Former TLC clinical student launches start-up

Former HLS clinical student John Bennett recently launched a Kickstarter project to fund Zen of 180, an LSAT preparation product that provides free explanations to LSAT questions. The project comes out of Zen Way Inc, Bennett’s  education technology startup committed to democratizing access to higher education. Zen Way is a 2013 Harvard University President’s Challenge finalist at the Harvard Innovation Lab.

Bennett, who worked at the Transactional Law Clinics while a student at HLS, found his clinical experience to be an asset when he began Zen Way.

My work with TLC has proven surprisingly helpful in running my business, especially in how to interface with our legal counsel and business consultants.

TLC helped me know which legal resources to use at Harvard, and the various services those groups could offer us. We used HLEP (Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project) to do some initial patent research for us, and have been at the i-lab since it opened to student teams.

Mainly, though, TLC helped me the most in thinking through the intellectual property issues that my business has; the clients I worked with presented challenging questions on patent ownership, creative commons licensing for online content, and even how to market a product that is not protectable under any IP regime.

Watch as Bennett explains Zen of 180 in the Kickstarter video above, or visit the campaign page to learn more about the project.


After the Bombings, Boston Marathon Remains an Inspiration

International Human Rights Clinic Senior Clinical Instructor Bonnie Docherty wrote a blog post for today’s one-week anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. Before she was an internationally renowned arms expert, Docherty was a local reporter for the Middlesex News (now MetroWest Daily News) whose job it was to cover the marathon every year. You can read her post, After the Bombings, Boston Marathon Remains an Inspiration, at the IHRC blog.

Clinical Staff Teach Multiparty Negotiation Class

[L to R] Jonathan Bennett ’12, Alexis Beveridge ’13, Tarik Elhussein ’13, Chris Davis ’14, Jae In Kim ’13, and Rory Van Loo ’07

HLS student Chris Davis’ (’14) reflects on the experience of advising Major League Baseball executives on an upcoming negotiation aimed at the implementation of an international amateur draft. Davis and his team (pictured above) competed for the chance to advise the MLB as part of the course “Advanced Negotiation: Multiparty Negotiation, Group Decision Making, and Teams,”  co-taught by clinical faculty Prof. Robert Bordone and Lecturer on Law Rory Van Loo. Read more here.

In the spirit of Gary Bellow

By Jeanne Segil and Abbey Marr, Co-chairs of the Gary Bellow Public Service award

Photo credit: Jon Chase

On Friday April 12th, the HLS community gathered to honor the legacy of Professor Gary Bellow, founder and former faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Clinical Programs, while recognizing the work of an incredible HLS alumna, Laurel Firestone (HLS ’04) and an inspiring HLS student, Stephanie Davidson (HLS ’13). The Gary Bellow Public Service Award was created in 2001 to recognize excellence in public interest work at HLS and to honor Professor Bellow.  The Award is entirely student-run and given annually by the student body of HLS to a student and alumnus/a whose commitment to social justice makes us proud to be a part of the HLS community.

Dean Minow opened the ceremony, speaking eloquently about Professor Bellow and his commitment to community lawyering and public service. She also introduced Professor Jeanne Charn, the Director of the Bellow-Sacks Access to Civil Legal Services Project and the wife of the late Professor Bellow, who shared the personal stories of faculty and students who fondly remembered Professor Bellow and his charges to his clinical students. Bellow’s presence was felt in the room as the two honorees received recognition for their commitment to legal services and community lawyering.

Laurel Firestone and community organizer Susana de Anda founded the Community Water Center, an environmental justice organization, based in San Joaquin Valley to ensure that access to water is recognized as a human right. Firestone’s dedicated work has impacted change at the community, regional, and state level. Her talk inspired students to “find their purpose,” to look in their own backyards and see people who often remain invisible. She suggested that community organizing is a vital component of creating change and empowering people.

Stephanie Davidson, the current president of the WLA and a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, spoke about her work within these organizations as she dedicated herself to anti-violence activism. Stephanie spoke passionately about her desire to change the paradigm of violence against women work, to move from being reactive to instead think about how to prevent such violence from occurring in the first instance. She plans to dedicate her career to such efforts and we were so excited to hear about the inspiring and important work she will continue to pursue.

The room erupted into standing ovation at the end of these talks as the HLS community demonstrated its appreciation for the work of individuals such as Laurel and Stephanie, committed and conscientious, determined to create change in a world that so needs it.

Jeanne Charn, the Director of the Bellow-Sacks Access to Civil Legal Services Project and the wife of the late Professor Bellow.
Photo credit: Jon Chase

Photo credit: Jon Chase

Photo credit: Jon Chase

International Clinical Collaboration in Argentina

In November 2012, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic arranged for continuing clinical student Marisa Taney ’13 to work with the University of Buenos Aires, CELS, and CAREF. Read about her experience at the HIRC blog; excerpts from her post are below.

“Upon arriving in Argentina, I went to CAREF to set my schedule: three days per week I would participate in the clinic, and the other three to four days I would work on the research project and help out on other tasks as needed. I had the opportunity to interview members of the government-run Comisión del Migrante (the commission within the national public defender’s office dedicated to immigrant advocacy), to confer with attorneys in the field, and to speak with numerous immigrants themselves. I attended workshops and trainings for immigrants to inform them of their rights under the new law and engaged in candid discussions about the immigrant experience in Argentina. Through it all, I learned an enormous amount about the region, the politics, and the social implications of being an immigrant in Argentina”

“During case presentations, the lawyers and interns would pause periodically to ask if I had any questions, and would go to pains to explain banal legal processes if they were unique to Argentina. My peers were as genuinely interested in my experiences in the United States as I was in theirs in Argentina, and they regularly stayed after meetings or class to talk to me or invite me to social events. It was in incredible experience.”

“Not only was it an opportunity for me to learn about another system of immigration law, but it also allowed me to truly engage with a different society and gain multiple perspectives on immigration policy. The geographic and region-specific challenges were different, but the basic issues underlying the work were the same, and the missions of our organizations remarkably parallel. Since returning to the states I have continued to speak with my supervisors and peers in Argentina, collaborating on cases and discussing future opportunities for exchanges.”

Clinical Blog Roundup

A recap of posts from HLS clinics and student practice organizations over the past week.

Tortured for Testimony: Anarchists Get Solitary Confinement for Not Snitching
Posted by Tori Porell at PLAP

Job Opportunities
Posted by HIRC

Business and Human Rights in Ireland: A New Blog
Posted by Shane Darcy, Visiting Fellow, Human Rights Program at IHRC

Filling the News Gap in Cambridge and Beyond
Posted by Cyberlaw

After Protests, Prison Firm Pulls Donation
Posted by Tori Porell at PLAP

Build the Future, Fix Our Schools
Posted by Jeanne Segil, JD ’14, at IHRC

The Queer Case Against Prisons
Posted by Tori Porell at PLAP

Event 4/17: IHRC launches MSI Integrity: A New Business and Human Rights NGO

Wednesday April 17
4:30 – 6:30 PM
Harkness South

Join the International Human Rights Clinic in celebrating the launch of the Institute for Multi-stakeholder Initiative Integrity (MSI Integrity), a non-profit organization that the Clinic has helped get off the ground. MSI Integrity examines the impact and value of voluntary business-related human rights initiatives, such as Fairtrade labeling and the Kimberley Process certification for conflict diamonds. Through research, critical assessment, and shared learning, MSI Integrity aims to ensure that these initiatives protect and promote human rights. Drinks will be served!