Congratulations to the Pro Bono Honor Roll Students

L-R: Katherine Soltis, J.D. ’15; Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Hon. Ralph D. Gants; and Jocelyn Keider, J.D. ’15

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs offers its heartfelt congratulations to the 15 Harvard Law students honored for their commitment to pro bono work at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 2014 Adams Pro Bono Publico Award Ceremony. We are proud to have you represent Harvard Law School! 

Gregory Baltz, J.D. ’15
Ellyn Gendler, J.D. ’15
Donna Harati, J.D. ’15
Jocelyn Keider, J.D. ’15
Fan Li, J.D. ’15
Rebecca Moses, J.D. ’15
Sara Murphy, J.D. ’16
Maria A. Parra-Orlandoni, J.D. ’15
Francesca Procaccini, J.D. ’15
Andres Rapoport, J.D. ’15
Colin Taylor Ross, J.D. ’16
Amanda Savage, J.D. ’15
David Smith
Katherine Soltis, J.D. ’15
Menglu Wang, J.D. ’15

Interview with Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award Winner Mira Edmonds

In celebration of the National Pro Bono Week, the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs interviewed past winners of the HLS Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award who were chosen for their excellence and extraordinary contributions to the public good. Mira Edmonds, HLS ’07, is a Visiting Associate Professor of Clinical Law at George Washington University Law School. At HLS, she completed 2,114 hours of pro bono work with the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB). Please read the interview with Mira below. 

Mira Edmonds, Visiting Associate Professor of Clinical Law at George Washington University Law School

Mira Edmonds, HLS ’07, Visiting Associate Professor of Clinical Law at George Washington University Law School

OCP: Why did you choose to study law and what sparked your interest in pro bono work?
Edmonds: I decided to study law because it seemed like many of the people I admired as social change agents were lawyers and the practice of law seemed like one of the best ways to fight for justice. I can’t exactly say what sparked my interest in pro bono work since that is redundant with my interest in law. It never occurred to me that I would work for a client who could afford to pay me. I was only ever interested in representing people who would not be able to pay me because they would be the ones who would most need my services.

OCP: What were your biggest learning experiences at HLS?
Edmonds: I was fortunate to have extraordinary mentors and teachers both during my summer internships and during my two years as a student-attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. I probably learned the most from my mistakes — things I did which still make me blush, but which my clinical supervisors helped me to reflect upon and learn from. Above all, my clinical experience, which is where I did most of my pro bono hours, taught me how to be self-reflective about my practice, so that no experience went wasted.  In any situation, whether I performed well or performed poorly, I was asked to reflect on how I could have done better.

OCP: What do you find most challenging and satisfying about pro bono work?
Edmonds: Working with clients! Working with clients is so often the most challenging part of pro bono work, particularly in the work I have chosen to do, because so many of them have had really rotten luck in life and consequently assume that the system is going to give them yet another raw deal, and unfortunately, I am often seen as part of that system. But the opportunity to improve a client’s life by some modest modicum, or even to help them to turn it around in some cases, is so satisfying.

OCP: Did your involvement with pro bono work influence or change you long terms goals?
Edmonds: I wouldn’t say my pro bono work changed my long term goals, so much as fortifying them. I came into law school wanting to do public interest work with every ounce of my being, and yet the pressure to go to a firm is so strong that even I participated in on-campus interviewing. The availability of summer funding from HLS enabled me to turn down the firm offers I received and spend my second summer at a public defender office instead, which is the field I entered upon graduation. I certainly could not have imagined that career, or been prepared for it, without that summer experience. And my experience at HLAB was so influential that I am now doing a clinical teaching fellowship through which I hope to teach and mentor and inspire a new generation of law students the way my clinical instructors at the Bureau did for me.

Interview with Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award Winner Lam Ho

In celebration of the National Pro Bono Week, the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs interviewed past winners of the HLS Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award who were chosen for their excellence and extraordinary contributions to the public good. Lam Ho, HLS ’08, is the Executive Director at Community Activism Law Alliance and completed over 3,000 hours of pro bono work with Harvard Defenders and other entities. Please read our interview with Lam below. 

Lam Ho, Executive Director, Community Activism Law Alliance

Lam Ho, HLS ’08, Executive Director, Community Activism Law Alliance

OCP: Why did you choose to study law and what sparked your interest in pro bono work?
Ho: I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an attorney working with disadvantaged populations because of my personal background, which exposed me to many examples of how unequal access to justice is in our country, including my mother, a victim of domestic violence, who was an even greater victim to our legal system due to her gender, immigrant status, and inability to speak English.

OCP: What do you think the biggest learning experiences were?
Ho: For me personally, discovering and negotiating the limitations of “the law.” By acknowledging that the legal system can sometimes be slow, unfair, inequitable, or ineffectual for creating true social change, I opened myself to, and learned to push the boundaries, of what “lawyering” is. My work now is focused on how much more lawyers can do: besides filing lawsuits, reading statutes, and arguing in courts. In particular, “community activism lawyering,” the model on which my new organization (the Community Activism Law Alliance) is based, focuses on how lawyers can create powerful collaborations with activists and social movements to produce more meaningful, greater impact than what they can achieve alone in the courtroom.

OCP: What do you find most challenging and satisfying about pro bono work?
Ho: Obviously the most satisfying is the assistance that we can provide our clients. The moment when our clients realize they’ve won are the moments that keep us going. The most challenging is the sheer magnitude and extent of injustices that exist, and the comparative tininess of resources available with which to fight them: both in terms of financial and human capacity.

OCP: Did your involvement with pro bono work influence or change you long terms goals?
Ho: It definitely affirmed my childhood dream of becoming a public interest attorney, but more importantly, it gave me greater clarity on how to pursue and realize the dream, filling in the details and colors of the vision.

 

Interview with Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award Winner Kimberly Newberry

In celebration of the National Pro Bono Week, the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs interviewed past winners of the HLS Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award who were chosen for their excellence and extraordinary contributions to the public good. Kimberly Newberry, HLS ’14, completed over 2,300 hours of pro bono work with Harvard Defenders, Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP), the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI), the Housing Clinic, and the Capital Punishment Clinic. Please read the interview with Kimberly below. 

Kimberly Newberry, J.D. '14

Kimberly Newberry, HLS ’14

OCP: Why did you choose to study law and what sparked your interest in pro bono work?
Newberry: I wanted to study law because I believe that it is one of the most effective ways to implement change, whether it is for an individual client or for an entire group of people.  Our legal system has so much power to make a difference, but there is often a major gap between the services available or the potential strategies and the people who need those services and strategies the most.  I felt that earning a law degree was a way that I could personally help address that gap in an area that I feel extremely passionate about.  As someone who knew coming in to law school that I wanted to go into public interest law, it was also important to me to do pro bono work throughout school so that I could best prepare myself for what I wanted to do after graduation.

OCP: What do you think the biggest learning experiences were?
Newberry: The biggest learning experiences were any that gave me an opportunity to appear in court.  Having the chance to go to court as a student was extremely valuable because I do not think I will ever have that level of supervision and support as I often had in my clinics, while at the same time having some degree of responsibility over certain decisions so that I could still learn and take ownership over what I was doing. That is a combination that I think is difficult to replicate once you have a real job. Additionally, going through an entire jury trial before I graduated was a great way to get out of my comfort zone and feel more confident in my post-graduate work.  Besides the laundry list of practical skills I developed along the way, becoming an actual attorney is less intimidating now that I have had that experience.

OCP: What do you find most challenging and satisfying about pro bono work?Newberry: For me, the most challenging and most satisfying part of pro bono work is the same thing – the clients.  For a variety of reasons, it can be difficult to work with the clients sometimes, whether they have an inherent distrust of anyone involved in the system – including their own lawyers’ or language barriers, or differing priorities, etc.  Pro bono work involves a lot of actual legal work, but maintaining client relationships can be the hardest, and most emotional, task.  But then when you do get on the same page and you finally earn someone’s trust or get a positive outcome in the case, it is definitely satisfying to know that it all paid off.  Sometimes it feels like a smile from a client is a bigger achievement than a win in court – although it is great to get both, too.

OCP: Did your involvement with pro bono work influence or change you long terms goals?
Newberry: I came in knowing that I wanted to go into death penalty appeals, so while my pro bono experiences in law school did not enlighten me as to a specific career path, they did help me confirm my goals and develop the skills I needed to feel prepared for this type of work after graduation. It was really helpful to have multiple opportunities throughout law school to try different types of defense work and interact with the criminal justice system at different stages – the beginning of the process through trial in CJI, appellate work in the death penalty clinic, and parole hearings through PLAP.  Having these different experiences helped me feel more confident in my decision that I most enjoy appellate work, and it also gave me broader knowledge of the system as a whole that I hope will benefit my work and my future clients.

HLS Alum emphasizes the need and value of pro bono work

Eric Ruzicka, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Eric Ruzicka, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney LLP

By Eric Ruzicka, HLS J.D., ’01
Partner, Dorsey & Whitney LLP  

I will never forget the morning of my first class at Harvard Law School. 8:30 a.m., Civil Procedure, with Professor Arthur Miller. Truthfully, I found the event more fear inducing than inspirational. Yet, I was always in awe while sitting in a historic classroom learning the law from world renowned professors.

However, one of the bigger regrets I have concerning my years at Harvard Law School is not participating in one of the Clinical Programs. While the Clinical Programs were not as developed then as they are now, there were still many excellent opportunities. I can recall thinking at the time that I only had three years at HLS and that my time was best spent in the classroom. I also recall my concern that as a law student, there wasn’t much I could offer the individuals served by the clinics. After all, I was just learning the law and certainly didn’t know what it meant to be a lawyer yet.

It did not take long after graduation to realize how wrong I was about the clinical programs. My first day as an associate, I was given an assignment by a senior partner to draft a complaint in a contract dispute. After walking me through what needed to be done, he explained that if I was going to work with him on the contract dispute, I also needed to take on a pro bono matter and that he hoped I would always be working on at least one pro bono matter while at the firm. With very little guidance, I then found myself assisting a client in expunging his criminal record. Years ago, while battling depression, my client had broken into a home in a misguided plan to be shot by a cop. While his motive was clear – he knew the home was vacant for the season, knew the home was equipped with an alarm, and only stole a single pair of socks – this dark night left my client unable to find meaningful employment or consistent housing.

Quickly, I learned what I didn’t realize while at HLS. First, the unmet need for legal services is significant and requires the attention of every lawyer. Second, despite being in my first week of practicing law, I had a lot to offer my client. At a minimum, I had the ability to understand the legal process that he needed to navigate and the skill to persuasively present his story.

Currently, I serve as the pro bono partner for Dorsey & Whitney, overseeing the pro bono program in all of our offices. In this role I am reminded on a daily basis of both the never-ending unmet need for pro bono legal services as well as the amazing benefit that lawyers can provide. Sometimes, the most important component of providing pro bono services is simply letting the client know they have someone that is there for them and on their side. For these reasons, I strongly encourage students to get involved in the Clinical Programs at HLS. You will find the experience to be a great opportunity to learn how to work with clients and advocate on their behalf. But even more so, you may find it to be the most rewarding and inspiring experience in your HLS years.

Classroom to courtroom

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, which marked its 30th anniversary this year, trains students to represent refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. Julina Guo, HLS '14 (from left), joins John Willshire Carrera, co-managing director of HIRC at Greater Boston Legal Services, HIRC co-director Nancy Kelly, and Deborah Anker, the program's director

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, which marked its 30th anniversary this year, trains students to represent refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. Julina Guo, HLS ’14 (from left), joins John Willshire Carrera, co-managing director of HIRC at Greater Boston Legal Services, HIRC co-director Nancy Kelly, and Deborah Anker, the program’s director

Via the Harvard Gazette

Law School immigration counseling program helps the powerless while educating students

Harvard Law School students with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC) were working with Greater Boston Legal Services on a case involving a Guatemalan man in the summer of 2013 when they collectively had an “aha” moment.

The pressure was high, and everybody was working on two sets of legal briefs that were due before the court. “We were having a meeting here, and all of a sudden everybody understood what was on the table, and the writing was very powerful,” said John Willshire Carrera, co-director of the HIRC site at Greater Boston Legal Services.

The HIRC program trains students to represent refugees seeking asylum in the United States, as well as other immigrants, said Deborah Anker, the program’s director and a clinical professor of law.

“We represent a lot of women and children, LGBITA [lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, transgender, and asexual] cases, and cases where people face persecution under what people may regard as the classic ground of political opinion,” Anker said. “Recently, we’ve been representing a lot of people who are fleeing the warfare — it’s called gang violence but it’s really warfare — in Central America.”

HIRC students work on all these matters with supervision. They also work on litigation and Circuit Court of Appeals cases, often filing amicus, or “friend of the court,” briefs, working side-by-side with the instructors.

“They have done extraordinary work, especially with women refugees and with children,” Anker said.

Continue reading the full story here.

Harvard Law School Celebrates National Pro Bono Week

1Harvard Law School is celebrating National Pro Bono Week from October 20th to October 24th. This celebration honors the outstanding work of lawyers who volunteer their time to help people in their communities and increase justice for all. The week will be marked by ceremonies and panel discussions focused on the value of pro bono work.

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs invites you to attend the following events:

MON. October 20th
GLOBAL PRO BONO: STORIES FROM THE FIELD
WCC 3007 12 – 1 pm
Non-Pizza Lunch Provided
Co-Sponsored by International Legal Studies and the Graduate Program
RSVP 

Professor of Law William Alford will moderate and share his insights about his global pro bono work with the Harvard Law School Project on Disability. Speakers from the Graduate Program, Arpeeta Shams Mizan will discuss her street lawyering work in Bangladesh; Leire Larracoechea San Sebastian will be speaking about her pro bono work at her private law firm and her current efforts to launch a clearinghouse for pro bono opportunities in Spain; and Mirembe Susan Nalunkuma will be talking about her work representing (as a law student) LGBT people and sex workers in Uganda.

MON. October 20th
PRO BONO RECRUITMENT FAIR AND OPEN HOUSE
120 Tremont St., Boston, MA
4:30 – 6:00 pm
Sponsored by the Boston Bar Association and Suffolk Law School 

You are cordially invited to attend the sixth annual Pro Bono Fair for local area attorneys and law students. This event provides attorneys and law students with a range of pro bono opportunities. The fair is held as part of the National Pro Bono Celebration. Attendees are encouraged to drop in and meet representatives from local legal services organizations and to learn more about the pro bono opportunities in the community. This event is offered to attorneys of all levels as well as law students.

For more information, please visit the Pro Bono Recruitment Fair and Open House website.

MON. October 20th
LAWYERS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZING: A WORKSHOP WITH PROFESSOR MARSHALL GANZ
WCC 1010
7 – 9 pm

Join Professor Marshall Ganz from the Harvard Kennedy School and practicing attorneys for dinner and conversation on the role of lawyers in community organizing. Professor Ganz will lead a highly-engaging presentation, followed by participation in small group conversations about how to work alongside community organizers to affect social change. For more information please contact Isabel Broer.

TUE. October 21st
2014 ADAMS PRO BONO PUBLICO AWARDS CEREMONY
John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Sq. Boston, MA
4 pm

The Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services annually presents the Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards to honor Massachusetts lawyers, law students, small and large law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments, law schools or other institutions in the legal profession that demonstrate outstanding and exceptional commitment to providing volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged. Faculty, students, and staff are invited to attend.

For more information, please visit the Massachusetts Court System Pro Bono Honor Roll website.

WED. October 22nd  
PRO BONO INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP: LAW FIRMS AND THE JUDICIARY WORKING TO CLOSE THE JUSTICE GAP
Lewis 214A
12 – 1 pm
Non-Pizza Lunch Provided
Co-Sponsored by the Office of Career Services
RSVP 

This panel discussion is led by leaders from law firms and the judiciary and it is focused on pro bono innovation locally, nationally, and internationally. Come be inspired to think about how you can build pro bono work into your legal practice! You will hear about new partnerships between legal aid organizations, social service agencies, and private law firms to better address unmet legal needs in the community. Some of these partnerships include initiatives that have assisted those with criminal convictions who are seeking a second chance; small entrepreneurs seeking help with business structure, intellectual property and contracts; and homeless youth in need of assistance at city homeless shelters. You will learn about how the local judiciary is playing a critical role in Massachusetts to expand access to legal services to the underserved through the Access to Justice Commission and related initiatives like the Pro Bono Fellow program. Finally, you will hear about how local lawyers are engaged in pro bono work internationally through projects.

Panelists include Associate Justice Cynthia J. Cohen HLS ’75 of the Massachusetts Appeals Court and three law firm pro bono leaders – Michael Haroz HLS ‘70, Goulston & Storrs; Harlene Katzman, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; and Latonia Haney Keith HLS ’03, Former Pro Bono Counsel at McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

WED. October 22nd
HARVARD DEFENDERS LITMAN SYMPOSIUM – KEYNOTE SPEAKER, DEBO ADEGBILE
Milstein West
5 pm 
Co-Sponsored by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Please join Harvard Defenders for their 65th Anniversary Celebration and the Third Annual Litman Fellowship Symposium. Debo Adegbile, Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hall and Dorr LLP, Nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division with be the keynote speaker. Dinner Reception begins at 5pm. Litman Fellowship Presentations at 5:30. Keynote Speaker at 7pm. For more information please contact Harvard Defenders at hdefenderslitmanfellowship@gmail.com.

THUR. October 23rd
LEGAL SERVICES FOR THE OTHER 99%: A NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE WITH KEYNOTE SPEAKER JEFFERY ROBINSON
Hauser 104
12 – 1 pm
Non-Pizza Lunch Provided
Co-Sponsored by the Criminal Justice Institute, the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and the Law and Social Change Program of Study
RSVP 

To celebrate National Pro Bono Week, HLS alum Jeffery Robinson will give an inspiring address on our role in promoting access to justice for all individuals. Jeff has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 1993. He has been selected as one of the top 100 black lawyers in America by Black Enterprise magazine and is an elected fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, whose membership is limited to one percent of the attorneys in any state. He is currently an attorney/shareholder with Schroeter Goldmark & Bender in Seattle. After graduating from HLS in 1981, Jeff spent the next seven years representing indigent clients in state court at the Defender Association and then in federal court at the Federal Public Defender’s Office, both in Seattle. In private practice at SGB since 1988, Jeff has successfully represented individuals and corporations in state and federal court on charges ranging from first-degree murder to healthcare fraud. Jeff has tried over 200 cases to verdict and has extensive experience representing clients in lengthy grand jury investigations that have resulted in no indictment.