Monday, May 20, 2019
First: congrats on securing a legal internship! Just getting to this place proves your intelligence and drive. You have your foot in the door, and now is the time to do good work for your supervisor, learn about a new area of the law (while evaluating whether it’s for you), and earn a positive recommendation (or even a job)! The effort starts now.
One point you might find challenging is that you and your supervisor (not to mention your clients) may have different ideas about what working efficiently looks like—or even what the role of an intern entails. It’s always best to clarify in person if you have any concerns. Here is a list that can serve as a general guide to office etiquette and summer work. When in doubt, however, check with your supervisor.
- Always be on time. Clarify your start and end hours a few days before you begin the internship, and leave home early to make sure you make it there— even if traffic is horrible or you spill coffee on your new dress shirt.
- Speaking of dress shirts, dress for court on the first day unless your office has told you otherwise. Even if the office ends up being casual, it’s better to overshoot this mark than to undershoot it.
- Always be courteous and friendly to office support staff, as well as to your supervisors and fellow interns. Administrative staff were there before you arrived and will be there after the end of your internship. Their expertise and feedback can help you have a better experience.
- Always bring a notepad and pens to meetings with your supervisor(s), colleagues, and clients. If the matter is important enough to call a meeting about, it will be important remember what is discussed and decided—especially if it involves an assignment for you.
- Use situational awareness and courtesy when asking a supervisor or colleague to meet with you. Are they on the phone, typing furiously, and looking stressed? Is the door closed? It’s generally a good idea to knock on the doorframe and ask, “Is now a good time?” before just walking into someone’s office. If the door is closed, email and ask to schedule a time.
- You will often be asked to work on projects that are unfamiliar to you. When you first get an assignment, clarify as much as you can with your supervisor. Then make your best effort before you return with further questions. There is a balance here: no one wants to see you labor on your own only to find you were confused or didn’t have the information you needed to make real progress. On the other hand, you should try to find answers to your questions before running to your supervisor every five minutes. Try these resources as you begin your work:
- Online legal research databases (search relevant key terms, statutes, court rules, and cases)
- The office’s brief or motions bank (or the file of a similar case or project)
- Google or Wikipedia (if only as a start)
- Be friendly and be yourself, but also be cautious about using jokes to break the ice when you’re nervous. This is often when we make errors in judgement about what's appropriate under the circumstances.
- Most supervisors will not judge you for what you don’t know coming in, but coachability is key. Stay curious about how to improve. Always recognize the authority of your supervisor’s strategic and legal decisions, but don’t be afraid to ask for further feedback.
- Be very clear about your start and end dates, any vacation time, and your daily schedule. It’s best to have this conversation in person and then to confirm in email so your supervisor can have a record to refer to.
- Never discuss office or client matters with anyone outside the office. Even if it is positive, don’t post client news to social media without express permission from your supervisor.
- Likewise, strictly limit your time spent on social media or your phone during work hours. Never text or scroll during work meetings-- and beware of even having your phone out during a meeting (the temptation to check is often too much for all of us).
- Take advantage of every opportunity to join outside meetings, happy hour gatherings, and socials—especially if your supervisor suggests it. You will make contacts this summer who will become friends and colleagues for the rest of your career.
- Keep a journal. Even if this office or area of law won’t be where you build your career, enjoy it and integrate the lessons you learn into your life of practice.
- For far more detailed discussions of work habits, office etiquette, and internships, enroll in an Externship class at your law school.
Most of all, stay engaged and learn what you can this summer—and enjoy this time as much as you can!
Thursday, May 9, 2019
Continuing CLEA’s series of posts on social justice issues in clinical legal education, here is a post from Eve Rips, Policy & Legislation Clinical Teaching Fellow at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Since its founding in 2010, the Legislation & Policy Clinic at Loyola University Chicago has partnered with the Statewide Youth Advisory Board (SYAB) for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to help translate the policy priorities of young adults in foster care into legislative or administrative change. The SYAB is comprised of 14 to 21-year-old leaders from across Illinois who are interested in advocating at a state level for the wellbeing of their peers in the child welfare system. Starting in 2018, Clinic students have been working with the SYAB to help the group build their own policy agenda.
For students in the Clinic, the project presents a unique opportunity to get to learn first-hand about the issues that matter most to youth in the child welfare system. Students who participate in the project are continually blown away by the maturity and thoughtfulness displayed by Youth Advisory Board members, and by the extent to which the youth leaders prioritize the needs of future generations in making decisions. The project also provides students with the opportunity to learn by teaching: in reflecting on how best to convey complicated information to youth, Clinic students develop a deeper understanding of the material they themselves are learning.
Social justice is often discussed as both a process and an end goal. One of the biggest challenges for students working with the SYAB has been thinking through how to build a process that supports full and equitable participation of youth members. In particular, the project has required careful deliberation about the role of law and policy experts in working with youth leaders. Students have struggled with questions like:
● How can we present youth with data on topics they are interested in without inadvertently steering them toward our own vision for policy change?
● How should we move forward in helping youth leaders if the group wants to work on an issue that we think would be difficult to address through legislative or administrative change?
● What is the right balance between moving meeting agendas forward and giving youth leaders space to respond emotionally to topics that may be connected to personal trauma?
Students built out a deliberate and intensive process for helping the SYAB set their policy agenda. In Spring of 2018, students sat down with youth members to discuss questions and concerns about the laws and policies that impact the lives of youth in care. Those conversations led to the creation of a Frequently Asked Questions Guide for the SYAB, which provided answers to top questions and identified areas where new laws or policies might be needed. In Fall of 2018, students discussed the Guide with youth members, and led a brainstorm focused on asking “what would a better world look like?" Students used what they learned from that discussion to build a list of open-ended “questions to consider” for SYAB members, such as “how can the Department of Children and Family Services better ensure that youth preparing to age out of care can afford to live on their own?” and “what would youth want interactions with their guardians ad litem to look like, ideally?” Finally, in Spring of 2019, students met several times with a small “working group” of SYAB members to workshop policy ideas and finalize a list of potential priorities that they brought back to the full Youth Advisory Board for a vote.
Clinic students stressed that the project required high levels of flexibility and patience in learning how to engage meaningfully with young leaders. Meetings changed times frequently, students started researching one topic only to find youth attention shifted by the next meeting, and many felt that the project moved slowly. When considering her experience working with the SYAB, Patricia Martin, a current 2L, reflected that, “things can take longer when you work with youth. These are sensitive subjects that affect their peers - that sometimes meant we got off topic or struggled to think about when to cut off emotional discussions. But I think this is reflective of how policy making happens in reality, especially when you’re working with others to narrow priorities to an agenda.”
In the end, though, students felt the experience taught them a unique and critical set of skills related to how to be a thoughtful policy partner to populations with experiences very different from their own. Justin Sia, also a current 2L, explained, “the project helped me build my skills in empathy. The more I met with the youth, the more I understood what works in connecting with this group.” Ultimately, Sia reflected, “being an advocate involves working to get on the same page, stepping into their shoes, and thinking carefully about how to make information as accessible as possible.”
We want to hear from you! Are you working on something exciting, innovative, or interesting that advances social justice goals? Know someone who is?
Saturday, May 4, 2019
A bell rang. I recognized it immediately as an old handheld school bell. But I was sitting in a courtroom. It made no sense.
It was in one of the most depressing courtrooms in which I have practiced with my students—mortgage foreclosure diversion court. It is a huge courtroom in an upper floor of City Hall in Philadelphia, big enough to fit over 100 people threatened with losing their home to foreclosure at one time. They sit in rows of hard wooden chairs in the center and back of the courtroom, all facing forward, uncertain of what court will mean for them that day. Each of them are now identified as debtors. Foreclosure proceedings have already been filed against them. To one side of them sit reluctant attorneys for banks and other mortgage lenders, required by the court to be there and to consider deals that will allow the debtors to stay. On another side sit housing counselors, hoping to piece together deals for the debtors using the few resources that the debtors have and that the counselors can find from outside sources. Around the outside walls sit nonprofit law firms, offering help when they can. In the front is a judicial bench, which is particularly huge due to the size of the courtroom and which towers over litigants, and many desks for court staff. The judge will not come—there is little reason for debtors to think that a judge will intervene for them at this stage. Debtors know this, as their cases are often not resolved until they have come back to this court several different days over some months, asking each time for more of a chance to find a way to settle the debt. A judge will sign off if needed. Besides, few debtors have legal arguments that will work. On this day like others, there is constant chatter in this cavernous room as cases are processed—some people learning they’ll never be able to keep their home, others given a month or two to come up with other resources.
And then, the bell rang.
At a central table, the bell ringer smiled as she looked around. Some others smiled, too, knowing what that bell meant: a deal had been reached. Maybe the mortgage had been renegotiated or the debtor had been able to catch up on the delinquency. Somehow, a debtor would keep the home. Victory for all, unless the debtor falls behind again. A happy ending, perhaps, in a court that belongs more in a Dickens novel than 21st century Philadelphia and where victories are not as common as they should be. The bell ringer smiled and moved on to the next foreclosure case.
I was reminded of this experience as I watched a similar celebration on video at a fundraiser for our local center for independent living. These centers exist to support people who have disabilities that might require nursing home care without the support services these centers find for them that allow them to stay in their homes. Among other people with disabilities they serve are people in nursing homes who they help return to the community, finding them the homes and services they need to do so. Despite the person often not having the $5000-6500 it takes to physically move someone into the community, and despite a lack of affordable housing (particularly accessible affordable housing), center workers struggle and sometimes succeed in reintegrating these people into happier independent living situation in the community. And as the video showed, when they do, they walk the halls of the agency cheering and ringing a bell. It looks and sounds like the same bell. They celebrate what they have accomplished.
With my law students, I often want to foster such celebration and don't know how. We work on cases in our clinic and often see so much that is wrong, some of which students can help make right and some of which they can’t. We work with people with severe disabilities denied government disability benefits—perhaps students help them win them benefits, perhaps not. Student watch people being evicted from their homes that landlords manage to control despite keeping them in substandard conditions—perhaps students help get this landlord to fix up their property or help tenants leave on their own terms, or perhaps we watch the more common seemingly unfair and unjust outcomes of tenants losing their homes and being saddled with debt that will preclude them from renting elsewhere. Students draft documents for people sick with terminal diseases thinking through end of life decisions with students who know the documents will be used soon—perhaps we give these people peace of mind, and perhaps we get to see the documents in action.
There needs to be time to stop and recognize victories. Bells must be rung. It is easy to see that for each win, there are many losses. But we must hear the bells. The question is how?
As I sit with my students now after victories, I ask them to reflect on the victory. I have them think about what they did and how they impacted change. I have them think about their clients’ lives with and what would have happened without our representation. After our losses, we do the same, though losses need no marker—they seem to stick with us more easily. How can I make victories not only meaningful but joyous celebrations?
I have no bell. Perhaps I need one.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
We just wrapped the final class for the Spring 2019 iteration of the Community Justice Clinic. At the close of its fifth year, I’m feeling reflective, maudlin, and proud.
I joined the law faculty at Pepperdine in July 2013, took a year to take the bar and get a California license. For Fall 2014, I had the rare gift of launching a new clinic from scratch. I had thirteen years of experience in civil litigation, trial, and appellate practice in various forms and venues, and I was ready for a change. Through our curricular processes, we saw a need for a clinic that was not seated in litigation and for a practice that was not focused on advocacy for individuals. This process resulted in the Community Justice Clinic.
The Community Justice Clinic was an exciting departure for me professionally. The Clinic serves as general counsel for nonprofits, NGOs, religious and community organizations that are dedicated to human rights, social justice, and community economic development. We focus on clients who are part of the communities they empower or who have deeply rooted, cultural sophistication and humility among the people they serve. Our Clinic provides corporate legal services (incorporation, governance, tax exemption), policy and legal research and advocacy (studies, surveys, and projects in the field), and general legal services (leases, contracts, IP, internal policies, problem solving).
Most of our clients are at work in Southern California, but several are national. At least a third of our clients are NGOs at work globally. Our work with our clients have touched communities in Ecuador, Uganda, India, Nepal, Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nicaragua, Germany, China, and the United Kingdom, so far. Our policy research has addressed another dozen nations.
As clinical professors, our greatest gift is practicing law alongside brilliant, eager, creative students. They make me a better lawyer and better teacher. At the launch of the Community Justice Clinic, I started a tradition to build a monument to the students who would join this work. Being new to the West Coast and excited about our prospects, I bought a California state flag and asked the students to sign it. I confessed to them (and all the rest to come) that it might be corny and sentimental, but I wanted to mark our commitment to our community, to build a reminder of their work and our collaboration together. I wanted to remember them, and I wanted them to remember this work, these clients, their causes, and their profound power in the world as lawyers. In their moments of professional crisis, I wanted the students to be able to spot a symbol that reminds them of their commitments and capacity.
Here is the flag tonight, bearing the signatures of students across five years and ten semesters, nearly a hundred students in the Community Justice Clinic. They have served at least fifty clients on multiple matters around the world and in our neighborhood. The flag also bears the signatures of twenty more students who served several score clients in the Disaster Relief Clinic.
I’m proud to be their teacher and to practice law with them, playing a small role in their education and helping launch them into the world to serve and lead. They have done mighty work to empower our clients to make the world better. I'll post an update in Spring 2024.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Over the past year, a critical mass of law school faculty and staff have expressed interest in establishing an AALS Section on Community Economic Development (CED). The proposed section will provide a dynamic, collaborative environment to enhance the scholarship, activism, and direct legal work of CED-focused faculty and professional staff. Notably, the section will help bridge existing gaps between various actors in the CED universe by increasing opportunities for networking and enabling greater synergy and collaboration between scholars and experts in various substantive subjects and disciplines related to CED. Interested faculty and professional staff are invited to read the full petition and sign here.
Monday, April 8, 2019
With generous funding from the Malibu Foundation, Pepperdine Law is continuing its Disaster Relief Clinic - soon to the Disaster Recovery Clinic - for one academic year to assist people and communities rebuilding after the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. This position is a one-year, grant-funded position to supervise and teach the Disaster Recovery Clinic within the School of Law's Program of Clinical Education, working alongside the faculty and staff of Pepperdine's ten other legal clinics.
The Supervising Attorney and Adjunct Professor (“Supervising Attorney”) will teach and supervise students practicing in the Pepperdine Disaster Recovery Clinic (“DRC”). In the DRC, law students learn and train through law practice under the supervision of the Supervising Attorney. The DRC provides pro bono legal services to clients recovering from recent California wildfires. This includes advice and counsel, evaluation and analysis, negotiation and advocacy, research and writing, and guidance on legal matters as they arise and evolve during the course of recovery and rebuilding. The Supervising Attorney will teach the seminar component of the DRC course with an adjunct faculty appointment. This contributes to the University’s mission by increasing the School of Law’s capacity to teach, train and form professionals with expertise and integrity, and the DRC increases the School of Law’s capacity to serve surrounding communities affected by recent natural disasters. This serves the School of Law’s strategic plan by increasing capacity for experiential, clinical and formative education in diverse areas of practice. The Supervising Attorney position is a one-year, grant funded appointment to direct the Disaster Recovery Clinic.
Skills and Qualifications
Required: The Supervising Attorney must hold a JD degree from an ABA accredited law school, and must be a licensed attorney in good standing in California; an excellent communicator in written and oral, private and public contexts; a competent professional of integrity and excellence; an effective teacher within best practices of clinical legal pedagogy; and proficient and competent in digital law practice and case management and applications for recovery practice.
Preferred: Preferred candidates will have demonstrable experience or expertise in insurance coverage and controversies, landlord-tenant matters, business interruption, unemployment, rebuilding, and permitting matters; demonstrable experience, interest and expertise in public interest practice; and demonstrable experience, expertise, and commitment to teaching and clinical pedagogy.
Thursday, April 4, 2019
Call for Authors - Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Property Opinions
Deadline for Applying: Friday, April 26, 2019
The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of rewritten judicial opinions and commentary on the rewritten opinions for an edited collection tentatively titled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Property Opinions. This edited volume is part of a collaborative project among law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key judicial decisions in the United States. The initial volume, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court, edited by Kathryn M. Stanchi, Linda L. Berger, and Bridget J. Crawford, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. Cambridge University Press has approved a series of Feminist Judgments books. In 2017, Cambridge University Press published the tax volume titled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions. Other volumes in the pipeline include rewritten trusts and estates opinions and rewritten family law opinions.
Property law volume editors Eloisa C. Rodriguez-Dod and Elena Maria Marty-Nelson seek prospective authors and commentators for fifteen rewritten property opinions covering a range of topics. With the help of an advisory board of distinguished property law scholars, the editors have selected a list of cases that have not appeared in other Feminist Judgment volumes; potential authors are welcome to suggest opinions which do not appear on the list.
Proposals must be either to (1) rewrite a case opinion (subject to a 10,000-word limit) or (2) comment on a rewritten opinion (subject to a 4,000-word limit). Rewritten opinions may be re-imagined majority opinions, concurrences, or dissents. Authors of rewritten opinions will be bound by the law and precedent in effect at the time of the original decision. Commentators should explain the original court decision, how the rewritten feminist opinion differs from the original decision, and the impact the rewritten feminist opinion might have made. The volume editors conceive of feminism as a broad movement and welcome proposals that bring into focus intersectional concerns beyond gender, such as race, class, disability, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, national origin, and immigration status.
To apply, please email (1) a paragraph or two describing your area of expertise and your interest in this project; (2) your top two or three preferences from the list of cases below; and (3) whether you prefer to serve as an author of a rewritten opinion or an author of a commentary to a rewritten opinion. Please submit this information via email to the editors, Eloisa C. Rodriguez-Dod and Elena Maria Marty-Nelson, at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by Friday, April 26, 2019. The Feminist Judgments Project and the Property book editors are committed to including authors from diverse backgrounds. If you feel an aspect of your personal identity is important to your participation, please feel free to include that in your expression of interest. The editors will notify accepted authors and commentators by Monday, May 13, 2019. First drafts of rewritten opinions will be due on Monday, September 16, 2019. First drafts of commentaries will be due on Monday, October 28, 2019.
Tentative List of Cases:
- Moore v. City of E. Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494 (1977) (exclusionary zoning)
- Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 569 U.S. 576 (2013) (patents)
- Sawada v. Endo, 561 P.2d 1291 (Haw. 1977) (tenancy by the entireties)
- Gruen v. Gruen, 496 N.E.2d 869 (N.Y. 1986) (inter vivos gifts)
- Coggan v. Coggan, 239 So. 2d 17 (Fla. 1970) (ouster of co-tenant)
- Phillips Neighborhood Hous. Tr. v. Brown, 564 N.W.2d 573 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997) (lease termination for illegal activity)
- Taylor v. Canterbury, 92 P.3d 961 (Colo. 2004) (secret severance of joint tenancy)
- White v. Samsung Elecs. Am., Inc., 971 F.2d 1395 (9th Cir. 1992) (publicity rights)
- Johnson v. M’Intosh, 21 U.S. 543 (1823) (Native American property rights)
- Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994) (exactions/eminent domain)
- Bartley v. Sweetser, 890 S.W.2d 250 (Ark. 1994) (premises liability)
- Tate v. Water Works & Sewer Bd. of City of Oxford, 217 So. 3d 906 (Ala. Civ. App. 2016) (adverse possession and condemnation)
- Blake v. Stradford, 725 N.Y.S.2d 189 (Dist. Ct. 2001) (ejectment of domestic partner)
- Moore v. Regents of Univ. of California, 793 P.2d 479 (Cal. 1990) (property interest in one’s genetic material)
- Pocono Springs Civic Ass’n, Inc. v. MacKenzie, 667 A.2d 233 (Pa. Super. Ct.1995) (abandonment of real property)
Monday, April 1, 2019
CLEA: Launching a New Initiative to Spotlight and Amplify the Work of Law School Clinics for Social Justice
If you stop random people on the street to ask how they define social justice, you are likely to receive varying responses that collectively reflect social justice is equal access to wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. Within those broad parameters, social justice relates to the environment, race, gender, sustainable development goals, responses to humanitarian crisis, and other causes and manifestations of inequality. Digging deeper to further define this concept may also reveal that the victims of social injustice are everywhere, including our neighborhoods, our communities, and even our classrooms. Victims of social injustice frequently include the poor, but also encompass individuals and groups who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise discriminated against.
Many law students attend law school with the intention of learning how they can use their knowledge and skills to assist marginalized groups and individuals, change current oppressive political and economic systems, and use legal strategies to advance social justice. However, there are many factors that deter law students from truly achieving such lofty goals. These factors include: the culture and pedagogy of legal education that produces more aspiring corporate lawyers than attorneys dedicated to protecting the interests of underrepresented or indigent clients; rising tuition and debt that limit choices law school graduates have to pursue careers at nonprofits; and the subtle pressure law students feel to abandon the political and moral values that initially informed their decision to become lawyers.
To shed light on the efforts of CLEA’s members to combat social injustice, CLEA’s Social Justice Issues Committee has been charged with “[disseminating] information regarding CLEA-supported social justice endeavors and projects as well as diversity issues." Through this and future blogs we hope to attract volunteers to commit to writing a blog-style, op-ed-style, or newspaper-article-style post about an ongoing social justice project or resource available within CLEA's community. The Social Justice Issues Committee intends to roll out the posts we receive beginning in April 2019 and posting one every month. We will post them on the CLEA website and share them through the CLEA social media platforms, the listservs, and the Clinical Law Prof blog. We hope we have a good impact, amplify some important stories, and build a foundation for future work.
There are daily reminders in the media, social networks, and hallway conversations that the world is at a defining moment for collective action against social injustice. We know anecdotally that there are many courses and programs offered at law schools around the country that promote opportunities for students to help others while learning valuable lawyering skills. For example, earlier this year, students from The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law traveled to Mexico to provide pro bono assistance to members of the migrant caravan seeking asylum in the United States. The legal services the migrants received included know-your-rights training, legal orientation workshops, and direct legal services. The students learned first-hand that the opportunity to be a practicing attorney brings with it the responsibility to use their skills to address social injustice. Berkeley’s Pro Bono Program sponsored the trip in connection with a legal services nonprofit.
We want to hear from you! Are you working on something exciting, innovative, or interesting that advances social justice goals? Know someone who is?
Thursday, March 28, 2019
Thanks to everyone who participated in the call for recent scholarship. Members of our community have produced a number of truly interesting articles. They are divided into broad categories below for easy perusal. Congrats to all the authors!
ASYLUM & IMMIGRATION
Kathryn Banks, The Trickle Up Effect: Incorporating an Understanding of Immigration Law and Polices into Best Interest Analysis in State Child Welfare Proceedings, 17Wash. U. Glob. Stud. L. Rev. 627 (2018).
Jon Bauer, with Katherine McKenzie and P. Preston Reynolds, Asylum Seekers in a Time of Record Forced Global Displacement: The Role of Physicians, 34 Journal of General Internal Medicine 137 (2019), This article discusses the role of medical evaluations in asylum cases and best practices for collaboration between physicians and legal advocates for asylum-seekers.
Julie Dahlstrom, The Elasticity of Human Trafficking, 108 Calif. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2020). This Article examines the historical and continuing expansion of trafficking definitions in the United States with a particular focus on sex trafficking. It posits that further broadening must be approached with careful consideration of the proposed benefits and the potential dangers of overreaching.
Lindsay Harris, Withholding Protection, Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. Vol. 50.3 (forthcoming Spring 2019). This article explores the interplay of two forms of "speedy deportations" -- the expedited removal system and the practice of reinstatement of removal. Together, they can prevent an asylum seeker from meaningfully gaining protection in the United States. The article proposes one solution to this problem in the form of body worn cameras for Customs and Border Protection officers at the border.
Lindsay Harris, Contemporary Family Detention and Legal Advocacy, 21 Harvard Latino Law Rev. 135 (2018). This piece paints a picture of the practice of detaining immigrant families under the Obama and Trump Administration and the attendant legal advocacy. The piece advocates for robust attorney engagement in representing asylum seeking families detained in Texas and Pennsylvania.
Danielle Jefferis, Constitutionally Unaccountable: Privatized Immigration Detention, 95 Indiana L.J. ___ (2019). This Article is the first to expose and examine the absence of a constitutional tort remedy for the people behind the walls of for-profit immigration prisons.
Danielle Jefferis, It’s Just Like Prison: Is a Civil (Nonpunitive) System of Immigration Detention Theoretically Possible? (with René Lima Marín), 96 Denv. L. Rev. ___ (2019). This Article questions a fundamental premise on which the U.S. immigration detention system is built: Is a civil—that is, nonpunitive—system of immigration detention even possible?
Natalie Nanasi, Are Domestic Abusers Terrorists? Rhetoric, Reality, and Asylum Law, 91 Temple Law Review 215 (2019). This article critically examines the impact of reconceptualizing intimate partner abuse as “terrorism in the home,” with a focus on asylum law. It argues that even though reframing may accurately describe the political and societal implications of domestic abuse (as well as the state’s complicity in perpetuating it) and has the potential to expand access to asylum for survivors, the terrorist label should be applied with caution due the racial and religious disparities in the application of the term and the significant criminal and immigration consequences for those who are branded terrorists as well as those who harbor or materially support them (potentially including survivors themselves).
Anita Sinha, Defining Detention: The Intervention of the European Court of Human Rights in the Detention of Involuntary Migrants, 50 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. (forthcoming May 2019). This Article examines the consequences of a crisis moniker to frame the recent rise in involuntary migration into Europe. The Article addresses first how a migration “crisis” has normalized carceral migration control in the region, and then analyzes the European Court of Human Rights’ post-“crisis” judgments on migrant detention.
CLINICAL EDUCATION & LEGAL EDUCATION
Deborah Archer, Political Lawyering for the 21st Century, forthcoming in the Denver Law Review. This article contends that clinical education needs to embrace and reimagine political lawyering for the 21st century in order to prepare aspiring lawyers to tackle both new and chronic issues of injustice through a broad array of advocacy strategies.
Jodi S. Balsam and Margaret Reuter, Externship Assessment Project: An empirical study of supervisor evaluations of extern work performance, 25 Clinical L. Rev. 1 (Fall 2018). Qualitative data analysis of field supervisors’ evaluations of student externs to reveal how educational opportunities vary among different field placement settings and practice areas, and the extent to which student characteristics and demographics correspond to the student practice experience.
Elizabeth Cooper, 100 YEARS OF WOMEN AT FORDHAM: A FOREWORD AND REFLECTION, 87 Fordham L. Rev. Online 39 (2019). Elizabeth Cooper reviews the checkered history of women at Fordham Law. She was the 22nd woman to be hired at Fordham Law. Among Fordham’s most famous alumna was Geraldine Ferraro
Jill C. Engle, There Isn’t Any Dumpster, American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law, Volume 27 (2019). Through the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project while I was in law school, I taught at a Washington, D.C. high school and wrote a reflection essay at the end of my experience about how the principal, and the school’s unsung hero, helped me recognize the systematic flaws that disadvantage low-income, students of color in schools today. The article discusses what those students taught me: that the law should reflect their humanity, it should diminish their marginalization, and it should speak about that work in their voice.
Lindsay Harris, Learning in Baby Jail: Lessons from Law Student Engagement in Family Detention Centers, 25 Clinical Law Review155 (2018). This article examines the phenomenon of law student engagement in family detention centers and shares the results of a national survey of professors leading trips to engage in detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. The article proposes a best practices framework for law school engagement in crisis lawyering in this context and beyond -- for example in adult detention centers and at the border.
Peter Joy, The Uneasy History of Experiential Education in U.S. Law Schools, 122 Dick. L. Rev. 551 (2018)
Robert Kuehn, A Study of the Relationship Between Law School Coursework and Bar Exam Outcomes, 68 J. Legal Educ. (forthcoming 2019) (co-author)
Lynnise Pantin, The Legacy of Civil Rights and the Opportunity for Transactional Law Clinics, Tennessee Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice, Vol 7, No.2, 2019. This Article describes how not much has changed with respect to economic justice since the 50 years since the end of the Civil Rights Movement and describes the potential opportunities for Transactional Law Clinics
Victoria Phillips, Intellectual Property Gets Experienced, 59 IDEA 249 (2018). In this recent essay, I reflect on developments in the decade since publication of that piece and explore the growth and maturing of the new community of law school intellectual property law clinics. I find that in most respects these new clinics stand comfortably on shoulders of the pioneers of the clinical legal education movement.
Victoria Phillips & Cynthia L. Dahl, Innovation and Tradition: A Survey of Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinics, 25 Clinical L. Rev. 95 (Fall 2018). This article distills the results of a comprehensive survey of 72 directors of IP and Technology Clinics into themes that analyze the focus and aspirations of this new clinical community.
Jeff Selbin, Colleen Shanahan, Anna Carpenter & Alyx Mark, Measuring Law School Clinics, 92 Tulane L. Rev. 547 (2018). This article presents findings that shed some empirical light on the teaching-service mission of law school clinics. Analyzing thousands of unemployment insurance cases involving different types of representation, we found that: (1) clinical law students perform similarly to practicing attorneys in their use of legal procedures, and (2) clinical law students' clients experience similar case outcomes to clients of practicing attorneys, suggesting that clinics are delivering on their promise both to train new lawyers and to serve underrepresented clients.
Hina Shah, Radical Reconstruction: (Re)Embracing Affirmative Action in Private Employment, 48 U. of Baltimore L. Rev. 203 (2019).
COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & TRANSACTIONAL LAW
Priya Baskaran, The Economic Justice Imperative for Lawyers in "Trump Country", Tennessee Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice, Vol 7, No.2, 2019. This article is a call to action for rural law schools to meaningfully incorporate economic justice into transactional legal education, and in doing so, train much needed rural advocates, legal experts, and local leaders.
Ted DeBarbieri, Lawmakers As Jobs Buyers, 88 Fordham Law Review ___ (forthcoming 2019). Following high-profile state and city tax breaks for companies like Amazon and others, this Article argues for a two-step proposal to limit subnational government actions to incentivize business location decisions.
Ted DeBarbieri, Urban Anticipatory Governance, 46 Florida State University Law Review 1 (2019). This Article offers a framework for how local government can promote resident participation in influencing how land use and economic development projects are carried out. It borrows from existing forward-looking, flexible, and inclusive public engagement examples such as New York City’s response to global climate change.
Ted DeBarbieri, Thematic Overview: Race, Place, and Pedagogy in Achieving Access to Justice Through Community Economic Development, 27 Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development Law 467 (2019). In recent years, scholars and practitioners have advanced the conversation about CED methods and efficacy. This piece is a brief thematic overview of the discussion that occurred in January 2018, and a synopsis of the abstracts that follow.
Annie Eisenberg, Distributive Justice and Rural America, __ B.C. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2020). This article argues that rural communities did not just "die" as many suggest, but that decades of intentional policy decisions undermining rural livelihoods contributed to the ruralization of economic distress. These decisions ultimately effectuated a "sacrifice" of rural welfare in the name of the greater good, the justice of which warrants examination.
Annie Eisenberg, Just Transitions, 92 S. Cal. L. Rev. 2 (2019). This article discusses why and how environmental decisionmaking should contemplate economic displacement, with a focus on the challenges facing coalfield communities as policymakers increasingly embrace decarbonization goals.
Jay A. Mitchell, Whiteboard and Black-Letter: Visual Communication in Commercial Contracts, 20 U. Pa. Bus. L. J. 815 (2018). The paper discusses why visual methods are useful in transactional work and why visuals are not often observed in contracts; assesses existing scholarship regarding visual methods and contracts; explores treatment of visuals under U.S. contract interpretation and evidentiary principles; identifies characteristics of transactional situations where visual executions may be especially helpful; and proposes actions intended to build the case for such use.
Lynnise Pantin, The Wealth Gap and the Racial Disparities in the Startup Ecosystem, St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 62, No. 2, 2018. This Article explains how the United States’ history of bolstering wealth creation for some, while inhibiting wealth creation for people of color, matters for understanding the startup ecosystem today. The Article describes how access to traditional and innovative sources of capital raising perpetuates the racial wealth gap, and this Article makes concrete proposals for addressing these shortcomings.
Priya Baskaran, Respect the Hustle: Returning Citizens, Necessity Entrepreneurship, & Social Enterprise Strategies, 78 Md. L. Rev. (2019 Forthcoming). This Article addresses a pervasive and growing problem for returning citizens – high rates of economic insecurity – and as a novel solution, proposes the creation of Economic Justice Incubators a new municipally led social enterprise strategy.
Josh Gupta-Kagan, The Intersection Between Young Adult Sentencing and Mass Incarceration, 2018 Wisc. L. Rev. 669 (2018).
Danielle Jefferis, Delegating Care, Evading Review: The Federal Tort Claims Act, the Discretionary Function Exception, and Private Prisons, 80 La. L. Rev. ___ (2019). This Article highlights and focuses on a discrete—but critical—way in which the federal government evades judicial review of its conduct: through its reliance on the Federal Tort Claims Act’s discretionary-function exception when faced with prisoners’ claims of inadequate medical care in private prisons.
Peter Joy, Attempted Ethics Violations, 33 Crim. Justice 55 (Winter 2019)
Peter Joy, Police Misconduct and Release Dismissal Agreements, 33 Crim. Justice 31 (Fall 2018)
Peter Joy, Prosecutors and Use of Subpoenas, 33 Crim. Justice 44 (Spring 2018)
Peter Joy, Postconviction Prosecutorial Duties, 32 Crim. Just. 53 (Winter 2018) (co-author)
Zina Makar, Displacing Due Process, DePaul Law Review, (Spring 2018). This piece identifies pretrial detention as a contributor to mass incarceration and attributes this problem to a theory I coined called prospective procedural displacement. I argue that procedural displacement occurs often in the criminal justice system, but that prospective displacement on the front end is illegitimate because it wrongly relies on the assumption that trial procedures will correct and prejudices that occurred in the pretrial stage.
Tiffany Murphy, Prosecuting the Executive, San Diego Law Review Vol. 56:105 (2019). This Article considers when criminal acts by those in the Executive Branch rise to the level warranting the appointment of a special prosecutor. By examining prior uses of the special counsel, it becomes clear why special counsel are suited to investigate criminality within senior members of the executive branch.
Jenny Robert, The Innocence Movement and Misdemeanors, 98 B.U. L. Rev. 101 (2018). This Article analyzes the eighty-five documented misdemeanor exonerations on the National Registry of Exonerations. It then discusses how the Innocence Movement’s nascent interest in misdemeanors, in addition to exonerating a small number of wrongfully-convicted individuals, will highlight systemic causes of such errors in reform efforts that will ultimately benefit others facing misdemeanor charges. The Article also cautions how an innocentric focus on misdemeanors could overtake a developing narrative of the disproportionate and unfair direct and collateral consequences of misdemeanor convictions.
DISABILITY & HEALTH LAW
Natalie M. Chin, Group Homes as Sex Police and the Role of the Olmstead Integration Mandate (August 1, 2018). N.Y.U. Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 42, 2018.
David R. Katner, Up In Smoke: Removing Marijuana from Schedule I, 27 Boston University Public Interest Law Journal 167 (Winter 2018). This tracks the history of the Marijuana Tax Act and the racist factors that help pass the initial federal regulation of marijuana, then it focuses on the difficulties for investigators and researchers to access marijuana for medical research. It identifies state legislation that acknowledges the medical applications of marijuana, a condition which precludes the Schedule I classification, and it cites internet footage of infants with seizures being treated with non-THC infused medications distilled from marijuana.
Medha D. Makhlouf, Health Justice for Immigrants, 4 U. Pa. J.L. & Pub. Aff. 235 (2019). The Affordable Care Act was supposed to expand access to affordable health insurance and promote greater health care equity, but it largely left out the 23 million noncitizens living in the United States. This Article makes the case for a more inclusive health law and policy that addresses disparities in immigrants’ access to affordable health care.
Medha D. Makhlouf, The Public Charge Rule as Public Health Policy, 16 Ind. Health L. Rev. __ (2019). On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would transform more than a century of public charge policy, which relates to the admission of noncitizens based on the likelihood that they will not become dependent on the U.S. government for support. This article identifies concern for public health as a factor in the development of public charge policy and demonstrates how the proposed rule abandons this rationale
Claire Raj, Disability Law as an Agent of School Reform, 94 Wash. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming December 2019)
Claire Raj, Coerced Choice: School Vouchers and Students with Disabilities, Emory L.J. ____ (Forthcoming May 2019).
Blake Reid, Internet Architecture and Disability, Indiana Law Journal (forthcoming). This article uses the Internet law literature on internal and external perspectives to analyze new areas for pursuing Internet accessibility for people with disabilities.
Natalie Nanasi, Disarming Domestic Abusers, Harvard Law and Policy Review (forthcoming 2020). This article addresses legal and procedural gaps that inhibit the enforcement of federal and state laws prohibiting the possession of firearms by perpetrators of intimate partner violence. It proposes strategies – including legislation, implementation and litigation – that can stem the tide of intimate partner homicide.
EDUCATION & SCHOOLS
Leah A. Hill, DISTURBING DISPARITIES: BLACK GIRLS AND THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE, 87 Fordham L. Rev. Online 58 (2019). The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights reveals that one of the harshest forms of discipline—out of school suspension—is imposed on black girls at seven times the rate of their white peers.
Josh Gupta-Kagan, Reevaluating School Searches Following School-to-Prison Pipeline Reforms, 87 Fordham L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2019).
Emily Suski, The Title IX Paradox, 108 California L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2020)
Emily Suski, The School Civil Rights Vacuum, 66 UCLA L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2019)
Leah A. Hill, Loving Lessons: White Supremacy, Loving v. Virginia, and Disproportionality in the Child Welfare System, Fordham Law Review, Vol. 86, 2018. It is widely accepted that anti-miscegenation laws worked to preserve white supremacy—particularly, the superiority of white people to blacks—but these laws also worked to forestall the creation of interracial families. … By focusing on the harm—or “damage”—of being biracial, these laws foreshadowed the pervasive disproportionality in the child welfare system today.
Lisa Martin, No Right to Counsel, No Access Without: The Poor Child’s Unconstitutional Catch-22, __ Florida Law Review __ (forthcoming). This article evaluates a federal court rule that requires parents who bring civil cases on behalf of their minor children pro se to retain private counsel or face dismissal of the case. As such courts are not required to appoint counsel for indigent parents and children and rarely do so, the article critiques the rule as a deprivation of fundamental constitutional rights and a denial of access to justice for children.
Shanta Trivedi, The Harm of Child Removal, N.Y.U. Journal of Law & Social Change, (forthcoming Spring 2019). This article is the first to comprehensively examine why the harm of removal should be a featured part of every child welfare decision and how to incorporate this information into existing legal frameworks to achieve the stated purpose of the child welfare system and truly protect our children.
Anthony Alfieri, Black, Poor, and Gone: Civil Rights Law’s Inner-City Crisis, 54 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. (2019) Today, in the post–civil rights era, new socio-legal research on the inner city casts a specially instructive light on the past, present, and future work of community-based advocacy groups, anti-poverty and civil rights organizations, and law school clinical programs. To understand the crisis of civil rights law in failing to alleviate poverty and ameliorate segregation in the nation’s urban and suburban areas, this Article maps the current landscape of poverty, displacement, and segregation in American metropolitan areas, examines fair housing litigation theories of disparate impact and segregative effect liability, and evaluates the promise of fair housing law reform campaigns in combating concentrated poverty and residential segregation.
Deborah Archer, The New Housing Segregation: The Jim Crow Effects of Crime-Free Housing Ordinances, forthcoming in the Michigan Law Review. This Article contends that crime-free housing ordinances enable racial segregation by importing the racial biases, racial logics, and racial disparities of the criminal legal system into private housing markets. In addition to foregrounding how crime-free housing ordinances reinforce and perpetuate racially segregated communities, this Article proposes an intervention: a “segregative effects” claim, an underutilized cause of action under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, to challenge this segregative impact.
Nicole Summers, Setting the Standard for Proximate Cause in the Wake of Bank of America Corp. v. City of Miami, 97 N.C. L. Rev. 529 (2019). This Article addresses the open question of how courts should determine the meaning of proximate cause in statutory claims. It argues that courts should apply the scope of liability framework, as set forth in the Restatement (Third) of Torts, to set the standard for proximate cause in statutory claims. It then applies this framework to arrive at the proper standard for proximate cause under the Fair Housing Act.
Nicole Summers, The Limits of Good Law: A Study of Housing Court Outcomes, U. Chi. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2020) This Article presents results from an empirical study of the effectiveness of the warranty of habitability in New York City. In the context of nonpayment of rent eviction cases, it finds that the overwhelming majority of tenants with meritorious warranty of habitability claims do not benefit from the law at all.
Brandon Weiss, Locating Affordable Housing: The Legal System's Misallocation of Subsidized Housing Incentives, Hastings Law Journal, 2018, Volume 70:1, This 50-state survey analyzes why low-income housing tax credit units are over-represented in areas that already have a surplus of similarly-priced housing. It argues that states should revise their tax credit allocation rules to ensure that subsidized units offer a rent advantage.
Susan Akram, The Search for Protection for Stateless Refugees in the Middle East: Palestinians and Kurds in Lebanon and Jordan, International Journal of Refugee Law, Volume 30, Issue 3, October 2018, This article examines two main protracted refugee cases, the Palestinians and the Syrian Kurds, to illustrate the problem and possibilities of the double jeopardy in which stateless refugee populations in the Middle East find themselves: neither recognized as stateless nor as refugees, with durable solutions and national status remaining out of reach for generation after generations.
Susan Akram, Assessing the Impact of the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration in the Middle East, International Journal of Refugee Law, The overwhelming burden of the global refugee and migrant crisis is borne by the Middle East region, where most states have not adopted the international treaties that provide guarantees for refugees and stateless persons. This article examines the possibilities for addressing these vulnerabilities by building on the promise of the Global Compacts
Melissa Joy Deehring, The Emerging Legal Profession in Qatar: Diversity Realities and Challenges (forthcoming). During the past quarter century the number of women studying law in Qatar has significantly increased, yet the number of women practicing law as prosecutors, judges and lawyers has not directly correlated. This article will use Qatar as a case study to analyze how culture and modern development affect the feminization of the country’s bar and bench.
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT
Elizabeth Cooper, The Appearance of Professionalism 70 Florida L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2019). Appearance conformity raises profound issues of autonomy and core identification that go well beyond style preferences. They can also have deep and lasting employment consequences.
Jennifer J. Lee, Regulating Wage Theft, Washington Law Review 94 (forthcoming 2019). This Article provides the first comprehensive analysis of state and local anti-wage theft laws. Our evaluation of these laws shows that they are unlikely to meaningfully reduce wage theft. It concludes by recognizing promising regulatory innovations, identifying new collaborative approaches to enhance agency enforcement, and looking beyond regulation to nongovernmental strategies.
Faith Mullen, Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt: Mitigating the Deleterious Effect of Wage Garnishments on Appalachia’s Low-Wage Workers, West Virginia Law Review, Spring 2018, 120 W. Va. L. Rev. 973. This article examines the consequence of wage garnishment coupled with high post-judgment interest rates on low-wage workers in Appalachia. It argues that states are not striking the right balance between the collection of just debt and driving low-wage workers out of the job market and into poverty.
Faith Mullen, Fifty Years After the Consumer Credit Protection Act: the High Price of Wage Garnishments, Mitchell Hamline Law Review, (Spring 2019). This article argues that states should be informed by 50-years’ experience with the federal wage garnishment act and that the time is right to amend state laws. The article examines the uniform wage garnishment act proposed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and concludes that many of its provisions would benefit employers and creditors. The article argues in favor of reforms that would benefit consumers.
Jacqueline M. Nolan-Haley, Mediation, Self-Represented Parties, and Access to Justice: Getting There from Here, 87 Fordham Law Review Online (2019). Professor Nolan-Haley offers a proposal that develops a set of best practices specifically directed towards self-represented parties and where the stakeholders would then work towards establishing an Index that would rate the performance of court mediation programs serving unrepresented parties.
David R. Katner, Endorsing Pedophiles for Elected Office? 97 Nebraska Law Review 469 (Winter, 2018); This article examines the current literature concerning pedophiles following the endorsement of Roy Moore by the President of the United States for a position in the U.S. Senate.
PROPERTY, IP, & PRIVACY
Annie Eisenberg, Rural Blight, 13 Harv. L. & Pol'y Rev. 187 (2019). This article discusses rural local governments' unique law and policy needs in tackling the widespread proliferation of vacant, abandoned, and dilapidated properties in light of rural population loss.
Dustin Marlan, Unmasking the Right of Publicity, 71 Hastings Law Journal (forthcoming). This Article examines the potential influence of Judge Jerome Frank’s psychoanalytic jurisprudence on the creation and development of publicity as a right distinct from privacy.
Rachel Moran, Police Privacy, 10 UC Irvine Law Review ___ (forthcoming 2019). This article examines the question of whether to permit public access to police misconduct records through the lens of privacy law and theory. The article scrutinizes whether and to what extent privacy law supports the non-disclosure of police misconduct records.
TAX & NONPROFITS
Jaclyn Cherry, Nonprofit Governance: Who Should be Watching? A Look at State, Federal and Dual Regulation, 12 Ohio St. Bus. L.J. 1 (2018) (forthcoming)
Jaclyn Cherry, Commercial Activity and the Operational Test, 29 Tax’n Exempts 9 (2018)
Michael Haber, The New Activist Non-Profits: Four Models Breaking from the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, U. Miami Law Review, Volume 73. Inspired by recent social movements and the solidarity economy and commons movements, and sensitive to criticisms of the non-profit industrial complex and movement capture, a new generation of activists has developed organizational structures that radically depart from the 50-year trend toward non-profit centralization and professionalization. This article describes four activist approaches to re-thinking non-profit corporate structures--sociocratic non-profits, worker self-directed non-profits, hub-and-spoke counter-institutions, and swarm organizations--and describes some best practices for navigating concerns over directors' fiduciary duties.
WOMEN & THE LAW:
Margaret Johnson, Menstrual Justice, U.C. Davis L. Rev. (forthcoming 2019).
Friday, March 22, 2019
Pepperdine's Office of the Chaplain is hosting a Spiritual Life Blogcast. The Chaplain is asking members of the Pepperdine community to write about how our work informs and illuminates spiritual life. This is my contribution, cross posted here:
How Practicing Law Teaches Me to Love My Neighbor
Being a lawyer and a clinical law professor ushers me into a sacred space of vulnerability and trust with many lives and communities. Law school famously teaches students to "think like a lawyer," but the real work of thinking like a lawyer is in service to a client. Moving from the classroom to practice is a profound shift when we realize that a client is not a hypothetical fact pattern posing a theoretical question.
Clients are neighbors who entrust us with their very liberties, fortunes, dreams, families, and governments. Lawyers step into a place of trust and confidence that can reveal some profound truths about ourselves and our communities. Among those realities is the elusive tangle of individual rights with inescapable forces in society and community. All people are luminous individuals bearing the image of God who are utterly dependent on each other to flourish. When we approach these relationships with rigorous love, paths appear toward justice and peace.
The imago dei of the creation story is the foundation for the greatest commands: to love God with whole hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. God loves us. We love each other because we love God, and we love God by loving each other. This is the organizing principle of Christian life. The Golden Rule creates a radical rule of life that requires us to treat everyone else like we want to be treated. If we would not be erased, replaced, or ignored ourselves, so we should not erase, replace, or ignore. If we would be heard, we should listen. If we would have power ourselves, we should empower others. If we would have a place at the table, we should put in the leaves and pull up some chairs so everyone has room.
In law practice, we lawyers quickly learn that every client has a very specific story. We have to listen closely. This is why lawyers say, "It depends," so much. Every decision will turn on specific facts, specific goals, nuanced laws, and relationships. Context is everything.
In my years of practice representing victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, I have learned that while there are some classic, common features in abusive relationships, each relationship is hyper-local. A partner's polite suggestion in one relationship can be a violent threat in another, so lawyers, police, and courts cannot get at real justice unless they work hard to hear each story. But for anyone in these positions of power, after hearing case after case for years on end, the tendency is to treat clients as cases, to see people as problems.
But people are not problems. We often speak in the widest terms to characterize entire populations as the problems we suppose they represent: the homeless, "illegal" immigrants, criminals, veterans, victims. Not one of the individuals in those categories is essentially one thing, and we cannot serve or understand the people if we do not know their stories. None of us will stand for being defined categorically, so we should not stand to define anyone else by a category.
The undocumented immigrant is not a national emergency, but he is a father working himself to an early death to elevate his children. The veteran is more than a political talisman, and she is more than her diagnosis or a disability rating. The person sleeping on the street is more than a project for ministry but is a person bound in a cycle with a thousand little decisions, often made by others, and compounded by a layers of trauma. Everyone is more than their worst category, and everyone is more complex than their greatest privilege.
But we can mistake the dignity of every human being with rugged individualism. We should and ought to value every single person as a liberated child of God, but we must resist the temptation to view anyone as an atomized entity moving alone through a predatory state of nature. The temptation is to think that there is such a thing as a "self-made man." The lie is to think that someone "chooses" to be homeless. The mistake is to insist that parents desperate to get their kids to safety should somehow stand in an interminable line to immigrate "the right way" when murderous forces are decimating their families. The risk is to think that anyone truly deserves to live in luxury with a fortune built on others' labor. The danger is to say Not In My Back Yard then wonder where everyone went when we needed them.
Instead, upon closer inspection, we realize that all of us liberated children of God cannot live in isolation and survive, but we must live together. We are not merely to love ourselves, but to love our neighbor as ourselves. We're even supposed to love our enemies, because if we don't, everything goes to hell. We are like a body, as Paul says, a living, interdependent system. We are like the ingredients in bread, as Jesus says, interacting with each other in our component parts to make something wonderful.
For lawyers, we recognize the kid in juvenile detention is not just a "bad kid" from a bad home who chose to commit a crime, but we should recognize all the reasons she got there. What about her family's poverty and the segregation that created her neighborhood? What about the inequitable funding of her high school and the misogyny that objectifies her, all pressed in on her to lead to decisions that lead to juvie?
For the veteran facing charges for drug possession, what about the educational opportunities that led him to enlist, the choices of politicians that marched him to war, the violence of combat, the pain of a traumatic brain injury, and the politics of nation that will not fund his healing?
For the billionaire funding political campaigns or evading taxes, what about the rule of law that creates stability for investment, the public services that make a factory possible, the labor of thousands in wage-paying jobs, the tax-benefits that our representatives provided?
For the start-up enterprise, how will its innovative founders balance their ambitions to disrupt and profit with an ethical responsibility to consumers and the communities they enter?
What do we owe to each other but an acknowledgement that we are all in this together?
The sacred, spiritual space of being a lawyer and law professor generates rich opportunities to witness human beings who bear the image of God. We witness the extravagant complexity of liberated individuals making decisions within a cosmic web of relationships. We see the need for individual justice and social justice. We receive invitations to places of power and privilege, into intimate vulnerability with people in great need. We play critical roles in society, government, and public life. The responsibility is immense.
Lawyers have a call to advocate for individuals in our care while reckoning with the deep complexities of our communities across generations. If we're not a little afraid, then we haven't realized the burdens of our vocation. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we will witness the miracles of souls striving together toward love.
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Please join us for the 11th Feminist Legal Theory Conference at University of Baltimore School of Law sponsored by the Center on Applied Feminism, University of Baltimore Law Review, and CLEA. The focus of the conference is “Applied Feminism and #MeToo,” and our keynote speaker is Debra Katz, who represented Christine Blasey Ford in the Justice Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. The conference is being held at the University of Baltimore School of Law April 11 and 12, 2019. There is no registration fee, but we do ask that people RSVP.
Conference webpage including the RSVP is available here: http://law.ubalt.edu/centers/caf/conference/EleventhFeministLegalTheoryConf.cfm
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
New from Prof. Ted Afield on the work of Low Income Taxpayer Clinics:
Tax justice is social justice. To those regularly working to resolve tax controversies for low-income taxpayers and who are often dealing with the financial implications of life and death issues like human trafficking, the ability to afford medical care, and the risks of financial despair leading to suicide, this is an uncontroversial statement. To those for whom “tax attorney” is often the punchline to their favorite lawyer joke, however, this statement appears not to fit in with traditional conceptions of social justice. This is particularly true when social justice is defined as requiring not just improved access to representation in any type of legal matter but also as requiring specific societal outcomes that reduce poverty, improve housing access, combat racial discrimination, reduce hunger, and improve healthcare access. At first blush to those outside the tax bar who do not appreciate that most of these issues are inextricably linked to the tax system, tax justice does not appear to do any of these things. Accordingly, tax issues are often overlooked in the conversation about improving social justice.
Tax justice, however, is in fact a social justice issue. The most illustrative example of the social justice gains that can occur when tax justice is prioritized as an area of need can be found in the work of low-income taxpayer clinics (“LITCs”). LITCs engage in a combination of representation, education, and advocacy work that is essential in protecting taxpayer rights, securing economic benefits for the poor, and helping the vulnerable avoid having a tax liability impact their ability to obtain housing, healthcare, and/or employment.
Appreciating the social justice components of tax justice is not solely an academic issue of definitional precision—failing to understand the connection between tax work and social justice has negative societal consequences as well. The limited resources available to provide legal assistance to low-income individuals are often allocated towards solutions perceived to be improving social justice as well as access to justice, and tax issues are consequently often not prioritized because of a perceived lack of connection to this mission. This is particularly true in the academic clinical community, which, given the resource advantages that many academic institutions have over legal service organizations, is a critical component of both improving access to justice and advancing social justice.
Because of a misperception that tax representation is not a social justice issue, academic LITCs have not grown as quickly as one would expect given the financial incentives for such growth in the form of the availability of federal grant funds. Thus, appreciating tax justice as a social justice issue has practical implications for future LITC growth and for the benefits that such growth provides, particularly in the academic community. Accordingly, making this connection explicit to the academic community is an important step in closing the access to tax justice gap. This paper attempts to make this connection as explicit as possible and suggests changes to the LITC program that could even more directly tie in the work of LITCs to a social justice mission, regardless of how social justice is defined.
Saturday, March 2, 2019
Chrissy Cerniglia, Davida Finger, Luz Herrera, JoNel Newman, and I have posted our working paper, In Times of Chaos: Creating Blueprints for Law School Responses to Natural Disasters. We each have recent, intense experience guiding our schools' responses to natural disasters through legal clinics and pro bono programs. In the article, we gather lessons and ideas from these experiences and offer guidance for law schools who will face more, and more destructive, natural disasters in the "new abnormal."
UPDATE: 80 Louisiana Law Review --- (forthcoming 2019).
A recent onslaught of domestic natural disasters created acute, critical needs for legal services for people displaced and harmed by storms and fires. In 2017, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Michael struck much of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, displacing millions from their homes. Wildfires burned throughout California and tested the capacity of pro bono and legal aid systems across the state. In 2018, Hurricane Florence flooded North Carolina, and Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle. California again suffered wildfires, the largest and most devastating in recorded history. Natural disasters are both more common and more destructive, the “new abnormal.”
Social and economic inequities emerge sharply after each natural disaster. Low-income and vulnerable people both suffer more from disasters and experience heightened barriers to accessing the post-disaster resources necessary to survive, rebuild, and return home. Marginalized and vulnerable populations, in particular, need legal assistance and expertise to overcome these barriers.
Natural disasters also inspire law students, law clinics, law schools and law faculty to help. Law school responses to assisting with post-disaster legal needs have been diverse. Some efforts have been law student initiated, while several law school clinics have provided legal assistance in a variety of ways. Some law schools have launched clinics with a devoted budget and strict focus on disaster practice. Some took on disaster work because it was the greatest need for existing clients and communities. Others shifted the focus of existing clinics to disaster needs, and still others launched temporary clinics in various forms to respond to acute crises. Some wanted to help but did not have ready relationships or resources to be responsive.
Each of the authors has direct experience surviving natural disasters and providing legal assistance from within the academy. This article provides necessary information about the nature of natural disasters, the ecosystem of response systems, and common legal issues for law schools and clinical programs interested in providing legal assistance to disaster-affected communities. It then describes varying models of law school institutional responses to increasingly common natural disasters. Building on lessons learned through these experiences, law schools can develop a blueprint for community-engaged disaster response. Building a framework for institutional responses in the legal academy can advance and improve access to justice for vulnerable communities recovering after a disaster and can provide students with an opportunity to learn from this social justice engagement.
Monday, February 25, 2019
ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law
Call for Papers
The State of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program:
What’s Working, Problems, Solutions and Visions for the Future
Drafts due May 1, 2019
The Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law (the Journal) invites articles and essays on the theme of the state of Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. What’s working? What are important problems/issues and proposed solutions? What are visions for the future? The Journal welcomes essays (typically 2,500–6,200 words) or articles (typically 7,000-10,000 words).
In addition, the Journal welcomes articles and essays on any of the Journal’s traditional subjects: affordable housing, fair housing and community/economic development. Topics could include important developments in the field; federal, state, local and/or private funding sources; statutes, policies or regulations; and empirical studies.
The Journal is the nation’s only law journal dedicated to affordable housing and community development law. The Journal educates readers and provides a forum for discussion and resolution of problems in these fields by publishing articles from distinguished law professors, policy advocates and practitioners.
Interested authors are encouraged to send an abstract describing their proposals. Submissions of final articles and essays are due by May 1, 2019. Please email abstracts and final drafts to the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Tim Iglesias, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Journal also accepts submissions on a rolling basis. Please do not hesitate to contact the Editor with any questions.
Friday, February 15, 2019
Over on the Best Practices in Legal Education blog, I shared my thoughts on teaching implicit bias:
Last week in my Family Law Clinic seminar, we discussed Peggy McIntosh’s Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, which describes the author’s quest to overcome her biases stemming from white privilege. A student shared their pain and frustration over college and law professors never using their full name, and often mispronouncing the parts of their name the professor is willing to speak out loud. “It’s dehumanizing,” my student said.
Those words have haunted me all week. Names are fundamental parts of human identity. Why can we, as educators–members of an elite profession–not get this right? Why is it not a norm in higher education for professors and teaching assistants to learn to pronounce every student’s name?
Also this week, I read in a memo from a colleague a to-do item along the lines of “practice pronouncing graduates’ names.” The colleague was sharing with me tips for the job I will soon begin: associate dean for academic affairs. One privilege of this job is reading the names of all Penn State Law graduates at the annual commencement ceremony. It was profoundly touching to learn that my colleague takes the time to practice every graduate’s name–and they felt it important enough to share with me as one of a handful of their significant monthly action items.
I give all my students the opportunity to share the pronunciation of their name with me on the first day of class, on note cards I keep with me at every class. An earlier post explained more about the note card system, which I learned from fellow blogger Paula Schaefer. Pronouncing each student’s name is challenging, and I sometimes falter. Last semester I began writing the pronunciations on my seating chart, to minimize my fumbling through the note cards. This is my seventeenth year of teaching. My only regret is not starting this earlier. It enriches my classroom, and it enriches me. It bakes into my pedagogy an indirect lesson about implicit bias, a lesson I re-learn every time I call on a student and say their name, whether it is Ainslie or Zhao-Ji.
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Via Dean Tiffany Graham:
Low Income Tax Clinic Director, Lecturer
The University of South Dakota School of Law invites applications for the position of Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) Director, to begin in July 2019. The position is non-tenure track and paid out of a federal grant. Continued employment is contingent on the availability of grant funding. The grant period ends on December 31, 2019, but is expected to be renewed. Applicants may be eligible for a Lecturer or Senior Lecturer position, dependent upon qualifications.
The Director will lead the only LITC in the Dakotas. Responsibilities will include representing low-income taxpayers before the IRS and the U.S. Tax Court, teaching and supervising clinical law students in the representation of clients, engaging in outreach to South Dakota and North Dakota communities, developing and coordinating a panel of pro bono attorneys, managing the LITC’s docket, and ensuring compliance with the requirements of an IRS-funded LITC.
Teaching experience at an ABA law school and/or experience with an LITC are highly preferred qualifications.
The successful candidate must be a licensed attorney in a United States jurisdiction (a state or the District of Columbia) by the time of the appointment.
The University of South Dakota embraces and practices the values of diversity and inclusiveness. Candidates who support these values are encouraged to apply. EEO/AA
Applications must be submitted through the Board of Regents electronic employment site: https://yourfuture.sdbor.edu/. For application assistance or accommodation, call 605-677-5671. Please include your application letter, vita, and the names and addresses of three current references.
Inquiries may be directed to Ramon Ortiz, Director of Experiential Learning, University of South Dakota School of Law, 414 E Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069; e-mail Ramon.Ortiz@usd.edu; telephone 605-658-3528.
Monday, January 21, 2019
1. "I've got a bad feeling about this." -- Han Solo
It's a new semester. You have brand new cases and deadlines... and at least one of those deadlines is comin' in hot. You've got a sick feeling in your stomach. You can see dread in the students' faces. Your fresh take on the court's refusal to grant an extension or continuance? A bad feeling. But it can't stop there.
2. “I need someone to show me my place in all this.” -- Rey
The role of the clinical law professor is twofold: to represent clinic clients in a zealous and professional way and to teach clinic students their "place in all this." Sometimes that means subdividing sections of a brief or a larger project; sometimes it's suggesting research terms and leading a brainstorming session. But it's also more than that: students look to their clinical law professors to help them make sense of their lawyering experiences to assess their own path. Deadlines are important- but clinical students are more than research assistants or interns. Fundamentally, law clinics are lab courses in which students' work is also twofold: representing their clients and reflecting on their own professional development.
3. "Do or do not. There is no try." -- Yoda
Clinic litigation often doesn't have the luxury of extended pontification, and it certainly can't stop with "try." Behind every clinic case is a client relying on students' work product. There's no "A for effort" here, though grades and feedback also cannot be based on a court result. Clinical learning outcomes are the skills gained, the words written (and edited and rearranged and rewritten). We may all get writer's block or paralysis, but we can't stay there for long.
4. "The time to fight is now." -- Jyn Erso
Clinic briefs filed in an adversarial system are our weapons in the battle for justice for our clients, and the fight is on. We can count on opposing counsel to make the case against our client's claims, and we have to meet each of them head on. Clinical faculty and our students are bound by rules of professional conduct, and I am a strong believer in the powers of civility toward opposing counsel. But within those bounds, we are zealous. It doesn't hurt us to own the mantle of a freedom fighter; at our best, that's what we are.
5. "Look, Your Worshipfulness, let's get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person: me."-- Han Solo
I've mostly included this as a tongue-in-cheek counter-example of the kind of coachability we need in clinic students. Our students are smart, intuitive, hardworking, solid writers. But they still have to listen. Only once or twice have I encountered a student who didn't love taking heavy edits on a brief, and with a deadline clock ticking, it wasted valuable time.
6. "Never tell me the odds"-- Han Solo
I run an appellate and habeas clinic. The odds are never in our favor. Why bog ourselves down with the reversal rate of the appellate court hearing the case? Irrelevant. Next issue.
7. "It's a Trap!!"-- Admiral Akbar
There comes a point in all justice work when we become too enamored with our own perspective. We don't want to become paralyzed by bad odds, but we also need a healthy perspective on the court's view of our client's case record and issues. What arguments will be persuasive? What will the State argue? Where are the weak spots, and what will shore those places up? Better to consider these weaknesses before the filing deadline instead of after.
8. "That's impossible-- even for a computer!"-- Rebel pilot
As someone who learned legal research in the stacks of the law library, I'm always amazed with the newfangled bells and whistles of our research resources. Ever have a program create a beautiful table of authorities? E-filed remotely when you used to have to make 9 hard copies with heavy covers, stapled down the side, all FedExed before 9 pm? A thing of beauty... plus, it saves hours in clinic work time.
9."Use the Force, [class]." -- Obi-Wan Kenobi
In the last few days before a filing or other court deadline, accumulated stress takes its toll. Students have other courses to study for, clinical faculty have other teaching obligations. We've all put our lives on hold. But there's still final editing left to do. A brief isn't finished 'til it's filed... and sometimes we need that extra boost of adrenaline (and The Force) to make sure we create clinic work product we're proud of. We have to dig deep for motivation, and I generally find that in our clients' confidence in us and in what is at stake for them if we lose.
Monday, January 14, 2019
CALL FOR PRESENTATION PROPOSALS
Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Summer Conference
“Teaching Today’s Law Students”
June 3-5, 2019
Washburn University School of Law
The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops addressing the many ways that law professors and administrators are reaching today’s law students. With the ever-changing and heterogeneous nature of law students, this topic has taken on increased urgency for professors thinking about effective teaching strategies.
The conference theme is intentionally broad and is designed to encompass a wide variety of topics – neuroscientific approaches to effective teaching; generational research about current law students; effective use of technology in the classroom; teaching first-generation college students; classroom behavior in the current political climate; academic approaches to less prepared students; fostering qualities such as growth mindset, resilience, and emotional intelligence in students; or techniques for providing effective formative feedback to students.
Accordingly, the Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses. Presenters should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the workshop participants. The Institute Co-Directors are glad to work with anyone who would like advice on designing their presentations to be interactive.
To be considered for the conference, proposals should be one page (maximum), single-spaced, and include the following information:
- The title of the workshop;
- The name, address, telephone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
- A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods; and
- A description of the techniques the presenter will use to engage workshop participants and make the workshop interactive.
The proposal deadline is February 15, 2019. Submit proposals via email to Professor Emily Grant, Co-Director, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, at email@example.com.
Friday, January 4, 2019
In fall of 2018, 84 law schools reported that 16,502 law students in the class of 2018* contributed 3,481,066.11 hours in legal services as part of their legal education, an average of about 211 hours per student. Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $24.69 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students’ time at these schools is estimated to be in excess of $85.9 million. The schools represent approximately 48 percent of students in American Bar Association accredited law schools in the class of 2018.
In the same survey, 83 schools reported that 51,627 law students in all class years (1L-3L) during the academic year 2018-19 contributed 4,266,319.83 hours in legal services, an average of approximately 82.6 hours per student. Using the Independent Sector value of volunteer time, the value of these services is estimated to be in excess of $105.3 million.