Harvard Law School Student Catherine Howard ’16 is the winner of the inaugural David A. Grossman Exemplary Clinical Student Award. The award, named in honor of the late Clinical Professor of Law David Grossman ’88, a public interest lawyer dedicated to providing high-quality legal services to low income communities, recognizes students who have demonstrated excellence in representing individual clients and undertaking advocacy or policy reform projects.
Credited with embodying Grossman’s tireless pro bono spirit, Howard was chosen for excellence in representing her clients, her compassion in legal practice, and her contributions to the clinical community.
During her 2L year, as a student in the Education Law Clinic, she worked to advance the interests of traumatized children in Massachusetts through the Safe and Supportive Schools Act. Howard showed extraordinary talent at drafting successful language for a budgetary line item that was passed by the legislature, outstanding analysis of statutory language, and the ability to work skillfully on a team in developing an overall strategy to secure passage of the legislation.
Throughout her 3L year, working in the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI), Howard demonstrated exceptional skills in and out of the courtroom, representing numerous clients who faced criminal charges and who could not afford an attorney. She has advocated for them from arraignment to disposition, in the Dorchester and Roxbury Divisions of the Boston Municipal Courts. Along the way, Howard earned the praise and respect of judges, clients, and peers.
“As a clinical student, Catherine’s approach to her clients is full-hearted, strategic, and selfless,” said Clinical Instructor Lia Monahon, who supervised Howard in the Criminal Justice Institute. “One of the hardest things for student attorneys working on criminal cases is to find pride, grace and eloquence in an argument or position that faces bad odds. Catherine’s capacity for this is boundless because she is completely motivated by her client.”
In addition to her work with CJI, Howard served as editor-in-chief of Harvard’s Journal on Racial and Ethnic Justice and as co-chair of the leadership and mentorship committee of the Harvard Black Law Students Association. She also engaged the law school community as a member of the Reclaim HLS movement, which has focused on issues of diversity and inclusivity.
“My clinical experiences have been the most rewarding moments of my law school career,” said Howard. “The Criminal Justice Institute and the Education Law Clinic have allowed me to live out the passions that brought me to law school in a meaningful way, even as a student. While I am so deeply honored to be recognized by this award, I am most validated by what I am able to accomplish with my clients every day.”
“We are delighted that Catherine is the inaugural David Grossman Exemplary Clinical Student Award winner,” said Lisa Dealy, assistant dean for the Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. “Catherine embodies David’s spirit of tireless and excellent advocacy in representing clients and improving the legal system.”