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With national attention focused on the obesity epidemic and the diabetes crisis—along with rapidly growing concerns about social justice and environmental problems related to the current food-production system—there may be no hotter topic in law schools right now than food law and policy. The wildly popular new Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, the first law school clinic of its kind in the world, is right at the center, with students working on a wide range of projects to make healthy food more accessible, help farmers’ markets overcome regulatory barriers so they can sell more of their products, guide states and local communities in creating food policy councils, and more.
Last year, after Rory Van Loo ’07 left the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau implementation team to become assistant director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program, he asked his former colleagues how HLS students might assist the new agency. It had been created by Congress in 2010 largely thanks to the vision of HLS Professor Elizabeth Warren, and its mission included examining certain consumer financial services companies and large banks and credit unions. But the legislation creating it did not establish an appeals process for examining findings.
During the third week in March, a number of Harvard Law students traveled around the world and to remote areas in the U.S. to offer their legal services. With funding from the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, teams of students worked with farmers in the Mississippi Delta, immigrants in Alabama and patients living with HIV/AIDS in New Orleans.
Susan Farbstein, a leading practitioner in the field of human rights, has been appointed assistant clinical professor of law and co-director of the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School.
A new HLS clinic, in its first year of operation, has already contributed to significant governance reforms in numerous S&P 500 companies. The Harvard Law School Shareholder Rights Project (SRP) is a clinical program at Harvard Law School through which faculty and students assist public pension funds and charitable organizations to improve corporate governance at publicly traded companies in which they are shareowners.
In December, Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic submitted an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of petitioners in a major Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) case, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. The brief in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. argues that corporations can be held liable for violations of the law of nations under the ATS.
On Nov. 25, the Fourth Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons concluded that it could find no consensus on proposed treaty language that would allow for some use of cluster munitions. The announcement was a major milestone for Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, a supporter of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
HLS Clinical Professor Ron Sullivan ’94, who serves as director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute, was recently appointed to the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services. Sullivan joins Professor Carol Steiker ’86, who is also a member of the committee.
Daniel Nagin, a tireless advocate for low-income communities, will join the Harvard Law School faculty as a Clinical Professor of Law this summer. He will direct community-based lawyering at HLS’s WilmerHale Legal Services Center.
As the groundbreaking anti-foreclosure work by HLS students continues to land significant victories for homeowners in Massachusetts, a recent conference to spread the Harvard model was attended by more than 150 lawyers, law students and community organizers from around the country who want to halt foreclosures in their own communities. The second annual HLS “Community Responses to the Foreclosure Crisis” conference, organized by the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB), ran for three days and included panel discussions and small, interactive workshops where participants received practical advice for fighting foreclosures.
Eight Harvard Law School students in the HLS Education Law Clinic of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI) recently spent a full day at the Massachusetts State House, testifying before the Joint Committee on Education and lobbying legislators to garner support for legislation proposed by the Clinic to create safe and supportive school environments.
Environmental Law & Policy Clinic student Rachel Heron ’12 presented a 3-hour oral argument on a motion for summary judgment in an important, precedent-setting administrative proceeding concerning the right of renewable energy companies to conduct business and install solar energy systems in Massachusetts.
For upholding the highest principles of the legal profession and for outstanding dedication to the welfare of others, HLS Clinical Professor Deborah Anker LL.M. ’84 was recently elected to the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. Anker, one of the nation’s top scholars in immigration law, is director of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic and has taught immigration law and supervised clinical students for over 20 years.
With the help of Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic, Filipina-American Melissa Roxas has filed a submission with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture seeking justice for the abduction and torture she suffered in the Philippines in 2009.
Last year alone, 12,233 home foreclosures were completed in Massachusetts, where foreclosure rates are considered elevated and are predicted to remain so. This is the story of how the student-run Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and two teaching clinics at the school’s WilmerHale Legal Services Center—the Post-Foreclosure Eviction Defense Housing Clinic and the Predatory Lending/Consumer Protection Clinic—are working together to use activism, community lawyering, bankruptcy to help redirect the path of the foreclosure wave in Boston.
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