Lisa Dicker and Nathan MacKenzie are the winners of the 2017 Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award. They were chosen for exemplifying a pro bono public spirit and demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to improving and delivering high quality volunteer legal services in low-income communities. The award is granted each year in honor of Professor Andrew Kaufman, who spearheaded the pro bono requirement at HLS.

Nathan MacKenzie

At Harvard Law School, Nathan MacKenzie ’17 has participated in Harvard Defenders, the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC), and has created his own independent clinical placement with the Migrants Rights Clinic at the Center of Law and Business, in Ramat Gan, Israel. He has excelled in all of these organizations, earning the praise of his clinical supervisors and peers.

“Nate’s contributions to the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, a clinic in which he participated for a year and a half, have helped transform lives,” said his clinical supervisors. One of his most consequential achievements in the clinic is the pivotal role he played in securing a reprieve from deportation for a woman who had been scheduled to be removed within a matter of days. “It was a tense situation which would have intimidated many students but Nate took immediate action,” his clinical supervisors said. He dove into the case, immediately interviewing the client’s family and gathering the supporting evidence which ultimately helped convince the government to grant the woman the opportunity to remain in the United States and apply for asylum.

MacKenzie also worked long hours and late nights orchestrating the research needed for an amicus brief challenging Trump’s Muslim ban executive order. “His calmness under pressure, honed through years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard, is one of his most impressive features,” said his clinical supervisors.

On campus, MacKenzie devoted himself to other Student Practice Organizations and causes. He worked with refugees in Israel and completed eight show-cause hearings for indigent criminal defendants as a student attorney in Harvard Defenders, as well as completed a clemency petition with the Criminal Justice Policy Program. MacKenzie also helped organize over 20 events this year as the Program Director of the HLS Democrats.

“Both the depth and breadth of his commitment to social justice is remarkable,” said his clinical supervisors. “His legal skill, his ability to work well both independently and in a group, and above all, his commitment to—and impact on—his clients and his dedication to advancing the rights of clients has been outstanding.”

“I am deeply humbled by this award and thankful for the many pro bono opportunities I have had here at HLS” said MacKenzie. “Working with the Immigration and Refugee Clinic and being a part of the Harvard Defenders have both been highlights of my law school experience and I am honored to have been a part of the great work done by these two amazing organizations.”

Lisa Dicker

Lisa Dicker has devoted her time to public service starting her 1L year with HLS Negotiators, serving first as a member and later as its Co-President. She also spent her 1L spring break in Nashville, TN, working pro bono with Equal Justice Under Law, a non-profit civil rights organization founded by two HLS alumni. During the trip, Dicker and her fellow students, helped challenge practices, such as jail time for failure to pay fines that penalize the poor.

During her 2L and 3L years, Dicker participated in the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) working with the New Hampshire Superior Court on judge-facilitated settlement conferences and with client organizations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on negotiation and conflict management in the context of the disarmament and repatriation of militants and refugees from the Eastern DRC to Rwanda, and she set up two independent clinical placements, one in Massachusetts with the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration on community mediation services and the other in Turkey with Public International Law & Policy Group providing support for the Syrian peace process. “There are few, if any, branches of HNMCP in which she has not become involved and had a tremendous positive impact,” said her clinical supervisors. “Lisa has demonstrated deep engagement with the substance of her projects, as well as creativity and innovation in her final products.”

Throughout her time at Harvard Law School, Dicker has not only performed over 1,500 hours of pro bono work but she also served as part of a corps of trained student facilitators who volunteer to facilitate discussions among members of the HLS community on challenging and politically fraught topics. She has also twice served as Teaching Assistant for the Negotiation Workshop, and has emerged as a leader in mentoring, coaching, and simply listening to her peers.

“Her ability to adapt to many different contexts and partners is highly unusual in a student, and reflects her broader approach to learning: she sees true value in listening to others and uses that principle to guide her self-reflection and behavior” said her clinical supervisors. “Above all, Lisa is simply a joy and a delight to work with. Her quick sense of humor, endless energy, brave and courageous spirit, and boundless positivity are infectious, and constitute real and powerful contributions to our community.”

“Being recognized with the Kaufman Award is an enormous honor, and I am humbled that HNMCP, which has been my home and greatest support system on campus, nominated me” said Dicker. “To receive this award means to me that HLS values and encourages non-traditional legal careers and believes that in addition to being advocates, lawyers effect positive change through being problem-solvers, system-changers, and enablers of dialogue.”