Dalia Deak ’19 is this year’s winner of the individual David Grossman Exemplary Clinical Student Award, given each year to a student who embodies the pro bono spirit of the late Clinical Professor of Law David Grossman ’88 and exemplifies putting theory into practice through clinical work. Deak, who has focused her law school career on translating theoretical rigor into impactful work, was recognized for participating in nearly every aspect of the Center of Health Law and Policy Innovation’s clinical work over four semesters, and for her work in the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program.
Deak received her Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia, where she focused primarily on computer science in biomedical engineering and issues at the intersection of technology, health policy, and public health. After graduating, Deak worked as a research assistant at the Brookings Institution, where she co-authored a report for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the implementation of a unique device identification system that would support postmarket surveillance and enhance patient safety. She continued her focus on health law as a student fellow with the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. By the end of her fellowship year, she had completed her Master of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and was accepted to HLS as a J.D. candidate.
As a student with the Health Law and Policy Clinic, Deak worked on a project developing a complaint that was submitted to the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; that complaint resulted in some insurers discontinuing the discriminatory practice of adverse tiering standard-of-care drugs for individuals with pre-existing conditions like HIV. The insurers also began discussions with state insurance regulators as to how to address the problems identified in the complaint.
Deak was also a key contributor to the clinic’s policy mapping and impact litigation practice. She researched, structured, drafted and finalized an amicus brief that was filed in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on the issue of mootness in the context of class actions.
Along with a focus on health law, Deak volunteered with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC) and the HLS Immigration Project. In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, she was actively engaged in travel ban-related brief writing, working with students and faculty to develop and submit amicus briefs at the Fourth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, and U.S. Supreme Court. She also drafted clear, concise, and informative answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to the travel ban, which both the HIRC clinic and University’s International Office posted on their websites to guide international students, scholars, faculty, and staff in navigating the uncertainty created by the ban. Her clinical instructors say she thinks through issues carefully, and enjoys tackling complex problems to find and develop the most effective arguments and solutions to pervasive social justice problems.
Deak also participated in the Judicial Process in the Trial Courts Clinic, where she interned for Judge Indira Talwani at the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts. She spent a summer working as a legal intern with the MacArthur Justice Center.
“I came to Harvard Law School for the clinics,” Dalia remarked. “During my masters, I cross-registered at the Center for Health Law Policy and Innovation. Working with CHLPI helped me realize how much fulfillment I could derive from a career as a lawyer serving clients, and the sheer magnitude of change I could help bring about. I have since had the chance to further enrich my experience by participating in other clinics on campus. From working on Supreme Court briefs at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic to interning for Judge Talwani as part of the Judicial Process in the Trial Courts clinic, the clinical experience at HLS has made a tremendous impact on me and has, unequivocally, been the highlight of my law school career.”
Seeking to build community at HLS, Dalia has been active in the student body, co-founding the Middle Eastern Law Students Association, chairing the Affinity Group Coalition, and leading the Health Law Society. She co-authored articles in the Harvard Law Record, calling for the establishment of a committee and office on diversity, inclusion and equity, and providing guidance to first year law students. She also appeared on “Palestinians Podcast” speaking about what it means to be Palestinian.