I joined the Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) the fall of my 1L year at a time when I knew very little about the criminal justice system. I knew, however, that PLAP provided important services to prisoners in Massachusetts, including representing them in disciplinary hearings and in their bids for parole.
The notice came in a white envelope, hand-delivered by a staffer at the project-based Section 8 development that my elderly grandparents lived in. From the outside, it looked like it could be a notice that they received on a weekly basis. However, this was a “Notice to Cease.” From what my immigrant Chinese family could tell, it meant eviction.
A six-year-long study by Harvard Law School’s Access to Justice Lab (A2J Lab) evaluated and analyzed the effectiveness of pro bono representation in divorce cases in Philadelphia County. The recently released study found that people who received legal representation were 87% more likely to achieve a divorce than people without it.
It was Thursday night and the Ames Courtroom was decked out for a Hollywood-style awards ceremony–1Ls and their dates arrived in tuxes and ball gowns while a jazz combo played, and anticipation was in the air. The winter’s first snow was falling outside, but in Austin Hall, the Tortys had come to town.
In October, David J. Harris, managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, received the Massachusetts Governor’s Award in the Humanities. Harris was one of four leaders recognized for their “public actions, grounded in an appreciation of the humanities, to enhance civic life in the Commonwealth.”
After serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy, M. Alejandra Parra-Orlandoni focused on international law and national security during her time at Harvard Law School. But the most important things she learned, she says, were the ability to think critically and the importance of learning from the experience of others.