Author: jacoblipton

Final Day of the 2017 Systemic Justice Conference!

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Today is the final day of the 2017 Systemic Justice Conference: Repairing our Broken Systems!

Come for breakfast at 9:45am in time for the Justice Lab presentation on A Coordinated Community Approach to Homelessness which starts at 10:00am. That will be followed by another systemic lawyering panel — see the remarkable panelists below — and then lunch and the final Justice Lab presentation on Whistleblowing: Enhancing Employee Knowledge, Strategic Options and Consequences, followed by a group conference wrap-up discussion.

Today’s systemic lawyering panel features:

  • Lam Ho – Executive Director of CALA (Community Activism Law Alliance)
  • Corey Stoughton – civil rights litigation and strategy consultant based in London (formerly D.O.J. and ACLU of N.Y.)
  • Matt Segal – Legal Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts
  • Phil Torrey – Managing Attorney of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program


Don’t miss it!


Sunday, April 9, 2017

9:45 – 10:00 AM | Breakfast Pickup (Pound Hall)

10:00 – 11:15 AM | Homelessness (Pound 101)

A Coordinated Community Approach to Homelessness

Presenters (Justice Lab): Ross Brockaway, Pete Davis, Elle Dodd, Franco Pillsbury, Catia Sharp

11:20 AM – 12:20 PM | Systemic Lawyering Panel (Pound 101)

Panelists: Lam Ho, Corey Stoughton, Matt Segal, Phil Torrey

Moderators: Jieun Lim and Marilyn Robb

12:20 – 12:45 PM | Lunch (Pound Hall)

12:45 – 2:00 PM | Whistleblowing (Pound 101)

Whistleblowing: Enhancing Employee Knowledge, Strategic Options and Consequences

Presenters (Justice Lab): Esther Agbaje, Stephanie Kelly, Alisan Oliver-Li, Nicolette Roger

2:00 – 3:00 PM | Conference Wrap-Up: Problem Causers, Problem Solvers, Initiatives

Moderators: Sara Bellin and Jacob Lipton


Day Two of the 2017 Systemic Justice Conference

SJ Conference 2017_Postcard front

Come to Pound Hall, Harvard Law School for day two of the 2017 Systemic Justice Conference!

Highlights include:

  • Brunch Forum of recent graduates!
  • Presentations on Qualified Immunity, Delivering Legal Services, & Amicus Briefs
  • The second Systemic Justice Showcase of the weekend!
  • Systemic Lawyering Panel featuring Jason Adkins, Sabi Ardalan, Esme Caramello, & Robin Steinberg
  • Narratives about our political moment

Come one come all!


Saturday, April 8, 2017

9:30 – 9:55 AM | Brunch Forum with Breakfast Pickup (Pound 101)

Moderator: Jacob Lipton

Panelists: Rebecca Chapman, Ben Elga, Alec Harris, Anna Joseph, Bianca Tylek

10:00 – 11:00 AM | KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Robin Steinberg (Pound 101)

Moderator: Robin Ladd

11:05 – 12:20 PM | Qualified Immunity (Pound 101)

(Un)Qualified Immunity: Protecting Police over Plaintiffs

Presenters (Justice Lab): Charlie Birkel, Mike Banerjee, Paul Maneri, Harmann Singh, Shivani Agarwal

12:20 – 12:35 PM | Lunch Pickup (Pound Hall)

12:35 – 1:35 PM | Justice Showcase #2 (Pound 102)

1:40 – 2:40 PM | Delivering Legal Services (Pound 101)

Streamlining Intake and Triage in Delivering Legal Services

Presenters (Justice Lab): Yoseph Desta, Amber James, Sarah Vasquez Lightstone, Allena Martin, Mitha Nandagopalan

2:45 – 3:45 PM | Systemic Lawyering Panel (Pound 101)

Panelists: Jason Adkins, Sabi Ardalan, Esme Caramello, Robin Steinberg

Moderators: Robin Ladd and Harmann Singh

4:00 – 4:10 PM | Coffee/Tea Break (Pound Hall)

4:15 – 5:30 PM | Amicus Briefs (Pound 101)

Understanding and Reforming Amicus Briefs in the Supreme Court

Presenters (Justice Lab): Sonia Chakrabarty, Jessica Lewis, Brendan Roach, Mark Satta

5:30 – 6:00 PM | Narratives (Pound 101)

A series of brief narratives by students, staff, faculty, alums, and others about the frustrations with, and inspiration from, this political moment.

Moderators: Isaac Cameron and Corey Linehan

6:00 – 7:00 PM | Reception (Lewis 214A)

TODAY through Sunday! 2017 Systemic Justice Conference: Repairing Our Broken Systems

SJ Conference 2017_Postcard front

Over the last decade, the U.S. has been confronted with repeated reminders that our systems are failing. From growing wealth and racial inequalities to climate change and environmental degradation, and from economic and criminal-justice crises to a deeply dysfunctional political system, there is ample evidence that our systems are broken. This year’s Systemic Justice Conference will highlight some of the resultant systemic injustices in an effort to suggest some potential repairs. Join us today through sunday for:

Presentations from The Justice Lab and the Systemic Justice course!
Keynote address by Robin Steinberg!

Saturday Systemic Lawyering Panel featuring:

  • Jason Adkins – founder and director of Adkins, Kelston & Zavez, P.C.
  • Sabi Ardalan – Assistant Director and Lecturer on Law at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program
  • Esme Caramello – Clinical Professor of Law and Deputy Director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau
  • Robin Steinberg – Founder and Executive Director of the Bronx Defenders

Sunday Systemic Lawyering Panel featuring:

  • Lam Ho – Executive Director of CALA (Community Activism Law Alliance)
  • Corey Stoughton – civil rights litigation and strategy consultant based in London (formerly D.O.J. and ACLU of N.Y.)
  • Matt Segal – Legal Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts
  • Phil Torrey – Managing Attorney of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

Registration here!
Full schedule here!

Afternoon of Engagement workshop TODAY

Event TODAY: Afternoon of Engagement 

Members of the Harvard community will have received an invitation from President Drew Faust to participate in An Afternoon of Engagement, an innovative, interactive workshop that is part of the outreach efforts of the University Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging, which will take place on Wednesday, April 5, in Sanders Theatre. The event starts 2pm, doors open at 1:15

About the event:

This interactive workshop will use story-telling and small-group conversations to explore what the concepts of inclusion and belonging mean for our campus and to generate solutions, drawing on the collective wisdom of our community. Your work this afternoon will help shape the Task Force’s conceptions of inclusion and belonging and guide its exploration of solutions and formulation of recommendations. 

As President Faust wrote, diversity, inclusion, and belonging are not incidental concerns; they are fundamental to Harvard’s mission and identity.  We aspire to build a university that is open and inclusive and that inspires a sense of belonging for all members of our community. This is a necessary foundation for enabling all students, staff, and academic personnel to meet their aspirations for academic and personal growth. To achieve this vision, we need your wisdom and good ideas.

Registration and Additional Details:

All members of the community are welcome and encouraged to attend.  Please visit the event website to register and to learn more about the program and speakers.

J-Term Course: Practicing Systemic Justice


A Note for Harvard Students:

We stand at a pivotal moment for lawyers and others concerned with justice. Public interest lawyers from around the country are gathering at HLS in January to identify new challenges and possible solutions, and to find out how HLS students can help them unite and collaborate more effectively.

If you want to play a part and want to work with experts from the clinical faculty on the cutting edge of policy problems, preparing action plans in conjunction with summit attendees, see the announcement below, and email us by noon on Friday December 23rd to be assured of a place.

Practicing Systemic Justice in the United States: A Working Lab

 Professors Tyler Giannini and Jon Hanson would like to announce a new Winter Term course in conjunction with multiple clinical faculty. In the past few weeks, we have had discussions with many students interested in using their legal education to understand and practically address injustices that they identify in the United States and its legal and political system.

Practicing Systemic Justice in the United States: A Working Lab seeks to develop a new way of approaching societal injustices by exploring the practice and history of struggle and applying it to contemporary problems. In conjunction with expert advisors, student teams will work to draft reports and other materials on pressing policy problems such as immigration, food, housing, technology, criminal justice, corporate responsibility, and climate change. Expert advisors will include faculty members Sabrineh Ardalan, Christopher Bavitz, Emily Broad Leib, Esme Caramello, and Philip Torrey. Students will participate in the selection of “problems” to address, will help identify a variety of relevant experts, stakeholders, and groups facing injustice as part of researching the problem, and will coordinate and participate in drafting collaborative proposals and action plans.

Projects from the Working Lab will be taken up by Spring courses including the Justice Lab, which is still open for enrollment.

Practicing Systemic Justice will be designed around the Systemic Justice Summit on January 14-15. Please see more information at

If you are interested in participating, please email,, and (and include the words “Practicing Systemic Justice” in the subject line) so we can give you further details and make you eligible for enrollment. The Lab takes a cross-disciplinary approach, and we also encourage cross-registrants.

Systemic Justice Project 2017 Update

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We at the Systemic Justice Project have been working hard and wanted to update you on our plans for the first half of 2017, which include a new Winter Term course in addition to Systemic Justice and the Justice Lab in the Spring, all of which are open for enrollment, including cross-registrants (please see details on the individual course pages, links below).

1.       Winter Term Course: We are going to be offering a new winter term course, co-taught with Tyler Giannini, and including expert advisors from the Clinical Faculty. Practicing Systemic Justice in the United States: A Working Lab, seeks to develop a new way of approaching societal injustices by exploring the practice and history of struggle and applying it to contemporary problems. In conjunction with expert advisors, student teams will work to develop materials and plans for the Systemic Justice Summit (see below) and prepare reports, analysis, and action plans for key stakeholders on pressing policy problems such as immigration, food, housing, technology, criminal justice, corporate responsibility, and climate change.

 2.       Systemic Justice Summit: On January 14-15, we will be hosting a Systemic Justice Summit that will bring together justice-minded lawyers and nonlawyers engaged with the legal system to discuss new priorities, strategies, cases, and opportunities for collaboration on a wide range of issues. The summit will focus on both the new urgent challenges facing especially vulnerable groups and the continued urgent need for a new way of thinking about the law and the legal profession — one that places social justice at its core and works to find sustainable, deep solutions and institutions. Students from the Practicing Systemic Justice Course, and other interested students, will participate in planning and facilitating the summit.

 3.       Spring Justice Lab and Systemic Justice Course: The Spring Justice Lab, and some students in the Systemic Justice course, will take up some of the projects that come out of the Systemic Justice Summit and the Practicing Systemic Justice course, in addition to developing new projects and collaborations. We are set to have our largest Justice Lab ever, but are still open for further enrollment, including from cross-registrants.

 4.       Systemic Justice Conference: The third annual Systemic Justice Conference will be April 7-9. As always, it will feature students from the Justice Lab and the Systemic Justice course presenting their projects, including collaborations arising out of the summit.

Historic Settlement in Jennings

Great news from two friends of the Systemic Justice Project:

A small city bordering Ferguson, Mo., has agreed to pay $4.7 million to compensate nearly 2,000 people who spent time in the city’s jail for not paying fines and fees related to traffic and other relatively petty violations.

Alec explains the systemic place of this litigation:

“This historic settlement is part of a national movement to change how indifferent we’ve become to putting human beings in cages, and to end the notion that courts can be used as tools of revenue generation rather than places of justice,” said Alec Karakatsanis, whose Washington-based nonprofit organization, Equal Justice Under Law, brought the suit with the Arch City Defenders, a Missouri nonprofit group, and the St. Louis University School of Law.

See the full New York Times story here.

Real Talk 4: Ariel Eckblad

By Ariel Eckblad

There have been at least 13 iterations of this piece. Last December, the first draft began—

In November, someone placed strips of black tape over the portraits of tenured black professors at Harvard Law. Today, as I read “Between the World and Me,” Ta-Nehisi Coates told me, “hate gives identity.”[1] I was, at first, unsure whether I agreed with his assertion in its totality. I think my initial reticence to accept this statement stemmed from the absolutism embedded in its brevity. Hate may indeed give identity. I have also watched as love, affiliation, and the irreplaceable sense of worth that stems from authentic human connection provides a similar sense of belonging. And still, beyond the inquiry of veracity, is the question of applicability.

As I returned to edit, initially hoping that a cursory glance would be sufficient, I found myself paralyzed. Each “edit” felt pitifully sterile, laced with an almost comedic anachronism. How does one wax eloquent about love when presidential candidates are being rewarded for spewing vitriol? How can I write about affiliation when my peers are sleeping in Belinda Hall because during the day the world tells them that even at HLS they don’t quite fit? What is “authentic human connection” when the prevailing ethos often seems to be one of exclusion, wall-building, and atomization? And so, I made trivial alterations—replacing and misplacing commas—stalling so I did not have to publish the piece.

After my 12th attempt at editing, there was one bit that continued to menace—

Marking the faces of black professors is a hateful act. I wonder could such an act be interpreted as perverse attempt to ground one’s identity? More specifically, if identity is defined as the story we tell ourselves about ourselves, when this story feels threatened is hate an attempt to salvage it? And if yes, what is the role of facilitated dialogue in ensuring that such acts do not happen again? If the undergirding question is one of identity, what then is the answer?

I still cringe. Why? Simply, I bristle because I do not know the answer. The tape used to cover the faces of black professors had, earlier that day, been used to hang signage explaining why the “Royall Must Fall.”[2] The Royall Must Fall movement, which seeks to change the HLS crest—a crest that once belonged to a family of slaveholders—is at least in part undergirded by questions of identity. Students are questioning what it means to claim/attend/be part of an institution that brands itself with a symbol that once served as tacit legitimization of violent oppression. Are the reactions to this movement—ranging from denial to denunciation—also driven by identity or a fear that one’s identity is somehow being threatened? Sociopolitical shifts in our school, our communities, our country, and our world force us to confront the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. In this shadow of such shifts, are we not all seeking to determine if/how/where we belong? Perhaps. And still, the question remains so what?

In the 7th version of this piece, I sought to answer this “so what?” and find some sort of silver lining. I asserted—

And still my impulse, given my lens as a student of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is to assess whether ADR can serve as a mechanism of reconciliation. The question of identity provides a bit of hope. Maybe, it does not have to be like this? If many (some? a few? a handful?) of hateful acts stem from a desire to assert/protect/guard/shield the story we tell ourselves about ourselves then ADR can be used to provide an alternative story…maybe the power of dialogue stems from its ability to establish a “shared identity between two aggrieved or separated parties.”[3] Possibly dialogue can be used to foster love, compassion, and empathy. Perhaps, this can also “give identity.”

This is the 13th version of this piece and I am still unsure how to conclude. I want so desperately to believe in the power of dialogue to bridge difference, rebuild identity, and heal broken communities. My identity as a student and teacher of ADR hinges on this conviction. And still, I wonder if there are moments when people seek so desperately to belong that they will exclude in order to do so. I question whether, when this occurs, dialogue can ever serve to rebuild or reunite. Maybe the reality is that both of these are true, hate or love can ground our identities. Perhaps the onus is on us to consistently choose the latter.


[1] Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015. Print.

[2] The Royal Must Fall movement is a student movement that believes that the HLS “crest is a glorification of and a memorial to one of the largest and most brutal slave owners in Massachusetts. But Isaac Royall, Jr.” and therefore, the HLS crest must be altered. See: Johnson, Antuan, Alexander Clayborne, and Sean Cuddihy. “Royall Must Fall | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson.” Royall Must Fall | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.

[3] Kim, Sebastian C. H., and Pauline Kollontai. Peace and Reconciliation In Search of Shared Identity. Farnham: Ashgate, 2008. Print.