Reflecting on the Past and Preparing for the Future 
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HARVARD LEGAL AID BUREAU

Practicing Law without a License since 1913

Bureau in the News

Photo credit: Cassie Chambers
HLAB class of 2015 receives honors and recognitions. 
Nora Mahlberg is named a Skadden Fellow. Donna Harati receives the Gary Bellow Public Service Award, and Chad Baker wins the Kaufman Pro Bono Award. Antonia Domingo is profiled for her future work as a union attorney.
Photo credit: GLAD
NPR interviews Janson Wu ’03, executive director of GLAD, after the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Listen here
Photo credit: U.S. House of Representatives
Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III ’09 strives to close gap in access to legal services.

Read here
Watch here
Photo credit: Daily Item of Lynn
Jared Nicholson ’13 announces candidacy for Lynn School Committee.

Read here
 

Message from the President

Dear Bureau Community, 

Thank you to our current students and alumni for living and embodying our Bureau mission every day. In the past year our organization has undergone several difficult and impactful changes, most recently the death of our beloved David Grossman. With each of these moments, students have turned to one another, alumni have lent their support, and we all have grown closer. It is easy to tout the community of our organization when all is well. It is more laudable that we can do this when the going gets particularly tough. 

Despite the challenges we have faced this year, we have much to be proud of. Students spearheaded the inclusion of a new Board position titled the Knowledge, Information, and Technology (KIT) Director, and the new HLAB Wiki increases our institutional knowledge and access to resources. Students organized a Racial Justice Task Force, and the Family Practice Task Force is considering taking on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases. Most recently, we are starting a pilot program in which we will have access to a part time social worker for the next academic year. 

Even during difficult transitions and sadness, we are able to affect change that will impact both the Bureau community internally and the communities and clients we serve. We are able to do this, and more, because of the legacy that Bureau alumni have left behind, the guidance and knowledge of our clinical instructors and staff, and the spirit and determination of our current student attorneys. During a year riddled with change, I have never been prouder to call myself a Bureau member and your President. I feel lucky to have been invited into this community and included among your ranks. 

With this in mind, I want to welcome our 3Ls and new 2Ls back to the Bureau. Here is to a new year, standing on the shoulders of the giants that made this organization what it is and carving our own paths in the process. 

Thank you all,
Amanda

Remembering Dave Grossman

This summer HLAB and the greater Boston community lost a leading advocate, mentor and friend. HLAB Faculty Director David Grossman passed away on July 13, 2015, after a seven-year battle with cancer.
 
Congressman Joe Kennedy III, HLAB alumnus ’09, spoke on the House floor in memory of Grossman. The Boston Globe published an obituary, and Harvard Law Today touched upon some of Grossman’s many contributions to the legal world. 


Even before coming to HLAB, Grossman was involved in forming the "lawyer-for-the-day" program in Boston Housing Court to provide free assistance to unrepresented tenants facing eviction. He also established a partnership between the Bureau and City Life Vida Urbana (CLVU), a community organization with a focus on tenant’s rights. In coordination with CLVU, Grossman developed a lawyering/organizing model to combat displacement of lower-income tenants, which the organizations then applied in the context of the national foreclosure crisis. 
 
While undertaking each of these new legal strategies, Grossman continued to represent tenants, mentor student attorneys, draft legislation to protect people from foreclosure, and march on the streets in protest of the injustices he witnessed.
 
HLAB will hold a memorial service for Grossman in the fall. We will send details closer to the date. If you would like to share your memories of Grossman to contribute to an HLAB-wide collection, please fill out a response here. The Bureau community is forever changed for the better because of Grossman’s leadership. 

  

A Tale of Two Student-Run Organizations

Photo credit: Y2Y Harvard Square 

It seemed like a natural collaboration: Harvard College; Harvard Law School; a student-run homeless shelter; a student-run legal aid firm. Those parallels ignited the partnership between the Youth to Youth (Y2Y) and Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, which will go into full effect this fall.
 
The Y2Y shelter, founded by two recent Harvard College alumni, will house homeless youth and provide social services, job training and community programming. The shelter focuses on youth because Boston has a relatively high homeless youth population, but only 8-12 beds total designated for them, according to student attorney Awbrey Yost ’16.
 
“It can be dangerous for homeless youth to be with adult residents....The Y2Y founders realized, after being involved with the Harvard University Homeless Shelter for adults, that that the needs of homeless youth in Boston were not a focus for any organization,” Yost said.


Last January, the Y2Y founders contacted then-President Cassie Chambers ’15, with a proposal for HLAB to help them design programming to meet the legal needs of the shelter guests.
 
“It some areas, we saw a natural fit. HLAB is already in family court, and the guests may need support with guardianship, name changes, emancipation proceedings, protective orders and other issues,” said Chambers.
 
But those issues are only the beginning. Chambers added: “The founders don’t know what legal needs the guests will have because there’s not a lot of research on youth homelessness.”
 
To prepare for the myriad needs, student groups and clinics at Harvard Law School built a coalition to tap into the assets of each organization. The coalition will apply for funding and hopes to become its own Student Practice Organization.
 
This year, HLAB will serve as the legal services coordinator for Y2Y. Yost, the leader of HLAB’s Y2Y partnership, will coordinate a weekly intake table at the shelter, building off HLAB’s clinic at Rosie’s Place women’s shelter in the South End.
 
From the outset, Chambers thought HLAB should be involved with Y2Y. “It fits with our goal of moving services out to the community. It fits with our natural practice areas and the issues that our current clients face. And this is an area where we can do a lot of good. The people at HLAB are incredibly talented and dedicated. The shelter guests need advocates, and we can and should be those advocates.”
 
 

Self-Care at the Bureau

At 5pm on a Thursday, singing emerges from the seminar room. Students and clinical instructors sit around the table. Staff from other centers linger as they exit the building. No, HLAB hasn’t started a choir. Lisa Fitzgerald ’16 is treating the Bureau to a private concert, as part of the new self-care initiative.
 
Donna Harati ’15 began the self-care initiative in the fall of 2014 to help other Bureau members ensure they take care of their mental health, so that they can provide quality legal services to their clients—in the short and long term.


Since its inception, students have organized weekly activities to take a break from clinical and coursework. Activities include knitting, meditating, touch football, making pasta and decorating gratitude jars.
 
Jordan Raymond ’16 has always recognized that she needs to carve out time for self-care. “Self-care is paramount to me. Sometimes, when I feel drained, I drive to the beach because that’s my happy place and that’s where I can find peace. It’s nice that we are trying to create those peaceful spaces here at the Bureau.”
 
The Bureau’s self-care initiative subscribes to many models of and philosophies of self-care. Students, clinical instructors and staff alternate in facilitating activities that help them feel grounded.
 
“There’s no one correct way to take care of yourself, and I’ve learned a lot from what other people have shared. Personally, I like cooking to de-stress, so I led a session in pasta making,” said Nick Pastan ’15.
 
Clinical instructor Lee Goldstein led a session on meditation and mindfulness in the fall. “Without a mindfulness practice, I couldn't begin to understand all the players—our clients, opposing parties and their lawyers, judges and court personnel and most of all ourselves—in this stylized kaboke drama known as lawyering.  It enables me see myself as an actor detached from the drama, from ‘outside’,” Goldstein said.
 
Students hope that integrating self-care into their lives now will start a pattern to last through their careers. Harati reflects: “My experience in law school has been that this profession does not prioritize self-care and instead lionizes an 'at any cost mentality'. I think it's important for us as students to have space to figure out what works best for us in terms of self-care. I can’t say it better than Audre Lorde, ‘Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’” 

  

Interviews with the Bureau Community

Courtney Lynch,
Student Attorney, Vice President of Membership
Class of 2016

"I want to do what I can to encourage people in society to realize that marginalized people are people first.”


What were you doing before law school?
I worked at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, helping families apply for public benefits, especially focused on children getting on Medicaid. I also volunteered at at a local food pantry in my hometown of Covington, Kentucky.
 
What has surprised you most as membership director?
I’ve had to be very reflective in talking with 1Ls about how my law school experience has changed, and how much the work we do means to me. I didn’t think about how much HLAB had changed me until started talking with the 1Ls.
 
What has surprised you about the Bureau?
How accepting the Bureau is. It’s true that Bureau members are always there for each other, no matter how big or small. I knew I would be working with people who are very passionate about the work we do. But I didn’t realize I would be working with people who are very accepting, non-judgmental, open and willing to help you. Bureau members are the type of people that—if you open to them—know exactly how to respond in the way you need them to.
 
What do you think you’ll do after the Bureau?
I’m torn between public defense (what I came into law school wanting to do) and legal aid work. Working within the Bureau showed me a different side of poverty lawyering where you’re still rooting for the individual, but on a more personal level than the criminal justice system allows. As a public defender, I’m looking for legal loopholes. In family practice, trying to make the judge see the humanity in my client. Either way, I want to do what I can to encourage people in society to realize that marginalized people are people first.
 
What was your childhood dream job?
Teaching. I had a lot of teachers who set high expectations. My teachers were the first non-family members who took an interest in me, and that meant a lot. Now I still go back to my high school to talk with students about college.
 
What’s your favorite memory at the Bureau?
At retreat, we did a fishbowl activity in which one group sat in the middle of another and openly answered questions about their professional and personal experiences and failures. Everyone responded with such respect, and there was no judgment.
 
Any tips on work-life balance?
Know what you enjoy and don’t feel ashamed for doing those things. When you feel like you need to take a step away, take a step away. Instead of trying to plan breaks for yourself, take them when you need them. Don’t worry that you won’t get the work done.
 
Favorite book as a child?
I loved The Magic Treehouse series. Siblings went on time travel adventures between dinner and bedtime. I was really into knights, kings, and queens at that time.
 
What’s something we don’t know about you?
I can’t swim at all. I can swim from side to side but I can’t float or wade water.

 
Stephanie Goldenhersch
Clinical Instructor, Family Practice
Started in 2007

"When I came to the Bureau, I was surprised that it felt like a legal services office, not like a student workgroup." 

 
What were you doing before coming the Bureau?
I worked in the family and children’s units at the Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts in Worcester (now called Community Legal Aid).
 
What was your childhood dream job?
I was in second grade when Ronald Reagan was shot. Until then, it had been had my intention to be president, but I decided it wasn’t worth it. My father is a judge and my mother was a teacher. Both of those were always career goals, and in some ways I ended up doing both.
 
What surprised you most when you came to HLAB?
How similar it was to LACCM. It feels like a legal services office, not like a student workgroup.
 
Tips on work-life balance?
Figure out the thing that rejuvenates you. Taking time to do that thing helps you work when you’re back at it.
 
Who would play you in a movie?
When I was a kid, my parents told me that Amy Irving would play me in a movie. I'm not sure I have ever thought I'd be interesting enough for a movie...

Jemel Derbali
Alumnus, Co-founder of WISE Systems
Class of 2013

"At the Bureau, the way I was thrown into new cases and had to respond on the fly helped prepare me for the twists and turns of a young company."


Where are you working now?
I founded a company, WISE Systems, with friends from MIT. WISE provides software to help organizations that deliver goods and services on-demand reach customers more effectively.  I am in charge of operations, so I work on everything from finances, to business development, strategy, management, HR, and legal.  
 
How did your time at the Bureau influence your work now?
The bureau taught me how to get things done – how to hustle and solve problems. A lot of the work in founding a company is new to our team and it changes constantly. Similarly, at the Bureau, the way I was thrown into new cases and had to respond on the fly helped prepare me for the twists and turns of a young company. The Bureau taught me how to negotiate, talk to people, work with a team, and to always recognize how discrete details affect the greater whole. Most importantly, it was an opportunity to work alongside incredibly talented individuals. The inspiration and motivation I received from the CIs and students and interns continue to fuel me.  
 
When you graduated law school, what did you think your life would look like in 2015?
I had no expectations. I felt as if HLS and HLAB prepared me to open a lot of doors, and I was intentional about opening the one that made the most sense for me rather than the one most traveled. This instinct brought me into family court and later brought me into my startup.
 
What's your favorite memory from your time at the Bureau?
My best memory is of a case where I worked to reunite a client with his child who had been kidnapped by in-laws. In this work there are few clear victories, but this was certainly one of them. I also have fond memories of hanging out on the front porch of 23 Everett chatting about cases and life with the Bureau family. 
 
What was your dream job when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a zookeeper. I loved animals. But I grew to dislike cages.  
 
Who would play you in a movie?
Adrien Brody—because he is skinny and lanky and I think he is handsome. 
 
Any tips on work/life balance?
I need tips myself. Being in love makes everything, life and work, better. Doing something you love around people you love is absolutely necessary.

 
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