Doris Gelbman (Class of 2005)
I came to New England School of Law (NESL) with INTENTION of doing public interest work. Three years later, having pursued public interest initiatives through curricular and extracurricular activities, I still intend to pursue the public interest path, .
Inside the curriculum, I took the Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic, where I worked as student attorney at the New England School of Law Law Clinic serving indigent and low income clients in the areas of family law, housing, employment and social security. In the seminar portion of that course, I researched and reported on Loan Repayment Assistance Programs for students graduating into Public Interest employment. This would allow more law students, graduating with overwhelming debt, to work in lower paying Public Service jobs. That report has since been adopted by the executive committee of NESL's Public Interest Law Association who are exploring the possibility of creating a loan assistance program, or supporting a cooperative effort with other organizations (such as Mass. Bar, other law schools, ABA , Equal Justice etc.)
Off campus, as well as on, work in the public interest has been my focus. I was member of and served as co-chair to New England School of Law Branch of ACLU and as chair, was responsible for the single, best attended event (forum on Same Sex Marriage) in recent New England School of Law history.
In the Fall of 2004, and Winter months that followed, Boston was ground zero in the Gay Marriage battle brought about by the Supreme Judicial Court 's Goodridge decision in November of '04. I participated on a daily basis in grassroots organization in support of gay marriage, giving testimony at Legislative hearings, participating in demonstrations at the statehouse and attending the Constitutional Convention relating to amendments targeted at derailing same-sex marriage.
During the summer of '04 I volunteered with both the Democratic Party and more interestingly, from a legal perspective, the National Lawyer's Guild with whom I worked as a legal observer during the highly charged Democratic National Convention here in Boston . With many protests, extraordinary police presence and security measures, there were many opportunities to observe and report on violations of civil liberties. Likewise, several organizations - including the NLG and ACLU, were involved in civil litigation against the city of Boston and Police Departments relating to extraordinary search and seizure provisions.
During that same summer, I was privileged to be employed by NESL's Center for Law and Social Responsibility (CLSR). In that capacity I worked on projects ranging from one project classifying tracking and recording (to the extent possible) the level of participation of students in Public Interest positions. In another project under the CLSR, I worked with Professor Judith Greenberg, director of the Domestic Violence Project, to develop a set of standard language that can be used to classify and index issues within the Sexual Violence News database and newsletter. I also worked to improve their web interface to make it easier to search for specific legal terms or cases. Later, I assisted the Women's Law Caucus (a student group, with membership now in excess of 150 students), to automate the review and reporting process on Sexual Violence cases/issues such that a very large number of students could work on the project simultaneously without the need to meet in person. The Domestic Violence project under the CLSR was also able to add a similarly automated Judicial Language project (monitoring judicial language in opinions in sexual violence cases for bias or inappropriateness). As a summer employee of the CLSR I also worked with Prof. David Siegel on a new project planning fora on various public interest topics allowing for informal participation on the part of outside speakers, faculty and students. The first of these, on Torture was a resounding success.
Both before and since entering law school I have worked on a voluntary basis in domestic civil rights, but my true passion is in International Public Law and International Criminal Prosecution. I was therefore, thrilled to be awarded the CALI (honors) award for Public
International Law in 2004. I was also privileged to participate in the War Crimes project writing a legal memorandum for the Assistant Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This year, I was asked to participate on joint project with Amnesty International evaluating the Afghani Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure
and Constitution for conflicts with International conventions on Torture and Violence Against Women. This project was a pilot project under the auspices of NESL's Center for International Law and Policy (CILP). As a result of this work, I was asked to participate as a member of the student advisory committee to CILP. I have also volunteered to assist CILP in the planning and execution of the 10 th Year Commemoration of the Formation of the International Criminal Tribunal Rwanda (ICTR).
Most recently, I have been active with another student group, the International Law Students Association, in planning two events: Raising Funds for Tsunami Relief and The 2005 Human Rights Symposium.
As illustrated above, a student's interest in activities in the Public Service are limited only by your available time and energy. The activities, courses and projects I've discussed reflect those areas that I have an interest in or even a passion for. Many, many more were available had I elected to get involved with them. Some of those activities I participated in I was paid to do, others were labors of love alone. In either case, they were all significantly rewarding experiences that in many ways taught me more about the law than many substantive courses.