M’sian Harvard Law Student Receives Prestigious US Award For Winning Cases For Poor Clients

Congrats! 👏
Arjun Gananathan, a doctoral candidate in Law at Harvard Law School, has been honoured with the 2024 Ralph D. Gants Access to Justice Award for his dedication to enhancing access to justice and equity.

M’sian Harvard Law student receives prestigious US Award 

This accolade, established in 2021 to commemorate the legacy of the late Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Ralph D. Gants, recognises students committed to advocating for social justice causes.

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Arjun gananathan receives the ralph d. Gants access to justice award
Screenshot via Harvard Law Today

In an interview with Harvard Law Today, 28-year-old Arjun expressed his gratitude for receiving the award, acknowledging Chief Justice Gants’ profound influence on his perception of legal advocacy.

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“Chief Justice Gant’s work serves as a reminder that representation of the marginalised is the greatest honour of our profession,” he stated.

Represented underprivileged clients in Massachusetts

Arjun gananathan receives the ralph d. Gants access to justice award
Photo via The Star

Arjun recounted some of his most significant achievements, particularly within the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI), where he represented underprivileged clients in Massachusetts.

One memorable case involved securing pre-trial release for a single mother facing separation from her special-needs son.

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At my first court appearance last fall, I successfully argued for a client’s pretrial release. The Commonwealth was seeking to separate my client, a single mother, from her young special-needs son, for a period of 90 days.”

Another instance showcased his quick thinking and legal acumen when he successfully defended a juvenile client just 48 hours before a crucial exam.

In December, 48 hours before my Criminal Procedure final, I was unexpectedly called in to defend a young client at arraignment in Dorchester Juvenile Court. We defeated the prosecution’s bail revocation motions and got her released from DYS custody pending trial.”

Arjun also won a motion to vacate a client’s GPS-monitoring condition of release and negotiated a pre-arraignment diversion for a client.

These victories, Arjun emphasised, not only preserved individuals’ freedoms but also upheld the integrity of families.

“These victories were special to me because they preserved someone’s freedom. They kept families together.”

Leadership in the Youth Advocacy and Policy Lab and the CJI

Harvard Law Today commended Arjun for his leadership in the Youth Advocacy and Policy Lab and the CJI, highlighting his unwavering commitment to examining the criminal justice system through a lens of racial equity.

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Crisanne Hazen, a law lecturer and director of the Child Advocacy Clinic, praised Arjun’s approach to legal issues, describing him as thoughtful, measured, and empathetic.

She emphasised his ability to navigate complex problems while acknowledging the systemic biases that disproportionately affect marginalised communities.

From UCLA to Harvard: Arjun’s academic journey

Harvard law school
Photo via Tipping The Scales

Arjun’s academic journey began at the University College of Los Angeles (UCLA), where he earned a degree in Psychology and Linguistics.

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He has also contributed to pro bono initiatives such as the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and the Mississippi Delta Project (MDP).

Notably, his work with the MDP’s Economic Justice Project focused on addressing historical discrimination against black farmers in Mississippi.

Congrats Arjun Gananathan!

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