A profile of alum Janson Wu (HLS, 2003) in The Progressive: http://www.glad.org/uploads/docs/staff-p….
Thomas Garza had a variety of interests he was looking to pursue in law school including education law and LGBT related issues. He decided to work at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), a Boston based impact litigation organization because he thought it was doing the most interesting work for LGBT rights.
During Thomas’s ten-week internship, he was immersed in numerous issues pertaining to LGBT rights. He conducted substantive legal research and wrote internal memos and portions of briefs. His legal research focused on issues ranging from employment discrimination to family law to education law. He also participated in various projects, including developing proposals for updated school bullying laws in Massachusetts. Thomas also worked on letters to school districts as well as public education documents, which were posted on GLAD’s website.
Thomas described the GLAD office as “small and collegial,” where interns sit right outside the lawyers’ offices. Since the office was small (there were two other law school interns and seven or eight lawyers), Thomas was able to play an active role in daily discussions and decisions. He was often the only person working with a lawyer on a project, so his “opinion was extremely valuable to them.” He had a high level of responsibility on several cases, including one pending before the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Beyond building his legal research and writing skills, Thomas was able to learn about several types of law. He said he was surprised by the variety of types of law he was exposed to during his summer there. Thomas was also able to learn about a number of law firms through working with them on different cases. After getting to know different law firms, Thomas decided to work at one GLAD had worked closely with, saying that getting to learn about the firm through working with it on a case helped him make his decision.
Wasserstein Fellows do great and courageous things. Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is (and has been) no exception. As a Wasserstein Fellow during the 2004-2005 year, she mentored law students thinking about pursuing careers in civil rights and civil liberties. She is currently (and has been for a long time) at the foreground of the battle for LGBT rights and DOMA. This article in the New York Times profiles her fight, along with mentions of two other HLS alums, Evan Wolfson and Jenny Wiggins.
NALP released a report in February detailing statistics on Civil Legal Aid Hiring. You can find the report at http://www.nalp.org/uploads/0213CivilLeg….
Documentary featuring former Wasserstein Fellow follows the path of young public defenders in the South
Gideon’s Army, a documentary film that follows three young public defenders in the south, was recently shown at Harvard Law School and features a former Wasserstein Fellow, Jonathan Rapping, the Founder and Executive Director for Gideon’s Promise (formerly the Southern Public Defender Training Center) based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Gideon’s Promise works to help train and support public defenders in the south.
You can learn more about the film and see a preview of it at http://gideonsarmythefilm.com/.
Timap for Justice, a legal services organization based in Sierra Leone, provides legal services through their 19 offices in both rural and urban areas. Lynnette worked for 10 weeks in the summer of 2011 in a small office in Yele, a village in the central part of Sierra Leone. There were 7 total interns with Timap, but each was assigned to a different office. They did, however, communicate with each other and meet up to go on weekend outings.
Lynnette worked on both the individual and the community-level components of Timap’s outreach. On the individual level, the organization deals with a variety of legal issues. Because there is a shortage of lawyers in Sierra Leone, people from the community come to the Timap office with any legal issues they have, such as breach of contract, marital disputes, or local official corruption. The paralegals–who have been trained to work in both the formal and informal legal systems of Sierra Leone–help to provide legal information, conduct mediation, navigate authorities, and, as a last resort, pursue litigation to help their clients.
At the community level, Timap advocates for solutions to issues affecting a community, which vary across the different regions and Timap offices. One specific issue Lynnette worked closely on was the continuing problem of teachers abandoning schools. Teachers would leave to go work at mines in order to make more money, leaving the children with no adult instruction or supervision. Her office initiated a meeting with all the head teachers at the schools in Yele; held separate meetings with the teachers of each school, and also held a meeting with secret society leaders. The meetings led to a more general inquiry into what was affecting the low quality of education in the schools. Timap subsequently coordinated a bigger meeting bringing together various stakeholders—head teachers, teachers, parents, secret society leaders, students, and journalists—and helped inform the discussion using the Child Rights Act. The overall goal was to develop a plan for effective advocacy for the Ministry of Education, which allowed the people a united voice they likely would not have had without the help and guidance of Timap.
In addition, her office conducted community outreach every Friday through “mobile clinics.” They travelled to villages to educate people on what kinds of rights and duties they have under the law (e.g., the proper role of police and local officials). Many citizens are illiterate so verbally explaining the laws serves an important purpose.
On top of the daily work on the myriad of legal issues the office dealt with, Lynnette decided to focus her contribution on gender-related issues. She urged women she spoke with to actively participate in meetings where community-level decisions were made and spoke with parents about the importance of sending their girls to school. She also helped teachers come up with effective ways to provide sex education to teens. In addition, she became very familiar with the Domestic Violence Act in Sierra Leone; during mobile clinics, she explained the different categories of domestic violence included in the act and used examples to talk through them with members of the community, helping people to understand what exactly “domestic violence” was and what their rights were under the law.
Discussing challenges, Lynnette said that dealing with the language barrier while trying to contribute to conversations proved challenging at times. The paralegals translated Krio and Temne into English for her, but sometimes they would do so after the meeting ended. She suggests that future interns establish at the beginning of the internship the need for translations to be made throughout all the conversations. Overall, Lynnette really enjoyed her time in Sierra Leone and recommends the organization to other students.
In Mika Brezinzski’s “Women of Value” Series, she profiles Danielle Gray, who is currently the Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to the President. Gray graduated from HLS in 2003 and has worked with President Obama for a number of years. Before joining his cabinet, she was the Associate Counsel to the President, and before that the Deputy Policy Director for Obama for America, focusing on domestic policy as well as law and judicial issues. Earlier in her career, she served as a Law Clerk to Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court of the United States and to Judge Merrick Garland on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Last summer, Catherine Cooper worked with the Immigration Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS). The main focus of GBLS is providing direct services to local clients in a variety of areas, such as housing, employment and welfare. The immigration unit primarily represents low-income immigrants in asylum interviews and hearings before the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. Catherine loved working at GBLS and thought it was a great place to supplement her immigration work at HLS with a more intensive hands-on experience.
Because the department is relatively small (4 attorneys focus primarily on asylum), Catherine was able to take the lead on working with several clients and followed their cases through the summer. Some of her clients included Ugandan asylees seeking political asylum in the U.S. One of her central tasks was preparing a comprehensive documentation (up to 500 pages) for the immigration judge that detailed the political situation in the home country and the specific details of the client’s history and persecution. Catherine gathered the evidence for the interview or hearing by interviewing the client to draft an affidavit (often over several sessions), collecting personal corroborating documentation (everything from immigration documents to medical records), obtaining expert affidavits from doctors and psychologists, and compiling supporting human rights reports
Catherine found the most rewarding part of the experience was the close personal bonds she made with her clients. For this type of work, the bond was especially important, since she had to develop enough trust to discuss sensitive matters involving Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or the nature of the client’s torture. Another plus for students interested in immigration is that because GBLS is close in proximity to Harvard, you can continue to help out with your cases after the summer as they progress. That isn’t often the case with most summer positions.
Catherine plans to stay involved with her clients this year through the Immigration Clinic at HLS, which also places students at GBLS during the school year. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that like many legal aid offices, the office environment is somewhat hectic, because there are a ton of open cases and few staff. Students should be flexible and willing to help with whatever is needed on a particular day.
Catherine strongly recommends GBLS for people interested in trying immigration services in an office with great managing attorneys. Because the summer experience gives the opportunity for a full time commitment, whereas the HLS Immigration Clinic only allows for 10-20 hours a week, it’s a great place to get in-depth, hands-on experience with real clients.
Previously a public policy major at Princeton, Jared was looking for opportunities to get involved in state government as a Harvard Law student. In 2008 he spent his summer interning in the Office of the Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, working on education policy. He returned there for his 1L summer, this time as a Legal Fellow in the Office of Legal Counsel.
One of only three Fellows, Jared enjoyed the close contact with all five in-house counsels. While the State House reminded him of a largely formal working environment, it felt rather casual for Jared who became an integral part of the small legal office.
Passionate about the job and supportive of the Governor’s agenda, Jared really enjoyed his 1L summer. Despite the fast-paced environment and the significant amount of work he appreciated the diversity of assignments. Jared worked on a wide range of issues and was even allowed to choose the ones of his own interest. Many of the projects were small, which allowed for a diverse exposure. Jared often had to assist with research on bills and write memos for the Governor. When there were small bills, he would often draft them himself.
Receiving a wide exposure to legislative work, Jared often had to make recommendations to the Governor and various State agencies. The process required significant legal analysis and constant communication with lawyers.
Jared will spend half of his time next summer working for the Boston office of Latham & Watkins, a leading international law firm. He looks forward to the opportunity to work with start-up businesses that the job will provide. His 1L job convinced him that entrepreneurship is essential for the economic development of a state. The second half of his summer Jared hopes to spend working for the government.
At Harvard Law School, Jared is the local chapter coordinator for Project No One Leaves, an initiative to help citizens living in foreclosed properties to know their rights and protect their homes. He also works with the Legal Aid Bureau in several practice areas: wage and hour law, foreclosure, and general housing practices.
For 1Ls interested in working for the Governor of Massachusetts, Jared shared that there is a formal application process. Information and job applications can also be found on the state’s website. Jared did not hear from the Governor’s Office for several months after he applied for the position. Therefore, he recommends that slow responses should not discourage 1L students.
Jared believes it is most important for 1L students to use their first-year summer to explore something they truly like. To get the most of the experience students should look for a supportive working environment that allows for close contact with lawyers.
Written by OPIA 1L Section Representative Toni Tsvetanova
Alumni spotlight: Two recent HLS grads receive “Legal Rookie of the Year Awards” from NYC Law Department
Two recent HLS alumnae, Devon Goodrich (HLS, 2011) and Leocadie (Lee) Welling (HLS, 2011) received rookie of the year honors from the New York City Law Department, as top rookies in their field. The awards are given out to first-year attorneys who “demonstrate outstanding performance, promise, dedication, solid work ethics, constructive attitude and willingness to contribute to building a positive work environment.” Congratulations to Devon and Lee! You can see the full listing at http://www.nyc.gov/html/law/downloads/pd….