Community Water Center – Visalia, California

Laurel Firestone (’04) is the Co-Executive Director and Attorney at Law at the Community Water Center in Visalia, California. After Harvard’s Office of Public Interest Advising (OPIA) assisted Laurel in her job search, Laurel was eager to help current Harvard Law students the way former students had aided her. Laurel saw HLS Connect as an opportunity to engage students who were interested in environmental justice, and was excited about exposing students to a field about which she herself is so passionate.

Britton Schwartz (’07) contacted Laurel in an effort to further develop her fellowship project. Having gone through the fellowship process, Laurel was enthused to be able to help Britton. The HLS alums had a number of conversations over the phone, including one during which Laurel hired Britton, working to form a strong fellowship project. Britton’s project was funded, and Britton then moved to California where she proceeded to work for Laurel for two years.

Laurel credits Britton with a huge increase in Community Water Center’s capacity. Laurel explained that Britton made it possible for the organization to address legal and policy changes and work with an increased number of communities that do not have safe drinking water.

Laurel hopes that she has many more HLS Connect experiences similar to the one she has had with Britton. “The idea of bringing young, enthusiastic lawyers to a part of the country in which most people have not even graduated college is very inspiring,” says Laurel, “The clients gain a tremendous amount from the help, and the lawyers gain exposure to an entirely new area of the country and of the law.”