March 14, 2009
MSU College of Law Alternative Spring Break Post #2
Michigan State University College of Law
Law Students’ Alternative Spring Break
New Orleans, LA
Posting for Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Posted By: Professor Michele LaForest Halloran, Director of Clinical Programs and Director of the Tax Clinic, MSU College of Law
• Today, Melissa and I did Gavin’s (not his real name) taxes. Gavin is a recovering addict and a kind, gentle soul. He regaled us all with his personal Katrina story of being evacuated from the New Orleans jail. He was chained to other prisoners and had to wade out in the water. After work, we took a tour of some hard-hit areas – it was distressing in many ways. I feel good about being here – I am happy to be helping people who have gone through this.
• Today we were able to meet more residents and got to hear their stories about life and the storm. It’s really interesting hearing what people went through and to see how far they’ve come. I never thought I would receive such insight from these individuals, but many of them have gone through so much and have turned their lives around, although they faced such adversity. Needless to say, it was another great day.
• This entry has little to do with tax, and more to do with New Orleans and its people. I feel that this trip so far has given me a richer and more complete experience of the city. I continue to be surprised by the openness of the people here. The staff at our hotel shared their experience of Katrina and the efforts of the government in getting their lives together. Simply put, they were not happy. I have never heard anyone use the word “TERRIBLE” so many times in a conversation. We also got a chance to tour the lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish and see the destruction Katrina left in its wake. There were large sections of houses with water damage on the roofs from the flooding. Regardless of all this destruction, there is a definite sense that people are attempting to return some sense of normalcy to their lives.
• Today we got to hear stories about the Hurricane directly from members of the Gateway Recovery community. In doing so, I realized how much of an impact we have on the people here – just by doing something simple, like helping with taxes. Even more so, I realized how many things haven’t changed and how much can still be done with a little effort. It is still shocking what a different world it is here, and I wish I could do more to help. One important lesson I learned today was that advice can be as important as anything – this specific instance involved tax advice, but I think the principle applies across the board. We are able to learn life lessons from New Orleans residents, and in some way, big or small, we are able to teach them too.
• The stories we have heard from members of the Gateway Recovery Center are some of the most captivating stories I have ever heard. I will never get tired of hearing these stories. The novelty of tax returns has passed with time, but a new group of clients has presented a new challenge. The challenge of today was to inform the clients that they owed the IRS money. Before today, we only dealt with clients who were receiving refunds. As you can imagine, telling a client he owes money elicits a different response from the joyous responses of the previous day. Even faced with this adversity, the residents of Gateway Recovery remained positive and friendly. Today, we counseled the clients on possible payment options they could take advantage of to repay their tax debts. Specifically, we suggested that they contact the IRS about an installment plan. Additionally, we suggested possible steps the residents could take to change the amount of tax withheld from their yearly earnings. These steps would allow them to avoid having to pay the IRS such a large amount of tax at the end of 2009.
February 16, 2009
ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund
The ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund will award $5,000 of financial assistance annually to each scholarship recipient attending an ABA-accredited law school. The mission of the Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund is to encourage racial and ethnic minority students to apply to law school and to provide financial assistance to ensure that these students have the opportunity to attend law school for three years. An award made to an entering first-year student may be renewable for two additional years, resulting in financial assistance totaling $15,000 during his or her time in law school. Although each recipient will need to re-apply for the scholarship in his or her second and third year, the expectation is that the scholarship will be renewed each year if satisfactory performance in law school has been achieved, the student is otherwise eligible, and funding is available.
In addition to whether the applicant is a member of a racial and/or ethnic minority that has been underrepresented in the legal profession, the applicant’s financial need; personal, family, and educational background; personal statement; and participation in community service activities will be considered in selecting the recipients of the ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarships. It is important for every applicant to complete all portions of the application. Financial information for the applicant and his or her parents is required to evaluate the applicant’s financial need. A committee of ABA members will select the recipients. The decisions of the committee are final.
Deadline: ALL completed applications must be received on or before March 2, 2009. Faxed applications will not be accepted. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. An application packet is available here and more information about the scholarship is available here.
January 12, 2009
Berkeley La Raza Law Journal 2009 Student Writing Competition
The Berkeley La Raza Law Journal (BLRLJ) at UC Berkeley School of Law is sponsoring its first annual student essay competition designed to promote scholarship that addresses issues which affect the Latino community in the U.S and abroad. In this inaugural year, BLRLJ seeks submissions that discuss contemporary problems faced by underserved rural communities and the legal avenues through which their conditions can be improved.
In 1972, Michael Bennett and Cruz Reynoso co‐authored California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA): Survival of a Poverty Law Practice. 1 Chicano L. Rev. 79, 1972, which discusses the formation of the nation’s first impact litigation practice dedicated to representing underserved rural communities throughout California. Bennett and Reynoso described how CRLA sought to make the legal system work for underrepresented Chicanos and how the organization survived amidst great opposition from local bar associations, industry leaders, state and federal legislators, and then California Governor Reagan. In their perspective: the problems of the poor result far less from unjust rules than from an inequitable distribution of wealth and power and that the lawyers serving them must focus on building legal institutions which can enhance the power of the poor client to economically and politically cope for himself.
In response, student submissions for this essay competition should address the following:
- How far have we, as a society, progressed with respect to providing effective advocacy for rural communities since the formation of CRLA?
- How should we assess current programs providing legal services for underrepresented rural communities in California and throughout the nation?
- What should the current generation of leaders do to improve the conditions underserved rural communities are facing?
Submissions are encouraged to propose policy solutions or model programs related to impact litigation and/or direct services.
The author of the winning submission will receive a $2,000 award and have his or her paper published in Volume 20 of the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal (BLRLJ). BLRLJ will also consider other submissions for publication.
Submissions must meet the following criteria:
• Be an original and unpublished work.
• Be sent as both a PDF and Microsoft Word attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org
• Be double‐spaced in 12‐point Times New Roman font, use one‐inch margins, and be at least twelve (12) typed pages.
• Include a cover letter with the author’s name, current address, current telephone number, and current e‐mail address.
• Include citations at the bottom of each page that conform to The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (18th Edition).
*BLRLJ will consider all submission for publications and reserves the exclusive publication rights to all submissions selected for publication.
Deadline: March 1, 2009. Any questions may be submitted via email. -jl
January 08, 2009
Summer Internship Program with Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia
Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia (BABSEA) is preparing to host the 6th Annual BABSEA International Legal Studies Internship Program from May through August, 2009. The internship program seeks to connect the skills of aspiring lawyers and law-related persons from around the world with a project that will give them insight into social justice and public interest law internationally and specifically in Southeast Asia. The internship aims to produce a tangible work product that will be utilized in the communities in which BABSEA work and will directly result in disadvantaged populations gaining greater awareness of and access to their legal systems, as well as helping to provide support to our partner universities and organizations.
Deadline for Applications:
Early acceptance consideration deadline is January 15, 2009 and the overall deadline for applications is February 15th, 2009. Later applications may be considered depending on circumstances.
Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia,legal internship program informational pdf: Download BABSEA_2009_Legal_Studies_Internship_Program_2009.pdf, Contacts: Mr Sorachat (Aom) Julamon or BABSEA Director Bruce A. Lasky
November 22, 2008
The Legal Recession: Law Students and Job Prospects
I previously blogged here, here and here about the effect the economic crisis is having on academic and nonprofit legal clinics, documenting the struggle to assist a growing number of clients in need. Last week, the ABA Journal focused on the reality law students face in today's job market:
"As the economic downturn hits big law firms, resulting in layoffs and a few dissolutions, legal job seekers— and the people who help them find jobs—are also feeling the pain. The effects extend even to Harvard Law School, ranked second-best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Mark Weber, assistant dean for career services at the law school, told the New York Times that law firms are extending fewer employment offers and hiring fewer summer associates for next year. The legal services industry lost more than 1,000 jobs in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The numbers are reflected in recent news reports of job losses at several law firms."
In fact, the ABA Journal publishes a running tally of large firms that have recently laid off employees. The Journal is also conducting a survey about the legal recession, with results to be published in January.
November 12, 2008
ABA Business Law Section - 2009 Mendes Hershman Student Writing Contest
The ABA Section of Business Law is sponsoring its 23rd Annual Mendes Hershman Student Writing Contest to encourage and reward law student writings on a business law subject of general and current interest.
- First Place: $2,500
- Second Place: $1,000
- Third Place: $500
All winners will be invited and subsidized to attend the Section Spring Meeting, April 16-18, 2009, in Vancouver, BC to receive their award. Papers will be judged on research and analysis, choice of topic, writing style, originality, and contribution to the literature available on the topic. Papers submitted are normally 20-30 pages long, but should not exceed 100 pages of double-spaced typed text, including footnotes. Students need not be members of the Section of Business Law to participate.
ABA Section of Business Law Seeks Applicants for Diversity Clerkship
The Business Law Diversity Clerkship Program encourages students to pursue business court clerkship opportunities and to consider careers in the practice of business law. In considering a student's diversity, the Section will give special consideration to individuals who have overcome social or economic disadvantages such as physical disability, financial constraints, or cultural impediments to becoming a law student.
The objectives of the program include:
• To encourage more diverse law students to apply for clerkship positions
• To foster relationships between business court judges and diverse law students
• To provide students with a foundation in various aspects of business law
Up to nine interns will be given a summer stipend of $6,000 and placed in business court clerkships in the Philadelphia Commerce Court or the Delaware Court of Chancery. Other possible internship locations include New York and Florida.
To apply, students must be Section of Business Law members. For membership information and to join the Section, click here. Applications for the 2009 program are available here. All application materials must be received on or before Friday, January 30, 2009. For more information about the Business Law Diversity Clerkship Program click here.
October 12, 2008
Primer Series on Clinical Legal Education: First Installment
In assisting the re-launching of the Clinical Law Prof Blog, I thought it might be useful, particularly for newer clinicians, to highlight Clinical Legal Education scholarship and reports. When I started down the Clinical Legal Education path, I had the good fortune of doing so at the University of the District of Columbia – David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC-DCSL). Just starting out, I was surprised to learn that the ABA did not have uniform standards for clinical programs, so clinics across the country were not required to offer a set amount of credit hours per clinic, and each credit hour awarded was not related to a fixed amount of student hours worked each week.
As a newer clinician, I find Clinical Legal Education scholarship and reports are invaluable to my growth as a teacher and as a lawyer. When I was on the AALS market, I interviewed for doctrinal and clinical positions. I often found myself thinking it would be wonderful to have the opportunity to teach in both disciplines within the same institution. Colleagues who do so unsurprisingly state their clinical teaching informs and positively influences their doctrinal teaching, and vice versa. I have also been privy to doctrinal faculty singing the praises of teaching by declaring, “It’s so much better than the practice of law.” I sing the praises of teaching because Clinical Legal Education allows me to continue to practice law and to work in the public interest. At UDC-DCSL, I was in the classroom four hours each week, teaching in the tax clinic seminar where we examined tax law, and tax practice and procedure through case law, the Code, the IRS, and in turn discussed how tax policy affected our clients. It was a wonderful integration of theory and practice.
So, the first installment in this Primer Series is the lauded 2007 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching report, entitled Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law. A summary of the findings is available in PDF format and a copy of the report may be purchased for $40.
The report hones in on five key observations:
1. Law School Provides Rapid Socialization into the Standards of Legal Thinking
2. Law Schools Rely Heavily on One Way of Teaching to Accomplish the Socialization Process
3. The Case-Dialogue Method of Teaching Has Valuable Strengths but Also Unintended Consequences
4. Assessment of Student Learning Remains Underdeveloped
5. Legal Education Approaches Improvement Incrementally, Not Comprehensively.
The report also provides a list of recommendations in the section entitled “Toward a More Integrated Model: a Historic Opportunity to Advance Legal Education” The report recommends law schools should:
1. Offer an Integrated Curriculum
2. Join “Lawyering,” Professionalism and Legal Analysis from the Start
3. Make Better Use of the Second and Third Years of Law School
4. Support Faculty to Work Across the Curriculum
5. Design the Program so that Students—and Faculty—Weave Together Disparate Kinds of Knowledge and Skill
6. Recognize a Common Purpose
7. Work Together, Within and Across Institutions.
July 28, 2005
Christian Science Monitor Features Pace Environmental Clinic
Pace Law School's Environmental Litigation Clinic takes center stage in an article published in the July 26, 2005 online edition of the Christian Science Monitor. The article gives readers insight into the general pedagogical goals of clinical education and features the assessments of student-lawyers and clinical professors. The article also takes a broader look at the particular challenges that confront environmental law clinics.
June 28, 2005
What Clinic Alumni Can Do
Vanita Gupta (NYU Law Clinic '01) has a track record that would make the most accomplished social justice advocate gasp in awe. As a Soros Justice Fellow, Ms Gupta led the charge to overturn the wrongful convictions of 38 people in Tulia Texas. Now, Ms. Gupta is Assistant Counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
At NYU, Ms. Gupta received the Anne Petluck Poses Prize for her death penalty and juvenile rights-based clinical work. (Among her mentors, Ms. Gupta includes Professor Randy Hertz). Within months of her law school graduation, Ms. Gupta organized an astonishing legal team that successfully fought the Tulia convictions. Ms. Gupta has received numerous awards, including the 2004 Rebock. She is also the subject of several newspaper articles and a new movie, in she is portrayed by Hallie Berry.
Have a great story about a recent clinic graduate? E-mail it to us for a feature in our new "What Clinic Alumni Can Do" feature.
June 21, 2005
Investor Clinics Helping the Small Time Investor
Law students at investor clinics are helping the small time investor in claims against brokerage firms. A recent article by reporter Janet Kidd Stewart reports on eleven investor clinics throughout the country are representing investors whose claims are not large enough to interest law firms, yet may represent the life savings of some small investors.
Last year the newest program, the Investor Protection Center at Northwestern University, won a $120,000 grant from the education arm of the National Association of Securities Dealers to represent small investors and develop a model for more clinics nationwide.
"These types of cases offer our students the same complex issues [as other securities law cases], just not with as many zeros," said J. Samuel Tenenbaum, an assistant law professor at Northwestern and director of the Chicago center. Under the direction of Tenenbaum and other Northwestern faculty--including former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman David Ruder--law students at the start-up clinic have combed through about 30 potential cases this year and are investigating four of them, Tenenbaum said.
Older centers around the U.S. report that each handle 100 to 150 investor inquiries annually and pursue up to 20 cases to arbitration or settlement. Students have responded enthusiastically to the investor protection cases. Explains Daniel Sweeney, an '05 graduate of Duquesne Law School's securities clinic, "[w]ith these cases there is a sense of urgency to do the best you can," Sweeney said. "There's added pressure because for a lot of these people the losses represent all they have and they're depending on you."
June 02, 2005
Clinic Student Profiles: Touro Law Clinic Graduates Have Special Stories
Touro Law School recently featured the special stories of some of its graduating class. Among those featured are two extraordinary women whose clinical experiences were central to their law school success. Read their stories here.