Author Archive | ahorn

Billboard Magazine – Top Music Law Schools

Billboard Magazine has published, in the October 20 Issue, a list of the top music law schools, including the Entertainment Law Clinic, and Recording Artists Project (RAP) at Harvard Law School:

Making The Class of 2018: Top Music Law Schools

by Cathy Applefeld Olson

Harvard Law School
City: Cambridge, Mass.
Enrollment: 1,757

This year’s Harvard Law curriculum includes a class covering entertainment and media law, a course on music and digital media, and an entertainment law clinic to complement its many intellectual-property and contracts-focused classes. Students can also moonlight at the legal services clinic, Recording Artists Project, where they gain hands-on experience working with local musicians. The clinic celebrates its 20th year in October with a gala keynoted by entertainment lawyer and alumnus Donald Passman. This past year, as part of Harvard Law’s bicentennial celebration, the school held a Harvard Law School in the Arts event, with alumnus Clive Davis serving as honorary chairman. He also spoke to students about the 2017 documentary Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives.

Alumnus: Spotify general counsel/vp business and legal affairs Horacio Gutierrez

For the full list see Billboard Magazine

HLS200 – HLS in the Community: 

Session – Transactional Law: Empowering Entrepreneurs and Communities

This session is a retrospective on the community work performed by HLS’ Transactional Law Clinics at the intersection of education and transactional law practice. The Transactional Law Clinics comprise the Business and Non-Profit Clinic, Community Enterprise Project, Real Estate Clinic, Entertainment Law Clinic, and the student practice organizations of the Recording Artists Project and Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project. From its local roots at the Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain to its current broadened community and multidimensional experiential learning environment, staff, students, clients, and alumni will share their reflections, experiences, thoughts, and insights about community lawyering and the substantive role of clinical legal education across transactional law. Please join us for the story of our experience, through open discussion that will include audience Q&A.

Experiential and Essential Clinical Education at HLS: Four experiences

[Orignally published on June 26th, 2018 by Harvard Law Today]

By ELAINE MCARDLE, June 26, 2018

Empowering Small Businesses to Stay in the Neighborhood

As Boston real estate prices soar and gentrification in lower-income places like Dorchester and Jamaica Plain continues apace, residential tenants aren’t the only ones losing their homes. Small businesses that serve neighborhoods and give them their distinct character have far fewer legal protections and are being evicted or forced out by rising costs.

Glancy and Trujillo stand in a park area in the neighborhood they worked in

Credit: Dana SmithAlexandra Glancy ’19 and Michael Trujillo ’18 teamed up through the Community Enterprise Project at the Transactional Law Clinics to help small-business owners facing gentrification. They produced the “Commercial Leases 101” legal toolkit, which offers a wealth of resources for better legal protection.

The Community Enterprise Project at HLS’s Transactional Law Clinics helps these communities fight back with a new “Commercial Leases 101” legal toolkit, created by two students to help business owners understand the importance of having a lease and how to negotiate better terms.

I was able to get experience with movement lawyering and bigger-picture legal advocacy.

Last fall, Michael Trujillo ’18 and Alexandra Glancy ’19, with the guidance of Clinical Instructor Carlos Teuscher, teamed up to assist small businesses facing gentrification. First, the duo reached out to neighborhood and community organizations that are fighting to preserve their communities, including Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, and the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation. They canvassed small businesses to determine what would be most helpful before putting together the annotated toolkit, which offers a wealth of resources for better legal protections. Trujillo, who plans a career in social movement lawyering, says, “We are hoping this toolkit empowers small-business owners to have the legal knowledge to understand what a good lease looks like and ask for better arrangements with their landlords.” They presented the toolkit to local business and community groups and held office hours to help small-business owners negotiate more favorable leases.

CEP also shared the toolkit with the city of Boston, and Teuscher plans to have other clinical students continue to work with community partners to push for more statutory protections for commercial tenants. But the toolkit could have a greater reach than just Boston, he says. Toolkits produced in the past by CEP students have had a national impact, including an immigrant entrepreneur toolkit that clinics across the U.S. are using as a model. While landlord-tenant law is state-specific, Teuscher hopes the commercial lease toolkit’s widely applicable resources will allow it to have a similar impact.

Meanwhile, the educational experience for students is exceptional, Trujillo and Glancy say. “I learned so much, from interacting with and interviewing clients to thinking about innovative ways to use legal tools—for example, things you can put in a lease that aren’t in typical leases but can increase the tenant’s power,” says Glancy, who knew about TLC before coming to HLS and was drawn to the school in part because of it.

Clinical Professor Brian Price is director of the Transactional Law Clinics, which offer students work in a wide range of areas from business formation to taxation, real estate and employment matters. “Our approach from day one is that students will be taking ownership of the cases, and that they not see themselves as assisting their supervising attorney but rather as the person who is leading the case with the guidance of the supervising attorney,” Price says.

With CEP projects like the toolkit, he adds, there are leadership lessons. “Students learn to work in a team … and they see how lawyers—particularly transactional lawyers—can help lead not by dominating an issue but working alongside and collaboratively with community people.”

Counsel from a councilor: An interview with Michelle Wu ’12

[Originally published on March 23, 2016, by Harvard Law Today]

Earlier this year, Michelle Wu ‘12, currently the youngest member of the Boston City Council, was elected as its president, making her the first Asian American to hold that role. Wu, who grew up in the Chicago area, became interested in politics during her time at HLS, where she was a student of Elizabeth Warren’s and worked on her campaign for the U.S. Senate. Wu came back to HLS this year to participate in a panel on women in politics at the Women’s Law Association annual conference. She spoke with Harvard Law Today reporter Rebecca Rattner ’17 about her time at HLS, experience as a woman in politics, and vision for her new role on the Boston City Council.

Harvard Law Today: Can you tell us about your background and how you became involved in politics?

“For me, the decision to run was driven by an internal motivation to break down barriers for families that were going through similar struggles to the one my family had gone through.”

Michelle Wu: I didn’t expect to run for office. Growing up I had never considered it. I came out to Harvard for undergrad and fell in love with Boston. But shortly after I graduated, my mom began to struggle with pretty serious mental illness. So, at the age of 22, I was taking care of two younger sisters, taking care of my mom and running a family business and all of a sudden, I realized how much government mattered, particularly city government. So I came back to Boston for law school at Harvard and had the incredible opportunity to study contracts law with [then Professor] Elizabeth Warren and signed on to help in whatever capacity I could in her run for United States Senate during my 3L year. By the end of the campaign, I was the statewide constituency director charged with organizing communities of color, immigrant families, and the LGBT community, veterans, basically any non-geographic affinity group. I really saw the power of not just policy, but politics in an inclusive way. So after her campaign, I launched my own campaign for Boston City Council in 2013.

What has your experience as a woman in politics been like?

MW: When I was first sitting down with people and just starting to think about running for office, I met with a lot of people who knew much more about the political system than I did and I was told again and again that it would be very difficult to run as a woman, as a young person, as an Asian American, as someone who wasn’t born in Boston. People kept pointing out all of these ways in which I differed from the typical mold of a Boston politician and therefore would have a hard time and would probably not win. For me, the decision to run was driven by an internal motivation to break down barriers for families that were going through similar struggles to the one my family had gone through. And, if anything, voters were excited to hear from someone who represented a new way of thinking and fresh ideas for the city. There is still a big gap in representation, in terms of how many women make up the electorate and how many we see at all levels of government and leadership. So my charge is to make sure that the younger generation, that girls that I meet and young women that I meet, are encouraged to see themselves in these roles. I think the data shows that when women run for office, we win, and we make a big difference when we’re in there. So I’ve been really proud to lead the charge on paid parental leave in Boston and to get that through with a unanimous vote from the City Council and full partnership with Mayor Walsh. There are many other ways in which we need to be making work-life balance more possible. But to sum up, my experience as a woman running for City Council has been extremely fulfilling, and I have found that who is sitting at the table makes a big difference.

What stands out from your time at HLS? Were you involved in journals, clinics or related student practice organizations?

MW: I took part in the Community Enterprise Project, part of the Transactional Law clinics, which was then based at the Wilmer Hale Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain. That was an incredible experience of getting to guide small business owners and non-profits through the regulatory red tape that Boston creates and to understand the struggles that they have to go through. I did student legal services work for survivors of domestic violence around immigration law issues. I participated in the Tenant Advocacy Project and Harvard Mediation Program. I loved the opportunity to really explore a wide of variety of things, through all of the classes that are offered: the different strands of what makes up a vibrant society and positive government.

Has your experience as the daughter of immigrants influenced your career path and your priorities? If so, how?

MW: I am completely driven by the experiences that my family has had and the values that my parents’ gave to me and my siblings around understanding hard work and education and focusing on the greater good. I think being the daughter of immigrants also meant that I grew up with a very keen awareness of invisible barriers that different communities face. For my parents, [Taiwanese immigrants], it was a linguistic barrier because they didn’t speak English when they first arrived in the United States and remained as a cultural barrier often even after their English skills got better. I always felt like I was navigating between different worlds and that my parents especially felt this sense of being other. In my work now I try to focus on taking down barriers for every community and creating opportunities that are truly inclusive because the strength of our country is built on our history of welcoming everyone and giving anyone—no matter what your country of origin is or the language you speak at home—the chance to live up to their full potential.

There are many avenues for HLS graduates to effect change. Why did you choose to focus on city politics specifically?

MW: City government is the level of government that has the greatest impact on your day-to-day life. It is what effects the quality of schools that you are going to send your kids to, it affects the jobs that are available, it affects the cleanliness and safety of our streets, and it is also the level of government where you can innovate the most quickly. As city councilors, my colleagues and I are the first and last resort for residents when they are struggling with issues and problems. To be that direct link to services and programming is incredibly rewarding.

Can you tell me about becoming City Council president? What issues are you most passionate about?

MW: I am so humbled to have the responsibility and the privilege of helping the body and helping to identify places of common ground between my colleagues. My number one goal in the position of City Council president is to increase transparency. The way to truly engage people and get them involved in government is to help them be informed. I have created this practice of summarizing what the City Council deliberates on after every meeting and putting that out over social media. We are in the midst of revamping our website so that every item will be trackable and you can see what’s before the Council and see all the different actions associated with it, see the calendar of meetings, and then be able to jump in and participate. We don’t do a great job in government of making it easy for people to get involved, but our progress as a city and our ability to innovate and implement solutions depends entirely on being responsive and accessible to residents.

You have a young child. How do you manage work-life balance?

MW: A lot of communication, an incredible partner in my husband, and a lot of self-forgiveness. I am the first to say that I am happy to be a visible example of how hard it is to balance everything and how messy life is. I have led City Council meetings with mashed banana on my jacket and baby spit up, and it is what it is. Hopefully when more people see that it’s difficult to balance everything right now then there will be more momentum to actually change the policies that make this work-life balance so hard.

What advice would you give young women at HLS as they think about their futures?

MW: Please consider running for office and reach out to others in the community. It’s a very strong network and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Most important is to know what drives you as a person and follow that. Public life comes with a lot of scrutiny, it comes with a lot of criticism. It can be a tough environment, and it’s a long time away from family. But as long as you’re doing what you think is right and following what feels authentic to you, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.

This interview was edited for length.

Making Change: A Harvard Law School clinic helps the homeless earn a living (video)

[Originall published by Harvard Law Today on April 19, 2018]

 

“What counts as ‘income’ for taxes?” “Will paying taxes affect the public assistance I receive?” “Will I lose my veterans disability benefits if I make too much money?” “Why should I use a bank?”

Those are some of the questions street vendors of Greater Boston’s Spare Change News grapple with. A recently published guide, “Two Cents for Spare Change News: A Legal Resource for Spare Change News Vendors,” developed by Harvard Law students, aims to provide answers.

Spare Change News, the oldest street publication in the country, provides its vendors, many of whom are either currently or formerly homeless, with the resources needed to run a business. Vendors operate as sole proprietors, buying as many papers as they want for 50 cents per copy and then keeping what they earn. While Spare Change’s mission is to show by example that, “with the proper resources, empowerment, opportunities and encouragement, homeless and low-income people are capable of creating change in society for themselves,” for vendors, selling newspapers can be an inherently unstable business for a number of reasons.

Katherine Bennett, executive director of the Homeless Empowerment Project, the publisher of Spare Change News, said vendors face complex issues. They have many legal questions, including understanding their rights and responsibilities as vendors, and they don’t have many resources. “I can’t explain how hard it is when you see these vendors who are really trying to improve their lives to see them feel so afraid that if they make one mistake they’re going to be homeless again or some terrible consequence is going to happen,” she said.

In the spring of 2017, Antoine Southern and Anne Rosenblum, then 3Ls in Harvard Law School’s Community Enterprise Project (CEP) of the Transactional Law Clinics, spearheaded a new partnership between the clinic and Spare Change to help vendors better understand their legal obligations as business owners. CEP combines direct client representation with community-based projects in which students work alongside community organizations on persistent legal problems over the course of a semester.

“Meeting with vendors, we were able to gain a sense of what they really needed, and began to develop a guide that would help with legal issues such as their taxes and personal banking and benefits,” said Southern.

According to Harvard Law School Clinical Professor Brian Price, director of the Transactional Law Clinics, working in the clinics is a great opportunity for law students to be able to learn, hands-on, how to serve the community, and to help community businesses and nonprofit organizations. Previous CEP efforts have included producing a legal guidebook for immigrant entrepreneurs, filing for an abated tax bill for low-income buyers of a new condominium, and creating legal toolkits for condominium associations and food trucks.

“We teach the same things that students will wind up doing at the firm or organization that they go to after graduating. After a 12-week semester, students feel like they’re equipped to handle what comes next,” Price said. “I’m proud of that.”

The core part of the Spare Change project involved collecting and sharing information regarding legal issues inherent in running a small business. The guide includes information on what it means to be the sole proprietor of a small business, tax obligations and how to meet them, how public benefits might be impacted by small business ownership and tips on banking services. The guide also includes resources for nonbusiness-related concerns, such as housing discrimination and mental health.

spare change co-founder with CEP students

In the spring of 2017, then-3Ls Antoine Southern (left) and Anne Rosenblum (pictured with Spare Change co-founder James Shearer) spearheaded a partnership with Spare Change News, the oldest street publication in the country, to provide guidance and answers to commonly-asked questions the street vendors have about their work with the organization.

“We were aware of the fact that vendors also face a lot of issues outside of their work with Spare Change News, so part of the resources that we included in the guide are sort of a reference to other service providers and organizations in the Boston,  Cambridge area that they might be able to turn to for help with different issues,” said Rosenblum.

Cross-collaboration between Harvard Law School clinics is an important part of the success of individual projects. With 30 clinics in a remarkably wide range of fields of law and policy, and more than 1,000 students enrolled in clinics each year, Harvard Law School is one of the largest providers of free legal services in New England. In addition to individual case representation,  students often need to take a more holistic approach to address their clients’ needs. In the case of the CEP’s Spare Change project, students sought input from several other Harvard Law School clinics to address vendors’ questions about criminal records, disability rights and housing discrimination.

“Part of our job in the Community Enterprise Project is to reach out to the different clinics that we have at the law school in order to inform the work that we do,” said Amanda Kool, a former clinical instructor in the Transactional Law Clinic. “I think we’re really lucky in the Transactional Law Clinics to have that umbrella.”

“The experiences that I’ve had have been invaluable and have given me an opportunity to develop skills and put them to use in ways that are just not available through academic classes,” said Rosenblum. “They’ve also just made my life richer and more enjoyable, a welcome break from the classroom and departure from the Harvard bubble.”

Community Enterprise Project Helps Empower Small Business Owners in Boston

[Originally Published January 10, 2018, on the Clinical and Pro Bono Program blog]

By Alex Glancy, J.D. ’19

Harvard Law School students Alex Glancy J.D. ’19 and Michael Trujillo J.D. ’18, present to a group of community leaders in Jamaica Plain, Boston about the basics of commercial leases

Caption: Alex Glancy (J.D. ’19) and Michael Trujillo (J.D. ’18) present to a group of community leaders and small business owners in Jamaica Plain about commercial lease basics. This workshop was co-hosted by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC).

 

On a winter afternoon, I met with Mehedi* at CVC Unidos, a community center in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Mehedi is a convenience store owner. He has a bright smile and will never let you leave without offering you a soda or water bottle. He was opening a second convenience store and had recently received the lease for that property. CEP was holding office hours, and he came to get legal advice. He handed me the 6-page unsigned lease agreement, filled with dense contract language. I took a deep breath and started reading.

As Mehedi waited for my opinion on his lease, he asked, “So did my landlord give me a good lease?” I began scrutinizing Mehedi’s lease. I noticed a problem. The lease contained a subordination provision, which meant that his lease could be terminated if the landlord’s mortgage lender ever foreclosed on the property. “You could lose your lease if your landlord defaulted on his loan,” I explained. This was a risk Mehedi did not want to take.

During my time in the Community Enterprise Project (CEP), we developed a presentation and corresponding Commercial Leases 101 Toolkit designed to assist small businesses in Boston and Somerville. To develop these materials, we met with numerous community partners, canvassed commercial districts in Boston (such as the Bowdoin-Geneva area, where I first met Mehedi), and consulted with experienced clinical instructors familiar with real estate law.

Flyer for the Commercial Lease Workshop offered by the Community Enterprise Project (CEP) co-hosted the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (DBEDC)

Caption: This is a flyer for one of numerous commercial lease workshops held around Boston during Fall 2017. We distributed the flyer throughout Dorchester. This workshop was co-hosted by the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (DBEDC)

Unlike residential tenants, commercial tenants have virtually no rights outside of their lease. Any rights are described in the lease agreement, so it is important to sign as good a lease as one can. How can small-business owners, especially the poor or non-English speaking, sign better commercial leases? In navigating the Wild West of commercial real estate, they could use attorneys. But even more crucially, they need community organizations that fight for increased economic and political power. We designed our project to assist small business owners one on one, and also to lay the groundwork for systemic change in the ongoing defense against gentrification.

A transactional lawyer is a luxury for the majority of small businesses, including those in low-income communities facing more pressing legal issues, such as lack of housing or public benefits. Retaining a lawyer might seem so unattainable that the thought does not even cross one’s mind. Although transactional lawyers might seem like last priority, their impact can be long lasting. A transactional lawyer knows that you never know until you ask, and can suggest minor changes that make a big impact. As a first step, transactional lawyers remind clients that a contract is a two-way street, with room to create solutions that will benefit both sides.

At the conclusion of our meeting, we advised Mehedi to add a “non-disturbance” provision to his lease, so that the landlord’s mortgage lender could not unilaterally terminate Mehedi’s lease. We also advised Mehedi to delete certain ambiguous provisions. Mehedi planned on signing the next day, and he walked away jolly knowing that he would be better protected. Small business owners like Mehedi should negotiate their leases in this manner.

With rents on the rise, however, a landlord might not be willing to negotiate. Increasingly, landlords are commercial developers with whom it is difficult to forge a personal relationship. In fact, the majority of land in Boston is owned by a handful of these developers.

Thus the community-wide effort to resist displacement is crucial. We often catered our workshops to community organizers working on these systemic issues. In the case of recent evictions of El Embajador Restaurant and De Chain Auto Service, JPNDC and City Life/Vida Urbana, among others, created a campaign to resist displacement of these neighborhood businesses.

A long-term solution will be city or statewide legislation to create more statutory rights and protections for commercial tenants. Students in CEP next semester are planning to collaborate with community groups to devise such a policy proposal and help these community groups push proposals through Boston’s political machine. By forming a coalition of community groups, our goal is to help empower the community as they fight for increased economic opportunities.

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality

Recording Artists Project: the foundation to my success at HLS

[Originally published October, 25, 2017 on the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs blog]

By Jennifer Marr J.D. ’18

Group photo of RAP students

Group photo of RAP students

My participation in the Recording Artists Project (RAP) has been my most important experience at Harvard law School. In fact, it was one of the reasons I came here in the first place. I had a fledgling interest in the music industry and RAP offered a hands-on opportunity to explore that interest while helping real industry clients. I have always felt music is a foundation of our culture and artists are accordingly vital stewards to protect. Moreover, it’s one of the only Student Practice Organizations at HLS with a practical focus on transactional legal training – hard to find in a law school classroom.

My first client was a musician seeking to release a multi-artist album on his newly founded label. My team and I drafted a form agreement that our client used to license the works from each of the album artists. My second semester at HLS we represented a band that was breaking up. Based on a pre-existing band agreement, we drafted a memo advising the members of their various rights with regards to their discography. Both semesters, I was a Team Leader where I acted as liaison between my team, the client and our supervising attorney. My responsibilities also included setting deadlines and discussing progress with our supervisor – it was a wonderful opportunity to practice client communication.

Portrait photo of Jennifer Marr J.D. '18

Jennifer Marr J.D. ’18

Through RAP I’ve gained skills and knowledge in three major areas: 1) entertainment/music industry norms; 2) transactional legal practice; and 3) project management. First, RAP trains its students in the complex business structures that make up the music industry and its key actors. Working with my clients showed me firsthand how different industry actors work together and how important their roles are; and furthermore how actors might take advantage of each other. Second, I learned how to read a contract and understand the relevance of “boiler plate terms” to real transactions – something which proved valuable in my 1L and 2L summers. Last, I gained practical skills related to project management including setting timelines, managing group dynamics, and client communication.

I expected RAP to be a fun way to learn about the music industry, get some transactional experience, and fulfill my pro bono hours. I was surprised that instead it became the foundation of my success at HLS. My second year I became the President of RAP – an invaluable lesson in leadership. RAP is the reason I secured my dream internship at Sony Music my 1L summer in New York City, and gave me the confidence to accept an offer to practice transactional entertainment law in Los Angeles after graduation. When my research paper on music copyright law won a UC Berkeley writing award this past Spring, I owed all my thanks to my RAP supervisor. More importantly, I have been surprised by the breadth of individuals RAP has helped, both directly through its clinical work and indirectly through its community work. Through activities like hosting the Boys and Girls Club of America on campus to organizing the Entertainment Law Symposium, I have had the privilege of making important lifelong connections. RAP is proof of the depth that work in entertainment law can offer.

TLC Client Tech Goes Home

Tech Goes Home is featured on Boston’s Fox25 News

Fox25 News Sept 12, 2017

BOSTON – A local non-profit is giving families in need a brand-new computer, internet access and training, all for less than the cost of a pair of sneakers.

The program is called tech Goes home, and co-Director Theodora Hanna says they’re expanding outside of Boston.

“Technology is changing faster and faster and that means if you don’t have access to it, you are getting left behind at a faster and faster pace,” she said.

Computers are a necessity, but thousands of families in the greater Boston area can’t afford one. According to Hanna, Boston has the highest level of income inequality.

“Technology is a huge barrier for folks who are caught in a cycle of poverty. Because how do you find a job if you don’t know how to write a resume? If you don’t have a computer to write it on?” she said.

It’s a reality Tech Goes Home wants to change. Program volunteers teach families how to use a computer and the internet. Then, once they complete a 15-hour course, the family has the option of buying a new computer with internet for $50.

“We start with age 3, we serve 3 to 93. Really, everyone needs the internet and needs help leveling the playing field a little bit,” Hanna said.

More than 300 students at McCormack Middle School in Boston have received Chromebooks through the program, and around 25,000 families in the Boston area have benefited.

“My parents? Yes, they got better at it, actually. My dad uses it to do his work for his company and my mom, she uses it to spell things out,” 7th grade student Jomar Baez said.

Now the program is expanding to surrounding cities.

“We have the vision of having all of greater Boston to be the first major metropolitan area in the US to have access to the digital tools that they need,” Hanna said.

HLS thinks bigger than ever

Faculty carry on annual tradition of sharing scholarship, shorthand

Originally publish by Harvard Law Today

 

Each May since 2011, Harvard Law School has presented “HLS Thinks Big,” a TED Talks-style event that invites faculty members to present a “big idea” in front of an audience of faculty, students and staff. While the big idea in question can be a distillation of some fully-formed scholarship, faculty members have also presented germs of ideas floated for the first time, hypotheticals up for discussion, and sometimes, topics that look at areas of interest at a more macro level. Whatever the subject, there is only one rule presenters are bound by: Each must deliver their talk in 10 minutes or less.

This year, the event, which is hosted annually by the Dean’s Office and the Office of Human Resources, featured talks by Clinical Professor Bob Bordone, director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program; Professor Christine Desan, co-founder of Harvard’s Program on the Study of Capitalism; Phil Heymann, James Barr Ames professor of law, emeritus; Brian Price, clinical professor of law and director of HLS’ Transactional Law Clinics; and Professor Henry Smith, director of the Project on the Foundations of Private Law.

From Desan’s talk, “The Dollar as a Democratic Medium,” which explored how society can “re-design” money to create “fairness in a world where inequality is escalating,” to Smith’s discussion of “Property as a Complex System,” which focused on the burgeoning field of complex systems in law, the speakers provided their listeners with a great deal of food for thought, guiding them through unfamiliar intellectual terrain, and truly embodying the spirit of the event, which, said Dean Martha Minow (who inaugurated the Thinks Big tradition at Harvard Law School), “underscor[es] the basic idea that learning really happens from many minds — people sharing ideas and actually moving across boundaries.”


Bob Bordone, “Building Conflict Capacity: It’s not just about problem-solving.”

Engagement need not be about finding a common ground, but simply being present in conflict.


Christine Desan, “The Dollar as a Democratic Medium:  Making Money a Currency of Social Justice.”

Desan asks whether we can re-design money to deliver more fairness in a world where inequality is escalating.


Philip Heymann, “Comey and Cox, Trump and Nixon.”

There’s much in the lawyer’s job that is never taught in law school, and what’s missing becomes apparent with a close look at major events prominently involving lawyers.


Brian Price, “The Big and the Little.”

Community development as seen through the eyes of a transactional lawyer.


Henry Smith, “Property as a Complex System.”

Reframing property law as a complex adaptive system, rather than just a “bundle of rights.”

“My Clinic experience affirmed my desire to be a transactional attorney and helped prepare me for practice after graduation.”

[Original Posted on the Office of Clinical and Pro-Bono Programs Blog, March 27th, 2017]

By Asheley Walker, J.D. ’17

Asheley Walker, J.D. '17

Asheley Walker, J.D. ’17

I enrolled in the Transactional Law Clinics primarily because I wanted practical legal experience. I came to law school knowing I wanted to be a transactional attorney, but few, if any, of my classes gave me much insight into what it would be like to practice transactional law. I also wanted to work directly with clients. I worked in sales for startups and larger technology companies before law school, and I missed regular interaction with clients, including learning about their businesses, identifying how I could create value for them, and becoming a trusted advisor, not just a salesperson.

My experience in the Clinic delivered on both of those points. Because the Clinic operates like a small law firm, I interacted with clients directly and managed my own caseload of four to five clients each semester. While the learning curve for substantive issues was steep at times, I enjoyed the challenge and received more than adequate support from the Clinic. I researched legal issues independently, bounced ideas off of other student advocates, and discussed conclusions and lingering questions with my supervising attorney to get feedback before presenting my findings to the client.

I worked on a wide range of transactional issues during my two semesters in the Clinic. I counseled clients in choosing the right entity form for their business and goals, formed for-profit and nonprofit LLCs and corporations, drafted bylaws, and educated clients as to their ongoing corporate formalities requirements. Unexpectedly, I became somewhat of an expert about the eligibility requirements and application process for tax-exempt status, and I plan to harness that knowledge and experience in the pro bono work I do going forward. I spent the majority of my time drafting contracts, including privacy policies, terms of service, service agreements, and commercial real estate leases. I discovered that I love the jigsaw puzzle-like nature of contract drafting: taking the individual pieces and figuring out how to put them together to make the final product look (or work) the way that I wanted it to.

The Clinic serves a diverse set of clients, and I had the opportunity to work with clients ranging from Harvard students running startups to members of the Boston community looking to start a small business or nonprofit. I found it incredibly rewarding to draw on both my professional experience and my legal education to help underserved populations address legal challenges, mitigate risk, and identify ways to achieve their goals. My Clinic experience affirmed my desire to be a transactional attorney and helped prepare me for practice after graduation.