Harvard Law School student Lauren Kuhlik ’17 has won the 2017 Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)-Northeast Law Student Ethics Award. The award was created to recognize students who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to ethics. The ACC is a global bar association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other private-sector organizations through information, education, networking opportunities and advocacy initiatives.
Kuhlik, who is one of ten students honored from participating local law schools, was recognized for demonstrating a commitment to ethics through her work with the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP).
She was nominated for the award by Harvard Law School Clinical Instructor Joel Thompson, who supervised her during her work with PLAP. In his nomination letter, Thompson praised Kuhlik for her work defending clients at disciplinary hearings and her excellent ability to navigate the tricky waters of plea negotiations.
“In her years at PLAP, Lauren has been a magnet for unusual cases with complex legal and ethical issues” wrote Thompson. “She has consistently provided quality representation despite these challenges.”
The Prison Legal Assistance Project is a student practice organization that allows students to represent incarcerated individuals at disciplinary hearings and parole hearings in Massachusetts state prisons; assist inmates with prison-related problems; and work on impact litigation and prison policy initiatives. Students work pro bono and not for credit.
Kuhlik began this work her first year at Harvard Law School. Throughout her time, she defended a client in a disciplinary hearing by holding the Massachusetts Department of Corrections accountable to its own rules and negotiated a plea agreement that the client accepted. In addition, Kuhlik and a fellow student represented a prisoner sentenced to life before the parole board. In preparing for the hearing, certain facts came to light that prompted ethical obligations in terms of what Kuhlik and her fellow student could do for the client. “It was a very complicated situation which had to be resolved very quickly,” wrote Thompson, noting that Kuhlik and her fellow student were very thoughtful about the ethical issues and methodically arrived at the best possible solution.
“It’s an honor to receive the ACC law student ethics award,” said Kuhlik. “I’m thrilled that ACC recognizes the important work that the Prison Legal Assistance Project, and all of our clients do to advance criminal justice and reform in Massachusetts.”
Kuhlik will receive the award at a reception for the honorees on April 27, 2017, at the Old South Meeting House Museum in Boston. Each recipient of a Law Students Ethics Award will also receive a $1,000 check from ACC-Northeast.