by Omeed Alerasool J.D.’22
Upon arriving to campus in the fall of the my 1L year, I soon learned that Harvard Law School would be launching a voting rights clinic. Given my interests in the law of democracy, election law, and voting rights, enrolling in this clinic became a top priority. Now, after nearly a full academic year in the Voting Rights Litigation and Advocacy Clinic with Ruth Greenwood, I have had a number of unique opportunities to gain experience working with practicing attorneys in the field. These experiences have undoubtably helped shape my future career path.
I first enrolled in this externship clinic in the fall of my 2L year, during which I was placed with the Campaign Legal Center. I primarily worked on a case, which went to trial in October 2020, involving a challenge under the Voting Rights Act to the electoral structure of the city council of Virginia Beach, VA. Prior to trial, I drafted motions and assisted the team with legal research. During the course of a nearly two-week trial, I worked as part of the trial team, interacting with the plaintiffs (our clients), helping prepare the expert witnesses before their testimonies, and responding to a variety of issues as they arose after each day of trial. Being a member of this team was an incredible opportunity. It allowed me to build a better understanding of the contours of federal litigation and provided me with invaluable experience supporting voting rights.
At the same time, the clinic’s corresponding seminar and the corequisite election law course taught by Nicholas Stephanopoulos provided important context. The seminar explored a variety of topics and issues relevant to the current voting rights landscape. It also included a number of fascinating guest speakers and skill-building activities, such as a mock deposition exercise. Meanwhile, the election law course provided the critical theoretical and doctrinal background underpinning current litigation and advocacy efforts across the United States.
With the clinical seminar and the election law course now under my belt, I have continued in the advanced clinical this spring with a placement at the Voting Rights Project of the ACLU. During my time so far, I have contributed to the ACLU’s strategic planning for the upcoming redistricting process, specifically focusing on South Carolina and Mississippi. I also had the opportunity to help prepare participants of—and later attend—moot courts for the respondents in Brnovich v. DNC. The case, considering a provision of the Voting Rights Act, was argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2nd.
As I approach the end of my 2L year, the Voting Rights clinic has been a key part of my law school experience. The clinic has provided me a window into litigation and legal advocacy that is particularly helpful as I consider my future career. And, especially during a year of fully-remote learning, my externship placements have provided a great opportunity to interact with a number of election law and voting rights practitioners outside the virtual classroom.
OCP Note: Omeed won his case with the Campaign Legal Center. On March 31, 2021, a federal court declared Virginia Beach, Virginia’s method of conducting elections illegal because it dilutes the voting power of the minority community.