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Esme Caramello

Clinical Professor of Law

Faculty Director, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

Esme Caramello
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Esme Caramello is a Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Faculty Director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB), the nation’s oldest student-run legal aid organization. At HLAB, Professor Caramello works closely with the student leadership to help the organization pursue its mission of providing free representation to low-income and marginalized communities in a way that responds to the systemic racial, social, and economic inequalities that are the causes and consequences of poverty. She teaches the clinic seminar and ethics course for new HLAB members. She also supervises students in housing, wage-and-hour, and unemployment cases and appeals and in policy projects that promote access to justice and equity for HLAB’s client communities. Before coming to HLAB, Professor Caramello held clinical teaching roles at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and at Suffolk University Law School.

Professor Caramello’s teaching, research, and writing focus on housing law and policy, legal ethics, racial justice, and equal access to civil justice. She is a member of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, where she serves on its Executive Committee and as co-chair of its Housing Working Group. She is a Trustee of the Boston Bar Foundation and a longtime member of its Grants Committee. She is the Reporter for the Uniform Law Commission’s Study Committee on the Use of Tenant Information in Rental Decisions. In 2018, she was named one of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s Top Women of Law.

Before entering clinical teaching, Professor Caramello clerked for the Honorable Charles P. Kocoras of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and represented corporate clients in commercial litigation at Baker McKenzie and Holland & Knight LLP. For two years, she served as a Chesterfield Smith Community Service Fellow at Holland & Knight, where she had the privilege of working with H&K Partner Stephen Hanlon, the ACLU Prison Project, and the Equal Justice Initiative on a number of criminal justice system reform cases. She was a member of the trial team in Gates v. Cook, which forced improvement in the living conditions of people incarcerated on Parchman Prison’s death row, and worked on challenges to the denial of state-funded post-conviction counsel in Alabama and the underfunding of the criminal defense system in Massachusetts. She also represented individual clients in asylum, disability discrimination, eviction, and consumer protection cases and used litigation and legislative advocacy to curb predatory practices in the post-eviction storage industry.

Professor Caramello is a graduate of Harvard-Radcliffe College (’94) and Harvard Law School (’99). She is the proud mother of two young men, Liam and Ollie.

Clinic Work

The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau is a student-run civil legal aid organization committed to providing free representation to low-income and marginalized communities in the Greater Boston area. Students and staff aim to provide these services in a way that responds to the systemic racial, social, and economic inequalities that are the causes and consequences of poverty. To that end, the Bureau trains its student attorneys to advocate vigorously for their clients, create enduring community partnerships, and become socially conscious leaders.

The Bureau's tight-knit community includes 50 second- and third-year law students who commit to spending at least 20 hours per week for two full academic years representing low-income clients in civil cases and policy and outreach projects, along with a staff of experienced lawyers and educators who guide the students' work.  Founded in 1913, the Bureau has always been run by its student members.  Students may apply for HLAB membership during the spring of their 1L year. 


  • J.D. Harvard Law School, 1999
  • B.A. Social Anthropology Harvard-Radcliffe College, 1994

Academic Appointment and Employment History

  • Deputy Director, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (2009 - 2015)
    Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Suffolk University Law School Housing and Consumer Protection Clinic (2009 - 2009)
    Boston, Massachusetts
  • Clinical Instructor, Housing Unit, WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School (2006 - 2008)
    Boston, Massachusetts
  • Litigation Associate, Holland & Knight LLP (2004 - 2006)
    Boston, Massachusetts
  • Chesterfield Smith Community Service Fellow, Holland & Knight LLP (2001 - 2003)
    Boston, Massachusetts
  • Litigation Associate, Baker & McKenzie (1999 - 2000)
    San Francisco, California

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts, United States (2002)
  • U.S. District Court, D. Massachusetts (2005)


  • Charles P. Kocoras, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 2000 - 2001

Board Memberships

  • Commissioner, Executive Committee Member, and Co-Chair of Housing Committee, Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission (2019 - Present)
  • Trustee, Boston Bar Foundation (2018 - Present)

Honors and Awards

  • Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Top Women of Law
    October 2018

Representative Publications

View all publications by Esme Caramello