Harvard’s Legal Aid Bureau: Celebrating a century of learning and service

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In the 100 years since its founding, Harvard’s Legal Aid Bureau—the oldest student-run legal services program in the country—has helped thousands of clients. On Nov. 8 to 10, the Bureau will mark its centennial with a gala celebration at the law school which will feature keynote speakers and panel discussions on “Closing the gap: Evolving legal education and improving the clinical experience,” “Serving low-income communities across the three branches of government” and “Access to justice: Looking beyond legal services.”

Serving Those Who Have Served

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The Board of Veterans’ Appeals of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs denies a soldier’s claim for disability benefits for an injury that occurred while he was on active duty. But the decision is handed down while the soldier is redeployed to Afghanistan, and he doesn’t realize he has the right to appeal until after he returns stateside—after the appeal deadline has passed. For students in HLS’s new Veterans Legal Clinic, the chance to work on this case and others like it is eye-opening.

Debt Trap

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Many for-profit colleges, which get the overwhelming majority of their revenues from federal financial aid programs, rely on high-pressure tactics and false employment and salary guarantees to lure students into taking out loans. Now, through the efforts of Harvard Law School alum Toby Merrill ’11, some of the victims of these practices can get free legal aid to enforce their rights.