I can only speak for myself when talking about why I tried the writing competition for the Harvard Law Review last spring. The cost to trying was immediate and tangible – working long hours for another week after finals. The benefits to trying were more difficult, at the time, to articulate.
After a semester on the Law Review, I understand why trying the writing competition is worthwhile. My time on the Law Review has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my academic life. Every editor of the Law Review is, from the first day of Orientation, a part owner of what might be the most widely read and respected journal in legal academia. We democratically select the articles we publish. As a team, we see every article through to publication. We also publish our own pieces, and we work together to make those pieces powerful and persuasive. I can’t overstate the amount I’ve learned in the past semester. It’s a body of knowledge that makes me a stronger student, and that will hopefully make me a stronger advocate. More than a journal, though, the Law Review is a community. We work hard together, we help each other with our writing and with our classes, and we have fun together. Through the Law Review I’ve gotten to know a group of intelligent, thoughtful, and caring people whom I will call friends for the rest of my life.
All of you will have to decide whether to try the writing competition. This year, the competition will start on Saturday, May 17, after finals, and end on May 24. The cost to trying is another week of hard work after finals. I can assure you that the benefits to trying outweigh that cost many times over. Never hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.
All of my best wishes,
Who are we?
The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau is the nation’s oldest student-run legal services organization, and we recently celebrated our 100th year anniversary.
We are fifty 2L and 3L student attorneys who provide free civil legal services to a diverse population of low-income clients in the Greater Boston area.
We value diversity. We represent a variety of geographical, racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. We have been teachers, military service members, community organizers, and consultants. After our time at the Bureau, we go on to clerkships, public interest jobs, and private sector jobs.
What do we do?
We take on civil cases in the practice areas which are important to our low-income clients. Housing – We fight evictions which put families at risk of homelessness. Family – We help victims of domestic abuse get divorces, child custody, and support. Benefits – We assist disabled people in appealing denials of the benefits they need to survive. Wage and hour – We bring claims against employers for wage theft and overtime pay violations.
We also run pro se clinics to educate people on their legal rights, partner with community organizations opposing the foreclosure crisis, and engage in ongoing legislative advocacy.
How are we different from other clinics?
We, as students, run our own law firm. We decide whom to serve and how to serve them. We interview clients, negotiate with opposing counsel, argue motions, and conduct jury trials. We have the support of our extremely talented clinical instructors, but we manage our own caseloads and case strategy.
What kind of an impact do we have?
We won a preliminary injunction in federal court to stop Freddie Mac from selling a family’s foreclosed home. We recovered $350,000 for a client whose ex-partner had sent all his assets overseas. We went to trial in federal district court to keep a client’s children in the U.S., under the international Hague convention.
What will you gain from joining the Bureau?
Academically, you will have endless opportunities for hands-on learning. You will manage a full caseload and will engage in classroom discussions to reflect on your development as an advocate.
Professionally, you will develop transferable skills in legal writing, oral advocacy, client counseling, and negotiation which are highly valued by employers. You will have access to a network of passionate alumni who stay connected to the Bureau and current students.
Socially, you will gain a warm and vibrant community of fellow students and clinical instructors who take part in frequent happy hours, potlucks, and retreats.
How do you apply?
Greetings from the 2013-2014 Board of Student Advisers!
Originally founded by the Harvard Law School faculty to provide tutors for the moot court program, the Board of Student Advisers has been serving Harvard Law School for over 100 years. Today, the Board consists of 42 second- and third-year law students with a wealth of interests and experiences. We are unique among student organizations in that our role is both to provide opportunities for students to engage with intellectually challenging legal problems and to serve as a support network for students going through the difficult academic and personal transition to law school. Our work as a Board is three-fold:
First, we serve as teaching assistants in the Legal Research & Writing Program. This includes teaching first-year students how to use the Bluebook, meeting individually with students to review their writing, and answering general research and writing questions throughout the year. In addition to our one-on-one interactions with the first-year students, we also contribute to the overall writing program by drafting and editing exercises that are used by the Climenko Fellows to teach the first-year writing class and publishing a handbook on legal research, writing, and advocacy titled “Introduction to Advocacy.” Second, we provide guidance to students about how to successfully navigate the 1L experience, serving as a positive counter-balance to the pressures and stresses of adjusting to life in law school. Each member of the Board is personally responsible for a small group of students, serving as a mentor and a source of advice, information, and support to those students. The Board also hosts a variety of panels and mixers over the course of the fall semester, offering larger groups of 1Ls advice on topics like academic success, course selection, and the summer job search. Third, the Board administers several competitions that foster the development of practical lawyering skills. We administer the 1L Ames Competition, where first-year students draft an appellate brief and take part in mock oral argument sessions judged by professors and practitioners. Together with the Harvard Negotiators, we also co-host the Williston Negotiation Competition, giving 1Ls the opportunity to engage in a complex contract negotiation and drafting competition. Finally, we manage the upper-level Ames Moot Court Competition, one of the most respected moot court competitions in the country. We recruit judges for the Qualifying Round, work closely with the Dean of Students Office to organize the Semi-Final and Final Round events, and assist in the process of writing the competition records. In addition to meaningful work, the BSA offers members the opportunity to join a tight-knit community of 2L and 3L students, as well as a vast alumni network. The Board is a group through which students can socialize, develop strong friendships, and learn from each other. Members of the Board also benefit from the help and advice of other members and alumni with regard to academic and career opportunities. As part of the Board’s community building efforts, Board members often study together in the BSA office in Wasserstein, attend bi-monthly social activities for current members, and host alumni mixers to connect with past members.
The current Board is hoping to pass the torch to students who are interested in legal research and writing, willing mentors, involved in the HLS community, and excited about the prospect of joining the BSA. If this statement describes you, we sincerely hope that you’ll apply! You can find the application at: http://www3.law.harvard.edu/orgs/bsa/apply-to-the-bsa/.