney. Across the 11 SPOs currently active at HLS, a variety of focus areas including housing, immigration, and prison law are represented. Students participating in SPOs do not receive academic credit, however, their hours can count towards the 50-hour pro bono graduation requirement.

The SPO Panel, held earlier this week, provides an opportunity for students to hear directly from the students boards and members of SPOs. During the 2019 SPO Panel, representatives from all 11 SPOs spoke on focus areas, levels of commitment, attorney supervision and particularly emphasized the communities formed in each individual SPO through the work that they do.

“Community is one of our main priorities. It was a game changer for me. I met some of my closest friends, it reminded me why I decided to come to law school.” said Emma Broches, co-president of HLS Advocates for Human Rights, on her experience with SPOs.

President of Harvard Defenders Martina Tiku also noted how SPOs encourage members to interact with other students and individuals in the field who are committed to and passionate about the work that they do, reflecting the sentiments of several other panel participants.  “You get a chance to talk to people who are passionate about their work.” she said.

For students interested in joining an SPO, the organizations hold information sessions and open houses are coming up. All SPOs require some form of registration or sign-up, with several requiring separate applications. While all SPOs accept students in the fall, some  accept members during the spring term. Information session, open house, and registration/application deadline dates can be found on the  Opportunities for Student Practice Matrix.


SPO Skills Matrix

SPO Sign-Ups

SPO Student Reflections

Making it big behind the scenes

Via The Harvard Gazette

HLS Lecturer Linda Cole, (from left) and HLS Clinical Professor of Law, Brian Price and HLS Student Gaia Mattiace talk during a student meeting of the Recording Artist Project and Entertainment Law Clinic at HLS. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

By: Liz Mineo

Growing up in South Florida, Rebecca Rechtszaid dreamed of becoming a professional singer, but after a case of pneumonia wrecked her vocal range in college, she settled for the next-best thing.

She couldn’t be an artist, but she could become a lawyer for artists.

“I figured I’d go to law school and I’d try to help musicians because even if I didn’t have my own voice, I could help them find theirs,” said Rechtszaid, J.D. ’19. “There hasn’t been a day when I’ve questioned my choice.”

That seems to be the case with hundreds of students who have signed up for entertainment law courses and clinics at Harvard Law School (HLS) over the past 20 years. The phenomenon underscores a trend among law students to veer from the conventional paths of corporate law or litigation and look to work in creative industries. The trend, also noticeable at other law schools around the country, has spurred growth in the niche field of entertainment law.

These students are driven by a passion for music, the arts, and showbiz, said HLS Clinical Professor of Law Brian Price, who supervises the Entertainment Law Clinic.

“It’s an exciting career for a music lover,” said Price at his office, where a wall is covered by a corkboard neatly filled with business cards from agents, managers, artists, and alumni.

Although entertainment attorneys work behind the scenes, they can have a bigger influence on artists’ careers than agents or managers, said Price. They review artists’ agreements, publishing deals, endorsements, and licensing and merchandising contracts, making sure their clients’ interests are protected. In the end, beneath the glitz, it’s all about business.

“Artists are becoming savvier and want to be involved in the business aspects of their careers,” said Price. “When they ask for legal advice, they want to know their legal rights, and how to make good deals and find ways to make more money.”

In 1998, Price founded the Recording Artists Project (RAP), a student-run group that provides legal assistance to budding artists, prompted by two students who told him of their longing to work in the music industry. Price is faculty adviser for the group.

Most HLS graduates end up working in business or corporate law, though some alumni have had successful careers in the entertainment industry. Among them are Bruce Ramer ’58, who represents clients like George Clooney and Clint Eastwood; Bert Fields ’52, who represented Michael Jackson; and legendary music lawyer Clive Davis ’56, who signed many luminaries like Whitney Houston, and boasts his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Donald Passman, J.D. ’70, has represented celebrities like Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Pink and wrote the bestseller “All You Need to Know About the Music Business”; and Aaron Rosenberg, J.D. ’02, counts John Legend, Jennifer Lopez, and Justin Bieber among his clients.

For future entertainment lawyers, the goal is often to find a job in Hollywood and experience the glamour and thrill of working with artists, but streaming and other technological changes have added new career options in entertainment law.

Take Kike Aluko, J.D. ’19, who will move to Atlanta to join the national law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and work on music licensing deals, trademark protection, and artist representation. Aluko, who interned at a record label in the mid-2000s, is struck by the recent changes in the industry.

“It has grown a lot and is more diverse than a decade ago when there was no streaming or Spotify,” she said. “There are so many different avenues for people to pursue their passion rather than going to a record label.”

Kirkland Alexander Lynch, J.D. ’14, works as a business affairs strategist for the Stevie Wonder’s organization, including Stevland Morris Productions, LLC, Wonder Productions, Inc., among others. He oversees the legal aspects of anything related to shows and business deals, and travels around the world with the organization.

It is a dream job for Lynch, who abandoned his plans to work in finance after being inspired by a classmate who wanted to become a sports lawyer. “He made me think that I should pursue my true passion, which was music,” said Lynch from Los Angeles. “And I saw a path for me when I interned at Sony Music Entertainment in New York during my second year at the Law School.”

But it was while taking the Entertainment Law Clinic with Price that Lynch started learning the ropes of entertainment law. He helped a rapper from Dorchester and an indie group based in Union Square with partnerships and band agreements. Last year, Lynch launched his own media management and consulting company, Kirkland Alexander Enterprises Inc.

As members of RAP, students draft, review, and negotiate recording contracts and artists’ and managers’ agreements for musicians and other entertainers. One of the group’s most famous clients is renowned jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding, now a professor of the practice in Harvard’s Music Department, who was counseled on the negotiation of her first record deal.

Breaking into the music and entertainment worlds is hard, but HLS’s strong alumni network helps young attorneys build connections that pay off. That happened to Ethan Schiffres, J.D. ’10, who reached out to Passman, whose firm is Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman Inc., and kept in touch with him. When Schiffres graduated, he was offered a job as a music associate. Today he’s a partner at the firm, where he reviews legal contracts for endorsements, touring, publishing deals, and trademark litigation.

Schiffres credits the Entertainment Law Clinic with providing hands-on experience and contacts with alumni willing to help the younger generation of lawyers. His biggest piece of advice is to network.

“Entertainment law is sexier than corporate law,” he said, “but it also involves hard work, passion for music and entertainment, but it really is about networking.”

Rechtszaid agreed.

“Connections are everything,” she said. “It takes a lot to muster the courage to reach [out] to somebody you don’t know, but it’s worth it.”

As the president of RAP, Rechtszaid wrote emails to the manager of Chance the Rapper and Passman last year asking them to visit Harvard to talk to HLS students. They both came.

Rechtszaid’s dream clients are Lady Gaga, the indie rock band Dorothy, and the Bronx hip-hop artist and Instagram personality Cardi B. “Cardi B is so talented and funny,” Rechtszaid said. “I want to be her best friend.”

RAP’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Brings HLS Alumnus Don. S. Passman

By: Rebecca Rechtszaid

Photo Credit: Lester Cohen Simon & Schuster

On Friday, October 26, 2018 the Recording Artists Project (RAP) at Harvard Law School (HLS) celebrated its 20th anniversary by hosting Donald S. Passman, an HLS alumnus and author of the music industry bible, All You Need to Know About the Music Business. Mr. Passman is one of the most respected and well-known attorneys in the music business. Mr. Passman is a partner at Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman where he represents some of music’s true rock stars, including Adele, Taylor Swift, Green Day, Paul Simon, and Stevie Wonder.

For those of us who came to law school determined to practice in the music and entertainment industry, getting to meet a legend like Mr. Passman is a dream come true. Throughout the event, students from HLS and other schools that partner with the Recording Artists Project told Mr. Passman how reading his book inspired them to attend law school or otherwise confirmed their decision to pursue a career in the music industry. Mr. Passman went over the basics of music law for the first half of the event: discussing copyright, royalty streams, and the most common types of agreements that artists enter into in the music industry. He then took questions from the roughly 70 attendees, which ranged from questions about his experiences as a music lawyer to his thoughts on how new technologies will change how musicians make money and interact with their audiences.

Mr. Passman also talked about how, when he attended Harvard, there were no entertainment-focused classes or student groups. We are fortunate now to have a few, including the Recording Artists Project and the Transactional Law Clinics’ Entertainment Law Clinic. Speaking about his practice, Mr. Passman discussed the importance of being able to take the music industry’s complicated concepts and explain them to artists in clear and concise language. He also touched on some new developments in the industry, like the recently-passed Music Modernization Act and the exercise of copyright transfer terminations under Section 203 of the Copyright Act, and how he thinks they might change the industry in the coming years.

Harvard Law School’s alumni network in the entertainment and music community is fiercely dedicated to the cultivation of young legal talent in the industry. Mr. Passman’s generosity in flying out from Los Angeles to speak to our organization shows the lengths that our alumni will go to help students who are truly passionate about pursuing a career in music law. We look forward to seeing the Recording Artists Project continue to grow and strengthen as it enters its next 20 years.

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.

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.

Recording Artists Project: the foundation to my success at HLS

By Jennifer Mar J.D. ’18

Group photo of RAP students

Group photo of RAP students

My participation in the Recording Artists Project (RAP) has been my most important experience at Harvard law School. In fact, it was one of the reasons I came here in the first place. I had a fledgling interest in the music industry and RAP offered a hands-on opportunity to explore that interest while helping real industry clients. I have always felt music is a foundation of our culture and artists are accordingly vital stewards to protect. Moreover, it’s one of the only Student Practice Organizations at HLS with a practical focus on transactional legal training – hard to find in a law school classroom.

My first client was a musician seeking to release a multi-artist album on his newly founded label. My team and I drafted a form agreement that our client used to license the works from each of the album artists. My second semester at HLS we represented a band that was breaking up. Based on a pre-existing band agreement, we drafted a memo advising the members of their various rights with regards to their discography. Both semesters, I was a Team Leader where I acted as liaison between my team, the client and our supervising attorney. My responsibilities also included setting deadlines and discussing progress with our supervisor – it was a wonderful opportunity to practice client communication.

Portrait photo of Jennifer Mar J.D. '18

Jennifer Mar J.D. ’18

Through RAP I’ve gained skills and knowledge in three major areas: 1) entertainment/music industry norms; 2) transactional legal practice; and 3) project management. First, RAP trains its students in the complex business structures that make up the music industry and its key actors. Working with my clients showed me firsthand how different industry actors work together and how important their roles are; and furthermore how actors might take advantage of each other. Second, I learned how to read a contract and understand the relevance of “boiler plate terms” to real transactions – something which proved valuable in my 1L and 2L summers. Last, I gained practical skills related to project management including setting timelines, managing group dynamics, and client communication.

I expected RAP to be a fun way to learn about the music industry, get some transactional experience, and fulfill my pro bono hours. I was surprised that instead it became the foundation of my success at HLS. My second year I became the President of RAP – an invaluable lesson in leadership. RAP is the reason I secured my dream internship at Sony Music my 1L summer in New York City, and gave me the confidence to accept an offer to practice transactional entertainment law in Los Angeles after graduation. When my research paper on music copyright law won a UC Berkeley writing award this past Spring, I owed all my thanks to my RAP supervisor. More importantly, I have been surprised by the breadth of individuals RAP has helped, both directly through its clinical work and indirectly through its community work. Through activities like hosting the Boys and Girls Club of America on campus to organizing the Entertainment Law Symposium, I have had the privilege of making important lifelong connections. RAP is proof of the depth that work in entertainment law can offer.

The Leading Music Law Schools of 2017

Via Billboard

Behind the success of every artist — from the industry mainstays and chart-toppers to rising stars — is a lawyer fielding the deals and disputes that are a constant part of today’s ever-evolving music business. With the rise of new business models and the growing dependence on brand licensing and streaming, attorneys are more important than ever. The scope of their legal expertise is also wider, moving beyond issues of contract law to questions of intellectual property in the digital age and social justice in entertainment.

At which law schools do the top music counselors gain expertise? These 12 stand out as the alma maters of the majority of music’s most accomplished litigators.

Harvard Law School

City: Cambridge, Mass.
Enrollment: 1,771
Tuition and fees: $66,142 per year

Alumni who represent music artists will be on the bill for a two-day arts festival in September celebrating Harvard Law’s bicentennial year. The fest will include performances by clients represented by the school’s long-running Recording Artists Project, a legal-services clinic through which students provide pro bono legal services for Boston-area musicians. RAP and the Committee on Sports & Entertainment Law complement such courses as a new music and digital media class, which under Professor Christopher Bavitz explores music and the way legal principles manifest themselves in practice in the music industry.

Alumnus: Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel, Spotify

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Counseling artists: An opportunity for real-world application of the law

By Terron East, J.D. ’17

While the music industry has undergone an influx of substantial changes within recent decades, critics have argued that the legal frameworks designed to govern this industry have become anachronistic and incompatible with the industry’s seemingly inseparable relationship with modern technology. Recently proposed legislation, such as the Songwriter Equity Act, has sought to mend such gaping holes within copyright law by allowing for a more just level of compensation for spins of composers’ musical compositions on internet radio stations. However, while this recommended revision to the Copyright Act offers a possible solution to the unfair levels of compensation reaped by composers, such a solution is by no means a panacea to the problems that plague musicians.

Formed in 1998, the Recording Artists Project (RAP) was created with the objective of providing fledgling artists with the legal counsel necessary to protect their musical rights and build their brand, long before they’re able to take advantage of any newly proposed changes to royalties from radio play. As potential streams of revenue are continually presented to new artists throughout the onset of their careers, it has become more important than ever for these musicians to become aware of their intellectual property rights in order for their careers to flourish. More importantly, RAP serves as an indelible opportunity for HLS students to not only gain first-hand interaction with clients, but also grants students the opportunity for real world application of copyright and trademark law. Having served as both a student participant for RAP and intake director, I’ve been involved in a number of RAP projects throughout my time at HLS, ranging from LLC formations and band agreements to contract negotiations with record labels and copyright split agreements amongst several different musicians.

In addition to providing students with an outlet to apply Intellectual Property law, RAP has made concerted efforts to assist in the long-term career goals of its HLS participants. Accordingly, RAP has regularly hosted speaker events ranging from discussions regarding recent musical copyright infringement suits and their potential fallout, to panel discussions regarding the changing roles of record labels and managers within the current digital climate of music. Moreover, RAP wishes to form a community of students who have a passionate interest in entertainment law. As such, RAP also hosts excursions to events such as Berklee College of Music’s Urban Music Symposium. Such networking opportunities allow for students to both learn of recent changes within the music market and also to form ties with other HLS students interested in a career path in entertainment law as well.

Royalties, Rap And Race: The Top 10 Law Schools That Teach Real-Life Music Issues

Via Billboard

Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images
Langdell Hall Library on the campus of Harvard Law School, where law students offer music clients pro bono advice on topics from copyrights to contracts.

Behind the success of every hitmaker are the lawyers, fielding the deliberations, deals and disputes that are a constant part of today’s music business.

While attorneys have always been important to artists and music ­companies, new business models, from brand licensing to streaming, have only increased the need for legal expertise. The scope of that expertise is also wider than ever, moving beyond issues of contract law to questions of intellectual property in the digital age.

At which law schools do the top music lawyers gain that expertise? These 10 stand out as the alma maters of the majority of the music ­industry’s most accomplished attorneys.

Cambridge, Mass.

For the past two decades, aspiring attorneys at Harvard Law School have offered pro bono legal advice to young musicians, producers and other music professionals through the student-run Recording Artists Project. RAP has an affiliation with Boston’s Berklee College of Music and offers its students guidance on matters from contracts to copyrights. Among those who have benefited is Berklee alumna Esperanza Spalding.

Alumnus: Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel, Spotify

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A shout-out to the Recording Artists Project

Via Billboard
By Shirley Halperin

Aaron Rosenberg, From The Desk Of

When a client list reads like the Billboard Hot 100 — Justin Bieber, Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor, Future, John Legend and Jennifer Lopez, to name a few — one has to wonder: What came first, the attorney or the hit act? In the case of young 38-year-old Aaron Rosenberg, the youngest partner in the history of entertainment firm Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light, the question is often moot, especially with regard to two long-standing clients: Rosenberg had just graduated law school when he began representing Legend and took on Bieber when the would-be pop star was just 13.

To hear Rosenberg tell it, the Kansas City, Mo., native’s music business roots were planted back at Harvard Law School, where a clinical program called the Recording Artists Project paired law students with aspiring musicians around Boston “to provide legal advice under the supervision of a faculty member,” he explains. “It was literally hands-on training. And being a music lawyer is really about learning by doing.”

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Recording Artist Project provides pro bono representation to musicians

By Terron East, J.D. ’17 

Within the last decade, the music industry has shifted from an entity reliant upon physical goods, such as CDs and vinyl, to a business largely dependent upon internet streaming via companies such as Spotify and Apple Music. Although the traditions of the music industry have changed, the need for legal representation has remained constant, as artists must build their brands and protect their interests in their work while not infringing upon the rights of others. By advising clients on many aspects of entertainment law, the Harvard Law School’s Recording Artists Project (also known as RAP) has provided valuable pro bono representation to musicians in Boston and beyond since its inception in 1998.

While RAP cases focus upon the legal needs of musicians and others involved in the music industry, the specific legal work involved in each case varies widely. In recent semesters, students have had the opportunity to negotiate record contracts, draft work-for-hire and band partnership agreements, clear samples used in new works, register copyrights for compositions and sound recordings, and register trademarks for band names, among other legal tasks. The services of RAP have further been assisted by participation of students from the Berklee College of Music. These students, often musicians themselves, aid in client representation by providing advice based upon their classroom instruction and first-hand experiences with music business, recording, and performing.

In conjunction with providing direct legal services, RAP plans to expand its community outreach this year through a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB). This collaboration will connect RAP students with members of various BGCB “Music Clubhouses” to educate the young musicians about music law, including copyright law, music publishing, and the role of record labels in an artist’s career. This collaboration will also give HLS students a chance to interact with teens from the Boys & Girls Club to provide mentorship and insight into the daily lives of law school students, with planned visits to a local Music Clubhouse as well as an event on the law school’s campus.

Although I was initially unaware of RAP upon entering HLS, the opportunity to join the program as a 1L seemed hard to resist. While I enjoyed the litigation, case-based approach to law that was employed in my core classes for the first year, I found that RAP provided much needed insight into the transactional spectrum of law. Moreover, RAP served as my first foray into entertainment law–a subject with which I was enamored since my time serving as music director for my undergrad college’s radio station years ago. After serving as team leader during my first two semesters with RAP, I sought to become director of the organization to not only participate further within the daily proceedings of the organization, but to also assist in making RAP more visible on both the HLS and Berklee campuses. Using the extensive alumni and faculty connections provided by RAP, I hope to allow interested students to use the program as a first step to establish themselves within the diverse and promising field of entertainment law.

Pro Bono Work with Aspiring Musicians

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

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

Via the Harvard Gazette

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

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

Oh, and he’s a songwriter too.

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

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

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

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

Continue reading the full story here.

Roundup: Clinical Programs

A few news items from the Harvard Law School clinical world…

A Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB) student is in the news for successfully arguing that a loan servicer made mistakes when it foreclosed on his client. Now, “The highest court in Massachusetts is poised to rule as soon as this month on a foreclosure case that could lead to a surge in claims from home owners seeking to overturn seizures.” (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Speaking of HLAB, take a tour of their offices. (The Record)

Two clients of Recording Artists Project, a student practice organization providing pro bono legal assistance on music business matters, contributed to Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-winning album The Mosaic Project. (RAP blog)

This past January, three students from the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinic traveled to Chile to investigate the Ministry of Justice’s neighborhood multi-door courthouse pilot program. (HLS website)