Third year law students and Fellows in Miami Law's Community Lawyering Clinic, Tony Guo and Komal Vaidya, spoke at a recent conference at Harvard Law School. The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau organized the two-day conference titled "Community Response to the Foreclosure Crisis," which drew participants from across the country to discuss Project No One Leaves, an innovative and multi-pronged Harvard Law student initiative devised to combat the national foreclosure crisis.
Guo and Vaidya were invited to speak at the conference to discuss their work incubating the first successful offshoot of the Harvard initiative at Miami Law through its Community Lawyering Clinic.
Over the last semester, the Community Lawyering Clinic, through Project No One Leaves Miami (PNOL Miami), has canvassed more than 1,000 low-income families living in apartment buildings in foreclosure. Specifically, students working through PNOL Miami raise awareness about the Protecting the Tenants at Foreclosure Act, a piece of federal legislation enacted in 2009, which granted substantial rights to tenants living in foreclosed properties.
Since the new law is relatively unknown, PNOL Miami tracks multi-family apartment buildings in foreclosure in Miami's low-income neighborhoods. Students go door-to-door to inform tenants about their rights. PNOL Miami also organizes regular know-your-rights presentations and provides legal advice and legal assistance to low-income tenants living in foreclosed homes under the supervision and guidance of Clinic Co-Directors and Community Justice Project attorneys Charles Elsesser and Purvi Shah.
On the Harvard Panel, Guo shared his experiences canvassing in Miami and helped other advocates – who are initiating similar projects across the country – create effective canvassing routes and materials. Vaidya spoke on the different implications of the foreclosure crisis in Miami, and how future project leaders can tailor know your rights workshops to their respective state laws and organizational capacity. Second year law student and Community Lawyering Clinic intern, Amanda Leipold also attended the conference, and participated in discussions regarding the national pandemic.
The Community Lawyering Clinic plans to expand PNOL Miami during the next semester and will offer volunteer opportunities for interested law students. If you are interested in participating in the project, please e-mail No.One.Leaves.MIA@gmail.com. The Community Lawyering Clinic gets students working with the Community Justice Project (CJP) of Florida Legal Services, Inc. to provide legal assistance to community organizations fighting for racial and economic justice in Miami's low-income communities of color. Click here for more information about the Community Lawyering Clinic and other clinics at Miami Law.