Harvard Law School has announced that Lisa Dealy, formerly the director of the Law School’s loan forgiveness and summer funding program, will head the School’s Pro Bono Office. The office will direct the Law School’s pro bono program which, beginning with next fall’s incoming class, will require all students to perform a minimum of 40 hours of uncompensated public interest work.

“Lisa Dealy has done tremendous work as head of our loan forgiveness and summer funding programs,” said Todd Rakoff, dean of the J.D. Program. “I am confident that as she steps into this new role, Lisa will continue to foster the relationships with students and organizations that will allow this important new office to thrive.”

Under Dealy’s leadership, the summer funding and loan forgiveness programs, known as LIPP, have both grown significantly. Last year she implemented a dramatic expansion of the program that allowed students and alumni to obtain loan forgiveness even if their jobs were in fields not traditionally considered “law related.” Additionally, greater resources were made available to graduates at all income levels whose debt burden made it difficult for them to meet monthly loan payments.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to start the Pro Bono Program. It is an important step for Harvard Law School to integrate pro bono service into the curriculum,” said Dealy. “Students will have the opportunity to put their classroom knowledge into practice and this is likely to bring alive their coursework. The introduction of the Pro Bono Program also demonstrates the Law School’s continued commitment to public service.”

As a result of Dealy’s move, Ken Lafler has been named the new director of the loan forgiveness and summer funding program. A 1986 graduate of Williams College, Lafler currently serves as the Law School’s assistant director for financial aid systems. In 14 years at the Law School, Lafler has been informally associated with the loan forgiveness program as an interim coordinator, student counselor, and database developer.

“I look forward to providing the LIPP and summer public interest funding programs with both continuity and innovation,” said Lafler. “This is a great opportunity to support the Law School’s commitment to career choice and public service.”

Established in 1978, the loan forgiveness plan at Harvard Law School was created to address concern about students ‘ increasing debt burdens and the disparity between private sector and public sector salaries. It is the oldest law school loan forgiveness program in the nation.

The pro bono requirement is one of the principal recommendations of the Law School’s strategic plan, which was completed in 2000 after more than three years of development. Several aspects of the plan were implemented for the 2001-2002 academic year, including the reduction in size of the first-year sections and the creation of seven “Law Colleges”, the development of a First-Year Lawyering Program, and enhancements to the financial aid program.

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