Harvard Law School student Sam Levine ’12 and alumnus Bill Beardall ’78 received the Gary Bellow Public Service Award for their commitment to public interest and social justice work.
The awards were presented at an April 9 ceremony at HLS. The Gary Bellow Public Service Award is given annually by the HLS student body to the student and the alumnus/a whose commitment to social justice best demonstrates how lawyers can litigate, educate, advocate and organize to promote justice.
As a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Sam Levine ’12 served as president of the Foreclosure Task Force, where he led the effort to offer legal representation to foreclosed tenants or owners in Boston. In the fall, he argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Judiciary Court on behalf of homeowners fighting foreclosure in the case, Eaton v. Fannie Mae and Green Tree Servicing, which drew national attention. Levine also created the Foreclosure Defense Toolkit website to help attorneys statewide, designed new forms for unrepresented litigants, and filed a successful affirmative suit now under advisement before the Supreme Judicial Court.
Levine is also involved with “Project No One Leaves,” which seeks to empower citizens living in foreclosed properties and inform them of their rights. He has served as a political chair for Lambda and was an editor for the HLS Journal on Legislation. Next year, Levine will join the Consumer Protection Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in Chicago, where he will continue working to protect families and neighborhoods from the devastating effects of predatory lending and foreclosure.
Bill Beardall ’78 is currently executive director of the Equal Justice Center whose mission is to “empower low-income workers, families, and communities to achieve fair treatment in the workplace and in the justice system – regardless of immigration status.” Beardall is also an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law and is an expert in experience in reforming public justice systems and private employment practices. In 1997, he was awarded a HLS Wasserstein Fellowship, and in 2000 he received the John Minor Wisdom Award from the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section, recognizing his career as a leading advocate for low-income working people.
The Gary Bellow Public Service Award is conferred in honor of the late Harvard Law School Professor Gary Bellow, who died on April 13, 2000. The award was created by students in 2001 to honor Bellow, who founded the clinical program at HLS in 1971. His career in public service included work as a public defender in Washington, D.C., litigation on behalf of migrant farm workers in Calif., and advocacy for countless indigent clients in the Boston area. Bellow was a gifted teacher who challenged those around him to be better lawyers. He constantly pushed to make the world a more equitable place, both for individual clients and for the community as a whole.