Mission & Philosophy

Mission

The overarching mission of the Transactional Law Clinics is to be a place of innovation and experimentation for the development of effective approaches to the education of law students and the delivery of legal services.

Academic Mission

  • To provide comprehensive training and supervision to law students in substantive law, practice skills and legal judgment
  • To educate students about the impact of law and social policy on the lives of our clients
  • To encourage students to become reflective practitioners by structuring an educational environment where students continuously reflect on their experiences and use such reflection to inform their methods of advocacy

Service and Social Mission

  • To assist our clients to create engines of economic opportunity
  • To provide high quality legal services in areas most needed by our client communities
  • To be a positive and stable influence in our community
  • To offer community residents the opportunity to learn about some of the legal systems that impact their lives in order to more effectively use these systems to their advantage
  • To educate and inform agencies and local institutions about our clients' lives and legal rights

Philosophy and Culture

The philosophy and culture of the Transactional Law Clinics are reflected in the words of one of the founders of the Legal Services Center, Harvard Law School Professor Gary Bellow.

  • “We want to work with our students on how one learns to develop a quality, reflective, self-taught practice in a pressured real-world setting. Many harried lawyers have things to teach. And students have to learn to be taught by the experienced—without being overwhelmed by them. Part of clinical education has to involve teaching lawyers how to learn from each other. . . . I would like to see clinical centers created across the country—centers where law is practiced as it is critiqued and taught.”
    —Gary Bellow, interview in CLEPR Fourth Biennial Report
  • “I think all lawyers have an obligation to make the legal system more accessible to those who cannot afford a lawyer. We also have the responsibility to communicate this to our students, along with the obvious message that the legal system does not serve all people equally. For these reasons, I’ve generally supported pro bono requirements by law schools. I do think, however, that students’ sense of commitment to indigent clients is best developed and nurtured by a serious educational program. The service to thousands of poor people that grows out of our clinical courses bears witness to this commitment and adds to the ability, and willingness, of our students to do pro bono work after graduation. The opportunity to explore, discuss, and question this experience adds to its depth and richness. My sense is that it helps pro bono commitments become, after graduation, not just good work, but part of what it means to be lawyers.”
    —Gary Bellow, interview in the Harvard Law School Bulletin
  • “I want our students to have a rich appreciation of practice as a human enterprise, as a way of solving problems, as a way of thinking about the world. That’s one level of purpose. At a second level, I want them to be able to work within that culture. This is a separate dimension. . . . [H]elping students to develop the skill needed to work within legal culture involves a set of thoughts and actions—starting with entry-level ideas, and entry-level behaviors— which are needed to do lawyering. Among these are self-understanding, a capacity to deal with one’s emotions, the ability to project oneself into the life of another, all of which are required of any good lawyer.”
    —Gary Bellow, interview by Charles Nesson
Last modified: January 18, 2011

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