Corporate Lawyer on the Loose: Becoming a Social Entrepreneur

Figuring out life after graduation, whether we are LLMs or JDs, can be a bit daunting for most of us. Law school has the potential to make us more risk-averse, so we want to have a plan, and a back-up plan, and a back-up plan for the back-up plan.

LIDS and SELA helped students see a different perspective on November 13th, 2014 by presenting Benjamin Stone, Co-founder & Vice Chairman of Indego Africa, Director of Strategy & General Counsel of MCE Social Capital, and co-founder of Dollar a Day.Mr. Stone graduated from New York University School of Law in 2004, and completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship in 2010.

In 2006 he was a practicing attorney working at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, when he decided to leave his job and start Indego Africa, a non-profit social enterprise which helps women in Rwanda earn a living by facilitating market access and providing business education. Despite a few hick-ups, since it’s launch Indego has helped female artisans sell their product online at various stores including Anthropologie, DANNIJO, J.Crew, Madewell, and Nicole Miller.

Mr. Stone admited that if he could do it all over again, he would do things differently, but was also adament that the only way to figure this out is by just going out and doing it. He advised students not to overplan, noting that lots of people map out hundreds of ideas but never actually get started. Just do it and be okay with failure. Put yourself out there in an uncomfortable situation and when you find something wrong, recognize it and learn to do it better.

It is no surprise Indego Africa is such a success. Mr. Stone certaintly gave me food for thought.


‘Humanitarian and NBA Superstar Dikembe Mutombo talks about his development work around the globe’

Everyday Harvard Law School students have many options to attend talks organized by different organizations. On Oct. 23, LIDS, International Legal Studies and the Harvard African Law Association brought in former basketball star Dikembe Mutombo. As expected, the room was packed. Of course, his basketball career is fascinating, from a person without any previous experience in basketball he became one of the top stars of the NBA, but what I am most impressed with is his work of the court.

In 1997 he opened a foundation to address the issues of health care and education, and in 2006 his foundation was able to open a modern hospital in Kinshasa. During his talk he highlighted some of the most urgent issues on the African continent: Ebola, health care and education issues. Having played basketball for 18 years, becoming a star and having constant attention of media, he used his powerful voice to call for changes. He raises funds continuously, and absolutely refuses to give up when it comes to helping the people of his home country, or any of the other countries where he serves as an NBA ambassador. I believe his strength comes from the moral reward he receives from people in many countries.

During his talk, Mr. Mutombo said: “Together we can change the world”, a phrase that seems overused and cliché. But coming from a person whose actions prove their words time and again, it was very powerful. He also highlighted that the opportunity to study at one of the best universities comes with a responsibility towards others. And as he finished, he left us with the parting words: “Try to get involved, do not stay aside saying it doesn’t concern me, there is no “their problem”, you have an opportunity and we need you”.

Very refreshing, very inspirational! Good luck in your endeavors Mr. Mutobmo!

Welcome New Students!

First of all, congratulations and welcome! We are the Harvard Law and International Development Society—a diverse mix of students from Harvard Law School, the Kennedy School of Government, the Tufts Fletcher School, and other graduate schools in Boston who share a passion for the challenges and opportunities that lie at the intersection of law, policy and international development. We are firmly committed to two goals: making a difference in international development and providing our members with opportunities to get involved in hands-on, exciting and high-impact work in a field of their choice. Whether you have experience in international development or are interested in learning more about it, we would like to invite you to learn more about the work we do and meet some of our members. We look forward to getting to know you all this fall!

There are three main ways to get involved with LIDS as a new student at one of our member schools:

1)     Work on a LIDS-Orrick project. Join a group of 5-10 graduate students and work directly with a senior client at one of our partners—generally, a development-focused NGO, IGO, or an entrepreneur serving the bottom of the pyramid. LIDS projects are excellent opportunities to become an expert on an exciting development issue, hone research and writing skills, become a great team player and build a professional network. (And, according to our members, they’re also a lot of fun!)

2)     Join the LIDS Live Committee. Our website is the first page to appear when searching Google for “law and international development.” We get an incredible amount of traffic on our website, and it has become a stopping point for people looking for more information on the topic. As a member of the LIDS Live Committee, you will produce content for our signature blog, LIDS Live, and/or reach out to academics and practitioners to write posts. This committee can be a great way to get your name out there in the law and development sphere and to network with people in the field!

3)     Join the Events Committee. Members of the Events Committee will help plan and execute our two signature events—the Symposium and the International Women’s Day Exhibit, as well as a number of smaller events throughout the year.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please join LIDS on Monday, Sept. 22 from 7-8:30pm in WCC 1010 (at HLS) at our information session, which will be followed by a happy hour! Please note that this event is mandatory for people who want to participate in projects (if you have a conflicting class, please contact Carol and/or Sam to ensure you have the necessary information to apply).

Hope to see you at one of the LIDS events this fall, and best of luck!


Sarah Weiner and Beth Nehrling

LIDS Co-Presidents