From a clinical to a judicial appointment: A Q&A with Gloria Tan

2 min read

In March, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick ’82 nominated Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute clinical instructor Gloria Tan to a seat on the Massachusetts Juvenile Court. Tan came to CJI, which supervises third-year law students representing indigent criminal defendants in local district and juvenile courts, after serving as a public defender for the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Boston. When a spot opened up on CPCS’s Youth Advocacy Project, Tan switched to working on juvenile cases and has spent her career doing so ever since. Tan was sworn in on May 3.

How has your experience at Harvard prepared you for your judicial appointment?

At Harvard, I had the opportunity to supervise law students who represented indigent adult and juvenile clients charged with crimes, in addition to representing my own clients. Working in the clinic and with the students allowed me to reflect and work on many of the issues in the criminal justice system.

What is it like to work with students in the clinic?

The law students in CJI are some of the most talented, motivated, smart and thoughtful people. I learned as much from them as I hope they learned from me. They continually inspired me with their dedication and commitment to their clients and their questioning of the injustices that exist in the system. When you’ve been practicing for a while, it is sometimes easy to become accepting of how things are.

Read the rest of the interview on the Harvard Law School website.