Alumni Network

Alumni Network

Alumni Contact Information

The Bureau is updating our Alumni information, and we need your help. Please click this link to fill out the Alumni Contact sheet. If you know of a Bureau alumnus who currently is not receiving information from us, please send an email to the Alumni Director, Uzezi Abugo, at alumni@harvardlegalaid.org with the relevant information.

Reflections from Alumni

Former members of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau have gone on to contribute significantly to all areas of the legal profession. The Bureau alumni network includes members of the judiciary, distinguished academics, politicians, dedicated public interest lawyers, and partners at nearly every top law firm.

“Bureau exposure is to the hard reality, yet fascinating world of the practitioner, not as it’s depicted in books, but as it actually is. Many a distinguished practitioner, law teacher and judge…would, I’m sure, concede that he owes a debt to the Bureau for that early insight and not only because we were provided that early chance to learn something of the practitioner’s skills. There was also the lesson that living law has its compassionate aspects – helping confused and worried little people over problems of rent and family and small inheritances – problems of little or no significance in the large but which can assume terrifying proportions for the people concerned – drive that lesson home as few things can. Many would certainly wish that such an internship might be possible for every student…”
-Hon. William J. Brennan, Jr. (1931) , Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court

“My work at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau provided me with the opportunity to work with real people who had real legal problems that was a perfect balance to the theoretical framework and Socratic dialogue taught in the classroom. My HLAB work has always stood out as one of the most important parts of my Law School experience. My success as a judge is enhanced by my HLAB work. Every day people appear before me whose life experiences and legal problems are like those of my clients from HLAB.”
-Beth Freeman (1979), Supervising Family Law Judge, Superior Court of CA

“I got the experiences I expected and hoped for – I participated in hearings and
went to court to argue my first motions. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was also exposed to issues that I still confront today — what cases should we take? Is that person telling us the truth? How do I deal with opposing counsel? Am I having fun as a lawyer? I worked with a broad range of clients to help them solve their problems — problems that didn’t end at the same time the semester did. Years after I left HLAB, I got a letter from a former client — a battered woman who had come to HLAB for a divorce from her abusive husband. She wrote to tell me how her life had improved since HLAB took her case and how she has been able to provide a good life for her son. You can’t make that type of impact in a semester.”
-Helen Cantwell (1995), AUSA of NY, US Attorneys Office

“It was a positive experience, both personally and professionally. I enjoyed being a member of such a positive and committed group of people, and in my clinical work appealing ALJ denials of SSDI benefits, I saw the tremendous impact that legal representation can have. We absolutely made the difference between benefits and none for the clients we helped. I also received valuable training in how to actually ferret out the facts in a client interview.”
-Alyson Allen (1985), Partner, Ropes & Gray

“The experience and camaraderie of working with dedicated fellow law students to provide needed legal services for community residents helped instill within me the values and skills that spurred my public interest law career.”
-Howard A. Learner (1980), Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

“The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau gave me my first taste of real life in the legal and court system — researching cases, counseling clients, appearing in court, etc. It provided a basis for my fifty-year career as a lawyer and as a judge.”
-Robert A. Behrman (1950), Senior Judge, State of Colorado

Notable Bureau Alums

Honorable Frank M. Coffin (1943), Federal Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
First Circuit

Deval Patrick (1982), Governor of Massachusetts
Michelle Obama (1988), Executive Director, Community Affairs, University Of Chicago
Hospitals

Honorable Daniel J. O’Hern (1957), Justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court
Professor Erwin Chemerinksy (1978), Duke Law School professor
Professor Peter Murray (1967), Harvard Law School Professor
Leonard Rubenstein (1975), Legal Director of the Mental Health Law Project
Catherine Crystal (1991), National Association of Child Advocates
Michael Cooper (1960), Partner of Sullivan & Cromwell
Virginia Coleman (1970), Partner of Ropes & Gray
Jill Owens (1988), Senior Special Counsel to the New York Stock Exchange
Bruce Gelber (1975), Principle Deputy Chief at the U.S. Department of Justice
Laura Cordero (1988), Assistant U.S. Attorney

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