Legal Aid Bureau tackles urgent banking crisis


The New Face of the Bureau’s Client Base

The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB) lived up to its reputation of responding quickly to emerging crises by expanding its service to include representation of displaced, disgraced bankers. Many are aware that HLAB created an AIDS task force in the early 1990s to tackle discrimination that emerged in the early years of the epidemic. Last year, HLAB created a foreclosure task force designed to halt evictions and keep people in their homes.

While the AIDS/foreclosure task forces have been high profile direct actions, HLAB has also worked under the radar to protect other groups affected by various crises. Said HLAB Managing Attorney Grave Drossman A.B, J.D., M.Div., “Few people know that HLAB was one of the first groups on the ground helping Greenwich, Connecticut residents coping with a catastrophic .5% increase in their property taxes.” When asked how HLS students were able to aid residents in the nation’s richest town without permission from the Connecticut courts, Drossman replied, “For clients as needy as those in Greenwich, we go above and beyond-no ethical quandaries or court rules can stand in our way. That’s what has made the Bureau so strong for 100 years.”

Today, the Bureau is bringing that same “can-do” attitude to aid displaced bankers on Wall Street. “Some of these white, educated, men have had to move their entire families-trophy wives, mistresses, and all-from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side,” Bureau President Giselle Smythe ’10 stated, “Such a dramatic change in lifestyle can undermine their confidence and leave them with an odd feeling that they are responsible, personally, for all the world’s problems; that they are, in fact, the devil incarnate; that they are, have been, and will be, the most morally bankrupt, intellectually vapid people alive. That can be a difficult burden to shoulder.”

The Bureau has placed a premium on helping bankers who own multiple homes. Intake Director Jules Hills ’10 explained this policy: “We want to make sure that the clients we represent are not forced to live in hundred-thousand square foot vacation homes in the Hamptons. Quite frankly, we’d rather see them destitute on the streets of New York. These people deserve penthouse apartments in Pre-war, doorman buildings, and that is what we’re gonna give to them.”

When asked how the Bureau could reconcile helping wealthy, putrid bankers and low-income Cantabridgians simultaneously, Executive Director Jen Handsome admitted, “Oh we can’t. We cannot possible reconcile the two. They are completely and utterly oppositional philosophies. We’ve had to cut our representation of low-income clients. I mean, sure, it’s hard destroying a century worth of good will that this organization has built up in the community, but when you see the faces of these bankers, when you hear their gut-wrenching stories of how they had to give up black car service and only use plus gasoline in their Mercedes SUVs, you know, deep in your heart of hearts, that you’ve done the right thing.”

HLAB’s new program is already reaping dividends for reprehensible, morally depraved bankers. Maura Bleinman ’10 recently won a case in New York Family Court that transferred child support payments from an unemployed single mother of two to a fat-cat, blue-blooded banker with no children and even less responsibility. “It was one of the proudest moments of my HLAB career,” Bleinman gushed, “And I have to say I couldn’t have done it without the unyielding dedication of my 3L mentor Andrew the Great ’09. His unwavering commitment to stripping the little hope that poor people have for fairness and decency in the world has left me in constant awe this year. No one else fleeces the poor to enrich the wealthy with nearly the same efficiency as he does.”

It has been rumored that the Bureau was to open a satellite branch in New Haven, Connecticut, in an effort to be closer to its new client base. However, Drossman put that rumor on ice, stating, “We couldn’t find enough lawyers with the requisite passion and commitment in New Haven. We’ve decided to spend the money on a large ice sculpture instead.”

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