Kathleen Hamill

Over the past 20 years, my BC Law experience has helped to guide and inform my work on many levels.

During my first year at BC Law, I remember wondering how to best pursue a career in social justice and how to apply my legal education for the public good. During law school, I tried to chart this course and to aim for high ideals with a focus on respect for human dignity. One of my favorite BC Law courses, taught by Professor Dan Coquillette, explored justified disobedience, the moral person, and the legal mentality. I still keep his textbook, Lawyers and Fundamental Moral Responsibility, close at hand as it continues to guide my work today.

During law school, I was so happy when I received an HHRP grant from BC Law, which funded my human rights work and summer research as a student. At the time, I worked with grassroots Brazilian human rights groups documenting the assassination of a prominent human rights lawyer by a police-hit squad in Rio Grande do Norte, and I prepared the legal groundwork to seek justice for his extrajudicial execution. After filing a complaint with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, I eventually became the first case to be brought against Brazil in the InterAmerican Court of Human Rights. Also in law school, I participated in a BC Law social justice mission to Haiti with several other students under the direction of Professor Frank Hermann. We volunteered together in Haiti at various locations including an orphanage for young children and a hospice home for AIDs patients. We also met with President Bertrand Aristide and his wife who was an American lawyer. I recall thinking that as law students we had a responsibility to make the world a better place in whatever way we could.

Kathleen attended the 48th Middle East Medical Assembly in Beirut this year and spoke about the horrific issues facing women caught in areas of conflict. Her remarks begin at about the 9:10 mark, but if you have time to watch the 12 minute video, it is well worth it. “It was intense and exhausting,” Kathleen said, “but it was an honor to participate in it.”

Following graduation, I began managing human rights programs at Reebok, which included monitoring factory conditions and compliance with international labor standards. It also involved active engagement with the human rights working group of Business for Social Responsibility. Following Reebok, I continued teaching human rights courses at Fletcher, and I also developed and taught a new course on Human Rights and Business at Fletcher. During this time, I also co-authored an amicus brief before the Supreme Court in the case of Nike v. Kasky on behalf of human rights advocacy organization, Global Exchange.

Now I am a fellow and scholar at the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights as well as a visiting assistant professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. My legal work and research continue to focus on human rights and struggles for social justice. In 2016, I worked with colleagues at BC Law to write an American Bar Association resolution and report on the human rights situation in Turkey following the attempted coup there. This resolution was adopted as official ABA policy and has been instrumental in denouncing the torture, abuse, and mistreatment of Turkish lawyers and judges caught up in the witch-hunt.

I am very grateful for my BC Law education, and I will continue to look for ways to connect with friends and grads based here in the Boston area and beyond.

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