June 7, 2005
Suffolk Clinic Attorneys Honored as "Human Heroes"
Suffolk Prof. William Berman and clinic graduate Jared Olanoff, JD '04 are Human Heroes to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA). Berman and Olanoff were honored with the MSPCA's "Human Hero Award" for their representation of public housing residents fighting to keep companion pets in their homes.
“The new pet policy contained an exception for people with disabilities,” explained Berman, “and a number of our clients were disabled people who relied on their pets to help them. Yet the Housing Authority rejected our clients’ claims under this exception.” So, the Suffolk Housing and Consumer Protection Clinic took on the pet owners' cases. But, the clinic didn't take on the work alone. Instead, the clinic worked with local organizations and with the Chesterfield Smith Community Service Fellows in the Boston-based law firm of Holland & Knight.
From the perspective of clinic student Jared Olanoff, the "pet cases" were what made his law school experience so special. Olanoff began working on the cases during the summer after his first year in law school, when he interned at Suffolk's Legal Services office in Chelsea. Through the Housing and Consumer Protection Clinic, Olanoff continued working on the cases as they developed. Says Olanoff, "this enabled me to develop both as a person and a lawyer. I went to bat for people whose homes were on the line, and I discovered a disturbing trend of discrimination against people with disabilities." Prof. Berman adds, "Jared has gone far beyond the call of duty with these cases primarily because he cares about the people he's serving. He cares about protecting their rights, correcting an injustice, and restoring some dignity to their lives."
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