Every year, the Clinical and Pro Bono Programs recognizes graduating students who exemplify putting theory into practice through clinical work. This year’s winners are Lerae Kroon ’14 and Brett Heeger ’14. Students have demonstrated excellence in representing individual clients, undertaking group advocacy and policy reform projects. They have kept with the clinical teaching model, and shown thoughtfulness and compassion in their practice and contributed to the clinics and SPOs in a meaningful way.
Lerae has been a student at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau for the past two years. She has an unwavering commitment to serve Boston’s low-income communities, and is passionate about using the law as a tool for social justice. She has developed a deep understanding of family, housing and wage and hour law. In addition to her own cases, she has served as a mentor for others, stepped in on short notice to cover motions and even a very challenging case almost on the eve of trial. Although fully prepared for trial, her case settled at the last minute and she was really disappointed not to have the opportunity to cross examine the opposing party! She also managed the communications portfolio at the Bureau, and as a result launched a brand new website for the Bureau. Her clinical instructor, Stephanie Goldenhersh, notes that “Lerae shines, even amongst the cream of the crop”.
“I am so thankful for the clinical opportunities at HLS, and for the chance to put my legal skills to practice so early on in my career with TAP and HLAB,” said Lerae. “The opportunity to learn how to be a better advocate while simultaneously providing much-needed legal services to individuals facing homelessness, violence, and other legal problems was not only invaluable to me, but also to the greater Boston community.”
Brett has spent several semesters in the Transactional Law Clinics, as well as being a regular volunteer for the Harvard Immigration Project. He first enrolled in the clinic out of an interest in using the tools of transactional law to foster economic development in Boston neighborhoods. He initiated meetings with community leaders in the areas surrounding Jamaica Plain and soon proved that he had a knack for the collaborative, project based model of lawyering, and that the community was hungry for the services. Out of Brett’s work, the Community Enterprise Project (CEP) was reborn and now boasts six students, four ongoing projects and a permanent full-time staff member. To clients, city officials and community leaders, Brett represents the face of CEP and a point of access to legal resources at HLS. His work has furthered meaningful community engagement in economic development, has reached into traditionally underserved corners of Boston, and has allowed him to build considerable skill as a community lawyer.
“My time working with the clients, students, staff, faculty, and community partners I have met through my clinical work has been the true highlight of my law school experience. I am immensely grateful for the support, advice, and partnership that has come from these individuals, and deeply honored to receive this award as a celebration of our work together,” said Brett.