Social Enterprise Comes to Harvard Law School

Like a lot of the other students here, we came to Harvard Law School to learn how the law can be utilized to create meaningful social change. Luckily, HLS is a great place to do just that. In our second semester at HLS, we discovered an up and coming student-led organization aimed at bridging the gap between the private and public sectors: the Social Enterprise Law Association (SELA), founded by 1Ls, Bea Hinton and Thea Sebastian.

SELA provides a space for students to transform their ideas into initiatives by building a pipeline for those eager to apply their newfound legal skills to build meaningful careers. SELA focuses primarily on discovering innovative ways to use the law as a tool to implement social change by acting as a bridge builder among existing communities at HLS. SELA offers Harvard Law students the opportunity to learn from, and work with, prominent members of the social enterprise community through workshops and discussions. Through collaboration, SELA members focus on identifying and critically evaluating different ways that students can achieve social impact through their own approaches.

Earlier this semester, in concert with the Harvard Business Law Review, SELA brought in Dr. Zachary Kaufman, a fellow at Yale Law School who founded Rwanda’s first-ever public library, to speak about the role of attorneys in social entrepreneurship. SELA also brought in Rebecca Leventhal and Caitlin Fleming, who have worked on the Hilary Clinton campaign, to discuss how social impact bonds are shaking up business as usual, and how lawyers can help advance the field.

SELA does more than host interesting speakers; it also gives students the opportunity to create. On March 28, from 5-7 p.m. SELA is hosting Harvard Law School’s first-ever Impact Lab. Harvard graduate students will work with teams, under the guidance of Dr. Kaufman, to pitch, refine, and workshop their start-up ideas, moving them from concept to proposal. This lab will be the first in a series of such labs hosted by different facilitators who are making waves in the social enterprise community.

Our generation faces an unprecedented variety of social challenges. SELA aspires to empower students to use their ideas to create solutions. Harvard Law School now has another bridge connecting public service and private practice: the Social Enterprise Law Association. For more information on SELA, or to apply to its Impact Lab Series please contact selacomms@gmail.com.

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