Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

Thursday, April 20, 2017

JOBS: UCLA Assistant Dean for Experiential Education

UCLA School of Law

Job Posting

Assistant Dean for Experiential Education

The position of Assistant Dean for Experiential Education requires a talented and enthusiastic individual to build and oversee the operational excellence of the UCLA Law program of clinical and experiential education.  The Assistant Dean will report to and work under the general direction of the Faculty Director and/or Vice Dean of Experiential Education and will be expected to work independently with multiple faculty and staff within the law school.  The Assistant Dean will participate in the Law School’s academic and curricular planning and support the Faculty Director and/or Vice Dean in expanding and promoting excellence in the law school’s program of clinical and experiential education.  The Assistant Dean will also develop and maintain systems to ensure the provision of excellent legal services to clients and excellent pedagogical opportunities for students.  These duties will require the Assistant Dean to build strong relationships within the law school community, as well as with external governmental and nonprofit entities with which the law school is collaborating.  The person in this position should have some background and familiarity with clinical legal education, the ability to exercise creativity and good judgment about the law school program, and a deep interest in educating students and providing legal services to clients and communities in the region.  The person in this position has the possibility of spending up to approximately 25% of his/her time teaching in a clinical program, to be determined in consultation with the Faculty Director/Vice Dean. 

Minimum requirements include an excellent academic record; a J.D. or equivalent advanced degree; at least five years of substantial legal practice or related experience; and demonstrated management, administrative, and organizational skills, with successful prior experience inclinical legal education preferred.  The salary and level of appointment will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.  This position is a full-time, year round, non-tenure track academic appointment with an expected start date of July 1, 2017.  This appointment is subject to the rules and regulations of the Regents of the University of California, which are mostly embodied in The UCLA CALL and the University of California Academic Personnel Manual.  (See; and

Confidential review of applications, nominations and expressions of interest will begin immediately and continue until an appointment is made.  To ensure full consideration, applications should be received by Tuesday, June 13, 2017 but will be considered thereafter until the position is filled.  Please apply online at by submitting pdf copies of a cover letter, CV or resume, and the names and contact information for at least three professional references.  Applicants with teaching experience should also include their teaching evaluations, a summary thereof, or other testimonials concerning their teaching experience.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see: UC Nondiscrimination & Affirmative Action Policy (

April 20, 2017 in Job Opportunities & Fellowships, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Religious Diversity at Religious Universities

I have spent most of my education and career in Christian universities. They, like all institutions, struggle with their identities in various ways, wrestling to understand themselves as parts of ancient traditions, within rapidly evolving worlds, seeking the ideals of liberal education while adhering to faith commitments and obligations.  

This Inside Higher Ed piece from my friend and colleague, Prof. Michael Helfand, is wise and right. He writes from his experience as an Orthodox Jew at our university affiliated with the Churches of Christ, my home tradition. He discusses a commitment to religious diversity as a core commitment for a university with a faith mission, not as an exception to it.  This is one of the things we get right, I think, at Pepperdine Law, and our Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, Catholic, Mormon, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Evangelical, Etc. law faculty is all the stronger because of it.

Next year, I will be one of the faculty advisors for our Interfaith Student Council, and I believe Michael's words are true:

The key to maintaining this balance is a university administration and faculty that does not simply expect faculty members of other faiths to work parallel to the university’s faith-based mission. Capitalizing on religious diversity within a faith-based university works best -- both from a student and from a faculty perspective -- when the university actively seeks to incorporate that religious diversity into the faith-based mission of the school. It gives students a more multifaceted educational experience and gives faculty an increased sense of institutional value -- and, in turn, increases buy-in to the institution’s mission.

April 5, 2017 in Religion, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Be the Bridge

A few weeks ago, I had a moment.  I suppose you could call it a “teaching moment,” since it occurred in the classroom, but really, it felt more like a moment, moment. You know, the kind where the world seems right, even if just for a few minutes. When somehow it all falls into place with stunning alignment and grace and we are a taught a lesson; the kind that resonates deeply in the body, like ancient knowledge that you can’t quite name or fully grasp but you know it when you see it.

At 10:00 pm the night before the first ever REEL (Re-imagining Excellence through Empowering Leadership) Conference, I quickly agreed to jump in and teach a 45 minute workshop on restorative justice when one presenter cancelled. My audience would be teenage boys, who attend the Kingston YMCA alternative education program. Most of the boys live a very difficult reality; they come from garrison communities[1] where violence and retribution are the norm. Looking back, I realize the arrogance and potential foolishness of my haphazard decision, but I’m glad I didn’t have that awareness at the time, as my second-guessing could have easily turned into a “no.”  One lesson I will most certainly take with me from my time here in Jamaica is that sometimes I just need to get it done, loosen the choke hold of that perfectionist bent, settle on “some is better than none,” and handle it.  

After the haze of the late-night, last minute decision wore off, I acknowledged how stunningly out of my depth I would be. My Americanness, including my comparative wealth, which allows me augmented “safety” and “control” over my environment was directly at odds with the boys’ lived experience. The story I played in my mind was one of doubt: am I going to be able to convey, and in such a short amount of time, an alternative to retribution, another potential way of being in the world, a chance for possible repair instead of reprisal and the creation of more harm. Is that even possible? Is it even my place to try?

Luckily, another story simultaneously played. I’ve attended enough Clinical Law Conferences to have developed a fairly sturdy (even if at times tentative) trust in the power of teaching techniques, and so I would rely on those. Tactile learning, a circle and intuition would be my guides. In the classroom, I was adamant that the chairs, which were in rows had to be in circle. This meant the 20 minute task of re-arranging them prior to the boys arrival, but put those chairs in a circle we did (it must have seemed silly to everyone -- even to myself to a degree -- but I just knew we needed to see each other).  Once everyone walked into the room, I patiently but diligently stuck to the format. I made all of us, including the teachers, sit inside the circle and we removed all empty chairs. We started with my request “tell us your name, your favorite junk food (a universally important question) and what you want to be in the future.” Pulling this information was difficult, the boys did not have much confidence or practice in speaking this way. I had to ask several times for quiet, push through the snickering, re-direct, constantly re-affirm the importance of each person’s response and ask countless times for everyone to speak up. And though there were fleeting moments of wondering whether this was the best use of our time together, I felt a strong pull; the act of naming and staking a claim on the future felt important and so even though it was a little tenuous, the circle held.

Next, I had the boys pretend to be actors (victim, police, community members, judge, offender, lawyers, etc.) in both the traditional and the restorative justice systems, using physical space and proximity to illustrate the concepts. The method seemed effective and we had fun. On the grand scale, I moved the room from the immediate “I would shoot his family dead” response to a consideration of “maybe” when asked if anyone would be willing to listen to the offender’s story. I considered this a success, but I’m kind of a glutton; I wasn’t satisfied, I pretty much always want more and because it just didn’t quite feel like enough or like it was done, I scrapped the script and started talking from the heart. It was messy, but it provided the opening we needed.

First, I acknowledged my privilege and then we talked…about anger, about witnessing horrific events, about endless cycles of violence, and about how as a society we instruct people not to do harm often through the use of state sanctioned forms of harm, control and force. The teachers, feeling more confident in this space, joined in, and together we validated feelings and passed along information about the effects trauma can have on our lives. We did our best to try and affirm the worth and dignity of everyone in the room (the future firefighter, graphic designer, lawyer, the one who likes KFC, Lavonte, “Tony,” and the one I ran into at the bus station…) Looking around, I could tell the boys heard it, many even appreciated the sentiment, but there was still a disconnect, a gap that I was desperate to, but didn’t have the words or experience or time to close.

And then it happened, as it often does, at the last minute, when you’ve got nothing left…

One of the teachers, who had been participating and asking questions throughout the workshop (which if I’m being honest, unnerved me a bit because of our tight time frame and because I thought “this is a workshop for the boys, not the teachers”) raised her hand again just in time for the final comment. By her insightful questions, I could tell that she was working through something and so even though the questions took us a little of “my course,” I had done my best to provide space and answer them.

And so in those last minutes of our time together, Ms. Taylor closed us out and brought us home. And somehow, she did it, she managed to fuse it all together: my words, their words, my knowledge, and their lived experiences. She spoke in the way that only a Jamaican woman could, only in a way that someone who has worked for a long time to gain trust and garner respect could, and only in a way that a mother who intimately knows suffering could. 

She opened up and told us her story. It was a deeply personal story, one that I’m not sure her colleagues even knew, filled with pain, loss, restitution and redemption; one of those stories where the universe delivers both the poisonous sting and the antidote simultaneously rolled into one bitter-sweet pill. She was restorative justice personified. And we were stunned and silent; the room reverent as the energy shifted and stilled. We heard and finally we understood the power of forgiveness and the healing that can bring. I have no doubt that her story has wedged itself into the hearts of those young men the way it flowed directly into mine. And as we go forward to maneuver the difficulties of this life, I know we will all hear her words echoing inside us, providing us with choices which we couldn’t see before, a wider spectrum of possibilities that now exist in all our worlds. 

And so I learned once again about the real value of restorative justice and why I do this work, and I learned once again about myself. Ms. Taylor’s lesson was the re-enforcement of what so many have tried to teach me over and over the process, trust yourself, check your ego at the door along with those western, hierarchical methods of learning, get out of the way, and just be the bridge, let it simply be an honor to be the conduit that facilitates the real knowledge residing in all of us.


[1] The nature of poverty in the garrison constituencies in Jamaica,


April 3, 2017 in Community Organizing, New Clinical Faculty, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

JOBS: Loyola - New Orleans Coordinator of Skills and Experiential Learning

Via the LawClinic listserv:

Assistant Clinical Professor - Coordinator of Skills and Experiential Learning - College of Law

Responsibilities include teaching and managing all educational tasks necessary to institute and maintain an innovative skills curriculum for all law students; to oversee, manage the academic externship program to include teaching each semester; and to expand experiential practice-based learning experiences for law students. 

This position requires: a JD degree from an ABA-accredited law school; substantial experience, including a minimum of 5 years practice and/or teaching experience at an accredited law school; being licensed to practice law in Louisiana; and demonstrated commitment to social justice and working with low income people; a long-term commitment to teaching law students to maintain strong academic credentials and practice experience.  Strong preference will be given to candidates with experience with planning, organizing and administering lawyering skills curriculum and experiential learning.

Send resume, writing sample and references with letter of application to:

Ramona Fernandez
Associate Director of Clinic
Stuart H. Smith Clinic & Center for Social Justice
Loyola University College of Law
504 Broadway Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70118

Loyola is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.  Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

Deadline for application is May 1st

March 29, 2017 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

LSC and the GOP

Once again, a Republican led administration is seeking to end federal funding for legal services for the poor by eliminating the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). LSC, founded in 1974, is an important funding source of legal services programs for the poor in the United States. 

It is not new for those of us who have been working as legal advocates for the poor in various capacities. If at all possible, law schools (not just the clinical programs and externship programs) should denounce this effort by the current President and speak out in support of equal justice and access for all.

Previously, under the administration of Ronald Reagan, Republicans sought to ‘zero’ out the funding of the Legal Services Corporation. The effort failed and LSC lived to struggle on, terribly underfunded, but yet alive somehow amidst a wave of extreme right wing politics. Ronald Reagan and his cohorts persisted over and years and they pressed on again and again trying to cut the program.  

Virginia Knapland, a managing attorney at Westchester Legal Services in the 1980's criticized Reagan's efforts at the time and asserted that if LSC was totally cut, “the courtroom doors will be closed to the poor.” Later in the mid 1980's when Reagan again tried to cut the agency completely, law student, James Cott opined in the Christian Science Monitor that “our democracy can only function if our legal system is available to all citizens, not merely those who can afford private legal services.”

Most of the programs that LSC funded back then survived but barely.  They also became so overburdened with regulations and bureaucracy many had to remake themselves. They did not want their work to become meaningless because of the absurdity of our politics.

I was a Staff Attorney at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP) in the early 1990’s when again a GOP led effort sought to end LSC's funding. Newt Gingrich led that nasty effort and it resulted in a 56 percent cut to our funding. Several of our offices had to be closed and many attorneys and paralegals had to be let go. I would have been one of those attorneys but so many people at NLSP decided to retire and move on, a number of us were able to retain our positions.  

The sojourn of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington is a perfect example of the callous governing that has gone on at time since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 in regards to legal services for the poor funding by taxpayers. NLSP once had 11 offices in the city, scattered throughout the city, and had become one of the model programs for advocacy and change in the U.S. regarding the rights of poor people. After the attacks, it had only two offices. In particular, NLSP was at the forefront of changing the nation's landlord-tenant laws to respect and recognize the rights of not just tenants able to afford legal counsel but poor tenants often living in substandard housing.  NLSP remains in operation today but is remarkably different as a result of the various attacks over the years by Republican administrations. 

Yet to put it all in perspective, even with the many offices NLSP had been operating with LSC funding at various times, both before and after the cuts, it still did not reach the many poor people in the city who needed a lawyer in a divorce, or landlord-tenant dispute, or small claims matter, or a simple workmen’s compensation claim.  The LSC funding, to use a terrible, overused metaphor was a drop in the bucket of what is actually needed and that can be afforded. 

That is why to cut LSC, without a replacement program, is an act of political cowardice. It doesn’t save the government much money at all and if it does happen, it will likely cost the court systems across the country much more in time and money in trying to handle the confusion created by a decision which is devoid of real thought and deliberation.

It is hoped that law schools will speak our forcibly on this issue and the deans of the law schools will use their influence to once again stop another misguided Republican effort to end federal funding for legal services for the poor.

March 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Opening Plenary, AALS Clinical Conference – Request for Action Items: What Are You Doing in These Tumultuous Times?

This year's AALS clinical conference happens in early May, 2017 in Denver, Colorado.  Be a part of the opening plenary session by sharing your work!  From the organizers: 

We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education.  We write with regard to the conference’s opening plenary session, entitled Pushing On and Pushing Through in Tumultuous Times.  The conference theme is Serving the Client in Tumultuous Times: Fostering Responsibility to Individuals, Communities, and Society in Clinical Legal Education.  As part of the plenary, we would like to hear from you regarding action steps you have taken or plan to take―in response to today’s tumultuous times—during this academic year or action planning this summer with respect to teaching, lawyering, scholarship and/or service.  How have these times caused/forced/led/inspired you to change what you have done, what you are doing, and/or what do you plan to do?  Please send us a couple of sentences or a paragraph detailing your steps by Friday, March 31, to, with the subject line: “Faculty Motivation for Opening Plenary.”


In addition, please ask your students to create brief videos or take photos that we might show during the opening plenary or perhaps at other times throughout the conference or on the conference website in which they address one of the following questions: 1) What have you been doing this academic year to address injustice?; 2) How have you been making a difference this academic year, inside or outside of law school?; and/or 3) In 2017, what motivates you most to become a lawyer?  Responses can be sent in a short video format (e.g., less than one-minute iPhone video clip) or on a photo with cue card, as shown in this video of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,”, and on the right side of the page here,  Other examples could include photos or short videos of students meeting with client communities, providing access to legal assistance in new venues such as airports, or meeting with local legislators.  Each submission must include the student’s name, law school and year in law school.  Submissions may include audio.  Please send high-resolution photos and high-definition cellphone videos.  Submissions are due by Friday, March 31, and should be sent to, with the subject line: “Student Motivation for Opening Plenary.”

We cannot promise to include all submissions in our opening plenary program.  We know we will gain inspiration from all of them. 



Opening Plenary Presenters

Craig B. Futterman, The University of Chicago, The Law School

Bill O. Hing, University of San Francisco School of Law 

Susan R. Jones, The George Washington University Law School 

Moderator: Michael Pinard, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law 

Planning Committee for AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education:

Luz E. Herrera, Texas A&M University School of Law

Margaret M. Jackson, University of North Dakota School of Law

Lydia Johnson, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Paul Radvany, Fordham University School of Law

Alexander Scherr, University of Georgia School of Law

Robin Walker Sterling, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Carol Suzuki, University of New Mexico School of Law, Chair

Send questions to:

Carol M. Suzuki

Professor of Law

University of New Mexico School of Law

March 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Clinical Program Rankings in U.S. News and The National Jurist

The National Jurist magazine has released its rankings for law schools' programs for practical training. National Jurist bases its rankings on data reported to the ABA for opportunities available to students in clinics, externships, simulation courses, interscholastic advocacy competitions, and other factors, like pro bono requirements. These are the top 20 schools for practical training according to these rankings:

  1. Northeastern University
  2. University of St. Thomas - Minnesota
  3. Yale Law School
  4. University of Arizona
  5. Pepperdine University
  6. University of California - Irvine
  7. Valparaiso University
  8. University of Wisconsin
  9. University of Denver
  10. University of Colorado
  11. Northwestern University
  12. University of Utah
  13. University of Cincinnati
  14. Cardozo School of Law
  15. Golden Gate University
  16. Liberty University
  17. Washington & Lee University
  18. Pacific McGeorge School of Law
  19. Brigham Young University
  20. University of Mississippi

U.S. News has released its annual rankings in higher education, including for law schools and clinical programs. U.S. News bases its rankings of clinical programs on peer-reputation voting. This year, these are the top 20 clinical programs according to these rankings:

  1. Georgetown University
  2. American University
  3. CUNY
  4. New York University
  5. Yale University
  6. University of the District of Columbia
  7. University of Maryland
  8. Washington University in St. Louis
  9. University of Michigan
  10. Stanford University
  11. Northwestern University
  12. University of Balitmore
  13. University of Denver
  14. University of New Mexico
  15. University of California - Irvine
  16. University of California - Berkeley
  17. Suffolk University
  18. Seattle University
  19. Rutgers
  20. Harvard University


March 15, 2017 in Clinic News, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Full Citizenship for Law Faculty Launched on International Women's Day

"Full Citizenship Project for Law Faculty" was launched on International Women's Day by the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD). The initiative is intended to correct gender and other disparities among U.S. law faculty. The decision to launch the project on International Women's Day is based on the fact that women are significantly underrepresented in tenured and tenure-track positions on law school faculties (only 36 percent are women) and over-represented on legal writing (70 percent) and clinical faculties (63 percent). Moreover, as status and salaries decrease with a position, the representation of women increases.

Those who support integrated and diverse law school faculties recognize that equality and security contribute to robust and innovative teaching. Second- and tertiary-class status takes its toll on faculty morale both inside and outside the classroom. Those who share the concern that women faculty members should not be relegated to subordinate positions with regard to security of position and academic freedom are encouraged to sign the Full Citizenship Statement, which can be found here. The signature campaign will end on Equal Pay Day, April 4, which is the day that women have to continue working into the new year to make the same amount of income as men did the prior year. The results of the Full Citizenship Project for Law Faculty will be reported to AALS, the ABA, and the American Law Deans Association.  

March 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Providing Pro Bono Services to Dreamers and Others in the University

This week, at the direction of our university administration, Pepperdine announced several new initiatives to provide focused services on students across the university who are affected by changes and potential changes in immigration law and international travel rules.   These services include projects by the counseling center, chaplain's office, and point people in each of our five schools.

They also include the new Pepperdine Law Immigration Clinic.  This is not a standard, credit-bearing course in the clinical curriculum but is a pilot project with four clinical faculty supervising students who can earn pro bono credit. We are providing advice and counsel under California's limited-scope representation rules.  The representation is limited to basic advice, counsel, and referrals for students with questions and concerns about their visas, residency status, documentation, international travel, and immigration matters. The clients are Pepperdine students who are Dreamers, undocumented immigrants, or international students holding passports from affected nations.  (Here is our announcement to the law school this week.)

The university also funded a retainer for an outside, expert immigration attorney to handle more complex matters for students, short of appearing in adversarial proceedings.  The retained lawyer is one of our former supervising attorneys in the clinics and is one of the leading immigration lawyers in Los Angeles. 

In frustrating times, it has been wonderful to see our university mobilize for its students, to marshal its resources quickly, and gather committed people from across the university ecosystem who are eager and willing to add work their portfolios.  

Several other schools and organizations have been at work on similar projects, and their resources have been invaluable to us as we get up to speed on this work.  Our colleagues in immigration clinics around the country have been generous in sharing insight, materials, and ideas as we get started.

Here are some important and useful resources from our University of California neighbors for which are very grateful:

We Stand With Our Students (an initiative of UCLA profs)

University of California Undocumented Legal Services Center


February 18, 2017 in Clinic News, Clinic Profile, Current Affairs, New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

2017 CLEA New Clinicians Conference, May 6, 2017, Denver Colorado

CLEA has opened registration for the 2017 New Clinicians Conference, May 6, 2017, in Denver, Colorado.  The New Clinicians Conference will be on the day before the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education and will be at the Colorado Bar, a short walk from the AALS conference hotel. 

From the CLEA description:

The New Clinicians Conference will offer resources for teaching and lawyering in clinics, orientation to the legal academy, opportunity for building networks, and ideas for improving our work. Designed for clinicians in their first year or two of clinical teaching, the full-day program will include multiple plenary sessions, facilitated small groups, and break-out sessions.

The deadline to register for one of the sixty spots at the conference is April 18, 2017.

Register and find more information here.

I have the privilege of working on the organizing committee for this conference and am very excited for the plans. I have benefited and witnessed the great benefit of this conference for the lawyer-teachers who are just joining our work.  The experiences and relationships here are invaluable.  Deans and directors will receive a great return on their investment for sending new clinicians to accelerate their learning and work here. 

February 7, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teaching the Muslim Ban through Multimedia in a Transactional Clinic

As a Transactional Clinical Professor in Appalachia, you may be surprised to learn I recently included this topic in my seminar. I believe it is our duty as lawyers to think critically about the world and systems around us. We may not be experts in immigration or water rights or policing, but attorneys should bear witness and parse through emotional reactions to unpack (or issue spot) legitimate concerns. All lawyers must be engaged in justice and my students, who advocate for economic opportunity, are no different.

My learning goals for exploring the “Muslim Ban” are:

  • Connect troubling current events with the law
  • Explore the justice implications and human consequences of these events
  • Explore our impact as lawyers and the importance of bearing witness (“showing up”)
  • Connect these concepts to our clients, their communities, and their realities to engender empathy for all families and individuals at risk.

I always use multimedia as a means to ease into politically sensitive topics. My students find multimedia to be refreshing addition to standard legal reading assignments (statutes, cases, regulations, and even the occasional executive order). Additionally, multimedia forces students to think about laws in action rather than in a vacuum. The voice over the radio or facial expression on film is far more persuasive, often telling a personal and compelling story. Even those who disagree will at least be forced to listen (literally).  

For this assignment, I used two podcasts along with the text of the executive order. The premise is exploring how contracts (Powers of Attorney, Guardianship Agreements) could provide some security or protection to families who are separated. In order to discuss the contracts, we needed to understand the situation causing the separation.

We start by discussing the groups targeted by the Executive Order. We explore the colloquial use of “Muslim Ban” despite the word Muslim not appearing in the text. We discuss the underlying national security justifications. I explain that this will serve as our benchmark when considering the collateral consequences and tensions with our understanding of “justice.”

I use the multimedia to illustrate these human collateral consequences. The first podcast is an episode of This American Life, titled “Taking Names.” It chronicles the story of Kirk Johnson, who worked for USAID during the reconstruction of Fallujah, Iraq. Kirk began a list of Iraqis marked for retaliation based on their cooperation with the U.S. Military and other U.S. agencies. It is a heartbreaking portrait of the families and individuals seeking asylum. The podcast also outlines the rigorous, existing vetting mechanisms for refugees. Using a slightly dated podcast also reinforces that the plight of refugees, the vetting process, and national security concerns are not new. I do this because a large percentage of the state supported the current administration. To make sure students listen, I must make it clear that this is a longstanding problem exacerbated by the “Muslim Ban.” We then begin discussing the justice implications of the ban. Are these refugees a threat? When comparing the national security concerns with the existing process and human consequences, do we understand the tensions, problems, and subsequent outrage? 

For my students, I must also reinforce that transactional lawyers are not exempt from these larger justice conversations. We may not be immigration lawyers, but can still contribute. The second podcast is an interview with fellow Clinical Professor Sarah Sherman-Stokes and helps my students understand our role in justice. Sarah is one of the stellar Clinicians at Boston University and works in the Immigrant Rights Clinic. Sarah discusses her experience in being a lawyer and law professor at Logan. My students were particularly moved by Sarah’s retelling of bringing Entrepreneurship Clinic Students to the airport. She uses the phrase “show up” and reiterates how our legal training, even as students, gives us the skills to interview, fact gather, and be of use. The full podcast is available here

I conclude the class by discussing ways my Clinic can help communities, families, and individuals prepare for these circumstances through our transactional skills. We discuss how basic contracts like Guardianship Agreements and Powers of Attorney can help families plan for disasters. We discuss the importance of educating the public, helping them understand the guardianship hearings and family law system. Can we collaborate with the family law clinic to create a teach-in or general self-help or legal advocacy tools for families? We discuss who in our communities could benefit from this – individuals seeking in-patient treatment, individuals fearing arrest, etc. We revisit that parents seeking to protect their children exist in all communities. We have the skills to help them understand their rights and even draft basic agreements to protect their loved ones. We must remember - we are in a position of power in a time of great uncertainty.


February 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trump's Inaugural Address Didn't Stray From History. It Repeats It.

On February 1, 1933—exactly eighty-four years ago [today/ yesterday] –Adolf Hitler delivered his first speech as Chancellor of Germany. That address is significant for a number of reasons beyond its anniversary.

After President Donald Trump’s Inauguration, a number of prominent news sources ran comparisons between his speech and that of past presidents, noting that most had focused their addresses on themes of hope (“Yes we can…”), self-sacrifice (“Ask not what your country can do for you…”). Trump, on the other hand, focused on darker imagery and nationalistic themes.

The point of many of the comparison stories was that President Trump’s inaugural address veered from historical trends. Looking back a bit farther back, however—and across the Atlantic Ocean—shows that our newly inaugurated President’s speech was neither unique nor new. It was simply unique in modern American history.

Preserved for their historical relevance, Hitler’s speeches are widely available, in reliable translation, in libraries and in web-based sources. Progressives have been making comparisons between Trump and Hitler since the early days of the 2016 Presidential campaign. But not all supremacist language takes us back to Nazi Germany; Twenty-first century racism is abhorrent in its own right. So I invite your independent comparison of that 1933 radio address with the one offered at President Trump’s Inauguration. The parallels in both structure and rhetoric are stark. Lest these comparisons seem hyperbolic, I include direct quotes from each address.

To begin with, each address alludes to a golden time in the nation’s history that must be restored. Each also seeks to locate blame with those responsible for struggles of the People (for whom both Trump and Hitler claim to speak).

President Trump: For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost . ...   Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. … Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and, while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

Chancellor Hitler: More than fourteen years have passed since the unhappy day when the German people, blinded by promises from foes at home and abroad, lost touch with honor and freedom, thereby losing all…

Next, both Trump and Hitler conjure dismal imagery. This, as many news sources pointed out, was what so starkly differed between Trump’s inaugural speech and his predecessors’. But this tactic packs a powerful rhetorical punch; exaggerating the failures of past government inspires those who feel envious, resentful, downtrodden to trust in the exercise of power who would restore the days of prosper and plenty.


President Trump: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation… and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

Chancellor Hitler: The misery of our people is horrible to behold! Millions of the industrial proletariat are unemployed and starving; the whole of the middle class and the small artisans have been impoverished.

Throughout both speeches, both Trump and Hitler call on God’s blessing for their righteous causes. Some were surprised at the language of Trump’s Inaugural address, which was more overtly religious than is typical for him. Of course, neither speech is interfaith: it is clear whose God is invoked (and which religions are not welcome at the table).

President Trump: When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. … we will be protected by God.

Chancellor Hitler: The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life....

Perhaps most widely discussed in Donald Trump’s inaugural speech are the nationalist and populist themes. Trump calls this “Americanism.” We have seen this before. Structurally, these themes pervade each address.

President Trump: We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny….

Chancellor Hitler: But we are all filled with unbounded confidence for we believe in our people and their imperishable virtues. Every class and every individual must help us to found the new Reich.

Appealing to the faith of the people and pledging commitment to a common cause, both Trump and Hitler close with strong statements of populist purpose and national unity.


President Trump: Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And, yes, together, we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you. God bless America

Chancellor Hitler: Now, people of Germany, give us four years and then pass judgment upon us. … May God Almighty give our work His blessing, strengthen our purpose, and endow us with wisdom and the trust of our people, for we are fighting not for ourselves but for Germany.

And so we have structural similarities, similar language, similar themes. Content aside, both speeches employ brilliant tactics for rallying believers to a cause and for unifying “the people” – Hitler called them “Volk”—behind broad exercise of power. Hitler delivered far more dangerous speeches, and Trump has more addresses yet to come. But the way in each man chose to introduce himself as a new world leader is telling- and tellingly parallel.

Am I suggesting, with this comparison, that President Trump is the next Fuhrer and the United States is destined for another Holocaust and World War III? No. In addition to our Separation of Powers, we have seen organized resistance to concerning efforts of the new Administration. Last weekend’s Marches demonstrated peaceful vigilance against authoritarian policies and xenophobic rhetoric. But must we continue to learn from the past and read the warning signs as we see them? Yes. Jawohl.


This post appeared earlier in the Macon Telegraph, February 1, 2017.

February 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Launching the New Lextern Website

Prof. Kendall Kerew of Georgia State has announced the launch of the new Lextern website.

Lextern is an invaluable resource for externship and other field placement programs.

Explore it here.

Kendall describes the new project:

It is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of a new version of LexternWeb (  As many of you know, Professor Sandy Ogilvy of Catholic University Columbus School of Law created LexternWeb in 2009 for the benefit and use of faculty and administrators engaged in teaching and coordinating legal externship programs. With Professor Ogilvy's support and input, the AALS Clinical Section's Externship Committee has created this new version of LexternWeb to continue Professor Ogilvy's work to promote information sharing and collaboration among externship faculty nationwide.  


Like its predecessor, the new LexternWeb is a one-stop shop for every kind of Externship Program resource. The site includes a variety of materials related to law school programs, externship teaching, site supervision, scholarship, and professional organizations. Moving forward, AALS Externship Committee Co-Chair Kendall Kerew will work in conjunction with the Committee and Professor Ogilvy to administer the LexternWeb site. To post your program-related materials, please email them to Kendall at  


Special thanks to the many colleagues and friends who helped us bring the LexternWeb to you. In particular, we would like to again thank Sandy Ogilvy for his inspired work with LexternWeb over so many years and for being so supportive of this update. 


February 1, 2017 in Teaching and Pedagogy, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

SALT Call for Action! Contact ABA Delegates ASAP

SALT asks that you immediately contact your state’s ABA Delegates and other ABA delegates you may know to urge rejection of a proposal that will come before the ABA House of Delegates as Resolution 110B on Monday, February 6 (sample email below).  If you are in the Miami area, we also encourage you to attend the House of Delegates Session and speak against Resolution 110B.   

The proposal would revise ABA Standard 316, the bar passage accreditation standard, to impose a single nationwide standard on all law schools.  Specifically, the proposed standard would require that 75% of all members of a law school graduating class who sit for a bar exam must pass within two years of graduation.  The proposal is simplistic in failing to take into account dramatic variations in passing scores adopted by different states.  It is inequitable in posing a threat both to schools in states with low pass rates and to schools that serve historically disadvantaged students and communities.  The proposed change was approved by the ABA Council on Legal Education (the “Council”) with no study of possible adverse effects or meaningful discussion of serious reservations brought to its attention. 

Numerous groups and individuals raised concerns about the proposal in written comments to the Council and in testimony at a Council hearing in San Francisco on August 6.  The only hearing testimony presented was in opposition to the proposed standard.  Despite the significance of the proposal, the Council spent less than an hour deliberating over its approval.  In that short discussion, the Council spent a scant few minutes on the concerns raised by opponents.  

In its comments and testimony SALT identified important unanswered questions that need consideration to ensure the bar passage standard works appropriately and fairly.  Those include whether schools in states with consistently lower pass rates would meet the proposed single nationwide standard, what impact the proposal would have on the admission of students from diverse, economically disadvantaged, and non-traditional backgrounds and the overall diversity of the bench and bar, and the extent to which the standard could lead schools in states with low pass rates to focus on bar-type courses for their students, thereby limiting the growth of experiential and skills-oriented learning that recently adopted accreditation standards seek to encourage.

Other comments in opposition came from, among others:

  • CLEA ("We … urge that the Council: (1) conduct an evidence-based inquiry into the immediate impact of proposed Standard 316 on schools in states with low pass rates and on the diversity of law schools; and (2) consider more systematically whether the bar examination, as the exclusive means of assessing readiness to practice law, is too limited in the proficiencies it assesses for entry into the legal profession.”   See also CLEA’s recent Call for Action urging its members join the growing concerted effort to make sure that the House of Delegates does not simply rubberstamp Resolution 110B.)
  • Deans of the Historically Black Colleges and University (“HBCU”) law schools (“We write out of concern and alarm that the proposed standard, if adopted, will be detrimental to meaningful access to justice for both potential lawyers of color and the communities greatly in need of their advocacy. … The entire profession should be deeply concerned at the potential adverse impact this standard change would have on law schools associated with HBCUS. … There has been no study conducted by the ABA to assess how the proposed standard will impact law schools with large percentages of minority law [students].” 
  • ABA Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline (“The proposed changes to Standard 316 are contrary to ABA Goal III and presents significant impediments to increasing diversity in the legal profession.”)
  • Congressional Black Caucus (“We request that the American Bar Association forego adoption or implementation of the proposed standard pending a more inclusive dialogue and assessment on the standard’s impact on diversity in the legal profession.”)
  • New York State Bar Association (“Far too much is currently unknown and the facts needed for informed decision-making are lacking. For New York, there probably could not be a more inappropriate time to impose any new standards.”)

More recently, 90 law school deans signed a letter urging postponement of the Standard 316 proposal for one year for additional consideration and study. “Despite the diversity of opinion on this difficult issue, all the deans who have signed this letter believe that there should be an opportunity for further reflection, and perhaps more careful study and analysis, before a new standard is adopted, especially because this standard could well have serious, albeit unintended, consequences on the welfare of many law schools and students.”
Please join SALT in urging ABA delegates to reject the simplistic and inequitable 316 proposal.  Thank you!
Sample email to your state’s ABA delegates

For a state-by-state list of delegates, click here. In the alternative, most state representatives for the ABA House of Delegates can be found on your state bar website.  You can also search on the internet for your state name and “ABA House of Delegates.”  If you are a member of the ABA, there is a delegate directory link on the main ABA website that is accessible to you.

Dear ABA Delegate:

I write to ask that you vote to send Resolution 110B back to the Council on Legal Education for further study and consideration.  Resolution 110B proposes a revision of Standard 316 that has not been adequately studied despite reasonable concern that it may have serious, detrimental unintended consequences.

The Council was understandably motivated to simplify current Standard 316, but in its haste to do so has not adequately studied the impact of the proposed change.  In fact, the Council passed the proposed Standard 316 after a short discussion that included virtually no consideration of the concerns expressed in numerous written comments and public testimony presented to the Council.   Serious concerns remain about the unintended impact of the proposal on schools in states with low bar pass rates, on efforts to diversify the profession, and on reform of legal education to teach the many skills needed for effective and ethical law practice. 

I urge you and the other delegates of [insert name of your state] to reject Resolution 110B and send it back to Council for careful and comprehensive study of its likely impact.   
[Your name here]

January 31, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hope in Sao Paulo

Through some serendipity, I am spending this week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie at its Exchanging Hemispheres program.  I'm helping teach a short course, Access to Justice and Clinical Legal Education Theory, Practice & Skills.  My contribution today was a session on clinical pedagogy and program design with law professors and students who are eager to launch a clinical program in Sao Paulo. 

After one day here, I have renewed inspiration and commitment to our work in light of the lawyers and students who have shared this classroom today.  The first speaker today was Prof. Daniel Bonilla of Univeridad de Los Andes in Colombia who described his work in establishing El Grupo de Derecho de Interés Público (G-DIP), a human rights legal clinic in Bogota. 

Later, we heard from Mackenzie psychology professors about their work with Juridicial Psychology and clinical programs for psychology supporting people in the legal system and new programs to integrate law students into their work.

Throughout the day, Prof. Alan Russell of London South Bank University discussed his work and experience at its Legal Advice Clinic. Prof. Russell led the course last week to demonstrate the experience of clinical education and its promise for access to justice. 

Two law professors from another university in southern Brazil attended to contribute their work with their consumer protection clinic. Other Mackenzie faculty discussed their work in human rights and their designs for a new labor law clinic and other enterprises.

We all shared our alarm at the rise of global nationalism and our current political disruptions, our resolve to promote justice and the rule of law, and the great need to teach students about civil engagement, integrity, and public citizenship.  Clinical legal education is taking root throughout the world, with a deep understanding that lawyers are essential to constitutional democracy.  This heightens the necessity for training lawyers in this age of disruption. 

Meeting these kindred spirits, committed lawyers and teachers, has revived my spirit and calling for our work in our global community. The coffee is also very strong. Brazil is good to me today. 


January 23, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Repeal of the ACA and potential effects on rural West Virginia

Much post election analysis has focused on the plight of rural Americans. My colleague, Jennifer Oliva, has written an analysis on the negative effects of an ACA repeal in West Virginia, a largely rural state. The full post is available here:



January 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chasing Liberty: The Detention of Central American Families in the United States

On Friday February 3, 2017, UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law will host a day-long conference on the detention of Central American Families in the United States.

The conference will bring together advocates, law students, and academics throughout the nation who have been fighting to end the detention of immigrant families. In June 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reinstituted an abandoned policy of detaining children and their parents seeking asylum in the United States. Families were first held in Artesia, New Mexico, which was accurately described as a “deportation mill,” and now in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas, along with a smaller detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Thousands of children and their mothers have now been held in confinement while their cases are processed, with a small portion of the families held for more than a year.

We will start the day with opening remarks from Professor emeritus, Barbara Hines, followed by a panel tracing the history of family detention and painting a picture of the current detention system. This will be followed by a panel examining the legal and advocacy challenges to the practice of detaining mothers and children, from the Flores case to hunger strikes by the mothers themselves. During lunch, students who have volunteered inside the detention centers from UDC and Lewis & Clark will share their perspectives. After lunch, scholars and advocates will examine the international human rights ramifications of detaining families and of asylum free zones in the United States.  Finally, we will pivot to examine the post-release crisis. How do we ensure adequate representation for asylum-seeking families released from detention? How do we win claims for protection in difficult jurisdictions? We will also examine the lessons learned from the massive national movement built to advocate for detained families and try to replicate our successes in representation in detained and non-detained settings nationwide.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Cecilia Anguiano, Law Student at Lewis & Clark Colle Law School, Portland, Oregon
  • Blaine Bookey, Co-Legal Director, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, San Francisco, CA
  • Bridget Cambria, Partner with Cambria & Kline; Founder, ALDEA People’s Center, Reading, Pennsylvania

  • Kristina Campbell, Professor of Law and Jack and Lovell Olender Director, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

  • Dree Collopy, Partner, Benach Collopy LLP, Washington DC

  • Tessa Copeland, Law Student at Lewis & Clark College Law School, Portland, Oregon

  • Melissa Crow, Legal Director at the American Immigration Council

  • Conchita Cruz, Co-Director Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

  • Andrew Free, Law Office of R. Andrew Free, Nashville, Tennessee

  • Lindsay M. Harris, Assistant Professor of Law, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law 

  • Barbara Hines, Emerson Fellow and Clinical Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas – Austin

  • Karen Lucas, Associate Director of Advocacy, American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • Michelle Mendez, Staff Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc

  • Andrea Meza, Equal Justice Works Fellow & Staff Attorney, RAICES, San Antonio, Texas

  • Lindsay Nash, Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Cardozo Law

  • Sarah Paoletti, Practice Professor of Law, Director of Transnational Legal Clinic, Penn Law

  • Swapna Reddy, Co-Director, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

  • Katie Shepherd, former Managing Attorney of the CARA Project and current Legal Fellow at the American Immigration Council

  • Anita Sinha, Assistant Professor of Law, Director of International Human Rights Clinic, American University Washington College of Law.
  • Maureen Sweeney, Associate Professor, Director of Immigration Clinic, University of Maryland Law School

  • Shana Tabak¸ Visiting Assistant Professor, Georgia State University, College of Law and Global Studies Institute

Registration: Please register for the conference here.

All questions should be directed to Assistant Professor of Law, Lindsay M. Harris at

January 18, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings, Immigration, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Your American is Showing

By Inga N. Laurent*

In Jamaica, I don’t have a car. This means if I want to get somewhere I walk or take a taxi. During my first few weeks of living here, the resistance I laid down to the acceptance of this reality was monumental. It was almost akin to a deal-breaker for me. I struggled so much with control, factors outside of my control, including traffic and my ability to accurately estimate timing and order my world. I lamented that I couldn’t just run to the grocery store when I wanted; it all felt somehow backward.

What I couldn’t see at the time, now makes me chuckle. In the last few months, slowly and surely and somewhat surprisingly, I’ve been eroding my rugged individualist mentality.

I’ve come to relish my taxi time. Do you know how much of humanity can unfold before you if you stop to listen? Or how many friendships you can make by learning to trust in someone else’s ability to be responsible and on-time? Do you know that in thirty minutes, you can learn about criminal justice, technology, farming, musical instruments, families and lost and recovered dreams?

In Jamaica, I don’t have a schedule. This means I often get lost in reading or connecting with people instead of writing law review articles. During my first few months of living here, the resistance I laid down to the acceptance of this reality was monumental. I struggled so much against my own self, using chiding and biting remarks, fearing my fraudulence, not ok with slowing down and certainly not comfortable with stillness.

What I couldn’t see at the time, now makes me chuckle. In the last few months, slowly, surely and somewhat surprisingly, I’ve been eroding my long-held, entrenched views on the importance of staying busy.

I’ve come to understand that it all adds up in the end. All. Of. It. Do you know what it’s like when you finally trust yourself to self-regulate? Do you know how to relax and enjoy the gifts that life is giving you rather than fighting with them? Do you know how it feels when your mind become sharper and the web of connections fuse because you’ve allowed yourself the space for your beautiful brain to simply do its thing; the evolutionary thing that is composed of eons of innate wisdom ensuring survival?

In that trust, while relaxing, I read the following words from Sebastian Junger and suddenly I understood.

Tribe on Homecoming and Belonging: “This book is about why that sentiment is such a rare and precious thing in modern society, and how the lack of it has affected us all. It’s about what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning. It’s about why—for many people—war feels better than peace and hardship can turn out to be a great blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It’s time for that to end.”

This quote brought me back to my research in some kind of startling way. I am not satisfied merely with an academic discussion of the values and challenges of restorative justice. I am here to learn about it on every level, including the theoretical but also the practical, and not for argument’s sake, but because I believe in human relationships and in our interdependence. I do this work because I deeply believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and I want us all to know that we are so much more than our bad acts and mistakes; hopefully in tumbling around teaching and learning this lesson, I will be able to internalize it myself -- “to be understood as to understand.”

And while self-reliance and time-management have served me well so too have connection and space.

The “root of the root and the bud of the bud” is learning not to overcome my Americanness but to become one with it. To realize that sometimes my individualism serves me better, as I have a penchant for wanting to rely on others perhaps more than I should, but somedays that same trait may block the very connection I need. To realize that somedays the drive to stay busy stems my laziness but that on other days, I need my experience to simmer, so I can meaning-make, stop compartmentalizing and embrace the integration that allows me to be simultaneously messy and seamless. I’m in this time, in this place, exactly where I’m supposed to be, exactly as I’m supposed to be. And you know what my friend, you are too. Every experience, the joyful, the painful, even the ugly and the mundane, brings us closer to our imperfectly, perfect selves.

*Inga is currently on sabbatical from her day job as professor and Externship Director at Gonzaga University School of Law. While away, she is living and researching in Kingston, Jamaica under a Fulbright grant, learning about the shift in Jamaican culture from retributive to restorative models of justice.

January 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Save the Date: 2017 New Clinicians Conference, May 6 in Denver

From CLEA:


The Clinical Legal Education Association's
2017 New Clinicians Conference
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Denver, Colorado

This year's New Clinicians Conference, hosted by the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA), will take place at the Colorado Bar Association in downtown Denver, within walking distance from the AALS Clinical Conference hotel.  The full-day program will include multiple plenary and facilitated small group sessions, as well as break-out sessions.  If you are new to clinical teaching, please consider this event when making travel arrangements.

Online registration and additional details will be available in a forthcoming announcement.  Registration for the New Clinicians Conference is separate from the AALS Clinical Conference.

If you have any questions, please contact:  Cindy Batt ( or Chrissy Cerniglia (

January 17, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 13, 2017

A wish for MLK Day--Remember the poor will still need our help, too.

Much is going to change for Americans over the next weeks and years with the new Administration.  With change comes fear and in this case change looks to be formidable.  It seems like every moment, we are bombarded with information reminding us of people whose needs and legal rights need to be protected now more than ever and asking us to support them.  We are pressed to bring foremost to our minds many issues.  People’s free speech rights may be challenged.  Non-citizens may be harassed or deported.  Women will not be respected.  Gay and transgender people may lose gains made over the last few years.  Many may lose healthcare.  It is scary.  These people need help and protections.  The warnings we get are real and they are right.  Just worrying about these things is not enough.  Steps must be taken to ensure that people are protected.  Sometimes, it is protecting people who may be close to or similar to us and whose problems we understand viscerally.  Sometimes it is protecting people who are just people that we cannot stand to see potentially harmed by what seems like coming vast change and possible attack.

I am afraid, too, about many of these issues.  My fear, however, is that in the overwhelming barrage of all of this change, the needs of the poor and of the traditionally legally underserved  are forgotten.  As a lawyer and teacher who has spent much of my career working on issues of the poor, one of my biggest fears is that these people who have needed our help  and continue to need our help will be put on the back burner as we struggle to protect other things.

That is not to say that all of the issues described in the first paragraph are not important.  They are.  But what is going to happen over the next few months to the poor?  My clients depend on SSI, a welfare program designed to provide minimal income benefits to poor people with disabilities, on TANF, a welfare program designed to provide much less but at least something  to parents with children, and on SNAP benefits.  Will those programs continue to exist?  Will they be under attack?  Even if they are not, my clients still need help proving they need these benefits.  Won’t it still be a problem that like many states, my state has chosen long before this election to dismantle General Assistance for those who cannot qualify for other income support programs?  Don’t these issues still need to be addressed?

My fear for the coming months and years is that we will help those like us more than those not like us.  For well over a year now, I have been struggling to write a law review article about legal triage, a topic many have discussed before me in the clinical legal world.   My continuing struggle as a former glorified pro bono coordinator, as a legal services attorney, and now as a law professor is that the people that we relate to most are really the people who get help.  It is easy to see that people like us are people we have to help.  We help those with disabilities when we know family or friends with disabilities.  We help people with health insurance when we know those who have struggled without it or feel we know those at risk.  My fear for the next few months is that those who we do not generally see who have often been the traditional clients that advocates for the legally underserved have helped will be left behind as we struggle to protect people like us or people we know on issues that are really, really important.  My hope is that I and my students will remember that there are still real needs among our traditional client base.  I do not argue that we necessarily need to help them the way that I try to with my students through individual work.  There are likely better ways and certainly just as good ways of working for the poor that are  as important or better than what we do.  But my wish for MLK Day is that people do not forget this group.  While we struggle to work on other issues that are really important, let's continue to focus on the needs of the poor. 

January 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)