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Students, Alumna Help Plan, Take Part in Conference at Harvard Law School

March 29, 2012

Elizabeth Tarloski, a 3L, Jack Stucker, a 2L, and Kevin Long, a 1L and alumna Blair Thompson (2011) took part in Critical Lawyering: Bridging Theory and Practice for Social Change, a conference at Harvard Law School on March 23.

The conference focused on the connections between theory and practice in public interest law.


Tarloski, Stucker and Thompson have all taken part in the Drexel Summer Theory Institute, a 10-week workshop that fosters a community of leadership among students completing public interest summer internships in Philadelphia. The program is modeled after a Summer Theory Institute launched in 2008 by two public interest lawyers for Harvard students.

In 2011, students took part in the institute while completing internships at venues including the Federal Defender’s Office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Community Legal Aid Society of Wilmington, Friends of Farmworkers and the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.

The institute enhances public-interest internships, said Tarloski, who completed a fellowship in 2011 in tandem with a summer internship at the Nationalities Service Center.

“It gives you an advantage, if you have an interest in going beyond practical matters to think about your clients and how you approach your job,” said Tarloski, who served with Thompson on a steering committee that planned the conference at Harvard. “It gives you an opportunity to examine whether what public-interest lawyers are doing is working well.”

Thompson spoke during the plenary session of the conference and helped facilitate a discussion about integrating theory into the day-to-day practice of law.

The conference also featured presentations by Steve Bachmann, general counsel to ACORN; Lucie E. White, the Louis A. Horvitz Professor of Law at Harvard Law School; Nisha Agarwal, deputy director of the Center for Popular Democracy and co-founder of the (Harvard) Summer Theory Institute, and Jocelyn Simonson, supervising attorney of the Criminal Defense Practice at the Bronx Defenders, Inc., and co-founder of the (Harvard) Summer Theory Institute.