Clinic Student Advocates for Victims of Domestic Violence


Rebecca Wolozin, J.D. ’15

By Rebecca Wolozin, J.D. ’15

Last semester, I took a legal theory seminar in which we read some of the seminal works by American legal theorists that form the basis for what has evolved into our law today. As I sat in class trying to analyze the article with my classmates, the images and examples that came to mind were not only my own personal experiences, but also my clinical clients’ stories. My clinical education has been and continues to be a central part of my legal learning. Through clinical learning, I have gained a complex understanding of substantive areas of law, both “law in the books” and “law in practice,” and I have real experiences to draw upon to help me see the difference between “ought” and “is.”

In the Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic, I had the opportunity to advocate for women who are domestic violence survivors. These women make decisions every day, big and small, to avoid abuse. Many of these women decide not to ask for the little the law provides to avoid angering the men they are trying to leave. Other women want (and deserve) more than the law provides. In my biggest case, I worked with a client who is herself the subject of a wrongfully granted restraining order. Her husband has repeatedly used legal avenues to continue his control and abuse despite her having left and filed for divorce.

The wide gap between “is” and “ought” became painfully apparent when I went into court to argue against the extension of the restraining order. Although the standard required the judge to evaluate whether to continue the order by analyzing whether it was necessary to prevent continued abuse against the “victim”, the judge seemed to decide to extend the order “to avoid contention” for the duration of the divorce proceedings. At one point, he asked me whether granting the order to the husband against the wife wouldn’t actually protect both parties. I was, perhaps naively, stunned. But thanks to the urging of my clinical supervisor and my interest in changing the background rules and in educating those who apply them, we decided to appeal his decision. In addition to being legally incorrect, an important reason that we decided to appeal, and that our client supported and encouraged that decision, was to work towards better law that actually protects survivors from abuse.

The Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic was the second of four different clinics I will work in during my time at HLS. This is strategic. I plan to work with children, and specifically with immigrant children. Working with this population requires knowledge and skills in a number of different “legal fields,” because for these children, family law problems, immigration problems, education problems, and others are all shades of the same color. As part of my strategy, I was a clinical student with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic, the Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic, the Florence Project in Arizona (an independent clinical placement with unaccompanied child immigrants) and the Child Advocacy Clinic (working in education law) this Spring. The ability to apply what I learn outside of clinics to my own legal practice is central to my own process of becoming the lawyer I hope to be.

I am of the opinion that the most exciting learning happens when my classes speak to each other, when I can play out conversations between professors who may have never spoken in my head, when my semester turns into a web of connections and links and winding paths to be followed to the next insight or deeper understanding of something I thought I understood. My experience as a clinical student has provided not only a different format for learning that promotes making these connections, but an excitement and a grounding purpose as I continue my legal studies. As I finish my final semester at HLS, and after having spent four years at Harvard pursuing a concurrent degree (a Masters in Education), my clinical experiences have been the glue that brings together the vast amount of knowledge I have worked so hard to accumulate. In the end, what is all that learning worth if it isn’t to understand how to live it?

Student Transport Vital to Unlocking the Promise of Education in South Africa

Via the International Human Rights Clinic
By Katie King, J.D. ’16

I’ve always loved school. Starting from a young age, I even loved the journey to get there. It was time spent with my siblings—an opportunity to tease each other and a chance to get a taste of what felt like the grown-up responsibility of walking alone.

Some students in Nqutu walk 20 miles to and from school.

Some students in Nqutu walk 20 miles to and from school.

The students in Nqutu, a small, rural area in eastern South Africa, are often just as excited as I was about school. However, as I heard during a trip there this past January with the International Human Rights Clinic, the morning starts for many of them at 4 or 5 a.m., when they wake to fetch water, let out their family’s cows, and help their younger siblings get ready. They then set off on a walk that often exceeds 10 miles.

They tease each other and gossip as I once did, doing their best to protect their uniforms and textbooks from the dirt and weather. But, as the students told us, by the time they arrive at school two hours later, their energy has worn off—and they are fully aware, as they do their best to pay attention in class, that they will have to repeat the journey all over again at the end of the day.

Factor in the additional risks of robbery, rape, snakebites, and treacherous river crossings, and it’s difficult for me to imagine that my five-year-old self would ever have been able to make it to school, let alone focus in class or have the time and energy to complete my homework, in similar conditions. I arrived well-rested and ready to learn. Can the same be said of Nqutu’s students?

Continue reading the full story here.

You can view more images from the Clinic’s recent trip in this slideshow.

LSC’s Project on Predatory Student Lending Featured on German Public Television

weltspiegel-fallback-image-100_v-varm_5cc120-300x168Via the Legal Services Center

The Project on Predatory Student Lending was recently featured on Welstpiegel (“World Mirror”), the Sunday evening newsmagazine of ARD Television, the largest national public broadcaster in Germany. The segment (video) features the Project’s clinical students holding a meeting at LSC, as well as an interview with Toby Merrill, the Project’s director. The segment begins with footage recorded outside of LSC’s building at 2:14. A transcript of the story is also available (in German).

2015 Winter Term in Washington D.C. and Tanzania

By Alix Boberg, LL.M. ’15

The idea of trade evokes a myriad of images: the customs inspector reviewing import permits, the consumer reading labels of origin in a produce market, the trade lawyer negotiating the details of a new trade agreement. Trade encompasses, of course, all of these activities. But it is also much, much more than tariff barriers and the World Trade Organization. Trade begins with and follows the enterprising farmer as she seeks land title, obtains financial literacy, overcomes seed regulations, chooses fertilizers, harvests and transports to market.

Katrin Kuhlmann, of non-profit organization New Markets Lab, works with local entities, development funds, and international institutions to navigate the regulatory challenges that impact business growth, particularly in the agricultural sector. Although an HLS alumna and former USTR negotiator, Katrin’s holistic model eschews the traditional, narrow-minded focus of the trade lawyer – the end game of export. Instead, the New Markets Lab recognizes the need for prioritization of and structural support of systems like the agricultural value chain that enable goods to reach market. In developing countries like Tanzania, it is information sharing, capacity building and teamwork that are critical to the flourishing of local and export trade.

In January 2015, I had the opportunity to visit Tanzania with Katrin and four other students as part of a three week independent clinical placement with Harvard Law School. First, in Washington D.C., we participated in a workshop that linked high-level trade and aid policy with real legal challenges in developing markets, meeting with experts across the public and private sectors. On arrival in Tanzania, we were prepared to learn about entrepreneurship through the lens of trade: what were the challenges for enterprises reaching local, regional, and overseas markets?

As we discussed issues and solutions on the ground, it was evident that enterprises were daily confronted with issues of trade, whether recognized as such or not. Title and business registration, access to loans, food standards compliance, logistics challenges – each entrepreneur had a tale of confrontation with the often complex regulatory environment in his or her ambition to succeed, grow, and market.

New Markets Lab listens to the issues these entrepreneurs face during business development and facilitates legal tools and solutions with local partners where there are gaps in the value chain. Currently, for instance, the New Markets Lab is partnering with the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) and AGRA, examining how legal and regulatory systems impact farmers and entrepreneurs in fundamental areas such as access to seeds. The New Markets Lab is also developing a Women’s Legal Guide for East Africa with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), offering a knowledge ‘bridge’ to the female entrepreneur. Through Katrin’s approach, the entrepreneur gains much more, practically, than the withdrawal of a levy on an inaccessible trade border. The reduction of regulatory barriers and information asymmetry helps to empower local communities to engage in and expand their trade, so they may reach that border in the first place.

I left Tanzania with memories of cloves, tomato farms and Masai warriors. But my experience with New Markets Lab also impressed on me a greater appreciation of how trade lawyers can assist development far beyond concessions in a trade agreement. As Devota Likokola, a Member of Parliament, stressed to us, “there is only so much theory; you must focus on the practical”. She is undoubtedly correct. Trade is practice – the collective practice of enterprises working together in a value chain to reach markets locally and overseas. Trade lawyers and policy makers can and should connect high-level policies to that practice, and thereby demonstrate their development commitment to countries around the world.

Clinical Registration Events

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs has sponsored the following events to help you choose a clinic that fits your interests and answer logistical questions about the registration process. As a friendly reminder, Clinical Registration begins April 1st at 9 am and ends April 2nd at 5 pm. Results will be available on Monday, April 6th. For more detailed information please visit our Clinical Registration page.

For more personalized advising and most up-to-date information you can schedule an advising appointment with one of the OCP advisers.  You can also stop by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs in WCC 3085 during student walk-in hours, which are held every Friday from 1 – 3 pm.

Clinical Registration Events

Clinical Fair: All clinics and externships will be available to talk to students.
Wed. March 25
6 – 8 pm | Milstein ABC
Refreshments will be served.

The final week of ClinicTalks will consist of the following sessions:

  • Externship Clinics | Mon. March 23 | WCC 3019 | 12 – 1 pm
  • International Human Rights Clinic | Mon. March 23 | WCC 3034 | 12 – 1 pm
  • Supreme Court Litigation Clinic | Tue. March 24 | Milstein East A | 12 – 1 pm
  • Government Lawyer: Semester in Washington D.C. Clinic | Wed. March 25 | Milstein West A | 12 – 1 pm
  • NEW: Public Education Policy and Consulting Clinic | WCC 3036 | 2:30 – 3:30
  • Criminal Justice Institute | Thur. March 26 | WCC 4059 | 12 – 12:45 pm
  • Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic | Fri. March 27 | WCC 3034 | 12:15 – 1 pm

If you have missed previous ClinicTalks, you can listen to the recorded sessions here.

Web-Chats: Ask us questions about clinical registration in real time! Click here to join the discussions. Online sessions will be held on the following dates:

  • March 26 | 2 – 3 pm
  • March 31 | 2 – 3 pm
  • April 1 | 11 am – 12 pm
  • April 1 | 5 – 6 pm
  • April 2 | 11 am – 12 pm
  • April 2 | 2 – 3 pm

Please RSVP to the events you are interested in attending. You can also add these events directly to your schedule by visit our Clinical Calendar page. 

Harvard Law Students Visit Delta Center

Harvard University Law School students recently received an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area by Dr. Roland Herts, director of Delta State's Delta Center for Culture and Learning. The center's Lee Aylward led a tour of the area.

Harvard University Law School students recently received an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area by Dr. Roland Herts, director of Delta State’s Delta Center for Culture and Learning. The center’s Lee Aylward led a tour of the area.

Via the Delta State University 

Harvard University Law School students recently spent a week in the Delta as part of an initiative between Mississippi State University and Harvard. The project is based in Clarksdale Miss. and is called the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project. 

The students took some time during the week to tour the Delta. Dr. Roland Herts, director of Delta State’s Delta Center for Culture and Learning provided the students an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, and the center’s Lee Aylward led the Delta tour.

The mission of the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project is to improve public health and promote economic development in the Delta. These terms are viewed in the broadest sense to include a range of topics such as financial services, healthy eating, education, infant mortality reduction and more. In addition, the project hopes to engage Harvard Law School students in innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to social change. By using their legal knowledge to support local partners in one of the poorest and most under-served areas of the United States, they hope to be a small part of our region’s larger transformation.

More than 100 law students have volunteered with the project by providing pro bono legal assistance and policy analysis for nonprofit, for-profit and governmental clients in the Delta. The platform regularly considers new assignments to which it can contribute, and this year’s assignment is heir-ship.

Learn more about the project at
Learn about the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at

HNMCP Project To Contribute To The Next 50 Years Of The Community Relations Service

L-R: Jennifer John ’15, Sam Koplewicz ’16, and Caroline Sacerdote ’15

L-R: Jennifer John ’15, Sam Koplewicz ’16, and Caroline Sacerdote ’15

Via the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program 

The Community Relations Service (CRS) serves as “America’s Peacemaker” for the U.S. Department of Justice, helping local communities address conflicts and tensions. CRS helps communities develop strategies to prevent and respond to violent hate crimes committed on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability. By providing mediation, facilitation, training, and consulting services, CRS helps communities enhance their ability to independently prevent and resolve future conflicts.

As the Community Relations Service celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, CRS director Grande Lum ’91 and Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) Director Robert Bordone’97 connected to discuss how HNMCP might aid the CRS in thinking through the conflict resolution needs of the nation over the next 50 years.

“It was a great honor for HNMCP to work with the CRS during this past fall. The work that CRS does is critically important for our country, especially during this period of heightened racial tension. I am particularly proud to have a collaboration with Director Lum, an alumnus not only of the Law School but also of the Harvard Negotiation Project in the early 1990s. We hope to partner with CRS in the future on its important mission related to community-problem solving and violence prevention.”

Jennifer John ’15, Sam Koplewicz ’16, and Caroline Sacerdote ’15, spent the Fall 2014 semester first interviewing stakeholders, including CRS employees and community groups, law enforcement, government officials, advocacy organizations, and educators. The team then developed a suite of recommendations. Through this project—and at a pivotal and fraught time in the nation’s history—John, Koplewicz and Sacerdote not only considered important issues related to identity and bias, but also developed concrete recommendations on how to best advance positive community relations in the years to come.

Continue reading the full story here.