For Jared Olanoff JD ’04, immersion in the Housing Clinic during his second and third years at Suffolk Law launched his career in litigation.
As a volunteer clinic intern during the summer after first year, Olanoff represented six Chelsea Housing Authority tenants who had received pre-eviction notices for violating a newly-created pet policy that banned cats weighing more than 10 pounds and dogs weighing more than 20 pounds.
“The choice given to these tenants was clear: get rid of your pets or leave,” recalled Olanoff.
Olanoff met the tenants, accompanied them to pre-eviction hearings at the Housing Authority, called witnesses and presented exhibits to try to persuade the authority to allow reasonable accommodations to the pet policy. In vain – the evictions went ahead.
But in a dramatic second act, in fall 2002 as a second-year law student Olanoff filed discrimination complaints on behalf of two disabled tenants with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), on the grounds that their pets were service animals. The state Attorney General’s Office ultimately filed suit against the Housing Authority and its then executive director Michael McLaughlin; Housing Clinic Director and Clinical Professor of Law William Berman and Olanoff ultimately joined as plaintiffs on behalf of the tenants.
The lawsuits settled favorably for both clients, caught the attention of local media and won Olanoff and Berman “Human Hero” Awards from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) in 2005.
“My job is basically an extension of my clinical experience,” said Olanoff, now a public defender for the state’s Committee for Public Counsel Services representing indigent defendants charged with major felonies.
“The clinic taught me how to perform under pressure, and, more importantly, deal with pressure.”