In the summer of 2015, 86 Harvard Law School students worked in 37 countries on a diverse array of projects; 19 of those students traveled to 15 countries through the Chayes International Public Service Fellowships. Chayes Fellows spend eight weeks working within the governments of developing nations, or with the inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations that support them. As seen in the slideshow below, their projects take many forms, this year ranging in topic from school transportation and sanitation concerns in South Africa to environmental provisions in international trade agreements at the United Nations, or transitional justice processes in Colombia. The profiles below highlight the experiences of four of the 2015 Chayes Fellows.
Aditya Pai ’17
Aditya Pai returned to India, the country of his birth, to work with the Sehgal Foundation. As part of an initiative to improve villagers’ access to government benefits, he analyzed the effectiveness of the foundation’s legal literacy camps in the Mewat district of Haryana. His interviews—all of which he conducted in Hindi—of camp attendees, members of government legal aid centers, and foundation field staff members, documented cases of successes and setbacks. The assessment was developed to better understand why some citizens achieved positive results from what they had learned (for example, securing an old age pension that had not been provided previously), while others did not. His final report made recommendations for improving future legal literacy camps. “Meeting and interviewing the villagers in Mewat, who face serious challenges of poverty and political corruption, provided an incredible education in the hard realities of the world —especially after a useful, but largely theoretical, 1L curriculum.”
As a student attorney for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Pai will apply the lessons he learned in India to the Bureau’s efforts to promote legal literacy about eviction and foreclosures among disadvantaged communities in Boston. “Getting plugged in to the legal empowerment community enriched my understanding of both international development and the practice of poverty law in America. These two communities do not often talk to each other, but the work of one has obvious relevance for the other. I’m now better prepared for a career in public service, whether at home or abroad.”