Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Providing clinical and pro bono opportunities to Harvard Law School students

Tag: WilmerHale Legal Services Center

Clinic Stories: Prepping for the U.S. Court of Appeals

via Harvard Law Today

Through Harvard Law School’s Federal Tax Clinic, students have the unique opportunity represent low-income taxpayers in disputes with the IRS, both before the IRS and in federal court. Working individually and in teams, they represent taxpayers involving examinations, administrative appeals collection matters, and cases before the United States Tax Court and federal district courts.

In this video, we follow Adeyemi “Yemi” Adediran ’21, a second year student in the Clinic, as he prepares to argue an appeal on behalf of a military veteran with PTSD in the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago. The veteran’s appeal to the Seventh Circuit centered on his eligibility for innocent spouse relief under the Internal Revenue Code. Over a three year period, the veteran’s wife embezzled $500K from the Appleton, Wisconsin Blood Bank—where she worked as a bookkeeper. She was arrested and sentenced to jail, but because the couple filed taxes jointly and embezzled money is taxable, they were both legally responsible for back taxes on the money.

As an important part of his preparation, Adediran participated in a mooting session before a panel of “judges” including Keith Fogg, clinical professor and director of the Federal Tax Clinic, and Clinical Professor Daniel Nagin, vice dean for experiential and clinical education and faculty director of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School (LSC), of which the Tax Clinic is a part.

You can read more about the Federal Tax Clinic and other LSC clinics and services at legalservicescenter.org.

HLS Legal Services Center: A Veteran’s Story

via Harvard Law School YouTube

The Legal Services Center’s Veterans Legal Clinic provides legal representation to veterans and their family members when they cannot afford an attorney. The Clinic serves the legal needs of veterans in cases involving VA benefits, Massachusetts Veterans’ Services Benefits, discharge upgrades, and estate planning matters. Watch the story of how Paul, a Vietnam veteran who was denied veterans benefits for decades, was finally able to access those vital benefits thanks to the Veterans Legal Clinic.

New online tool tells Mass. veterans if they qualify for financial aid

Via Boston Herald

By Maria Szaniszlo

For years, Massachusetts has had a program that provides financial aid for food, housing, clothing and medical care to veterans and their dependents with limited incomes. There’s only one problem — many veterans have never heard of it.

On Tuesday, the Veterans Legal Clinic at Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center unveiled the Massachusetts Veteran Benefit Calculator, an online tool the clinic created to help veterans easily determine if they’re eligible for financial assistance through the program known as Chapter 115.

“We’re proud to be able to launch it statewide this Veterans Day,” said Betsy Gwin, associate director of the Veterans Legal Clinic. “Spreading the word about this tool and increasing awareness about Chapter 115 benefits is something that is tangible; it’s a concrete thing that we can all do together right now to help support low-income veterans and their families in Massachusetts.”

Under Chapter 115, low-income veterans can be eligible for state financial assistance ranging from a few dollars to more than $1,000 per month if they fall below 200% of the federal poverty level and meet other eligibility requirements. But there has been a persistent gap between the number of veterans eligible for these funds and the number of veterans who actually apply for them.

A 2017 State Auditor’s Office report found that between 2014 and 2016, only 14,390 Massachusetts veterans received Chapter 115 benefits. The Veterans Legal Clinic estimates that thousands more are likely to be eligible. The Chapter 115 program also supports veterans’ dependents and survivors, Gwin said, but many are unaware of the program.

“No veteran or survivor in Massachusetts should be struggling to avoid homelessness, to keep the lights on or to feed their family,” she said, “and this financial assistance can make all the difference.”

Many veterans also are hesitant to ask for help, Gwin said.

“This is not a handout; it’s a hand up,” said Francisco Urena, Massachusetts secretary of veterans affairs. “Most of our veterans are successful upon returning home, but if certain circumstances of economy, circumstances of employment ever lead them to being without, the safety net programs that we have here in Massachusetts make that veteran a better candidate for success.”

Wesley Bigham, 31, of Abington enlisted in the Army in January 2011 and served in Afghanistan from January to October 2013.

“The first time I heard about Chapter 115 benefits was nearly five years after enrolling in VA care,” Bigham said. “… At that time, when I was struggling to find a job and attempting to resettle with my family, I had no idea Chapter 115 even existed. … We’re fortunate that we … were able to stay with our family.”

For more information, veterans should visit MassVetBen.org.

Disability Rights Advocate and LSC Alum Haben Girma on making her way in the world with help from her guide dog

Via the WilmerHale Legal Services Center 

From left to right: Senior Clinical Instructor Julie McCormack, Haben Girma ’13, and Clinical Instructor Dana Montalto at LSC’s 40th Anniversary Event. Credit: Tony Rinaldo

My guide dog crossed the street, then jerked to a halt. “Mylo, forward.” My left hand held the leather harness that wrapped around his shoulders. “Forward,” I repeated. The harness shifted, and I knew he was peering back at me. Some barrier, unseen and unheard by me, blocked our passage.

Cars created little earthquakes in the street on our left. Behind us ran the road we just crossed. I made the decision: “Mylo, right.” He turned and headed down the sidewalk. I directed him around the block to bypass whatever had stood in our way.

My dog never knows where I’m going. He has his theories, of course. You went to this cafe yesterday, so clearly you’re going there again, right? Or he’ll veer toward an open door. Seriously, Haben, we need to step in here for a sniff.

People assume guide dogs lead blind people, and once upon a time, I thought so, too. My senior year of high school, I fretted about navigating college as a Deafblind student. Perhaps I would get a guide dog to ferry me wherever I needed to go. A companion would give me the confidence I needed.

“You want to depend on a dog for confidence?” a blind friend asked over instant messenger.

“It sounds funny when you put it that way,” I typed.

“If a blind person doesn’t have confidence, then the dog and person both end up lost. Don’t depend on a dog for confidence. Build up your own.”

So instead of training alongside a service animal at guide dog school, I spent my pre-college summer honing my blindness skills at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. I learned nonvisual techniques for crossing busy streets with a white cane, baking banana cream pie, even using electric saws.

I tapped my way through college with confidence. My self-assurance didn’t come from the cane but from my hard-earned orientation and mobility skills. How could I have thought that would be different with a four-legged guide?

Still, confident as I was, something felt missing from my life. My heart ached for a travel partner whose eyes and ears would share more of the world I navigated.

Maxine the Seeing Eye dog joined me for my last year at Lewis & Clark College and all three at Harvard Law. We glided around obstacles so much more smoothly than when I traveled with a cane — imagine switching from a bicycle to a Tesla.

I learned to read her body language, and together we strode with six legs. Her big, brown eyes and pointy ears opened new dimensions for me. Having a German shepherd at my side even curtailed the sexual harassment I faced. For nine years, she stood by my side.

In 2018, Maxine died of cancer. I missed her intensely, and the loss still pains me. I also knew I could not, would not, go back to life with only a cane. I was without my partner of nearly a decade, but I was not without direction.

The school that trained Maxine matched me with another dog. That summer, I joined Mylo for three weeks at the school’s campus in New Jersey. We lurched over curbs and crashed into chairs, but in each new experience, through gentle corrections and an abundance of praise, our teamwork improved.

Now, we wander as one. In the year we’ve spent together, we’ve traveled to 12 states and four countries. One morning during a trip to Park City, Utah, for a friend’s wedding, I woke to Mylo bounding onto my hotel bed, ready to start the day. After a few strokes of his puppy-soft ears and some tugging of his toy whale, we left our room.

Mylo beelined for the elevator, and then, reading the Braille labels, I pressed the button for the main level. The doors opened, and I directed Mylo across the lobby toward the front doors. “Right.” He turned down a hallway. “Right.” He turned into a room that felt empty. “Sorry, not this one. Mylo, left.” I gestured for him to go back to the hall. “Right.” He turned into the next room.

The delightful aroma of food and coffee at last wafted over from the far wall. “Here it is! Forward.” After I ordered my hard-earned breakfast, another wedding guest approached us.

“Haben, hi! It’s Michael. Who brought you here?”

I passed the credit to Mylo; constantly confronting ableism is tiring work. But someday the world will recognize that a Deafblind person charts her own path through the unknown. For now, I know it — and so does Mylo. He takes his lead from me.

 

Amanda Kool On Solving America’s Rural Justice Gap

Via Law360 

By: RJ Vogt

Amanda Kool left her dream job at Harvard Law School to tackle America’s rural access to justice gap from Bracken County, Kentucky.

Amanda Kool remembers listening to her law school peers describe their “average middle class” backgrounds during icebreaker sessions at the beginning of her first year.

“My mom lived in the trailer park and my dad did transient farm work and other side businesses,” said Kool, who grew up in rural Kentucky. “I was like, wait, was that not middle class?”

The moment was just one of the many times Kool has noticed the rural-urban divide that permeates the legal community.

She knows the chasm well, having grown up and gone to college in Kentucky before attending law school at Northeastern University, working in the corporate sector at Nixon Peabody LLP and spending five years running the Community Enterprise Project, a clinical program at Harvard Law School.

While at Harvard, she helped shift the clinic’s focus from primarily serving tech startups to serving more small, local community enterprises that needed help with business, finance and other transactional legal matters.

The post also gave her the opportunity and the platform to research more about the access to justice gap that the rural-urban divide can exacerbate in places like her home state.

The research and the project combined to convince Kool to give up her “dream job” and go back to Kentucky, where she could have a greater impact.

Now, she and her family have traded city life for a house and a yard in Bracken County, population 8,000, big-box retailers 0. As director of legal operations at the Lexington-based Commonwealth Commercialization Center, she’s applying her experiences in Boston to a statewide $1.2 million-plus project that aims to use Kentucky law schools to pair high quality legal services with local businesses.

She’s also helped start the Alliance for Lawyers and Rural America, an initiative geared toward facilitating conversations, ideas, information and resources at the intersection of law and rurality.

Law360 caught up with Kool at the Equal Justice Conference in May, hosted in Louisville by the American Bar Association and National Legal Aid and Defenders Association. She described how moving to rural America can be a key step in providing access to legal services where it’s needed most.

You’ve said your new project in Kentucky stems from some of the work you did at Harvard’s Community Enterprise Project. What’s the connection?

Back in the mid-’90s, Harvard Law School had put together a program called the Community Enterprise Project to help people start small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

It was located out in the community at the Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain, but in the late 2000s they brought it back to campus — in Harvard Square essentially. When I came on board in 2012, the Community Enterprise Project was rebranded as the Transactional Law Clinic. Instead of mom-and-pop businesses, low-income people, communities of color, immigrants … it was more high-tech startup types.

That work was really relevant to our students, who were going on to work at large firms in New York. But there was this entire other set of needs and people that wasn’t being served because we were no longer in those communities — and they were not getting onto train lines to come to us at campus.

I started to find these students who were social justice-minded and transactionally-minded. I started exploring more about worker cooperatives and community land trusts. We started going back to the community again: one day a week, and then it was two, and over time we built this program with a waiting list and a reputation.

What’s an example of one of the community projects that grew out of the law clinic?

The first one came along kind of organically: we called it the Food Truck Project. It was right after the city of Boston had permitted food trucks for the first time and said, you know, “we’d like to have more of these.” The city worked with Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and came up with a permitting regime.

And our clinic just naturally started seeing people saying, “I’m going to start a food truck, will you help me form an entity? Will you help me register my trademark?”

I said, well, these people have all of these other needs, too. They need to maybe finance the truck. They need to get the truck inspected. They need to have a relationship with the commissary kitchen.

What if we connected with all of those people and put together a toolkit and a training program that was like Food Trucks 101, with all the legal stuff you need to know in one place?

What made you think about going back to Kentucky?

There were certain hurdles. It’s really hard for me to help grow my clients’ business when someone just bought their building and wants to triple their rent, right? And because I come from here [Kentucky], I’m always thinking about what’s happening in other places — here, people are seeing things like falling property values as a bad thing. Where I was sitting, I saw it as an opportunity.

Secondly, I was working in a place where transactional legal services were available, basically, across the spectrum: there were clinics like mine, law firms getting involved, incubators … and I was looking at my home state of Kentucky and saying, “we have one pro bono transactional services provider in the entire state?”

And then, being at a law school, I had connected with a number of students at Harvard Law School, especially in the wake of the election, who were very catalyzed by the justice gap and access to justice. When you don’t have access to a system that works for you, you kind of pull away from that system and you no longer even see yourself as a part of it.

There was only so long I could sit in a place like Cambridge, Massachusetts, and say “people should go practice in rural places” before it was time for me to do it.

How is it different, doing what you do at the CCC in Kentucky as compared to what you did at Harvard, in Boston?

In the city, entrepreneurship is not necessarily economic development. Whereas in Kentucky, those things are much more closely aligned, which is why I’m attracted to it.

And when we talked about doing that as a state, it took me a matter of two to three months to be talking in person with the Kentucky Bar Association, with the people at law firms doing this work, with the heads of the three law schools, etc.

Within the first four months in my job, we were all sitting at the same table talking about how we work together as a state. There were three law schools talking about how they develop programming that all of their law students can enroll in and participate in together.

You can’t pull that off in other markets.

What would you say to other people who might consider working on access to justice in a rural area?

If you are a creative, innovative or proactive thinker, rural communities are for you. There’s so much room for really creative, exciting stuff to happen. You can’t invest in the city is as well as you can in rural places.

I loved Boston. I loved Harvard Law School — wouldn’t change a thing. But I’m so glad to be here. I’m not going anywhere.

Putting compassion into action

Via Harvard Law Today

Credit: Heratch Photography
Using the Law to Create Economic Justice panelists: (left to right) Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at LSC Keith Fogg, Michelle Wu ’12, Congressman Joseph Kennedy III ’09, Blake Strode ’15, Haben Girma ’13.

By: Clea Simon

“Reaching out to others is how you find out who you really are,” said Daniel Nagin, vice dean of experiential and clinical education and faculty director of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. He was quoting the late HLS Professor Gary Bellow LL.B. ’60, who in 1979 co-founded the Jamaica Plain center with his wife, senior lecturer on law Jeanne Charn ’70. On April 5, Nagin and others celebrated the center’s 40th anniversary, and the quote strikes at the heart of the center’s mission of improving the legal profession through experiential learning while working with community organizations to enact real and lasting change.

Transformational change may be possible only through such a cooperative effort, said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Giving the keynote address at the celebration, she pointed out that not only have more than 40,000 people used the center’s services over the years — people “who were shown an opportunity to have a life-changing experience” — but also approximately 4,500 students have worked there. “Students who have learned to see life, experience life, through the circumstances of another,” she said.

The Legal Services Center — or, as Bellow had described it in the past, the “teaching law office” — is similar to the teaching hospital model used in medical schools across the country, including at Harvard, and it has helped change the lives of thousands of clients in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and other neighborhoods in Boston and beyond. Its programs address issues related to housing, domestic violence, predatory lending, and other community needs. The center offers clinics that specialize in areas including federal taxes, estate planning, and accessing veterans’ benefits. Its reach is broad and its results can often be life-changing.

During the 2017–18 academic year, HLS students provided pro bono legal assistance to more than 4,000 clients in Massachusetts, including more than 2,300 residents in the Boston area. The graduating class of 2018 contributed 376,532 hours of pro bono legal assistance, an average of 637 hours per student over their three years at the Law School. This is part of the effort to, in the words of HLS Dean John F. Manning ’85, “make sure we’re always on the cutting edge of clinical education.”

The day’s events showed how this interaction can work. In the first of a series of roundtable discussions on how to narrow the gap between rich and poor and achieve justice for the most vulnerable, “#Connect: A Law Student and Client Discuss Collaboration” featured 2L student D Dangaran and a client recalling how they had worked together, under the guidance of Stephanie Davidson ’13, a clinical instructor in the domestic violence and family law clinic. The client had been in the process of freeing herself from an abusive relationship when she met Dangaran, and had already obtained a temporary restraining order against her husband that allowed her and her children to stay in the family home. When Dangaran met her, the order was once again up for review — and her husband had already been arrested for violating it.

“My second week in the clinic and it was the biggest trial of the clinic,” recalled Dangaran. But the client was calm, assured by the student’s focus. “[Dangaran] already knew my case as if they’d been with us the entire time,” she said. “I was very comfortable, and it took a lot of my nerves away.”

The preparation that went into the case paid off. The husband didn’t show for the hearing, and the client and Dangaran were called to the bench. The judge granted a permanent restraining order “before we even asked,” said Dangaran.

Charn, who was the center’s director for 28 years, served as the institutional memory for the next panel, “#Spark: The Influence of the Bellow-Charn Model on Legal Education.” The center’s beginning, she said, was rocky. “Almost no one supported what we were doing.” Committed to social justice, the center initially took students from several law schools and recruited experts from other institutions, such as MIT, to help them not only win cases but understand the underlying problems. If design could help a landlord maintain apartments, they would bring in designers, she said. “We were at ground level.”

The discussion then progressed to how the Bellow-Charn approach works. Moderator Sarah Boonin ’04, now a professor at Suffolk University Law School, said the model was built on the idea that clinics should be immersed in the community they serve because “the community was also a teacher.” For Jeffrey Selbin ’89, a professor at UC-Berkeley and director of its Policy Advocacy Clinic, the teaching element was immediately key. “When I walked to the center on my very first day, I was told, ‘You have a client in room one.’” The case involved Social Security benefits for a woman in her 50s. “She just looked at me and said, ‘You’ve never done this before.’ Then she said, ‘I’ve never done this before, either. It’ll be just fine,’ which was an early lesson in ‘client as teacher.’”

The next discussion, “#Uplift: Using the Law for Economic Justice,” began by asking what had inspired the panelists to make a career seeking economic justice. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III ’09 shared his frustration as a Peace Corps volunteer unable to alleviate the grinding poverty of Haitian sugarcane cutters in the Dominican Republic. Haben Girma ’13, who has limited vision and hearing, recounted being turned away from a summer job once her potential employer met her. Today, Girma, who was named White House Champion of Change by President Barack Obama, advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

“I provide training from schools to organizations about why choosing inclusion benefits all of us,” she said.

For Blake Strode ’15, the spark came even earlier. Strode, executive director of ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit civil rights law firm in St. Louis, remembered a classmate in his elementary school, an immigrant from Cameroon, who was relentlessly teased for her poverty and accent until he finally gathered the courage to sit with her at lunch and speak up for her.

Credit: Steve Gilbert
Blake Strode ’15 (with LSC co-founder Jeanne Charn ’70) was honored with the Emerging Leader Award for his work as executive director of ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit in St. Louis, Missouri.

“It was my first experience of seeing what it meant to stand with someone as they are enduring injustice,” said Strode, who later in the day was presented with the Bellow-Charn Championship of Justice Emerging Leader Award.“That’s the role of the social justice lawyer,” he concluded, “to create community and stop that oncoming train.”

Videos:

LSC at 40: A Look Inside of WilmerHale Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School

WilmerHale Legal Services Center 40th Anniversary Celebration

A ’60s Experiment with a Ripple Effect

Via Harvard Law Today

By: Emily Newburger

During an event at Harvard Law School last year celebrating its 40 clinics and student practice organizations, Van Lanckton ’67 was delighted to hear about so many opportunities for students to work in the public interest today. But he also felt a sense of pride and nostalgia as he recalled the legal services experiment he and hundreds of other students had been part of more than 50 years earlier—at a time when clinical education did not exist at the school and change was in the air.

Credit: Fay Photo/ Harvard Law School Historical & Special Collections
Outside the Community Legal Assistance Office, 235 Broadway, Cambridge, 1967: attorney Paul Garrity LL.M. ’71; John Ferren ’62, CLAO’s first director; and student volunteers James Hoyte ’68 and Neil Jokelson ’68 with a local resident

In 1966, with support from a grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity, HLS opened a neighborhood law office in East Cambridge directed by John Ferren ’62 and staffed by law student volunteers. The Community Legal Assistance Office, or CLAO, became a full-service law office helping low-income residents with whatever legal issues arose, criminal as well as civil, and providing real-world training for law students. Among them was Lanckton, who after graduation served as a staff attorney for the organization and then its director until 1971 when CLAO merged with another local legal services organization.

Lanckton, whose career has included lawyering in state government and private practice, and, in his seventh decade, becoming a rabbi, has always been good at bringing people together. Last spring, he decided it was time for a CLAO reunion. On an afternoon in May, the first floor of the house in Newton he shares with his wife, Alice, was full of others like him for whom this brief experiment had had an outsized effect.

Howard Cohen ’71 recalled that as a student, he loved the law but felt disconnected from some aspects of law school. His involvement in CLAO allowed him to express his social concerns and became the foundation of his career. After graduation, he worked at the Cambridge Housing Authority and eventually developed a practice in affordable housing “doing a lot of adversarial, opening-up-the- suburbs work,” he said, under Chapter 40B, the Massachusetts affordable housing law. He went on to found an affordable housing company, Beacon Communities. “CLAO jump-started it all,” he said.

Some students who participated came from other law schools. Barbara Buell, then a Northeastern student, described her first experience with CLAO in 1969 as very much “jump right in.” She remembered the terrible panic she felt the first day when a woman came in wanting a divorce. “Oh my god, what am I going to do?” Buell recalled thinking. But her supervisor conducted the interview and showed her. By the next week, Buell was in court representing the woman, filing the papers and going before the judge. By the end of her stints at CLAO, she had helped train other law students and worked on more than 200 criminal matters at the Third District Court in Cambridge, even handling two six-person jury trials. No one she represented went to jail, she said, a sign that she’d learned a thing or two. After Buell passed the bar, it was thanks to CLAO that she felt ready to practice law. Just as important, she stressed, “CLAO taught me how much fun it is.”

Credit: Courtesy of A. Van Lanckton
Van Lanckton ’67 (back row, left) on the steps of the neighborhood law office he then directed, with attorneys Frank Cleckley LL.M. ’69 (front row, holding rail) and John Cratsley (directly behind) as well as students and staff

Peter Lauriat, a retired Massachusetts Superior Court judge, agreed. “There was a great sense of camaraderie, a willingness to work together for the common good,” said Lauriat, who was a student attorney at CLAO in the late ’60s. He recalled vividly the ins and outs of the work—from criminal cases, to efforts to help conscientious objectors in the wake of the Vietnam War, to the peace of mind he brought to an elderly woman for whom he drafted a will.

At the center of many circles of conversation during the reunion was a Harvard lawyer and teacher who has perhaps the deepest knowledge of CLAO’s long-term impact: HLS Lecturer on Law Jeanne Charn ’70. Charn views CLAO as a precursor to the Legal Services Center, the school’s first clinic, which she started with Professor Gary Bellow ’60 in 1979 and which was the beginning of HLS’s clinical program.

Charn volunteered at CLAO as a 3L and then was hired as one of the supervising attorneys, helping Buell, Cohen, and numerous other CLAO students to get their start. CLAO not only helped her, recalled Charn. It changed her life. “It wasn’t just legal services,” she said. “It was the way we did it. It was being so close to the community.” When she and Bellow started the Legal Services Center, CLAO was absolutely the inspiration: “a neighborhood-based program that followed the community’s lead. No matter was too small.”

“We didn’t get it right all the time. We missed things,” said Charn. “But my whole life’s work started there.”

A Warm Welcome to Audrey Patten

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs extends a warm welcome to Audrey Patten, who joined the Legal Services Center as a clinical fellow in 2015. Audrey is working on a new project to link clients from the Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic with consumer law advocacy. Audrey’s practice  is aimed at representing survivors of domestic violence in consumer law matters, including debt collection defense, access to housing, and bankruptcy. This project is an extension of the Passageway Health-Law Collaborative, which is the clinic’s ongoing medical-legal partnership with the Passageway program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and its affiliated community healthcare centers. Prior to her work at the Legal Services Center, Audrey was a staff attorney at Northeast Legal Aid, Inc. in Lowell, MA.

Audrey graduated from Emory University School of Law in 2012, where she was a managing editor of the Emory International Law Review and a student in the International Humanitarian Law Clinic, the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic, and the Emory Supreme Court Advocacy Project. She was also Emory’s recipient of the Clinical Legal Education Association’s Outstanding Student Award.  Audrey holds an M.A. in Regional Studies – East Asia from Harvard University and a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University.

Visiting Professor of Law T. Keith Fogg will teach new Federal Tax Clinic

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs is excited to announce the new Federal Tax Clinic, which will be part of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain. The clinic will help defend the most vulnerable taxpayers while giving students the opportunity to learn tax practice and procedure.

Keith Fogg, Visiting Clinical Professor of Law, Federal Income Tax Clinic, Harvard Law School

Keith Fogg, Visiting Clinical Professor
of Law, Federal Income Tax Clinic,
Harvard Law School

The Federal Tax Clinic will begin in the 2015 fall semester and will be taught by Visiting Professor of Law, T. Keith Fogg.

Professor Fogg teaches at the Villanova University School of Law, where he also directs the Federal Tax Clinic. He is a national authority on tax procedure. He co-authors a blog with Professor Les Book entitled Procedurally Taxing, which focuses on current tax procedure issues and serves as the editor of the ABA Tax Section publication “Effectively Representing Your Client before the IRS.” Professor Fogg also authors the collection chapters in “IRS Practice and Procedure” created by Michael Saltzman and currently edited by Les Book.

He was chosen as the IRS Chief Counsel Robert H. Jackson National Attorney of the Year in 2007 and the ABA Tax Section Janet R. Spragens Pro Bono Award winner in 2015.  He is a past chair of the ABA Tax Section Pro Bono and Tax Clinics Committee and a current member of the ABA Tax Section governing council.

For more information, students can visit our Clinical Podcast webpage to listen to the information session about the new Federal Tax Clinic.

Estate Planning Clinic Secures Survivor’s Benefits for Same-Sex Spouse

HLSVia the WilmerHale Legal Services Center

A year after Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) was found unconstitutional and almost four years after the Estate Planning Clinic of the Legal Services Center accepted the matter for representation, the Estate Planning Clinic has succeeded in helping a same-sex surviving spouse become entitled to survivor’s benefits.

Norman J. Laurin and his late husband, Danny R. Wood, were legally married when Wood passed away in March 2010. When Laurin tried to collect survivor benefits on Wood’s ERISA-mandated pension, the pension management company refused to recognize the marriage. The company, PBGC, denied Laurin’s claim on the grounds that as a federal agency, Section 3 of DOMA which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, prevented PBGC from providing a qualified preretirement survivor annuity (“QPSA”) to Laurin, as preretirement survivor annuities are only payable to surviving spouses and a QPSA was the only benefit available to Laurin according to the PBGC since no retirement benefits had begun prior to Wood’s death.  Essentially, PBGC said that since the federal government didn’t recognize Laurin’s and Wood’s marriage, despite the fact that Massachusetts recognized their marriage, Laurin would receive nothing by way of benefits from Wood’s 35 years with his company.  In addition, PBGC stated that since Wood had not completed an application for retirement benefits before his death, which would have allowed any beneficiary to succeed to such benefits upon his subsequent death, Laurin would not be entitled to any retirement benefits of any kind from Wood’s service with his company.  Unwilling to accept this result, Laurin wished to appeal PBGC’s decision

When the Estate Planning Clinic took the case in 2010 and when PBGC finally issued its final determination denying Laurin benefits, it was impossible to know if DOMA would be found unconstitutional. Accordingly, Tamara Kolz Griffin, Clinical Instructor at the Estate Planning Clinic, and her students presented both procedural and constitutional arguments in their appeal brief to PBGC in an attempt to secure benefits for Laurin on any grounds possible.  While securing benefits based upon the unconstitutionality of DOMA would have more far-reaching effects for other similarly situated same-sex couples, successfully attacking the procedural mistake by PBGC in sending Wood’s requested retirement application to the wrong address, thereby thwarting his attempt to apply for retirement benefits prior to his death, could secure benefits for Laurin without recognizing his marriage to Wood.

Continue reading the full story here. 

Legal Services Center announces leadership transition

Daniel Nagin, Clinical Professor of Law, Faculty Director of WilmerHale Legal Services Center

aniel Nagin, Clinical Professor of Law, Faculty Director of WilmerHale Legal Services Center

Via HLS News 

Harvard Law School’s WilmerHale Legal Services Center—one of the leading providers of legal aid in Greater Boston and surrounding communities—has announced that Daniel Nagin, Clinical Professor of Law, will be its Faculty Director.

Nagin succeeds Clinical Professor of Law Robert Greenwald, who has served as the director of LSC since 2009, and will devote his time fully to his health policy work as Faculty Director of the law school’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, which will house both the law school’s health and food law and policy clinics.

“The Legal Services Center tackles essential needs in the Greater Boston community while offering students opportunities to serve to learn from talented and dedicated staff,” said Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School. “Robert Greenwald’s inspired leadership has strengthened and deepened the Center’s outstanding community collaborations. He has led staff and students in their work on behalf of survivors of domestic abuse, people facing eviction and predatory lending, and individuals seeking disability benefits and health care. Robert has at the same time built our nationally recognized center and clinic on health law and policy innovation to which he will now devote his full-time leadership.

“We are so lucky that his successor is Dan Nagin, an award-winning advocate, inspired teacher, and leader in clinical legal education,” Minow added. “Dan has long worked to expand access to quality legal services for persons who are homeless, poor, or disabled and he recently created the Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic at the Center. It is a privilege to watch how the vision and tireless efforts of these lawyers advance justice and inspire the next generation of lawyers.”

Read the full article here

LSC Clinic Students Awarded Public Service Fellowships

harvard_law_school_shield3Via the Legal Services Center

Congratulations to the following former Legal Services Center clinic students who received 2014 Public Service Venture Fund fellowships to pursue diverse opportunities for 2014-2015.

Stephanie Berger (J.D. ’14) has been awarded a fellowship to work with the Community Law Office of Jefferson County in Alabama, where she will represent indigent criminal defendants with a specific focus on cases involving mental health concerns, forensic science, and collateral repercussions. She was selected as the Inaugural HLS Early Decision Fellow and will be a member of Gideon’s Promise. During her time at HLS, Stephanie was heavily involved in the Mississippi Delta Project as a Mental Health Initiative Team Leader. She also participated in the Disability, Veterans, and Estate Planning Clinic, the Criminal Justice Institute, and the Harvard Mediation Program. During the summers, Stephanie interned with Mental Health Advocacy Services in Los Angeles and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Prior to law school, Stephanie graduated summa cum laude in Neuropsychology from Colby College where she served as program manager for Colby’s Best Buddies chapter.

Elizabeth Floyd (J.D.’14) has been awarded a fellowship to join CASA de Maryland, where she will advocate for fair, sustainable transit development in a low-income immigrant community by supporting tenants and small businesses through direct legal services, organizing and regulatory advocacy. While at HLS, Elizabeth was a board member of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Article Editor for the Harvard International Law Journal, and Project leader and events coordinator for the Harvard Law and International Development Society. She was also involved in the Post-Foreclosure Eviction Defense Clinic, the Family Law Clinic, and the Harvard Education Law Clinic. Elizabeth has completed internships at Make the Road New York, at the Hungarian Helsinki Committee on a Human Rights Program Fellowship, and at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and the Environmental Defense Fund on a Ford Fellowship.  Prior to law school, Elizabeth advocated for the rights of workers and recent immigrants in Durham, North Carolina at membership-based organization El Centro Hispano and the Legal Aid of North Carolina Farmworker Unit. She also spent a year working on civil society and youth issues in Perm, Russia on a Fulbright Fellowship.

Nico Palazzo (J.D. ’14) has been awarded a fellowship to work with the New Economy Project, where he will combine direct client representation, impact litigation, advocacy and community education in support of New Economy Project’s campaigns to address systemic inequities in consumer credit and lending and support neighborhood-based, democratically controlled economic models. While at HLS, Nico has been an active member of the Law and International Development Society and has worked in the Veteran’s Law and Disability Benefits Clinic. During his law school summers, Nico has interned with Poder Ciudadano in Buenos Aires, Argentina and with Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A. Before law school, Nico spent four years working as a community organizer in Brazil and Argentina.

Full list of 2014 Public Service Venture Fund recipients.

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly names Nnena E.J. Odim as one of its 2013 Top Women of the Law

Nnena E.J. Odim
Lecturer on Law
Senior Clinical Instructor
Family/Domestic Violence Law Clinic
WilmerHale Legal Services Center

On October 31st, at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, Senior Clinical Instructor Nnena E.J. Odim was honored by the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as one of their 2013 Top Women of the Law.

Please read the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly featured story below: 

While balancing her practice as an attorney and her role as a clinical instructor keeps Nnena E.J. Odim quite busy, she keeps doing it because at the end of the day, she feels she has made a difference for her clients and helped to shape the next generation of attorneys.

Odim, who joined the WilmerHale Legal Services Center at Harvard in 1997, handles family, domestic violence, and LGBT cases. She supervises law students as they work with clients, draft documents and participate in court proceedings.

Odim tries to take on as many cases as she can, knowing that she is often the last resort for many. “If I don’t take their case, they oftentimes go into court unrepresented, and I feel…they don’t get as much justice as they do when they are represented,” she says.
As an instructor, Odim teaches students not just what to do, but also how to do it, with professionalism, ethics and compassion.

“It’s not just about knowing the law,” she says. “They can read that in a book. It’s really how to apply that, how to work with clients, how to listen to them, how to not be judgmental or paternalistic.”

Odim directs the legal arm of the Passageway Health Law Collaborative, a partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital that provides legal and social work services to domestic violence victims. She also participates in the Lawyers for the Day Program and the Volunteer Lawyers Project’s Senior Partners for Justice.

Odim says she is motivated in part by her belief that everyone deserves access to justice. Her desire to increase access was one reason she left a career as a personal trainer in order to go to law school.

“I really felt like I wanted to do more, and I wanted to do more for people who couldn’t do it for themselves,” she says. “This is the way I thought I could make the biggest impact. I haven’t looked back. I love it.”

Nnena Odim: A Top Women of Law Honoree

Nnena Odim, Senior Clinical Instructor

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly has named Nnena Odim at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center as one of its Top Women for 2013.  A lunch time event will be held on October 31st at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel to recognize Nnena and the other honorees.

Read more:  Top Women of the Law posted on Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

HLS Clinic Launches Mattapan Initiative to Avert Foreclosures

L-R: Julia Devanthery, Roger Bertling, Maureen McDonagh, Charlie Carrier and Brandon German

HLS News, recently profiled the efforts of the Mattapan Initiative, a program dedicated to combating foreclosures in Mattapan:

With a $415,000 grant from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office—and the help of a groundbreaking new law that offers homeowners strong pre-foreclosure protections—the HLS WilmerHale Legal Services Center (LSC) has launched a new program to help fight foreclosures in Mattapan, one of Boston’s most challenged neighborhoods.

The Mattapan Initiative, which will have a special focus on pre-foreclosure efforts as well as expanding post-foreclosure work, is under the direction of Roger Bertling, a Senior Clinical Instructor and Director of the LSC’s Predatory Lending and Consumer Protection Unit. The grant has provided for the hiring of two full-time attorneys with expertise in fighting foreclosures as well as a community outreach coordinator to inform Mattapan residents of the initiative and their rights under the new law.

“We feel very fortunate that the money came in at the same time the law came into place,” says Bertling, who has been supervising HLS students in anti-foreclosure work at LSC since the foreclosure crisis first emerged over six years ago. “It places us in the forefront of people doing [anti-foreclosure] work, and in keeping with the tradition of LSC being at the edge of where legal work meets community need.”

In February 2012, 49 state attorneys general and the federal government announced an historic $25 billion settlement with the country’s five largest mortgage servicers over fraudulent mortgage practices. In addition to direct payments to some former homeowners, the settlement also provided funds to the states; Massachusetts, which received $44.5 million, has used some of the money to establish the AG’s HomeCorps program and for anti-foreclosure grants.

“These grants are designed to help Massachusetts homeowners impacted by the foreclosure crisis with direct financial and legal assistance,” says Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, “and Harvard Law School—through the Mattapan Initiative—is doing just that. We are pleased to see this funding being used for critical foreclosure prevention efforts and mitigation services as we work to stabilize communities across the Commonwealth.”

Meanwhile, the new state law—unlike any other in the country, Bertling says—offers homeowners who’ve been victimized by predatory loans strong new protections including requiring lenders to offer loan modifications before they can proceed with foreclosure, in many circumstances. In the past, homeowners usually had to wait until foreclosure began to have any success in fighting back. The Act Preventing Unnecessary and Unlawful Foreclosures was passed by the Massachusetts legislature last August, and the Mattapan Initiative will be at the leading edge of making sure banks comply with it, Bertling says.

“It puts another tool in the legal services attorney’s tool box for getting the homeowner some leverage so they can stay in their home at an affordable payment, which is our goal,” adds Charlie Carriere, who was hired as a clinical fellow in the Predatory Lending Practice through the grant to focus on pre-foreclosure cases. Carriere joined the Mattapan Initiative in March after serving as a clinical fellow at the California Monitor Program, where his work focused on enforcement of the National Mortgage Settlement.

Since launching in March, the Mattapan Initiative has interviewed scores of Mattapan residents, although full representation of most of them has been on hold until recently, when the precise parameters of the law became clear. Brandon German, a marketing expert with community organizing experience hired with the grant funds to head community outreach for the Initiative, has been going door-to-door in Mattapan to inform residents of the new law and the work of the LSC, as well as attending community events and holding information sessions. “Our whole goal is to find people before they are displaced,” he says. “We want to prevent displacement and homelessness, and protect neighborhoods.” His message has been enthusiastically received, he says, although the biggest hurdle is convincing homeowners that LSC doesn’t charge them for its legal services.

Now that regulations related to the act were finally promulgated, in June, Bertling expects pre-foreclosure legal activity to ratchet up in the next weeks as lenders and attorneys react to the new requirements—just in time for the clinical students in the new academic year. Starting in the fall, students in two LSC units—the predatory lending/consumer unit and the post-foreclosure housing unit—will participate in the Mattapan Initiative, presenting them with exceptional education opportunities, Bertling says.

“They will be looking at an entirely new law with new regulations that no one has interpreted before,” says Bertling. “There is no case law. So it’s a whole new version of learning the law, with no precedent to rely on. They’ll have to figure out what the law means and how it will be implemented. That’s a rare opportunity.”

HLS is a national leader in fighting the foreclosure crisis. Both LSC and the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau have been working for years to assist tenants and homeowners fight wrongful evictions, especially since the foreclosure crisis of 2008, including through the nationally renowned Project No One Leaves, launched by two former bureau students.

The Mattapan Initiative is an expansion of those efforts, with a unique slant: focusing on particular section of Boston. Bertling says they chose to focus on Mattapan for a number of reasons, including that it is a traditionally underserved area, has an overwhelming minority population—primarily African-American and Haitian-American—that have difficulty accessing legal help, and has an unusually high percentage of single-family homes for Boston.

“Folks are still struggling and bearing the brunt of these incredibly predatory loans made some time ago that only now are rearing their ugly heads and making it so families can’t make their mortgage payments, which sets off the foreclosure process,” says Julia Devanthéry, who was hired with the grant money as a staff attorney for the Initiative, and will focus on post-foreclosure work in Mattapan.  “The roots of this crisis are in the bad loans that were made in a totally deregulated environment and were predatory to begin with, and were never meant to succeed.”

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for all of us,” says Bertling. “We have a longstanding, great relationship with the [state] Attorney General’s office, and this is another way they’re showing how highly they think of our work.”

Read more: Hope for homeowners facing foreclosure in Mattapan from the July 30, 2013 Boston Globe.

By Elaine McCardle

The Mattapan Initiative was also profiled on August 1, 2013 in the Dorchester Reporter.

Oh the Difference Representation Can Make

By Garrett Bych (Student Legal Advocate, Administrative/Disability Clinic, WilmerHale Legal Services Center)

Garrett Bych, Summer Legal Advocate 2013

Let’s assume that you have a serious physical disability that prevents you from working. You have two daughters dependent upon your care and you want to go back to work so that you can support them, but you simply can’t. Physical labor is too intensive, and you can’t stay seated long enough to complete sedentary work.  So what do you do? You end up heading down to your local Social Security office one afternoon and you apply for disability benefits. You work a few odd jobs in the meantime just to put food on the table, but after 3-4 months, your disability claim is denied. You quickly file for reconsideration, but when that doesn’t pan out; you wonder if you have any options left.

Social Security tells you that you can file for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge, but that it usually takes more than 6 months just to be scheduled. You follow their advice, and you decide to contact a public service organization to help you with your disability claim.

It is important to establish at this point just what such a public service organization can do. When claimants are first accepted as clients by the Legal Services Center, they often have very strong cases but simply no one to represent them. They are some of the most kind-hearted people you will ever meet, and they are in desperate need of financial help due to unfortunate circumstances and in many cases, a lack of opportunity.   They are not familiar with how Social Security Disability Claims work, and thus their applications may sit unprocessed in the system for weeks, months or even years. As previously stated, these individuals cannot afford to wait weeks, months or years for decisions. They are out of work and in dire need of monetary support. Some clients go back to work part-time even though it makes their respective conditions worse because by doing so, they can at least put some food on the table and pay a little bit of rent.

Unfortunately, their troubles are not magically whisked away by being put on retainer with a public service organization. However, the Legal Services Center can be extremely helpful when it comes to understanding how the Social Security Administration works, and when they may need a good shove in the right direction. The Administrative/Disability Clinic at the Legal Services Center specializes in helping clients at the hearing stage of their claim, which means that we at the Center use medical evidence to build the case of our client and then argue that case at a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.

Let’s return now to the previously described case. Our client came to us after being denied reconsideration, and we built his case and prepared for his hearing. Unfortunately, he received an unfavorable decision from the judge. We quickly appealed the decision. A couple of years later (no that is not a typo) our client was finally approved for disability benefits- with a catch. When an individual is approved for benefits, these benefits often come in two forms: a monthly check for benefits and a gross retroactive check, or back-payment, that covers the entire period since the individual claimed he or she was disabled. For instance, if you applied for benefits and said you had been disabled since 2006, if you get approved in 2011, you will get one check covering all of the monthly benefits you have missed since 2006 when you became disabled. For our specific case, Social Security decided that they would withhold $500 every month from our client’s monthly check in order to pay out child support. This would have made perfect sense, if the back payment our client received hadn’t already covered the child support. After two more years of fighting with Social Security, our client received a letter this past week approving his family for just under $100,000 in retroactive benefits from his disability claim. These benefits can not only solve the child support case, but actually help put his kids through college down the line. For families that may be struggling to put food on the table on a week by week basis, it can not be overstated how important these benefits are.

Without representation, over 70% of applicants for disability benefits will be denied. Even with representation, getting approved by the Social Security Administration is no easy task, as highlighted by the case above which is still open 5 years after our client’s initial application. Even though this case initially began in 2008 and was not fully resolved until 2013, on weeks like this one, you must celebrate any victory, and this is no small victory for a worthy individual and his representatives. Social Security got this one right, and all it took was a good shove in the right direction.

Supervisor’s note:  Some of the HLS students who contributed significantly to the success of this case are Haben Girma ’13, Alex Smith ’13, Jhoshua Friedman ’12, Stephanie Neely ’12 and Rajan Sonik ‘12

 

Becca Gauthier Hits the Ground Running at the Legal Services Center

By Becca Gauthier, Disability/Administrative Law Clinic Legal Intern

Becca Gauthier (R) with supervisor Julie McCormack (L) at her first Social Security Administration hearing

As a first year law student at Harvard Law School, I didn’t get a chance to participate in any hands-on client work. However, that quickly changed upon starting my job at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center this summer. I work in the Disability/Administrative Law Clinic and my main role is to help clients whose Social Security claims have been denied. My first hearing was set for less than a month after starting, so I had to quickly figure out what I needed and make sure a hearing memo and opening statement were ready to go. I also met with my client multiple times and worked to get him ready to go in front of the judge.

The hearing went smoothly. I was able to ask my client all of the questions I had for him, and the judge seemed receptive. The judge then questioned a vocational expert who confirmed the client would not be able to work. Now we wait and hope that the judge will rule that our client is disabled so that he will be able to receive the benefits he so desparately needs. I have a few more hearings scheduled and have filed a complaint for a case in District Court. I look forward to seeing what the next few months bring and I am happy to be staying on at the Center for the fall semester!

Toby Merrill Tackles Predatory Lending at Legal Services Center

Toby Merrill [Photo by Martha Stewart]

HLS graduate and Skadden Fellow Toby Merrill (’11) and clinical instructor Max Weinstein are profiled in this summer’s Harvard Law Bulletin for their efforts combating predatory student lending. This work marks an expansion of the Predatory Lending Prevention/Consumer Protection Clinic, which is based at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain. As the Bulletin story explains:

“[Toby is] focusing on for-profit colleges that target low-income people—for example, a student who goes to a trade school for a relatively low-paying profession but takes on an enormous amount of debt. ‘They are really mined for all the federal money they are worth, and then left with debt but no benefits,’ she says. It’s an issue everyone should be concerned about, she adds. ‘This is your money and my money going to private executives making millions of dollars a year on the backs of poor people.'”

Check out the article to learn more about the impact of predatory student lending, how Toby and Max formed their partnership, and the types of outreach and litigation they are pursuing. More…

HLS Students Serve Veterans in New Clinic

Andrew Roach ’13 and Dan Nagin meet with a veteran. [Photo by Martha Stewart]

The summer issue of Harvard Law Bulletin highlights the new Veterans Legal Clinic, which provides legal services to veterans in cases involving benefits, discharge, military records, and healthcare, among other issues. The article provides insight into Clinical Professor Dan Nagin’s goals for starting the clinic, how students handle complex cases, and the clinic’s partnership with the law firm Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick, which enables students to gain experience in federal court. As professor Nagin reflects, “[Veterans] cases are very good teaching tools to expose students to legal issues that are rich and complex, not to mention the human dimension of the cases”. More…

Clinical Students Commissioned as JAG Officers

[L-R] Cmdr. Mike Adams LL.M. ’13, Joshua Fiveson ’14, Jordi Torres ’13, and Lee Hiromoto ’13

On May 14, HLS clinical students Lee Hiromoto (JD ’13) and Jordi Torres (JD ’13) were commissioned as JAG officers aboard the USS Constitution. Read more about Torres’ work with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and Hiromoto’s placement with the WilmerHale Legal Services Center in this week’s HLS News.

Alex Smith and Lisa Sullivan Win Harvard Law School Exemplary Clinical Student Award

Congratulations to Alex Smith and Lisa Sullivan, winners of the inaugural Harvard Law School Exemplary Clinical Student Award!

This award recognizes a graduating student who exemplifies putting theory into practice through clinical work. The student winner has demonstrated excellence in representing individual clients, undertaking group advocacy or policy reform projects. In addition, in keeping with the clinical teaching model, the student has been self-reflective and shown thoughtfulness and compassion in their practice and has contributed to the clinical community at HLS in a meaningful way.

Alex Smith

Alex Smith has spent more than 22 of the past 32 months since entering law school providing direct legal services to the poorest and most marginalized disabled Boston residents through his work at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center (LSC). Julie McCormack and the Community Lawyering Program team nominated Alex for:

“…his firm adherence to the quiet, less heroic, everyday practice of ethical lawyering across literally hundreds of intakes and cases, his attention to conflicts of interest, his careful explanation to clients of their and our rights and responsibilities, his consistent care with highly confidential medical, personal and legal information, his comprehensive assessments of the broad range of legal issue presented in each case, his thoughtful examination of the social and political contexts implicated, his deeply generous mentoring of several rounds of new clinical students and interns, his insightful and constructive critique of systems and practices, and the intelligent compassion he has shown to each and every individual he has encountered (so much so that his clients are genuinely distressed that he is now leaving)”.

Lisa Sullivan

During her time at HLS, Lisa Sullivan participated in the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic, Harvard Defenders and Criminal Justice Institute (CJI). CJI Clinical Instructor Rob Proctor has high praise for her work in the clinic, writing:

“Lisa embodies all the characteristics I think are important for all HLS clinical students: compassion for the clients and for other students, an unwavering commitment to justice, zealous advocacy, attention to detail, thoroughness in preparation, and inspiring optimism…. Lisa was certainly a zealous client advocate, which is always paramount, but what sets Lisa apart is that she was able to establish the same goodwill, respect and attention of the courtroom in a matter of months that takes a seasoned trial lawyer years to achieve. Many court personnel: judges, prosecutors, clerks, and court officers, who have seen hundreds (if not thousands) of lawyers, pulled me aside and spoke very highly not just of her advocacy and zealous representation of her clients, but more importantly, of her decency, respectful demeanor, and humanity which influenced others around her to respond in kind.”

Best of luck to Alex and Lisa as they embark on the next stage of their careers!

LSC’s Isabel Lima Receives Richardson Staff Award

Isabel Lima

The Class of 2013 selected the Clinical Programs’ very own Isabel Lima for the Suzanne Richardson Staff Appreciation Award, which is given each year to a member of the staff who demonstrates commitment to the student experience and concern for students’ lives and work at the Law School.

From Dean Martha Minow:

“Isabel has worked at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center since 1980, and currently serves as Office Manager. One student explained, ‘Isabel is the heart and soul of the legal services center. From making sure each student is prepared from the day they set foot in the clinic, to translating for Spanish-speaking clients, and keeping our cases organized, there is no one who demonstrates more commitment to clinical education and our many needy clients than Isabel.’ Congratulations and deep thanks to all named here and to all students, faculty, and staff who make this school such a stimulating, rewarding, and meaningful community.”

Congratulations, Isabel!

Events: April 1 – 14

What: Clinical Registration Opens for 2013-14 Academic Year
When: Wed, April 3, 9am
Note: Clinical registration is for the entire 2013-14 year.

What: Veterans Legal Clinic Panel
When: Wed, April 3, 12-1pm
Where: WCC 2019 Milstein West A
Details: With featured speaker Coleman Nee (Secretary of MA Department of Veterans’ Services), Zach Stolz (Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick) and Dan Nagin (Clinical Professor and Director of HLS’s Veterans Legal Clinic). Join panelists and student members of the Veterans Legal Clinic to learn about the urgent needs of local veterans and the exciting work students are undertaking on their behalf. Lunch provided. (Flyer below)

What: Clinical Registration Closes for 2013-14 Academic Year
When: Fri, April 5, 12:59pm
Note: Clinical registration is for the entire 2013-14 year.

What: Toward a Civil Gideon: The Future of Legal Services
When: Sat, April 6, 10:15-3:30pm
Where: Wasserstein Hall 1015
Details: This symposium will feature scholar-practitioners from around the country discussing the access to justice crisis and how to solve it. Panelists include: Scott Cummings (UCLA); Russell Engler (New England School of Law); Jim Greiner (HLS); David Grossman (HLS); Gene Nichol (Center on Poverty); Deborah Rhode (Stanford); Rebecca Sandefur (U of I); and Richard Zorza (UCLA). If you can’t make it the whole day, feel free to stop by when you are available!

What: The People’s Law School: Community Education Workshops & Open House
When: Sat, April 13, 1-5pm
Where: 122 Boylston Street Jamaica Plain, MA. 02130
Details: Presented by the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School This is a Free Event, Registration Not Required. For More Information Call 617-522-3003 (Flyer below) Continue reading

Snapshot: Clinical Field Trip to Jamaica Plain

Last week, HLS clinical programs took a field trip to Jamaica Plain to visit with our colleagues at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center and enjoy the local culture (courtesy of the Sam Adams Brewery).

Sam Adams Brewery

Touring the brewery

Beer glamour shot

Enjoying a tasting at the end of the tour

Our fabulous tour guides Kaitlyn (who also works in the Human Rights Program) and Andy