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M’sian Harvard Law Student Receives US Award for His Success in Winning Cases for Underprivileged Clients


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Source: Harvard

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Being a law student isn’t just about hitting the books. It’s about putting in the time and effort, staying sharp with critical thinking, and having a real passion for justice and the law.

When it comes to passion and staying committed, Arjun Gananathan, a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School, was recently awarded with the 2024 Ralph D. Gants Access to Justice Award for his work in improving access to justice and advancing fairness.

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“I feel really lucky to have received the Gants Access to Justice Award”

According to Harvard Law Today, Arjun, who is 28 years old, expressed his appreciation for receiving the award, acknowledging Chief Justice Gants’ impact on his perspective of legal advocacy.

“Chief Justice Gants shows us that standing up for the marginalised is the greatest honour in our field. I feel lucky to have done this legal work at Harvard Law School’s clinics, and I owe my deepest thanks to my mentors, Crisanne Hazen, Michael Gregory, Jesse Grove, and Alexis Waller.”

This award, started in 2021 to remember the late Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Ralph D. Gants, recognises students who are really dedicated to promoting social justice.

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He represented underprivileged clients!

Arjun shared some of his accomplishments from his time at the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) in Massachusetts, where he assisted underprivileged clients.

He continued to share that one achievement in particular that he was most proud of was securing the pre-trial release of a single mom to prevent her from being separated from her special-needs son.

“Last fall, during my first court appearance, I successfully argued to keep my client, a single mom with a young special-needs son, out of jail. The government wanted to keep them apart for 90 days, but I helped prevent that from happening.”

In another case in December, just before his final exam in Criminal Procedure, he got a surprise call to defend a young client in Dorchester Juvenile Court. They beat the prosecution’s efforts to cancel bail and got her out of custody until the trial.

“These accomplishments were special to me because they preserved someone’s freedom,” he added.

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His academic journey started from UCLA

Arjun began studying at the University College of Los Angeles (UCLA) and earned a degree in Psychology and Linguistics. He has also volunteered for projects like the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and the Mississippi Delta Project (MDP).

One important project he worked on at MDP’s Economic Justice Project was helping black farmers in Mississippi deal with past discrimination.

Mentor Jesse Grove pointed out that,

“Arjun really shows what CJI is about helping people, not just handling cases.”


We couldn’t be prouder of our fellow Malaysians at Harvard for making such a significant impact. Congratulations to Arjun on his award and achievements!


Also read: 4 Young M’sians Secure Spot in Harvard College’s Class of 2028 Out of a Pool of 54,008 Applications!

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Source: Harvard
Source: Harvard

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