Legal representation is not affordable for many Americans. Without legal assistance, many individuals struggle to navigate complex court systems and acquire critical representation when confronting major life challenges, such as domestic violence, child custody, eviction, obtaining veterans’ benefits and disability benefits. Pro bono attorneys play a critical role in providing access to justice.

As part of national Pro Bono Week, from Oct. 22 to Oct. 27, Harvard Law School’s Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP) is highlighting the work of outstanding attorneys engaged in critical pro bono legal work in the areas of immigration, civil rights, economic justice and climate change.

The theme for this year’s week, “Pro Bono: Our Civic Duty,” underscores lawyers’ roles as public agents in administering and implementing the law in way that upholds democratic values.

Related Reading

In conjunction with Pro Bono Week, Harvard Law School’s Human Resources department has organized the 2018 Fall Week of Service for all faculty and staff to participate in, as a way to deepen engagement with the Greater Cambridge community.

Related Reading

The Pro Bono Week initiative was launched in 2008 by The American Bar Association to increase awareness of the growing need for pro bono services, and to highlight the positive impact that lawyers make in their communities across the United States and in the lives of the clients they serve.

This year, there are a number of events programmed to support the goal of Pro Bono Week, and of all of HLS’s Pro Bono programs: to encourage law students and attorneys to use their talents to exemplify the legal profession’s ideals of public service.

Below is a schedule of the week’s HLS-sponsored activities.

A discussion with Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project

October 22, 12pm-1pm, WCC 2036 Milstein East C

OCP welcomes Lee Gelernt of the ACLU who has argued a number of groundbreaking challenges to Trump administration policies. He successfully argued the first case challenging the president’s travel ban on individuals from certain Muslim-majority nations and litigated the Trump administration’s unprecedented practice of separating immigrant families at the border. Cosponsored by HLS ACLU, HLS Immigration Project (HIP), and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC).

Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House at Suffolk University Law School

October 22, 4:30pm – 6pm, Suffolk Law School

The Pro Bono Recruitment Fair & Open House provides attorneys and law students with a range of pro bono opportunities. The event, held at Suffolk University Law School, is sponsored by the Boston Bar Association and Suffolk University Law School. The Fair is a part of the National Pro Bono Celebration sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.

Attendees are encouraged to drop in and meet representatives from local legal services organizations and to learn more about the pro bono opportunities in our community. This event is offered to attorneys of all levels, as well as all local-area law students. Visit the ABA website for event details.

Civil Rights and Economic Justice with Prof. Nikolas Bowie and Oren Nimni

October 23, 12pm – 1pm, Lewis International Law Center

Join us for a conversation about civil rights and economic justice with Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School Nikolas Bowie ’14 and Oren Nimni, a Civil Rights Fellow at Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston. Oren’s legal practice focuses on cutting-edge constitutional litigation on behalf of people of color and immigrants. Oren is currently litigating the first lawsuit filed in the country against the Trump Administration to save TPS on behalf of Haitian, Honduran and Salvadoran immigrants. He is also litigating the first lawsuit filed in the country to block federal officials from conducting immigration arrests in state courthouses. Oren employs a community lawyering model. He is deeply embedded in the community, and regularly advises grassroots organizations on policy and legal matters. Co-sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild – HLS Chapter.

Targeting the Victims: Defending Immigrant Survivors of Abuse in an Era of Enforcement

October 24, 12pm – 1pm, WCC 3019 Classroom

Join Wasserstein Fellow Stacie Jonas for a discussion of her work at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and Justice in Motion on behalf of victims of trafficking and other abuse, as well as ongoing efforts to reunite migrant parents with children from whom they were separated at the border. Co-sponsored by OCP and LEAP.

How to Build a Pro Bono Practice in a Large Firm

October 25, 12pm – 1pm, Lewis International Law Center

HLS’s Assistant Dean for Admission Kristi Jobson (JD ’12) will facilitate a conversation with other HLS alumni, law firm leaders and associates, about where pro bono work fits into their practice. The participants will discuss a wide range of questions including how they prioritize both their paying work and their pro bono work? How do associates get involved in their pro bono work and how firms provide opportunities for participation? What do these attorneys love about their pro bono work and what is challenging about it? Where does pro bono work fit into a law firm’s business model? Come be a part of this important conversation as you think about building your own legal careers.

Susan M. Finegan, Pro Bono Partner, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Victoria Hartmann’17, Associate, WilmerHale
William Roberts ’10, Associate, Ropes & Gray LLP

Co-sponsored by the Harvard Women’s Law Association.

Election Protection Volunteer Training

October 25, 6pm – 7:30 pm, WCC 1010 Classroom

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, in collaboration with partners, including ACLU of Massachusetts, Anti-Defamation League, Common Cause, League of Women Voters Massachusetts and Mass Vote, is seeking volunteers to serve as mobile poll observers for a comprehensive Election Day field observation program. Live trainings, as well as digital on-demand trainings, will be provided so that volunteers are well-equipped to spot common voting problems. Volunteers will work in pairs or small groups to help monitor polling locations that have high turnout and a history of voting irregularities. By volunteering for a minimum of 3.5 hours at a polling site, you can serve a crucial role in
preventing and resolving issues that would otherwise bar eligible Americans access to the ballot box. Visit the Election Protection website for additional program information.

Climate Defense Project

October 26, 12pm – 1pm, Lewis International Law Center

Join us for a conversation with co-founders and HLS alums Alice Cherry ’16 and Ted Hamilton ’16 of the Climate Defense Project (CDP), an organization that provides legal support for climate activists and pursues climate impact litigation. CDP has been active in promoting the climate necessity defense, which climate protesters are increasingly using to defend themselves in court. Co-sponsored by the Harvard Environmental Law Society.