By: Alexis Farmer
Richard Barbecho ’19 is this year’s winner of the Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award. He was chosen for exemplifying a pro bono public spirit and demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to improving and delivering high quality volunteer legal services in low-income communities. The awards are granted each year in honor of Professor Andrew Kaufman, who spearheaded the pro bono requirement at Harvard Law School.
Barbecho has integrated criminal defense, immigration, and housing law into his 2,000+ hours of community lawyering and pro bono service during his time at HLS.
Throughout law school, Barbecho has been a devoted canvasser with Project No One Leaves, spending most Saturdays in Boston’s low-income neighborhoods knocking on the doors of people facing displacement. This year, he is PNOL’s co-president and he is additionally responsible for organizing the canvasses and training new canvassers who show up each week.
As a volunteer member of Harvard Defenders for the past three years, he has had an active caseload representing low-income individuals accused in criminal show-cause hearings before clerk magistrates and, recently, in an appeal in district court. He has also been a prolific Harvard Legal Aid Bureau student-attorney.
“Richard is an extraordinary student, advocate, and person,” said HLS Clinical Instructor Eloise Lawrence. “He is always working on behalf of his clients whether it be in social security, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, employment or housing cases. His results are unbelievable — he saved a family’s home from foreclosure taking it all the way to a jury trial. He secured benefits for a family with a severely disabled child who had been denied for years. Using his fluency in Spanish and his cultural competency along with his legal acumen, Richard secured a three-year lease for an 8 unit building in Dorchester, and built critical trust with his clients.”
Lawrence also praised Barbecho’s willingness to take on additional work and commit additional hours to help the underserved during his time at HLS. She said, “He is committed to his core to using the law to make our society more just.”