by Grace Yuh
Jeremy Ravinsky ’20 was awarded this year’s Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Award. He was recognized for his work and leadership at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and his commitment to providing more than 2,000 hours of pro bono services with the Tenant Advocacy Project and Project No One Leaves.
Named in honor of Professor Andrew Kaufman ’54, who has been instrumental in creating and supporting the Pro Bono Service Program at HLS, the award is granted to a graduating J.D. student who exemplifies a pro bono public spirit and an extraordinary commitment to improving and delivering high-quality volunteer legal services to disadvantaged communities.
After graduating from Tufts University in 2014, Ravinsky worked at Open Society Foundations in Washington, D.C., where he focused on human rights issues. During his time there, he also participated in grant making for homelessness issues, which, he says, helped clarify his interest in housing justice. During his 1L year, he joined TAP, a student practice organization, where he represented tenants at risk of losing their public or subsidized housing. Seeking an immersive experience where he could create longer-standing relationships with clients, as well as one where he could support movements led by marginalized communities, Ravinsky joined HLAB in the Fall of his 2L year and has worked there every semester since.
While at HLAB, Ravinsky was assigned to its Family Practice, where he worked on a variety of cases, including divorces, complex equity-based cases, and custody matters. He conducted legal research, drafted pleadings, prepared for and conducted Probate and Family Court hearings and trials, and demonstrated his ability to connect with others by communicating effectively with his clients as well as opposing counsel.
He also contributed to and built connections with fellow students, supervisors, and organizers in HLAB’s other practice areas, including housing law, employment law, and government benefits law. He wrote a summary judgement motion and supporting brief in a federal district court case challenging an agency decision, and has worked on landlord/tenant cases. The faculty and staff at HLAB called him “a quiet powerhouse who leaves each project, each challenge, and each conversation better for his having been a part of it.”
“Jeremy exemplifies the pro bono spirit in his commitment to excellent work that raises up and is guided by the needs of the impacted community. His service to individual clients and to organizations in low-income communities of color exemplifies the positive impact that HLS students can have through its clinical programs,” said Stephanie Goldenhersh, senior clinical instructor and assistant director for HLAB’s Family Practice.
Ravinsky’s dedication to community lawyering and his collaborative work with community partners, particularly in housing advocacy, have also been hallmarks of his time at HLS.
At HLAB, Ravinsky led the HLAB Community Lawyering Task Force from Spring 2019 to March 2020, fostering conversation on how to better support existing community initiatives. Since his 2L year, Ravinsky has been a member of Project No One Leaves, which supports and defends local Boston-area communities facing gentrification, eviction, and foreclosure. He has also regularly attended meetings at the project’s partnering organization City Life/Vida Urbana to offer direct legal advice regarding housing issues.
During his time at the Tenant Advocacy Project, Ravinsky also served as a member of its Intake Review Committee, as a training director, and finally as co-president during his final year of law school. Shelley Baron, a clinical instructor at TAP, praised Ravinsky’s determination to be directly involved with the communities where his clients live and work.
“Jeremy’s dedication to TAP, his clients, and social justice lawyering more broadly has been relentless and inspiring for me as a clinical instructor,” said Baron. “You can find him advocating for a client in probate court in the morning, meeting with me to discuss TAP program management in the afternoon, and at a CLVU tenant organizing meeting in the evening. He approaches his case work with humility, always open to feedback and growth opportunities” she said.
Ravinsky spent his summers during law school working at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and Brooklyn Defender Services where he will work after graduation. He plans to continue to find ways to provide legal services to lift up the voices of those experiencing oppression.