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Reflecting on my work with the Food Law and Policy Clinic

Originally published by Harvard Law School’s Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs on March 24, 2017.

Written by Drake Carden, J.D. ’17

I have always taken an interest in food and how our food system operates, but had not done anything pertinent to the field outside of some light reading and Netflix documentary binge-watching. In the Spring of 2016, I had the pleasure of taking Emily Broad Leib’s Food Law class. This prompted my interest in enrolling in the clinic the next fall. I was placed on two projects: The Farm Bill Consortium and the Blueprint for the National Food Strategy.

The Farm Bill project was just taking off, and I specifically got to work on the Crop Insurance Title (Title XI) of the Farm Bill. My role consisted of written and interview-based research (which included a trip to rural Iowa!) to help formulate policy recommendations for the next Farm Bill with respect to Title XI. I worked closely with another teammate to coordinate our recommendations around commodities as well.  I also got the chance to travel to the Food Law Student Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, where I met a lot of students and faculty from the Consortium partner schools. The project is now moving in an exciting direction, where they will combine recommendations among all coordinated groups working on other Titles of the Farm Bill. I look forward to seeing the final product!

In a bit of contrast, the National Food Strategy project was nearing its completion. This project entailed a white paper written in conjunction with Vermont Law School, and I came on board to help with final edits to both the paper and the appendices of supporting national and international strategies. Just last week, I received a copy of the final paper. It was great to be able to see a finished product, and I was very proud of the work of the entire team!

The Food Law and Policy Clinic provided me a valuable lesson in project management and team-building. I enjoyed working with Emily, the fellows (shout out to Lee and Emma!), and my classmates. I also enjoyed focusing on policy-making, something that is rarer in black letter law classes. And I got to work with interesting, smart, kind and patient people. Mission accomplished: I cannot say enough good things about the clinic staff!

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