Thursday, November 17, 2022

Program Update from the Clinical Program at UC Hastings

Via Prof. Gail Silverstein

UC Hastings Law’s clinical and experiential faculty continue to expand and improve opportunities for students to engage with community legal needs and develop legal skills, all while bringing timely scholarly insights to the profession.


Many changes are afoot in the pro bono sphere. An expanded pro bono program is a key focus of our new Center for Social Justice, which is being directed by both Professor Brittany Glidden and Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and Clinical Professor of Law Gail Silverstein. The pro bono program also hired its first full-time director, Allison Wang. The program had a robust year last year with students performing 7905 hours of pro bono service in 112 separate projects. UC Hastings also diversified and expanded its pro bono spring break programs, offering five different opportunities. Students provided civil legal services in rural New York and provided direct services to clients seeking asylum in Tijuana, Mexico, El Paso, Texas, and Tucson, Arizona. Richard Boswell, who directs the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, designed a new course to prepare some of the students—teaching them to counsel and prepare clients for credible fear interviews. A student-led organization, Hastings-to-Haiti, partnered with the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, and made national news when Legal Director Blaine Bookey and students successfully represented a Ukrainian family who was being denied entry to the United States. The incident has been cited in the increased pressure on the government to end Title 42 restrictions. 

In our Clinical Programs, over 160 students engaged in vital legal work, logging over 48,000 hours. Using a modest billing rate of $130 per hour, that totals over 6.2 million dollars of legal services provided by our clinic and externship students this year. 


The Clinical Program responded to the continuing pandemic with flexible protocols to service our clients’ and students’ holistic needs. To highlight just one example: Our Refugee and Human Rights Clinic (RHRC), directed by Karen Musalo and Christine Natoli, has represented their clients who are seeking asylum with a mix of both remote and in person representation tailored to the specific needs of each individual. The RHRC has continued to service hard-to-reach populations, including an indigenous Guatemalan woman who speaks the Mayan dialect, Mam. The Clinic maintained its human rights docket by developing creative ways to connect with in-country sources over Zoom. Clinic leaders are excited to return to more in-person engagement this academic year, traveling with a group of students to Honduras to meet with government officials and civil society organizations to gather information on climate and environmental drivers of migration, as well as a range of other human rights issues.


In addition to their clinical teaching and advocacy, clinical professors published a diverse range of influential scholarly publications.

Alina Ball, Director of the Social Enterprise and Economic Empowerment Clinic, published Transactional Community Lawyering in Temple Law Review. The article defines and explores the intentional application of community lawyering theory into a distinctly transactional practice. 

Kate Bloch, Director of the Criminal Practice Clinic, published Untangling Right from Wrong in Insanity Law: of Dogs, Wolves, & God in the Hastings Law Journal. The article argues that the U.S. Supreme Court’s broad-brush approach in its 2020 majority and dissenting opinions in Kahler v. Kansas risks exacerbating confusion about wrongfulness in legal insanity doctrine.  

Karen Musalo, Director of the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, recently published numerous items, including: Deploring the Violence, Abandoning the Victim in Just Security and an article in the Fordham International Law Journal, The Legal and Moral Responsibility to Protect.

Ascanio Piomelli was invited by the California Supreme Court Historical Society to write about his Community Group Advocacy and Social-Change Lawyering Clinic for a special section on Legal History in the Making: Innovative Experiential Learning Programs in California Law Schools. The article, Toward a Broader Vision of Lawyering, appears in California Legal History.

Amy Spivey, Director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, and Manoj Visnawathan, Director of the Business Tax Practicum, jointly wrote a paper, Practical Considerations in Starting and Operating an Academic Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic that will be coming out soon in The Tax Lawyer.

Yvonne Troya, Director of our Medical Legal Partnership for Seniors Clinic, published Exercising Control or Giving It Up? What Elder Law Attorneys Should Know about Continuing Care Retirement Communities in the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) Journal. This article explores the loss of control which a prospective resident may face when joining an entrance-fee Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).

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