Class of 2009 Racks up Record 308,605 Pro Bono Hours
Three clinical students, each of whom has put in an astonishing 2,500 hours of pro bono service during their three years at Harvard Law School, shared this year’s Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award, presented at HLS Class Day on Thursday, June 3.
Katy Glenn ‘09, David Haller ’09, and Nick Hartigan ’09 shared the award, granted each year in honor of Professor Andrew Kaufman, who has been instrumental in creating and supporting pro bono work at HLS. At the Class Day Ceremonies, Acting Dean Howell Jackson commended the students for their commitment to public service and lauded the Class of 2009 for its record-breaking 308,605 total public service hours, more than any previous class had performed.
U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan '86, who served as HLS Dean until January when she was appointed to her new position by President Barack Obama, was instrumental in promoting public service and clinical programs during her tenure at the law school. As Class Day Speaker, she also lauded the Class of 2009 for its dedication to pro bono work.
Glenn compiled her 2,500 hours of pro bono work while working in a variety of HLS clinics, with a focus on international work. She is President of HLS Advocates for Human Rights, a student practice organization in which 1Ls and upperclassmen work on a variety of human rights issues in collaboration with the HLS International Human Rights Clinic. Glenn worked for five semesters with the Human Rights Clinic, including two summers abroad, with the Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Program and with the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Liberia (Green Advocates). She has also worked in Haiti. In addition, Glenn worked in the HLS Prison Legal Assistance Program (PLAP), a student practice organization in which she represented Massachusetts prisoners in disciplinary and other hearings. Glenn also was an intern with the Massachusetts ACLU, conducting research on the grounds on which immigrants may be detained, and how to challenge detention, among other projects.
On receiving the Kaufman award, Glenn said, "It's an honor, and I think it's great that HLS supports pro bono the way it does."
Haller and Hartigan are members of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB), the oldest student-run legal services organization in the nation. Through direct client representation and by founding No One Leaves, a remarkable effort to mobilize law and college students in the Boston area to canvass city neighborhoods to provide information to residents, Haller and Hartigan have helped stem the foreclosure crisis in the city and helped hundreds of people stay in their homes. Over the past year, each has put in at least 40 hours a week in this groundbreaking effort. Hartigan has also worked with the Prison Legal Assistance Program and, over the summer, for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia, while Haller has worked for the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, assisting in stabilizing post-conflict situations in order to promote democracy and peace.
"I appreciate the award, but what I really appreciate is the opportunity from the Bureau and HLS to start an organization and to do the legal work we were able to do, and to try to go out there and make some sort of change," said Hartigan. Added Haller, "I had such a good time the whole time that it's just icing on the cake to be recognized for it."
Lisa Dealy, Assistant Dean of the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, said the students’ commitment to public service is inspiring. “We are humbled by how much you’ve accomplished in your time here at HLS and hope that you all know what an indelible mark you’ve left on Harvard,” she told them, in informing them of the award. “Harvard Law School, the Boston community and the world are all better because of you.”
The Kaufman award is given each year to the graduating student who has performed the highest number of pro bono service hours during his or her tenure at HLS. Typically, a single J.D. student is chosen to receive the award along with a $500 honorarium. However, this year, the three students were selected to share the award because each has made such remarkable efforts in public service. Each will receive a $500 honorarium.
“This year, because of their extraordinary service, we could not choose just one recipient. Thus, we are awarding three awards: one for international human rights work and two for the domestic legal services work,” said Dealy. In April Haller and Hartigan also received an Outstanding Student Award from the national Clinical Legal Education Association in recognition of their work in the foreclosure field.
Harvard requires all students to perform 40 hours of pro bono service in order to graduate, but most students go far beyond. The class of 2009 averaged 542 hours of pro bono service, with 96 students providing more than 1,000 hours of free legal services during their years at HLS.
Demonstrating the school’s strong commitment to public service, the number of hours of pro bono work by students has increased each year, with the class of 2009 putting in 308,605 total public service hours, more than any previous year. The total for the class of 2008 was 294,140; for 2007, 270,653; for 2006, 239,533; and for 2005, 181,341.
Most students perform their pro bono service by participating in a clinical program at HLS, in which they represent clients in actual cases under the supervision of experienced lawyers while enrolled in a related academic course. HLS has the largest clinical legal education program in the world, with clinics in more than 36 different substantive practice areas, from cyberlaw to environmental law, from human rights to criminal justice to war crimes prosecution.
Among the class of 2009, 72 percent did at least one clinic during their time at Harvard, and 39 percent did more than one clinic.