We are excited to introduce two student writers who will be contributing recurring columns to our blog this spring.
Zekariah McNeal ʼ21 and Patrick Maxwell ʼ21 are former students in the Dispute Systems Design Clinic (and Patrick is currently enrolled again for an Advanced Clinical). In their posts, Zekariah will discuss negotiation, restorative justice, and other dispute resolution processes, particularly focusing on the role of identity; and Patrick will explore the challenges of conflict between individuals or groups who have different norms, cultures, and processes for resolving disputes. Read more about Zekariah and Patrick below—we look forward to featuring their work!
Zekariah McNeal is a JD candidate at Harvard Law School, where his studies focus on corporate law, criminal law, and dispute resolution. Zekariah was a student in the Dispute Systems Design Clinic in the Fall of 2019, working on a project with Harris County, Justice of the Peace 7-1. The focus of this project was to determine whether and how mediation, restorative justice, or other pre– or post-filing dispute resolution processes might be added the court’s current model when handling youth referred to court for truancy or non-traffic Class C misdemeanors. The ultimate objective of the was to lower reliance on the filing of charges and suspensions, disrupt the “school-to-prison pipeline,” and provide a better outcome to the youth of Harris County.
In addition to serving as a Teaching Fellow in a conflict resolution course at Harvard College, Zekariah serves as a Notes Editor of the Harvard Law Review. He represents low-income clients in Boston-area criminal hearings through the student practice organization Harvard Defenders, and is an active member of the Harvard Black Law Students Association. Before law school, Zekariah called Oklahoma City home and is a summa cum laude graduate from Oklahoma Christian University, where he earned degrees in Electrical Engineering and Biblical Studies. He worked for two years as an electrical engineer before transitioning to Harvard Law School.
Patrick Maxwell is a JD/MA candidate at Harvard Law School and the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where he focuses on conflict resolution, conflict analysis, and international humanitarian law. Patrick was a student in the Dispute Systems Design Clinic in the Fall of 2019, working on a project with the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) to create a portfolio of coalition-building materials that would allow PILPG to rapidly provide relevant and targeted support to clients building, strengthening, and operating as a coalition during peace and political processes. Patrick has returned to the DSD Clinic this spring to work on a project he cultivated and brought to us with the Southwest Initiative Foundation to design a set of materials that can be used to facilitate conversations that bring community members together to share and hear each other at a fundamental level.
Patrick has served as both the Training Director and Co-President of the Harvard Mediation Program during his tenure at Harvard Law School. He is a two-time recipient of the Chayes International Public Service Fellowship, which allows students to spend the summer working with governmental or non-governmental organizations concerned with issues of international scope or relevant to countries in transition. Before law school Patrick worked for non-governmental organizations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in South Sudan, where his work focused on disarmament/demobilization, peacebuilding, and civilian protection. He graduated summa cum laude from Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana.