Thursday, December 10, 2020

AALS William Pincus Award to Profs. Nancy Maurer and Susan Bennett

Via Prof. Wendy Bach and the AALS Clinical Section:

The Clinical Section is proud to announce that Professors Nancy Maurer of Albany Law School and Susan Bennett of American University Washington College of Law are this years’ recipients of the William Pincus Award.  As many of you know, the Pincus Award honors individuals, groups or institutions for effecting an outstanding contribution to the cause of clinical legal education.  Attached and below you will find more information about our amazing awardees.

Nancy and Susan will be appropriately feted at the Section’s Award Ceremony on January 5th from 12:15 to 1:15.  The Section is planning an exciting virtual celebration.  Although we won’t all be together, zoom means, at least, that more can take part, and we hope you all attend.

Please join me in extending a hearty congratulations to our amazing Pincus Award recipients!


Susan Bennett, American University Washington College of Law

Professor Bennett has made substantial and enduring contributions to clinical legal education and the advancement of justice. She founded and directs the American University Washington College of Law Community and Economic Development Law Clinic, through which students provide transactional representation to non–profit organizations, small businesses, and affordable housing cooperatives in under-served neighborhoods in the D.C. metro area.

Professor Bennett has helped people around the region organize, galvanize and advocate for their communities, and prosper.  Many of her clients are now bedrock institutions in their communities, providing opportunity to those who have historically been denied such access.  In sharing this work with her students, she has helped launch a great number of public interest careers and brought WCL students and the diverse communities of the DC area together.

Among Professor Bennett’s clients over the years are community organizations, entrepreneurs and small businesses, and worker and housing cooperatives.  In representing limited equity housing cooperatives, Professor Bennett has worked to preserve this important source of permanently affordable housing for low-income DC residents.  Both her teaching and work have had a particular focus on the legacy of residential housing segregation in and around DC.  In addition to representing limited equity housing cooperatives and affordable housing developments and advocacy organizations, Professor Bennett works with individual homeowners to remove racially restrictive housing covenants from their deeds.  Professor Bennett is keenly aware of the history of the communities in which she practices and the connection between her work and racial justice permeates her client representation, her teaching, and her scholarship.

Over the course of her career, Professor Bennett has produced a substantial and highly influential a body of work relating to public interest lawyering.  These writings appear in a variety of prominent journals, including the Clinical Law Review, Fordham Urban Law Journal, Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Wisconsin Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal.  In these pieces, Professor Bennett has addressed topics including the role of poverty lawyers, attorney-client relations in the context of community lawyering, the practice of “long-haul lawyering,” public housing communities, and welfare reform.   Her scholarship elevates the stories of her clients and the communities from which they hail. For the clinical community (and others), she also co-authored Community Economic Development Law: A Text for Engaged Learning, published in 2012 by Carolina Press.

Beyond her service to the clinical community as an editor (since 2016) of the Clinical Law Review, Professor Bennett has held many leadership positions within the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Poverty Law, including serving as Chair and Executive Committee member. She also bridged the worlds of academia and practice in her leadership of the Legal Educators Division of the ABA Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law. And from 2007-2010 she served on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Homelessness and Poverty.

At WCL, Professor Bennett is an unwavering supporter of public interest law students, and has designed and supported programs to support them, like helping found the Public Interest Alumni Advisory Board, mentoring Public Interest/Service Scholars (PIPS), and serving as a faculty advisor for the law school’s Office of Public Interest, which is responsible for oversight of the schools Pro Bono Honors Pledge Program. Most recently, she laid the groundwork for the creation of a new Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) law student bono project in collaboration with DC’s Housing Counseling Services.

Nancy Maurer, Albany Law School

Professor Maurer’s contributions to the field of clinical legal education over her nearly 40 years of teaching are tremendous, multi-faceted and far-reaching. From the beginning, Professor Maurer actively participated in the activities of the national clinical legal education community, eventually assuming leadership roles.

With the 1983 creation of Albany Law School’s Disability Law Clinic, Professor Maurer founded Albany Law School’s nationally-recognized and renowned clinical legal education program. The Disability Law Clinic was one of the first law school clinics in the country to teach law students through the direct representation of individuals with disabilities. It evolved into a broader Civil Rights and Disabilities Law Clinic during the 1990s, and Professor Maurer has played important roles in other expansions of the clinical program at Albany Law School. She also developed and co-taught Albany Law School’s first Introduction to Lawyering course, part of our cutting-edge Lawyering Program. The Lawyering Program has all the hallmarks of clinical legal education: students, in small firms, “represent” parties in a year-long simulated legal dispute. In this way, students are introduced to the legal system, legal ethics, and the skills and values of the profession.

Professor Maurer’s contributions to the world of externships are exceptional. At Albany, she grew and redesigned what is known as the Field Placement Clinic, designing and implementing the Learning from Practice seminar. She served as co-chair of the AALS Clinical Section’s Externship Committee. And her contributions to LEARNING FROM PRACTICE: A TEXT FOR EXPERIENTIAL LEGAL EDUCATION, have influenced the hundreds of students in field placements who read her work. Her work shaped how several generations of law students participated in and approached law school studies through clinic-based, experiential programs both at Albany and nationally. Moreover, proceeds from the sale of LEARNING FROM PRACTICE further clinical legal education programs, with the co-authors donating over $16,000 in royalties to the Clinical Legal Education Association per diem project following its first year of sales, and over $8,000 in its second year.

Her scholarship in the field of clinical education and disability rights alike have also had tremendous impact. The DISABILITY LAW AND PRACTICE SERIES, which she co-authored, was the 2017 recipient of the Association for Continuing Legal Education’s “Award of Professional Excellence” in publication. In January 2018, the New York State Bar Association honored her for her service as Co-Editor of the DISABILITY LAW AND PRACTICE Series.

Outside the academy, and practice, Professor Maurer helped found and now chairs the board of directors of Disability Rights New York, Inc., a prominent legal services and advocacy nonprofit organization in New York State. She has been very involved in women’s issues serving on the board of the Capital District Women’s Bar Association and Albany Law School’s Kate Stoneman Committee, honoring the first women admitted to the bar in New York State. Most recently, she joined the board of Legal Advocacy Equity Firm, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving individuals who cannot qualify for free legal services, but need civil legal services at reduced rates.

Finally, she continues to innovate and respond to the needs of her students, clinical legal education, and the community at large. Most recently, she has focused on racial justice, finding new placements and designing anti-racism training for field placement supervisors.

In short, Professor Maurer’ work in program development and implementation, scholarship, service, and in the advancement of justice are far-reaching and long-lasting.

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