Tag Archives | Transactional Law Clinic

Small Business Owners – How to Get Access to Expert Advice

[Originally posted on Dog Trainer’s Umbrella, Jan 4, 2021]

 

Vanessa O'Connor, Transactional Law Clinics of Harvard Law School

by | Jan 4, 2021

This fourth interview in our series is a special treat: our interviewee is Vanessa O’Connor, and attorney with the Harvard Law School Transactional Law Clinic. TLC is an amazing resource for small business owners who can’t afford the legal advice they need to build a strong business. Vanessa is also a smart, articulate speaker who will fire you up.

If you have not heard the story behind these interviews, here it is again:

As small business owners, we are often isolated from our peer group of other business owners.  This feeling of isolation and figuring it out on our own was exacerbated in 2020 by the effects of the pandemic.  While Facebook groups like “DTU: Marketing & Running an R+ Dog Business” can help to provide a sense of community, I was inspired this summer to reach out to other small business owners and talk to them about their industries and their stories, to see what I could learn and pass on to you. I recorded our conversations and want to share them with you here.  I had a lot of fun asking questions, finding similarities and hearing about lessons learned. Be forewarned: the recordings are unedited and low tech, more for listening to than looking at, but you may learn from the shared experiences.

Have you found any free resources that have helped you to build your business?  Is there a law school clinic in your state?  I’m always keeping my ears open for these kinds of resources so I can share them with the dog training community, so let me know.

Democracy Brewing

[Originally published by Harvard Law Today, September 17, 2019]

 

Last summer, with the help of Harvard Law School’s Transactional Law Clinics (TLC), Democracy Brewing became the first brewery in Massachusetts to launch as a worker-owned owned business. TLC, a clinical program of Harvard Law School which provides legal assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs, helped the downtown Boston brewery incorporate, including setting up a direct public offering to raise the initial capital needed to start the business. Democracy Brewing Co-founders James Razsa and Jason Taggart; Joe Hedal, Deputy Director of HLS’ Transactional Law Clinics; and Hillary Baker-Jennings ’16, one of several TLC clinic students who advised the fledgling company, reflect on the process of getting Democracy Brewing from an ambitious idea to a thriving business.

 

How Practicing Entertainment Law in TLC Made Me a Better Lawyer

[Originally posted May 10, 2019, on the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs Blog]

Iain McCarvell, LL.M .‘19 on stage playing a guitar

Iain McCarvell, LL.M .‘19

By: Iain McCavill LL.M. ’19

The Transactional Law Clinic was one of the most useful, necessary, and enriching courses I took at Harvard Law School. I chose to focus my clinical work in entertainment law. My interest in entertainment law stemmed from my six-year journey as a musician and manager of a touring rock band. The Transactional Law Clinic represented my first opportunity to work in the entertainment industry since 2015 when I traded in practicing music for practicing law by applying to law school. I enrolled in the Transactional Law Clinic because I wanted to learn more about how the entertainment industry works, to understand the types of deals done, and to learn about the legal language used in showbiz agreements. While I learned a lot about those things, what I learned most was how to be a better lawyer.

I learned that my desire to understand the industry, the deals, and the applicable law was vital but myopic. The Transactional Law Clinic helped me discover that in my eagerness to master the legally salient aspects of my chosen profession, I had forgotten about the most important thing: the client – the human being whose legal issues I was being trained to resolve. From the initial client interview to eventual case resolution and beyond, I learned how important it is to be curious, to discover what makes the client tick, and to discover what the client cares about beyond the immediate legal issue at hand. I found out that the more I learned about the person I represented, the better I was able to advocate on their behalf.

Another thing I gained from the Transactional Law Clinic was the opportunity to bump into ethical issues in a controlled environment. As a law student, I did not have a full appreciation for the ubiquity and frequency with which ethical issues arise in everyday practice. Learning the theory behind the Rules of Professional Conduct is a different thing altogether from actually handling ethical issues as they arise. The Transactional Law Clinic gave me the opportunity to spot, consider, and address these issues in real time.

It would be remiss of me to not mention the humbling quality of my classmates in the Transactional Law Clinic. Whether through in-class discussions, attendance at the clinic each day, or trips to the Harvard Innovation Lab, I learned a lot from them and made some lasting bonds.

As a 2019 Harvard LL.M and a 2018 J.D. graduate of a small underfunded Canadian law school (go UNB!), the Transactional Law Clinic was my first opportunity to work in a practical setting under the guidance of experienced lawyers who were themselves not captives of the billable hour. This environment allowed the clinic’s supervising attorneys to provide helpful feedback and support throughout the semester. With this tremendous guidance, I developed important skills related to interviewing clients, case management, negotiating, and communicating better with clients and related third parties. And one more thing: if, like me, you ever thought it was absurd that many law students graduate from law school without ever actually seeing a contract, then you probably should have signed up for the Transactional Law Clinic.

Finding Your Startup Lawyer: What Every Entrepreneur Should Know

[Originally posted May 2, 2019, on the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs Blog]

Via Xcomony

Photo of an open plan office space

Source: Pexels

By: Linda Cole and Joshua Fox

Successful management of any new enterprise, regardless of industry, is a process demanding of concerted effort to realize opportunity with a finite set of resources. As an entrepreneur, perfecting your vision, securing and managing funds, building a team, marketing and selling, and executing on plan, all while navigating unexpected obstacles, likely occupy your every day. At the core of whether you can succeed is whether your principal team has not only the requisite ability and experience, but the support in place to sustain it. This support, typically, derives from academic advisors, industry experts, professional consultants, and, eventually, from investors.

From whom you choose to seek advice, including from which startup lawyer, will significantly impact your progress. To assume that any corporate lawyer—and there are many able ones out there—can meet the demands of your business need not be one of your early fails. The right lawyer for your startup will not purely be a legal advisor but a strategic one—that is, an integrated teammate who is uniquely prepared to support your mission.

What makes a particular lawyer worthy of this role? A set of professional skills and personal attributes that combine with your own in just the right balance to drive success. Whether this lawyer is with an outside law firm or in house as part of your core team, our collective experience across both roles reveals a strikingly similar skillset. What, precisely, do these skills look like? You may be surprised to learn that the most predictable is, in fact, not necessarily the most impactful.

1. Risk Management

If your first contact with a lawyer is prompted by risks associated with your business, such as how to document equity owned by the founders, protect intellectual property, or engage human resources, then you are not alone. It is this expectation of risk management that creates what is, in theory, where the value of the lawyer’s contribution to your startup lies. It is, of course, imperative that your lawyer be prepared to identify, analyze and recommend steps to eliminate or, at the very least, mitigate risk.

If your startup is highly data driven, for example, your lawyer must not only understand the applicable legal and regulatory framework around the collection, storage, use, and/or sale of the particular type and form of data but, likewise, the related risks and remedies, if any, that may be employed to avoid them. There are multiple means of managing risk, such as through informed decision making, contract drafting and liability insurance, but before risks can be addressed, they must first be identified.

You absolutely need to be able to look to your lawyer for input into cost-benefit analyses relative to legal risks to your business. Ideally, you will want to choose a lawyer who has experience with companies similar to your own, either in terms of industry or issues, including having worked on the types of transactions you expect to engage in. Contrary to popular belief, however, understanding and analyzing legal risk is not the only, nor is it even the most beneficial, skill that the right lawyer will bring to your startup. It is, more specifically, the lawyer who is able to adroitly shift between advisor on risk to participant in solutions from whom you will derive the greatest value. This agility is as much a mindset as it is an expertise.

2. Partnership

Your choice lawyer may be an individual attorney or a law firm, but, in either case, you should expect and receive consistent proof that your legal counsel is an engaged member of your team. Whether a lawyer (or firm) inwardly identifies as “your business partner” will noticeably manifest, in both character and actions.

Your lawyer should be ready, for example, to support the business through creative and flexible billing practices, including offering alternative fee arrangements, such as a discounted hourly rate or fixed fee per project; estimating legal fees before commencing work; or deferring collection until your startup has realized a certain amount of revenue or capital. Willingness to experiment with such measures demonstrates that a lawyer is “on your side” by supporting your financial goals, despite the risk, and taking a long-term view of the relationship—in effect, making an “investment” in you and displaying confidence in your business’s likelihood of success.

The lawyer who thinks like a partner will consistently demonstrate that he or she cares and can be depended upon. You should feel valued after interactions with your lawyer, regardless of his or her workload, and confident that you and your business will take priority at the appropriate times. Your lawyer should be reliable and responsive, promptly returning phone calls and emails; mindful of your timeline; and able to deliver work product on time and within budget. You should never be left to worry that more mature businesses, which are larger paying clients, will monopolize the attention of your lawyer.

Perhaps the most meaningful attribute and indicator that a lawyer is prepared to be an effective teammate is a genuine interest, not simply in the business but in you as a person. The right lawyer will take the time to get to know you—your personality, your leadership style, your expectations, your work routines, and even your communication preferences—and proceed to accommodate them. In cases where you expect help analyzing risk but prefer to make the final decision yourself, your lawyer should facilitate that, by guiding you through pertinent pros and cons; but, in cases where you, instead, prefer a definitive opinion, your lawyer should provide one.

Say, for example, that you are a first-time entrepreneur negotiating a term sheet for an initial round of financing, and, with negotiations faltering, you ask your lawyer whether he or she would sign the term sheet “as is.” If your lawyer understands you to have a need for clear and concise guidance around integral business decisions, your lawyer must be able to provide you with a “Yes” or “No” answer, and not an exhaustive recitation of terms. You will likely desire some balance between analysis and opinion from your lawyer, and where he or she is adeptly able to gauge which one you prefer and when, you have forged a strong partnership.

3. Collaborative Communication

Being a good communicator is essential to being a good lawyer, partner and problem solver, especially when navigating the bumpy terrain of a startup. Your lawyer should, therefore, routinely be asking incisive questions about the particular business issue, goal, or transaction at hand. How else will he or she be able to clearly comprehend what you are looking for, what you care about most, and, alternatively, what you may not think is important? It is only through asking questions that your lawyer can construct and tailor recommendations that are both sound and relevant. After all, your business is not a hypothetical, and legal advice should never be delivered to you in a vacuum.

While posing the right questions is a necessary first step toward effective communication, your lawyer should not stop there. It is equally imperative that he or she pay careful attention to your answers. Only through active listening will your lawyer be able to understand the broader context within which your specific need has arisen. If, for example, you ask your lawyer to review and interpret a contract, the advice that you receive will be most useful to you when generated from a clear understanding, not only of the proposed transaction, but, more specifically, of your objectives and leverage relative to those of the counterparty to the contract.

Returning to our example above, if you are a first-time entrepreneur engaged in collapsing negotiations for seed financing and looking to your lawyer for guidance on whether to sign the term sheet “as is,” only if your lawyer has been carefully inquisitive might he or she know, for example, if you have spent months chasing financing, have received only this one offer, and are increasingly concerned over the resulting delay in technology development. Advice appropriately shaped by these facts would include a shift in focus toward negotiating a smaller subset of your most important issues (perhaps even just one or two) in order to make sure that a deal gets done as quickly as possible.

4. Practical Advice

Although many of the questions that you will pose to your startup lawyer will have complicated answers and, thus, require detailed analyses, you, typically, will need a succinct response. While a lawyer can spend a lot of time over email or on the phone with you summarizing relevant issues and describing the review conducted to reach his or her conclusion, this propensity is contrary to the startup reality. Time is money, and you are, no doubt, both busy and cost conscious. It stands to reason, then, that the more compatible lawyer is the one who is able to “cut to the chase.” While your lawyer should be able to work back to the analysis supporting his or her conclusion, in the course of discussing your questions, practicality dictates that the lawyer should lead with that conclusion, offering a recommendation at the outset.

As an entrepreneur, most likely with a business or technical background (rather than a legal one), you should expect your lawyer to be the one to bridge the gap and have the ability to speak your language. Your lawyer should avoid the use of legalese, so that you find the advice easily understandable and relatable. In fact, an essential component of your startup lawyer’s role is not providing legal advice—that is to say, to offer counsel on related, but non-legal, matters. For example, you may ask the lawyer representing your startup in a venture capital financing to advise you regarding how frequently particular deal terms, like participating preferred stock, are seen. Knowing how prevalent deal terms are is not “legal” advice, per se, but explaining which terms are “market” and which are atypical is a key value-add. This relevant expertise will enable your lawyer to help you to prioritize and determine which terms to negotiate and which to accept.

The ability to provide practical business advice is part of a larger skillset that will distinguish your best startup lawyer from the rest. Most lawyers will be able to educate you on how to interpret a provision in a contract or analyze risk in a transaction, but the lawyer that you want to find exercises sound judgment in the provision of real-world advice. Your world is the startup world, and, as such, your lawyer must be able to expertly determine what is important to you (and what is not), given the stage that you are at. This determination is impacted by the particular circumstances and context, such as when and how urgently you may need outside financing, and the circumstances and context need to figure into the advice that you receive.

If, for example, your startup is running low on cash—with payroll, accounts payable, and other obligations due—but has received a proposal from a prospective licensee of your technology in a specific territory outside of the United States, you may need to accept terms that are less than favorable, and it is the role of the skilled startup lawyer to help you determine what your business can live with. Your lawyer should know not to “over-lawyer,” such as by drafting and negotiating the definitive agreements in a way that adds unnecessary time, complexity, and expense to the deal or, even worse, in a way that puts the deal at risk: By continuing to negotiate a matter for which there could be a compromise or by delaying the closing date through prolonged negotiations, the deal could fall through.

5. Understanding the Business

As an entrepreneur, your business is born of an idea that you believe is unique. It could be an advanced technology, an innovative service, or a progressive social mission. Whatever it is that sets your business apart needs to be substantively understood, in both design and practice, by your lawyer.

If, for example, your startup is a software-as-a-service play, your lawyer must be familiar with the software, its functionality, feasible customizations, and what steps the business is willing to take in terms of customer care, warranty, and support. Otherwise, your lawyer will not be able to negotiate successfully with tech-savvy customers, discuss the finer points of service level agreements, and explain what credits, if any, will be offered in the event of unexpected downtime. If this dexterity is not the case with your lawyer, in order to support your sales team, then you may as well be selling off-the-shelf software, because, before the contract is even signed, the prospective customer may determine that the service piece is missing.

Equally as important for your startup lawyer to grasp is the financial model and underlying accounting principles on which your business runs. Whether you are selling a product or a service, there will be a process by which revenue flows through your business. With working knowledge of this process, your lawyer can draft and negotiate license and services agreements that, to the extent possible, support the conversion of bookings into recognized revenue sooner rather than later. Be sure that the lawyer you select does not plan to simply “do deals” for your startup but that he or she plans to help you craft deals that are structured in such a way as to support your business goals.

While finding “a” startup lawyer may seem a straightforward enough task, finding “your” startup lawyer—the practitioner whose partnership, communication, and practicality will advance your business purpose—requires that you know who and what you are looking for. The right fit from the outset often proves determinative and, therefore, you will want to evaluate carefully skills that many entrepreneurs, especially those searching for a lawyer for the first time, might not intuitively focus on.

Linda Cole is a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School and Supervising Attorney for the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project. Joshua Fox is a Partner at WilmerHale in Boston and an Adjunct Lecturer at Boston University School of Law. Both are alumni of Harvard Law School.

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.

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.”