News and Highlights
- As part of the Boston Bar Association's Public Interest Leadership Program, LSC staff attorney Julia Devanthéry led a workshop on government benefits for low-income people in Massachusetts. You can learn more about the Julia's presentation or the BBA's Public Interest Leadership Program at the BBA website. Please visit www.bostonbar.org for more information.
The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation
of Harvard Law School and The Treatment Access Expansion Project (TAEP) are proud to release a new resource, the State Healthcare Access Research Project (SHARP) Massachusetts Hepatitis C (HCV) Report
. Developed in close collaboration with our community partners in Massachusetts, the report is an analysis of the successes, challenges, and opportunities for improving healthcare access for individuals living with hepatitis C. It highlights successful policies that facilitate HCV prevention, treatment access and retention in care, as well as persistent challenges that remain, even in Massachusetts’ post-reform health care delivery environment. Finally, the report provides recommendations for law and policy reform, offering examples of best practices from other states and other models for promoting access to high quality and comprehensive HCV prevention, care, treatment and services. (See the Executive Summary
There are many opportunities to increase access to HCV care both in Massachusetts and nationally. As the country moves forward in implementing the Affordable Care Act, the lessons from Massachusetts’ experience can assist in designing policies and programs that ensure greater access to prevention, testing, care, and successful treatment services for individuals living with and at risk for HCV.
- The HLS Food Law and Policy Clinic announced the release of Good Laws, Good Food: Putting State Food Policy to Work for Our Communities, the second toolkit in a two-part series for communities seeking to make change in their food and agriculture system.
- Welcome Toby Merrill to the Legal Services Center staff. Toby is the Attorney/Skadden Fellow in the Predatory Lending Practice. She represents low-income victims of predatory lending by and on behalf of for-profit schools. She focuses on unfair, deceptive, and illegal practices by the schools and others.
- Robert Greenwald and Amy Rosenberg's Washington Post Op-Ed: "Affordable Care Act could improve health care for HIV-positive people"
- The HLS Food Law and Policy Clinic has released Good Laws, Good Food: Putting Local Food Policy to Work for Our Communities to help food policy councils identify critical needs in their local food system and successfully work to address them. (See our press release.)
- The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation has prepared a summary of the SCOTUS decision.
- The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School applauds today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate and of the Medicaid expansion, but with limits that have the potential to significantly undermine the Medicaid expansion. The Center's press release is available here. The Boston Globe reports on the breaking news at the Center.
- The Center has recently found that similar health reforms in Massachusetts have led to significant individual and public health benefits. A fact sheet highlights some findings of an upcoming report on health reform in the state. A working draft of the Massachusetts HIV/AIDS Resource Allocation Project is available.
- The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School will receive $981,862 over four years from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation as part of the foundation’s new Together on Diabetes initiative. Read the HLS press release for more information.
- Rajan Sonik ('12), alumnus of the Health, Disability, and Estate Planning Clinic, was recently honored at the 2012 Law Students Ethics Awards Dinner by the ACC Northeast Ethics Committee. He is among ten winners from the Northeast. Congratulations, Rajan!
- Jennifer Haney ('12) and Allison Canton ('11) co-presented trainings on opportunities available to states to develop health reforms now, as a bridge to full healthcare reform implementation in 2014 for persons living with chronic health conditions at this year's United States Conference on AIDS.
- Emily Savner ('13) testified on health care reform provisions before the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Senior Clinical Fellow at the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and a Food Law and Policy instructor Emily Broad Leib ('08), presented on "Lawyers in the Food Movement" at the Food Law Society's TEDx Conference on Food Policy. Emily was also featured in WBUR's coverage of "Food Day" for her presentation at the conference.
- Clinical Instructor in the Predatory Lending Practice Max Weinstein was recently featured in the Boston Globe and Reuters following a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling extending protection to homeowners in foreclosure cases.
- Robert Greenwald, Director of Legal Services Center and the Center for Health and Policy Innovation is appointed Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.
- The Post-Foreclosure Eviction Defense Housing Clinic and the Predatory Lending/Consumer Protection Clinic, along with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, are featured in the Harvard Law Bulletin working together to provide legal assistance to those fighting foreclosure.
- Project No One Leaves, a group founded by Legal Services Center clinical student Tony Borich ('09) and two students from the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau featured in the Harvard Law Bulletin. The group organizes HLS students, as well as students from other local law schools, to canvas low-income neighborhoods in the Boston area and inform homeowners and tenants who have been foreclosed on of their legal rights.
- Disability Law student Jhosh Friedman ('12) won case for client in his first appearance before Administrative Law Judge. Jhosh successfully demonstrated that his client was functionally disabled due to severe mental health and cognitive impairments, which means his client will gain stable access to comprehensive, affordable health care coverage and receive monthly income support that will help her function independently in the community.
- Health Law and Policy Clinic fellow Amy Killelea spoke at Congressional briefing about the importance of full implementation of the Affordable Care Act to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have affordable access to comprehensive, quality health care. The briefing, held at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC, was part of AIDSWatch, an annual nationwide HIV advocacy day. Killelea also updated AIDSWatch participants on the status of health care reform impmentation in a training that was attended by hundreds of grassroots advocates.
- Clinical Instructor Dorothee Alsentzer ('05) presented a Health Law and Policy Clinic report on health care access for people living with HIV at the South Carolina State House, highlighting successes, challenges, and opportunities to address stigma, improve prevention, and maximize access to treatment services in the state. Alsentzer's Guest Editorial citing the cost-effectiveness of providing access to HIV medications from a state budget perspective ran in the state's leading newspaper, and local television stations covered the story, bringing attention to the state's waiting list for its AIDS Drug Assistance Program
- Robert Greenwald, Director of Legal Services Center and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation is appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
- Maggie Francis '11 received the 2010 Law Student Ethics Award from the Association of Corporate Counsel's Northeast Chapter for demonstrating an early commitment to ethics through her work in the Disability Law Clinic at the Legal Services Center. In nominating Francis, Julie McCormack, her supervising clinical instructor at the Center, said that "[Ms. Francis'] work ... is a truly worthy example of the kind of ethical conduct and reflection we expect from ourselves and hope for from our colleagues. I have no doubt that she will be an exceptional lawyer."
- The Health Law and Policy Clinic recognized in the Harvard Law Bulletin for its work providing legal services to thousands of Boston residents seeking health insurance and disability benefits as well as its work shaping healthcare policy.
- "The number of foreclosure cases is startling,” said Maureen E. McDonagh, a lawyer and clinical instructor at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. “Just because the landlord defaulted on the mortgage, the consequence is for tenants who didn’t do anything wrong."
(Bay State Banner, 8/16/07)
- HLS Students Help to Launch New Civil Rights Non-Profit Helen Kim (’07) is launching her career this fall as an associate at the New York office of Allen & Overy. This past spring, she helped to launch a new non-profit. She also came close to becoming the non-profit’s first employee.
Last spring, while working as a returning clinical student in the Center's Employment Civil Rights Clinic , Kim was principally responsible for developing the nuts and bolts of a new project to get legal assistance to lower-income workers who have suffered discrimination at their jobs. Her efforts culminated in the formation of Fair Employment Project, Inc. (FEP), thanks to fellow student Danielle Pham (HLS ’09), who worked this summer at LSC’s Business and Non-Profit Organization Clinic under the supervision of Clinical Professor of Law & LSC Director Brian Price . Pham drafted the incorporation papers and prepared the lengthy application that the Internal Revenue Service will review to determine FEP’s tax-exempt status.
Before helping to launch FEP, Kim already had two semesters of clinical work under her belt. She first worked at LSC during the spring of 2006, providing direct legal assistance to victims of discrimination under the supervision of Clinical Instructor and Lecturer-on-Law Steve Churchill (’93). From screening potential new clients to taking a deposition, Kim saw firsthand how important it is to get legal help to workers who have lost their source of income, know little about their rights, and have no money to pay for a lawyer. During her next semester, the fall of 2006, Kim did an independent clinical at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), the agency responsible for enforcing the state’s civil rights laws. At the MCAD, Kim worked with investigators and attorneys to review discrimination complaints, getting an inside view of government enforcement strategies.
In the spring, Kim returned to LSC as her clinical placement for a new course being taught by Churchill – Employment Civil Rights Clinical Workshop – which focused on how to reduce the problems of employment discrimination. Putting theory to practice, she spent the semester talking to civil rights lawyers across the state, and around the country, to develop a system for screening cases and providing information to workers. She used her connections at the MCAD to set up a meeting with its new Chair to discuss possible collaborations between the agency and a new project.
By the end of the semester, Kim was so engaged with the project that she received Allen & Overy’s blessing to defer her start until the fall of 2008 if FEP could obtain funding to support her work for a year. Faced with a tight timeline, FEP was incorporated as an independent non-profit, and its new board submitted a grant application to a local bar foundation. The application was favorably received, but the foundation was unable to fund the project until a future grant cycle, because the process for obtaining tax exemption takes several months and had not had time to run its full course. Although Kim was disappointed, she had the satisfaction of using her clinical experiences to find a solution that will continue to have a lasting impact.
As Kim prepares to start at her firm, FEP has developed an informational website and has fielded over 100 calls from workers who might otherwise have had no place to turn for legal help. And the HLS connection continues: although FEP is now an independent organization with its own board, LSC’s Employment Civil Rights Clinic will act as a laboratory to refine the process of screening cases and educating workers, and HLS’s clinical students will play a leading role in that effort.
- Tenants Displaced After Foreclosures (Aglaia Pikounis, Banker & Tradesman, August 13, 2007) -
Joseph Barnwell was surprised to get a call from a real estate agent in early June telling him that his new landlord wanted to evict him.
Barnwell, who lives in a Dorchester apartment with his wife and three young children, didn ’t even know the property had changed hands. He later discovered the property at the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Brunswick Street that he had been living in since last November had been foreclosed on. Now Barnwell doesn’t know if he will be forced to move. “I’d like a chance to remain here. It’s close to everything we do in the area,” said Barnwell, noting that the apartment is near his job and along a bus route.
Tenant advocates are trying to help Barnwell, who they say is part of a growing group of renters being displaced by lenders who have foreclosed on properties. Housing attorneys say they’ve seen an explosion of evictions that can be traced to foreclosures. The evictions are emerging as foreclosure activity statewide has surged. “It’s a huge issue. I would say in many ways, at least in Boston, the wave of foreclosures has had a larger effect on tenants than homeowners,” said David Grossman, director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.
Lenders filed 12,945 petitions to foreclose in Massachusetts during the first half of the year, up 66 percent from the same period in 2006. While much attention has focused on helping struggling homeowners, tenants living in foreclosed properties have been overlooked, according to tenant advocates. Advocates want to protect tenants from evictions, and they want lenders to negotiate with nonprofit groups willing to purchase the properties. A Senate bill passed last month to combat foreclosures and mortgage fraud includes a section that requires new owners of foreclosed property to recognize existing tenants. Tenancies typically continue when homes are sold or refinanced, but with foreclosures it’s a little less clear. So the bill seeks to apply the same tenant protections to renters living in foreclosed properties. The bill is before the House.
Judith Liben, a housing attorney with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, said the legislation doesn’t prevent a new owner of a foreclosed property from seeking an eviction. It simply reminds them that they have to treat tenants just as landlords are required to, she said. “We’re hoping that there can be some solution in which it is clear to the lender or purchaser at foreclosure that the folks that live in these buildings are indeed tenants and they have to treat them as such – that they have to provide the basic services required,” Liben said. Grossman and other attorneys said lenders that foreclose on properties want them vacant in order to sell them.
A Sudden Explosion Housing courts generally don’t track evictions initiated by lenders who’ve foreclosed on properties. Clerks from housing courts in Massachusetts, however, say they have noticed an increase in evictions that can be traced to foreclosures. “It appears that the evictions based upon foreclosures are up around 55 percent from 2006,” said Robert Lewis, clerk of the Boston Housing Court. “In 2006, it appears that we had a lot of … single-family homeowners who were evicted. It seems that now we’re beginning to get more multifamily [situations] where the tenants are being evicted because the property was foreclosed upon.”
Rafael Mares, an attorney with the WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, estimates he sees 10 to 15 eviction cases each week in the Boston Housing Court involving tenants in foreclosed on properties. “For a 10-year period, we didn’t see any cases and then it suddenly exploded,” said Mares, who is representing Barnwell. Mares said tenants usually don’t even know the property has gone through foreclosure. Instead, tenants receive a letter from the lender or the lender’s real estate agent after the foreclosure telling them they have to move out.
The lenders typically offer the renter $500 to $1,500 to move out within a short amount of time, sometimes within weeks.
Usually, tenants think they have no other option because the notices seem so official and they end up moving, according to Mares.
But Mares said tenants can wait and try to negotiate with the new owner or force the new owner to file an eviction case.“Every bank that we’ve dealt with in this context has a mantra that you need to empty the building before you can list the property,” said Mares.
Donna Brooks, a Leominster-based Realtor who lists foreclosed properties for lenders in Middlesex and Worcester counties, said lenders want empty properties because it’s easier to show them. “The tenant doesn’t have to let you show the property,” said Brooks.
She also noted that lenders are reluctant to keep tenants when they don’t know about their payment history. “They don’t know if they’re good tenants. They know nothing about them,” she said.
And she said the fact that most lenders are offering some money to tenants is significant.“They’ve been pretty generous. They don’t have to offer anything,” she said.
Still, Grossman and other advocates say it’s unfair for tenants, who’ve paid their rent on time and done nothing wrong, to be thrown out. They say the few hundred dollars the lenders offer isn’t nearly enough to cover moving expenses, a security deposit and the hassles of finding a new rental. The foreclosures and evictions are leaving behind a trail of abandoned properties and destabilizing city neighborhoods, said Grossman. “Legislation alone won’t solve the problem. One way or another, banks have to be pressured to do the right thing, which is not to displace people from neighborhoods as part of the process of collecting on unpaid loans,” he said.
Both Grossman and Mares attended a protest at Deutsche Bank’s Boston offices last week. The protest was organized by City Life/Vida Urbana, a Jamaica Plain-based group that wants Deutsche Bank to stop evictions and to sell foreclosed properties to community-based organizations.
Mares said Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., U.S. Bank National Association and Wells Fargo are among the lenders he frequently sees bringing evictions in the Boston Housing Court.
In a prepared statement issued after the protest, Deutsche Bank maintained that even though it’s listed in legal documents, it does not have an ownership stake in properties and has no say over foreclosures and evictions. “[Deutsche Bank] National Trust Co. acts as trustee for securitization trusts and, in some cases, as custodian for the mortgage documents. The function of the trustee is largely an administrative one; the trust company has no ownership stake or beneficial interest in the underlying loans of a securitization, nor is it responsible for foreclosures or selling foreclosed property. Such decisions are made by the servicing companies, according to contracts for the different securitization trusts,” the statement said. “Deutsche Bank is currently working to provide City Life with the names of the relevant servicers who are controlling the foreclosure proceedings on the properties in question.”
For Barnwell, the Dorchester resident facing eviction, that ’s little comfort. Barnwell, who rents his apartment for $1,500 a month and says he’s never missed a payment, thinks it will be tough to find another home to accommodate his family. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. filed a petition to foreclose on 80 Brunswick St., where Barnwell’s apartment is located, Dec. 19 of last year. An auction was scheduled for March 16, according to The Warren Group, Banker & Tradesman’s parent company. The Warren Group collects information from the Massachusetts Land Court. The property’s mortgage was assigned to Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. on May 29. No foreclosure deed has been filed.
Barnwell is getting help from Mares at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center. The center was able to negotiate with the Boston Water and Sewer Commission to temporarily restore water service after it was cut off when the owner stopped paying the bills. But water service is scheduled to be shut off again in mid-September unless the lender cooperates, according to Mares. “I don’t understand why we can’t get this resolved in a fair manner that’s beneficial to both parties,” Barnwell said.
- Capital Hill Press Conference: Robert Greenwald, Director of the Legal Services Center’s Health Law Clinic and HLS Lecturer on Law, spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference on August 2, 2007 announcing the introduction of the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA) in the United States House of Representatives. At the request of the lead sponsors of the bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Mr. Greenwald spoke on the importance of ETHA. ETHA gives states the option to provide Medicaid access to uninsured, poor and low-income people living with HIV before the disease progresses to AIDS. Currently, Medicaid eligibility rules require most people to become disabled by AIDS before they become eligible for the Medicaid care that could have can prevented HIV disease from progressing to AIDS. ETHA is modeled after a successful Massachusetts program that provides early access to Medicaid to pre-disabled people living with HIV that was instituted largely through the efforts of Mr. Greenwald and HLS students back in 2001.
- LSC students participate in AIDSWatch 2007: HLS students Sarah Schalman-Bergen (‘07), Andrea Glen (‘07) and Kelley Coleman (‘08) teamed up with Senior Clinical Instructor Robert Greenwald to help plan, develop materials and lead trainings at this conference as part of their clinical work in the Health Law Clinic at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center. (HLS Homepage 5/09/07)
- "As a student of Gary Bellow, he taught me what clinical education at Harvard was about - a truly interconnected dual mission of providing quality legal services to the poor while training law students through real-life experiences." A Commentary on Clinical Legal Education at HLS by Luz Herrera '99 (HLS Record 4/19/07)
- Robert Greenwald honored by the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review: Robert was among three individuals honored for careers which have "exemplified outstanding commitment to social justice". The Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review Public Service Awards Dinner, hosted by Dean Elena Kagan, took place on Saturday evening, April 14, 2007. Robert was honored for his passion, enthusiasm and commitment for protecting civil rights through the provision of legal services to the low income community and for his extensive policy work promoting and protecting the rights of persons with HIV and AIDS. (HLS Homepage 4/27/07)
- Alex Spiro '08 receives Law Student Ethics Award. Alex, a third semester clinical student at the Legal Services Center, is the recipient of the third annual Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Law Student Ethics Award. The award
recognizes six local law students who have exemplified an outstanding commitment to ethics in the course of their studies. Alex was nominated for his clinical work in the Adminstrative/Disability Law Clinic at the Legal Services Center by Clinical Instructor Julie McCormack. Alex's award was presented at an Awards Ceremony on April 12, 2007. The ceremony
brought together leaders of the legal community from corporations, academia and law firms, including the presidents of the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association, and the Northeast chapter of ACC, as well as prominent judges, general counsel, and sponsoring law firm lawyers.
- LSC Students and Friends rally for affordable housing and transportation access. (HLS Record 4/11/07)
- This year, Harvard Law School appointed five new clinical professors [including Brian Price] who will teach a range of courses and provide leadership of important clinical programs (HLS Homepage 4/04/07)
- LSC Students Organize Legislative Briefing to Honor Trauma-Sensitive Schools: On March 19, 2007, approximately 300 legislators and community members attended a legislative briefing at the Massachusetts State House on Monday organized by HLS students Marie Scott '07 and Jocelyn Chung '07 as part of their clinical work for the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI). (HLS Homepage 4/02/07) Additional coverage: Patriot Ledger 3/19/07
- The (lead paint) law "really puts significant pressure on landlords to discriminate," said Rafael Mares, a lawyer (in the Housing Law Clinic) at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center, a Harvard Law School clinical teaching facility in Jamaica Plain. (Boston Sunday Globe 3/18/07)
- F. Emmeline Barton '07 and Graham Green '07, enrolled in the Center's Art Law Clinic, participated in the 35th Annual ALI-ABA Legal Issues of Museum Administration Conference in Philadelphia, PA on March 15, 2007. The conference is a national event attended by museum professionals from throughout the country. Barton and Green spoke on a panel with Lawrence Mendenhall of The Pew Charitable Trusts on "Who Can Sue the Museum: The Evolving Doctrine of Legal Standing." They framed the issues for debate with Green arguing that the traditional doctrine should be expanded to allow donors to have standing to enforce gift restrictions, and Barton arguing that the attorney general should be the only party with such standing.
- The Center's Predatory Lending/Consumer Protection Clinic sponsored an advanced screening of "Maxed Out,” a new documentary examining the proliferation of debt in America, in the Ames Courtroom on March 14, 2007. Filmmaker James Scurlock and Professor Elizabeth Warren were on hand after the film for a panel discussion. (HLS Homepage 3/14/07)
- "When I graduated from HLS in 1999, I left to be a corporate attorney. That diploma and that starting salary meant that by all standards I had made it! The problem was that I was a success in everyone's eyes except my own." An open letter to HLS students from Luz Herrera '99, Senior Clinical Fellow. (3/08/07 HLS Record)
- Three Legal Services Center clinical students awarded Skadden Fellowships:
- "I strongly encourage law students to do clinical work. It's a change of pace from the classroom and an eye-opening experience," Michael Stein '06 said. "I had a very positive experience as a student advocate at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center working on Social Security and housing issues. The clinical instructors I had were fantastic and I really got a lot of hands-on experience working with indigent and underrepresented people." (Harvard Law Record 2/22/07)
- "[The] clinical at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center in the Predatory Lending Unit…was immediately the best experience of law school. Once I started working there I was pretty sure I wanted to be that kind of lawyer," Sarah Bolling '07 (Harvard Law Record 1/18/07)
- "Applying for public interest jobs may seem challenging, especially when most of your friends have offers from law firms before the fellowship application process even starts. "But it's worth it. There are so many underserved populations in this country and around the world, and as HLS graduates, we are in a unique and powerful position to make a difference in their lives," Emily Kernan '07, who worked in the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative Clinic during the fall 2006 semetser. (Harvard Law Record 1/18/07)
- Kevin Terrazas '07, LSC Clinical Student: Every year, the Ames Moot Court finals at Harvard Law School are a pretty amazing affair, bringing together a dozen third-year law students who have already beaten out a couple hundred of their classmates, in front of high-ranking real-life judges. But this year, the cast of characters seemed particularly interesting. On one team was Erika Harold , the 2003 Miss America. The other team included Kevin Terrazas , who started law school after serving in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. Among the judges: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Terrazas's team, which represented an imaginary cosmetics company pitted against an organic grocery store, won for best overall case. A West Point graduate and captain, he was part of the initial invasion of Iraq and later served in Mosul. Asked whether combat experience came in handy in the courtroom, Terrazas said it gave him perspective, but "it didn't calm the nerves as much as I would like." (Boston Globe 11/19/06)
- Brian Price appointed Clinical Professor of Law: By faculty vote on November 2, 2006, Brian Price, the Center's Director, was appointed HLS Clinical Professor of Law. David Grossman, Director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, was also appointed Clinical Professor of Law. The appointments of Brian and David bring the current total of HLS Clinical and Assistant Clinical Professors to six, including Deborah Anker, Bob Bordone, Jim Cavallaro and John Palfrey.
- "In the 1970's, many went into law to make a difference. Some of them are finally making it now. Today's young lawyers don't want to wait that long." Luz Herrera ’99 and Eric Castelblanco ’91 graduated from law school with the same intention: join a prestigious law firm, pursue a worthwhile career, work hard and make a good living. But both found some things missing in that formula: giving back to the communities of Los Angeles where they grew up, and working directly with their clients. Harvard Law Bulletin, Fall 2006
- LSC provides legal assistance to JPNDC for the development of affordable housing: Bethany Bonuedi '07, Legal Services Center clinical student, and Ilisabeth Smith Bornstein, Albert M. Sacks Clinical Law Fellow, attended the October 18, 2006 ribbon cutting ceremony for the first of 11 affordable housing units developed by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC). These homes, consisting of townhouses, single- and two-family homes all located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood, provide homeownership opportunities to first time homebuyers earning less than 80% and less than 50% of Boston median income. Through her work in the Community Enterprise Project, Bonuedi has coordinated with JPNDC Project Manager Teronda Ellis to prepare all legal documents necessary to transfer ownership to the homebuyers. The project has involved multiple communications with local, city and state officials to coordinate funding and execution of the sale of these properties. The first property, located at 11 Ashley Street, is set to close at the end of the month. (HLS Homepage, 11/03/06)
- LSC students participate in Symposium on Teacher Education in Massachusetts: On October 17, 2006, Mariel Davenport Pollock '08, Kimberly Ruthsatz '07, Emily Kernan '07, and Laura Eichhorn '07 – all clinical students in the Center’s Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI) - participated in an invitation-only symposium sponsored by Lesley University in collaboration with TLPI. The students joined in a discussion with leaders in teacher education on ways to incorporate professional development on the impact of trauma on learning into university and in-service training in Massachusetts. As clinical students working under the supervision of Susan Cole and Michael Gregory, each has represented children in special education proceedings who have been traumatized by exposure to violence. They have also engaged in policy work at the state level to help achieve TLPI’s long-term public policy goal of ensuring that children traumatized by exposure to violence succeed in school. “Having the opportunity to participate in this symposium is a great way for us to translate what we’re learning from our cases into big picture, systemic change,” said Pollock. “Teacher training is one thing that can help ensure that schools are trauma-sensitive environments where all children can thrive, and it’s been so interesting to be part of a conversation between lead stakeholders on this important issue.” The symposium was attended by representatives of the state Departments of Education and Social Services, leading experts in the fields of trauma and learning, representatives from several of the state’s teacher training institutions, and several principals and teachers. (HLS Homepage, 10/24/06)
- The Housing Clinic uses strategies outside the courtroom to advance civil rights and confront inequality: In an interview with Prof. Kenneth Mack '91, published on the lawschool website today, Mack advocates redefining civil rights lawyering to focus less on litigation and more on social activism broadly defined. As an example of HLS programs using strategies outside the courtroom to advance civil rights and confront inequality, he cites: "The Housing Clinic at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center: While the clinic uses litigation to advocate tenants’ rights, students also learn alternative strategies to fight discrimination and improve access and affordability in housing. The clinic offers opportunities to practice “community lawyering” by connecting students to neighborhood groups that inform tenants about their rights and educate members about the importance of group mobilization." (HLS Homepage, 10/13/06)
- Interview with Jordan Schreiber '01, former LSC student, now a Wasserstein Fellow: What activities did you participate in during law school that, looking back, helped lead you to where you are today? "I did as much clinical work as possible while I was in law school.This included the Prison Legal Assistance Project and a semester at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Clinic in Jamaica Plain." HLS Record (10/12/06)
- LSC Clinical Students Facilitate Great Lakes AIDS Policy Summit (Chicago, September 21-23, 2006): Sarah Schalman-Bergen '07, and Kelley Coleman '08, working with Robert Greenwald, Lecturer and Clinical Instructor of the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center’s Health Law Clinic, just returned from Chicago where they led a two-day health care policy strategic planning meeting for members of the Great Lakes AIDS Policy Consortium. Summit participants included executive and policy directors of statewide AIDS organizations, regional pharmaceutical industry representatives, and people living with HIV/AIDS. Attendees were from the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska and Illinois. Students provided an overview of the current national health care policy landscape and its impact on state health care programs. Covered topics included an analysis of the recently enacted federal Deficit Reduction Act and its effect on state Medicaid programs, the health care access issues created by the new Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program, and reauthorization concerns for the Ryan White CARE Act. On the second day of the summit, Schalman-Bergen and Coleman worked with participants to identify concrete plans for addressing health care access issues for poor and low-income people in their respective states. In addition, Health Law Clinic students Andrea Glen '07 and Ariana Ornelas '07 helped develop materials for the AIDS policy summit and will provide ongoing research, technical assistance, and support to its participants. (HLS Homepage, 10/03/06)
- LSC Students staff 'Lawyer for the Day' Table at Boston Housing Court: On Thursday, September 21, seven students from the Housing Clinic of the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School helped unrepresented low-income tenants facing eviction in Boston Housing Court by giving them “game-day”-advice through the Boston Bar Association’s Lawyer for the Day Program. They worked alongside pro bono attorneys from Ropes & Gray LLP. Supervised by the Housing Clinic’s three clinical instructors – Esme Caramello ‘99, Rafael Mares ‘99, and Maureen McDonagh – the students served over 30 tenants, informing them about their rights, providing them with advice on how to best present their case in court the same day, negotiating with attorneys representing landlords, and filling out pro se motions and pleadings. LSC students will provide advice to tenants in Boston Housing Court every other Thursday this semester, as their predecessors have done over the past eight years. “The Lawyer for the Day Program is an excellent way for students to apply the theories they learned in the Housing Clinical Workshop early in the semester and to help a lot of tenants find their way through a difficult and often scary process,” said McDonagh. According to Trevor Austin ‘08, one of the LSC students involved, “Participating in the Lawyer for the Day Program is exhilarating. It is giving me the opportunity to help a large number of indigent tenants in a short period of time. The program is kind of the emergency room of law school clinics.” (HLS Homepage, 9/27/06)
Brian K. Price appointed Director of the Legal Services Center: On July 1, 2006, HLS Dean Elena Kagan appointed Brian Price Director of the school's Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center. Brian, a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, joined the Center in 1997 as the Senior Clinical Instructor/Managing Attorney of the Center's Community Enterprise Project (CEP). Brian became interim director in February 2006 when Jeanne Charn, the Center's founding director since 1979, stepped down.
David Grossman appointed Director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau: After 16 years as Senior Clinical Instructor and Managing Attorney of the Center's Housing Law/Litigation Unit, HLS Dean Elena Kagan appointed David Grossman Director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. David, a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Law School, joined the Center in 1995 and has had an HLS Lecturer appointment since 2001. We will miss David's dedication to clients, commitment to students, his warmth and his sardonic sense of humor.
"When Melissa Patterson '06 signed up for a clinical placement . . . she was looking for something as 'real world' as possible". Read about Melissa's experience working in the Permanancy Mediation Clinic in the Family Law Clinic at the Legal Services Center during the spring 2006 semester: Harvard Law Bulletin, Summer 2006.
Report by HLS clinic is basis for statewide conference: Helping Traumatized Children Learn, a publication of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI), was the centerpiece of a day-long state-wide conference hosted by the Massachusetts Department of Education on Wednesday. May 10, 2006. Titled “Reducing Trauma as a Barrier to Learning,” the conference was attended by more than 250 teachers, school administrators, superintendents and mental health professionals that work in schools. TLPI, a clinical placement for HLS students, is a partnership between the school’s Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center and Massachusetts Advocates for Children, a non-profit children’s rights organization in Boston. Its groundbreaking report, Helping Traumatized Children Learn, highlights the impact that trauma from exposure to violence—particularly family violence—has on children’s ability to focus, behave appropriately, and learn in schools. The report advocates for whole-school environments that are safe and supportive so that children can overcome traumatic life experiences they may have endured. It also contains a “Flexible Framework” of approaches that schools can use to create “trauma-sensitive” environments.
“We are thrilled that the Department of Education chose to structure its conference around our report,” said TLPI Director Susan Cole, a Clinical Instructor at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center. “TLPI’s mission is to ensure that all children traumatized by exposure to violence succeed in school. To see educators from across the state engaged in deep discussion about how to take the ideas contained in our report and go back and apply them in their schools was tremendously exciting,” she said.
Clinical students at TLPI represent traumatized children and their families in special education proceedings in Boston-area schools, and student casework formed the basis for the conclusions and recommendations contained in Helping Traumatized Children Learn. TLPI students also engage in policy work at the Massachusetts state legislature and have been successful at advocating for the funding of grants that have allowed 20 Massachusetts school districts to create trauma-sensitive learning environments. For more information about the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative or to find out how to register for the clinic, please contact Susan Cole at email@example.com or Michael Gregory at (617) 390-2550 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (HLS Homepage May 19, 2006).
Jeanne Charn '70 steps down as Director of the Legal Services Center: After nearly three decades leading HLS's oldest and largest clinical teaching facility -- known today as the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center -- Senior Lecturer Jeanne Charn has decided to step down. Charn, who will continue teaching at HLS, was a co-founder of the Center in 1979 with her late husband, Professor Gary Bellow '60, a pioneer of clinical legal education. Since its founding, the Legal Services Center has served more than 20,000 clients in need of legal assistance and representation. "I loved the complexities and challenges of doing the highest quality work for our clients," said Charn. "The [clinic's] combined teaching and learning mission infuses the veterans and the rookies, and keeps the veterans motivated to do and demonstrate their best."
During Charn's tenure, the Center expanded its mission beyond traditional legal aid practice to provide a range of legal and advocacy services to individuals, small businesses and the community. Charn also helped develop partnerships with several community-based organizations and agencies.
As a Senior Lecturer on Law, Charn will teach several courses next year that draw on her extensive experience as a teacher and practitioner. She will also continue her work on the Bellow-Sacks Access to Civil Legal Services Project, an HLS-based project that investigates new ways to offer civil legal advice and assistance to low- and moderate-income households. (Excerpted from the April 2006 issue of Harvard Law Today.)
Maureen McDonagh - Participant on panel of experts discussing the cause of homelessness and the possibilities for fighting it: Maureen McDonagh, a clinical instructor in housing law at the Legal Services Center, expressed exasperation over funding cuts for critical social service programs that sustain those on the verge of homelessness. “When I started my job 10 years ago, I thought programs that helped the homeless had been cut to the bone. I just hadn’t realized they could possibly be cut anymore,” she said. McDonagh, who has represented low-income individuals seeking governmental assistance in court, lamented the termination of a welfare program that paid three months’ rent for those with temporary financial hardship. (Harvard Crimson, May 3, 2006)
Luke Nikas, 3L - Recipient of the Professional Responsibility Award: Luke Nikas, 3L, has been awarded the Professional Responsibility Award by the Northeast Region of the Association of Corporate Counsel. The award recognizes six Boston-area law students who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to ethics. Nikas was nominated for his clinical work at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center.
"Practicing at the Hale and Dorr clinic reminded me of why I came to law school," Nikas said. "I was exposed to real clients with real problems, and my instructors gave me the tremendous responsibility of resolving these cases as the client and I saw fit. I am honored to receive an award recognizing my conduct while participating in such a worthwhile endeavor." The award will be presented at a ceremony on April 26 with a keynote address by the Honorable Herbert Wilkins, retired Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
At the Legal Services Center, Nikas represented a for-profit company that focused on strengthening local communities through activities such as assisting with relief after Hurricane Katrina. The corporation was seeking non-profit status, and Nikas focused on the legal and ethical issues involved in the shift. (http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2006/04/26_nikas.php) (April 2006)
Susan F. Cole - Recipient of the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2006 Access to Justice Legal Services Award: The Massachusetts Bar Association held its Access to Justice Awards luncheon on March 24, 2006 as part of the MBA’s Annual Conference 2006 at Marriott Copley Place. The annual luncheon recognizes outstanding members of the legal community who have made significant contributions through their legal services, volunteer and pro bono efforts. The 2006 Legal Services Award was be presented to Susan F. Cole, a clinical instructor at the Harvard Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain. The award is given to an attorney employed by a public or non-profit agency to provide civil legal services to low-income clients, and who has made a particularly significant contribution to the provision of low-income legal services beyond the requirements or his or her position. Cole is a senior project director at Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) and has been instrumental in steering the statewide children’s legal agenda since 1994. Starting in 2004, she has served as director of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, a partnership of MAC and the Harvard Legal Services Center. Splitting her time between MAC and the Legal Services Center, she has advocated tirelessly with her students on behalf of children affected by family violence. Her goal is to help train to a new generation of children’s advocates. (http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2006/04/19_cole.php) (March 2006)
Clinical students advise Boston City Planners: On March 8,2006, the law school's Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center will host a workshop for the City of Boston’s Main Streets Program. BMS works to revitalize local commercial districts throughout Boston. Three students -- Duston Barton, 2L; Joyce Hsieh 3L; and Lerato Molefe, 3L -- will give presentations to program directors about legal issues related to non-profit federal and state compliance. "The City of Boston’s Main Streets Program is the city’s primary vehicle for the development of local business districts," explained Brian Price, acting director of the Hale and Dorr Center. "By sharing their legal expertise with these business and community leaders, the student presenters will be making an important contribution to the City’s economic development efforts." The students have participated in the Center's practice group called the "Community Enterprise Project." More information about both projects is available from the websites of the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center Boston Main Streets. (HLS Homepage, March 8, 2006)
News from The Record, an independent student newspaper at Harvard Law School:
Karen Tseng (HLS ’05) awarded 2006 Skadden Fellowship at the Legal Services Center
Karen will join the Center in the fall of 2006 to work in the Predatory Lending Project Clinic. Her work will involve litigating the complex predatory lending and mortgage fraud cases, as well as introducing an important new outreach component to the project -- sponsoring clinics to educate the most impacted members of the community and collaborating with members of the bar in an effort to increase representation. There are presently two Skadden Fellows working at the Center: Michael Gregory (HLS ’04) and Sarah Boonin (HLS ’04). http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2005/12/06_skadden.php
Flexible Work Hours for Clinical Students
Beginning with this fall 2005 semester, students working at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center have been able to perform up to 2/3 of their clinical hours on campus or remotely from home. After the first three weeks of the semester, students will need to travel to the Center at least one day per week, and we encourage each student to spend as many clinical hours at the Center as possible. However, Center supervisors will individually meet with students to work out a clinical schedule that best suits each student's needs and commitments while also meeting client needs and other professional, law-practice related commitments.
Student Advisory Committee (2005/2006) at the Legal Services Center
Beginning in October six HLS students assumed leadership roles at the law school’s Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center. Third-year students Jeff Jamison and Mindy Klenoff and second-year students Saba Bireda, Sarah Bolling, Beth Tossell, and Rachel Wainer have inaugurated a new Student Advisory Committee for the Center. The role of the committee will be to improve students’ experience at the Center, to act as a liaison between students and the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, and to ensure that students on campus are better informed about the wealth of opportunities available at the Center.
Troubled in school
Susan Cole [of Legal Services Center], one of the report's authors, says the therapeutic approach is typically used in individual counseling sessions. The report translates that approach to the larger school setting. More-->>
New Report on Trauma and Learning based on HLS Students Clinical Work
Premier Edition of the Art Law Clinic Client Newsletter
Click here to download the premier edition of our Art Law Clinic Client Newsletter [PDF]
New Clinical Experience Blends Policy and Practice to Serve Children Traumatized by Family Violence Read More [PDF]
The Center's PREDATORY LENDING PROJECT recently settled two cases involving foreclosure rescue scams, where clients facing foreclosure were defrauded into deeding their homes into a trust. The clients were baited into the transaction via Defendants' website, where the Defendants, purporting to be non-profit entities, claimed they could help people save their homes. Instead, the clients were charged thousands of dollars in fees, a 65% interest rate, and faced the loss of their homes. The unit drafted a thirty-three-page complaint alleging sixteen causes of action and sued multiple Defendants under a civil conspiracy theory. The clients now have the deeds to their homes back in their names and received a cash settlement.
The New York-based Racial Justice Collaborative has awarded a grant to a coalition of groups working to combat gentrification in Boston neighborhoods of color. The coalition, which is led by the grassroots social justice organization, City Life/Vida Urbana, and includes the Legal Services Center's HOUSING LAW / LITIGATION UNIT, are organizing tenant organizations throughout the city to both protect individual families from displacement and increase the participation of at-risk tenants as leaders in affordable housing policy discussions. Over the past few years, staff and students from LSC, in partnership with City Life, have innovated a "collective bargaining" approach in buildings where tenants are facing steep rent increases, a strategy that has resulted in landlords executing multi-year contracts that capped rents at below-market levels and thereby prevented the displacement of almost 500 tenant families. The Racial Justice Collaborative grant will enable LSC and its partners to expand its work in this area.
On March 22, 2005, the Family and Children's Law Unit's TRAUMA AND LEARNING POLICY INITIATIVE (TLPI), a partnership between the Center and Massachusetts Advocates for Children, sponsored a Legislative Briefing at the Massachusetts State House entitled, "Closing the Achievement Gap: Removing Trauma as a Barrier to Learning." The event was co-sponsored by Rep. Alice Wolf (Cambridge); Rep. Salvatore DiMasi, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Sen. Robert Antonioni and Rep. Patricia Haddad, Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Education. The purpose of the briefing was to educate legislators about the impact that exposure to violence has on children's learning and behavior in school and, implicitly, to advocate for the continuation and expansion of a grant program that has been established through the MA Department of Education to fund schools to implement trauma-sensitive educational approaches. Harvard Law School students were indispensable to the success of this event and participated in: (1) a phone bank; (2) lobby training event teaching students techniques for effectively lobbying legislators; (3) preparing informational packets to legislators; (4) Lobby Day where students met with legislators and their aids to brief them on the issues; and (5) a Legislative Briefing at the Massachusetts State House where students greeted members of the legislature and their staff when they arrived at the event, answered questions, met school personnel who were in attendance, and listened to the panel of speakers who presented. Over 100 legislators' offices were represented at the event. Throughout the entire process, students were involved in trouble-shooting, strategizing, planning and executing this successful event. Students were given the opportunity to learn about the state legislative and budgetary process, to learn and practice important legislative advocacy skills, and to observe the role that lawyer's can play in advocating for social change.
Staff and students of the Center's HOUSING LAW / LITIGATION UNIT filed a class action in 2003 against the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) based on the presence of illegal and dangerous levels of lead-based paint throughout the 1,100-unit Charlestown housing development, the largest of the BHA's developments. Lead-based paint, if ingested by young children, can cause irreversible brain damage and even, in some cases, death. Numerous children in the development over the years had been found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood. After extensive negotiations, the BHA entered into a consent decree with the class which required the Housing Authority, in stages, to inspect and then delead the entire development. Staff and students in the Housing Unit, who have been monitoring the BHA's compliance with the decree, report that approximately half the development has now been certified as lead-free and that the BHA appears to be on pace to complete all of the required deleading by later this year, thereby abating a significant public health hazard.
The Center's COMMUNITY ENTERPRISE PROJECT (CEP) has recently: (1) concluded the representation of Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Center in the development and sale of 8 single- and two-family units of affordable housing in Jamaica Plain. HLS students were involved in all phases of the representation including zoning, financing, and sales; (2) completed the formation of Natural Vibes LLC, a Brockton based retail store and record label; and (3) completed the formation of Academic Behavioral Clinic, Inc., a non-profit organization providing counseling and psychological testing services.
Lee Wilson, one of the many clients of CEP's RECORDING ARTIST PROJECT (RAP), continues to grab the attention of record labels and music industry execs. HLS student members of RAP provide ongoing representation to Lee in various contract matters.
Persistence recently paid off for a Social Security disability client of the Center being represented by HLS students and Clinical Instructors working in the ADMINISTRATIVE LAW PRACTICE of the HEALTH, EMPLOYMENT, LIVING LEGACY AND PLANNING (HELLP) UNIT. An elderly, non-English speaking woman, with many medical problems, sought our representation at a remand hearing before an Administrative Law Judge of the Social Security Administration (SSA) ordered by the Appeals Council. We asserted that our client indeed qualified for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits as a matter of law under the SSA's regulatory matrix know as the GRIDS. However, it took an appeal to the Appeals Council, a second hearing, and a second appeal to the Appeals Council before the error in the application of the regulations was rectified. Due to the persistence of Center students on behalf of their client, she will receive an additional $692/month and a retroactive award of over $35,000, in addition to state and federal medical insurance she so desperately needs.
Legal Services Center, MAC Join Forces for Children Traumatized by Domestic Violence
The Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and Massachusetts Advocates for Children have embarked on an innovative partnership to address the educational needs of children traumatized by domestic violence. The work will be based on a whole new area of scholarship and practice at the intersection of law, psychology and education that links exposure to violence in the home with a host of social, emotional and academic problems in children. The HDLSC/MAC partnership, working closely with the Task Force on Children Affected by Domestic Violence, will advocate for positive supports and systemic improvements that can help traumatized children succeed at school.
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