Gary Bellow was a creative scholar, a gifted teacher, an extraordinary advocate and visionary leader in the clinical legal education movement. His legal career is one that all can admire for the extraordinary depth and breadth of what he was able to accomplish. I have lost a great teacher, a dear friend, an ideal mentor, and the perfect role model. He shall be missed but never forgotten.
During his early start as a public defender in Washington, D.C., Professor Bellow developed a reputation of winning acquittals in very difficult cases, and was a leader among a legion of young lawyers who were amazed at his many talents. Professor Bellow went on to create change in significant ways in California, representing the Black Panthers in many political cases, and Cesar Chavez in the civil rights movement of migrant farmers.
Professor Bellow’s work in California still stands as a monument to the resilience of workers, who had few rights then, and fighting for a decent wage, and appropriate health standards, when they faced not only pesticides in the fields where they worked, but very modest living conditions in the places they lived. Professor Bellow was so successful representing the migrant farm laborers that he drew the attention, and ultimately the wrath of then, Governor Ronald Reagan. Despite the complaints about the aggressive work he did on behalf of workers, Bellow was able to assist in developing procedures that still stand as monumental protections of the rights of workers.
During his thirty year history at Harvard Law School, Professor Bellow wrote the seminal casebook, The Lawyering Process, and many articles that reflect self-criticism and in-depth analysis of the legal services movement. In The Lawyering Process casebook, Professor Bellow (with his co-author, Professor Bea Moulton) made extensive use of social science material to support the critical analysis of the legal process, and to teach future generations of students to see the complexities of counseling, interviewing and representation of indigent clients. It is still used in most law schools that offer clinical education, and its continued vitality is a testament to its innovative approach to clinical legal education. In addition to his legal work, Professor Bellow developed the monumental Clinical Program of Harvard Law School, one of the largest and most successful in the country. During the course of the last two decades, under Professor Bellow’s leadership, the Harvard Clinical Program has offered legal training to thousands of young law students, and provided representation to tens of thousands of indigent clients.
Professor Bellow’s most important work was teaching students.
It is a remarkable irony that, in the last moments of his life, he was
on his way to teach a class, despite failing health. His dedication to
students, the advancement of clinical legal education, and relentless advocacy
on behalf of the poor exemplifies the level of his unqualified commitment
to everything that he pursued. Gary Bellow will forever be remembered
as an innovative and creative leader in clinical legal education.
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