Monday, November 25, 2019
This morning, we celebrated our last class of the semester in the Community Justice Clinic. We ate cupcakes and reflected on the students’ work for clients. The students signed the flag that hangs in my office, joining every other student who has worked in the CJC.
This semester, these ten brilliant students and I worked on twenty-nine matters for nineteen clients. Their matters involved clients, projects, and laws in the US and thirteen other nations on four continents.
Across our work, these students worked with clients to build sustainable and compliant nonprofits doing critical work in communities with great need; to address homelessness and housing in LA and Malibu (the defining issue of our generation in this place); to support a global network of pro bono lawyers combining their capacity for high impact work on human rights and human dignity; to promote sustainable, healthy, and necessary agriculture projects nationally and in LA neighborhoods; analyze our own nation’s human rights compliance on the border (and finding it lacking); to evaluating legal responses to human trafficking and slavery in South Asia and many other places; to promote access to health care for women in east and west Africa; and to build organizations that increase access to education and develop leadership and power for high school kids in tough parts of LA.
These projects helped lay the foundation for future engagements to address human trafficking and slavery in the Americas, to expand health resources for women in Central America, to build supporting partnerships with Black Farmers in the Deep South.
I’m always grateful and astonished by the work our students do and the clients they serve.
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
The Sleeping Lady Resort (Leavenworth, WA) on the ancestral land of the Yakima and Wenatchi tribes provided a stunning mountain backdrop and intimate meeting space for the Northwest Clinical Conference November 8-10, 2019. We paused to breathe, reflect, and plan for the year to come. We shared and learned from different schools, different disciplines, and different countries. We brainstormed and strategized. We nourished our minds and bodies (the food was not exaggerated). We walked, listened to poetry, sang, and embraced new mottos complete with stickers ("Transcend the Bullshit.") Our northwest clinical colleagues kindly welcomed those of us who work outside the traditional boundaries of the Northwest. The founder’s quote on the back page of the resort’s notebook was spot on:
“I want people to leave here and feel as though they can change their corner of the world.” – Harriet Bullitt
Many thanks to all of the planners!
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Cross-posted from CLEA's series on Social Justice in Legal Clinics.
At the 2014 Clinical Conference, Professors Donna H. Lee, David J. Reiss, Carol M. Suzuki, and I presented a concurrent session entitled: “Just Do It? Whether to Incorporate Social Justice Theory in Every Clinical Experience and If So, How?” In this session, we explored how social justice is implicit in any clinic’s casework. We also thought it might be helpful to provide a means to examine the elements of social justice that may arise in a clinical context recognizing that students come to clinics with differing levels of commitment to social justice. In light of the proliferation of clinics that do not focus on poverty law or represent poor clients, such as some transactional clinics, securities arbitration clinics (representing low-income investors against Wall Street brokers), intellectual property clinics and tax clinics, we presented and explored pedagogical rationales for incorporating social justice into these clinics and critically examined what techniques for doing so are effective.
At the session, we distributed the attached “Social Justice Audit for Your Clinic,” a guide to review systematically a clinic or externship to determine whether or not it explicitly addresses social justice issues and, if not, where it could address these issues.
Two trends make this topic timely. The private sector is increasingly demanding that students graduate “practice ready,” and there has been a push to incorporate pro bono work into law schools to fulfill bar admission requirements. These trends may lead to an increasing number of clinical students who are not interested in pursuing a career in government or non-profits, but are more focused on learning skills and fulfilling a pro bono requirements.
We hope the audit guide is helpful, and invite your thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org.