Friday, January 4, 2019

AALS Law Student Pro Bono Hours Survey

Read the report here.

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.

January 4, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 31, 2018

CLEA Newsletter Winter 2018-19

Greetings, and Happy New Year!
Together with the CLEA Newsletter Committee, and CLEA Co-Presidents, I am very happy to announce that the Winter 2018-19 issue of the CLEA Newsletter has just been posted here.  
In this first issue of Volume 27, you'll find lots of interesting content, including: an article on clinical teaching by Robert Kuehn (Washington Univ.-St. Louis); message from the incoming Co-Presidents; CLEA committee reports; and several announcements about upcoming events at the AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans.  Plus, you'll find clinical news from our colleagues around the country.
Thanks, and best wishes for the spring,

CLEA Newsletter Committee
Lauren Bartlett (Ohio Northern)
Tanya Asim Cooper (Pepperdine)
Susan Donovan (Alabama)
D'lorah Hughes (UC Irvine)

December 31, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

University of Georgia Clinics: Clinics@50 Celebration: First Article

The Georgia Law Review Online has published the first in a series of articles about the University of Georgia School of Law's clinical programs. Entitled Towards a Jurisprudence (and Pedagogy) of Access: a Reflection on 25 Years of the Public Interest Practicum, the article traces the history, context, and theory of a 25-year-old experiment in access to justice pedagogy, the Public Interest Practicum. This piece represents the start of a year-long exploration of the history and impact of UGA Law's clinical programs since we first started representing clients 50 years ago.

November 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Student Writing Competition: 2019 ABA Forum of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law Annual Student Legal Writing Competition

Via Prof. Tim Iglesias:

I am writing to ask you to encourage your students to participate in the 2019 ABA Forum of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law annual Student Legal Writing Competition.

The competition is open to current law students writing on a question of significance in affordable housing, fair housing or community development law. The winning entry will be awarded a prize of $1,000, up to $1000 in expenses to attend the Forum’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., and publication of the article in the Forum’s Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law. The deadline for submission of entries is March 8, 2019, and the winner will be announced by April 7, 2019. Please refer to the attached official rules for further details.

Professors who teach property law, land use law, local government law, real estate transactions, environmental law, civil rights law, poverty law and related courses and clinics are in an ideal position to encourage students to participate in the competition. Each year, many of the entries appear to have been prepared initially for seminars.

Please support the Forum’s Student Legal Writing Competition by encouraging your students to submit entries. If you have any questions, please contact me at

Download 2019_writing_competition_guidelines

November 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Big Change In The U.S. News Law School Specialty Rankings (Including Clinical Programs)

Via Dean Paul Caron at the Tax Prof Blog:


U.S. News Report is making a dramatic change in their ranking of nine law school specialty programs (Clinical Training, Dispute Resolution, Environmental, Health Care, Intellectual Property, International, Legal Writing, Tax, Trial Advocacy).  Since their inception, the specialty ranking ballots have asked professors teaching in those areas to identify up to a given number (currently 15) of law schools having the top programs in the area.  This year, the ballots give faculty the opportunity to rank all 200 law schools on a 1-5 scale, the approach used in the overall peer reputation survey....


Read more detail from U.S. News on these changes here.



November 20, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Legal Interviewing & Language Access Film Project -- Videos & Teacher's Guide for Use in Teaching Client Interviewing

Laila Hlass at Tulane University Law School and Lindsay Harris at the University of the District of Columbia Law are pleased to share two videos we developed with the support of a Carol Lavin Bernick Faculty Grant from Tulane to teach students about legal interviewing and language access. For a description of this project and links to the videos, please check out this webpage. Our videos can be found on this youtube channel, including a short introduction video explaining briefly how the videos can be used. These videos could be used  in a variety of experiential learning settings, including in clinic seminars, within externships or practicums, or in preparation for intensive alternative Spring Break experiences. Although the interviews in the videos relate to immigration law, we believe the interviewing issues are intersectional across all issue areas. 
In our first video, Interviewing Victor: The Initial Meeting, two law students Lisa and Max interview a teenage asylum-seeker in removal proceedings, raising a number of issues relating to initial client interviewing, including: Road mapping and organization of the interview; Building rapport; Confidentiality; Role description, including representation at later stages, and explaining the arc of case; Verbal and nonverbal cues; Tone; Answering client questions or ethical issues that are difficult and unexpected; Recording the interview and seeking permission; Taking notes; Form of questions; Word choice; Approaches to sensitive topics and response to client’s distress; Client-centered lawyering; and Working with a co-interviewer.
In the second video, Josefina: Using an Interpreter,  the same two law students work with interpreters to interview a monolingual Spanish-speaking client seeking a U visa as a victim of a crime in the United States. This video raises questions regarding: Using third person; Pacing of speech; Summarization and expansion of interpretation; Challenges when one student speaks the client’s language but partner does not; Confidentiality; Use of interested parties, such as family members; Approaches to changing interpreters; and Use of common language words where the interpreter doesn’t know the intended meaning.
We have developed a teaching guide with suggestions about how to use the videos in class (where students can yell "stop" to pause for an in-class discussion of the choices the fictitious clinic students are making), or as an out of class assignment with prompts. We are happy to share this teaching guide and just ask you email us to request it and let us know for which law school course you are considering using the film. The videos run about 20 minutes, but are in "chapters," (saved as "playlists" on youtube) so you can fast-forward to highlight the issues you'd like to in class. The teacher's guide also includes exercises to suggest how to "flip the classroom" and have the students watch the videos outside of class time and either reflect in writing or discuss in class, or both. 
We hope you find these videos useful and for experiential educators who plan to be at the AALS Clinical Conference in San Francisco in May 2019, we'll be presenting during a concurrent session with a few teachers who have already committed to using these videos in the Spring to share benefits and challenges of teaching these subjects with the videos, and hope to see you there!
To request a copy of the teacher's guide, please send an email to and with the name of the course in which you are considering using the videos. 

November 19, 2018 in Film, Immigration, Teaching and Pedagogy, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Family Law Clinic Director VAP position at Penn State Law-University Park

We are hiring! The Family Law Clinic I direct here at Penn State Law needs a director while I move into the position of Penn State Law's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for at least 2 years, starting July 2019. This position is for a 2-year clinical law Visiting Assistant Professor role, which will be a perfect fit for someone--maybe you, dear reader! As you may know, we here at Penn State Law in University Park are also hiring for tenure-stream and legal-writing positions this year. This is great opportunity for someone planning to go onto the academic market to prepare and be mentored. It could also be a wonderful move for someone with experience in another clinic. I will be here the entire time, just down the street in our main building, and look forward to helping transition someone into this role. 

I encourage readers like you and our community members to apply. Please also feel free to share this opportunity with your networks.  Here’s the link to the position where those interested can learn more and apply:  I also include the position description here: 

Penn State Law, based in University Park, PA, is seeking to hire an experienced legal professional to serve as a visiting assistant professor of clinical law and director of the Family Law Clinic. The successful candidate will have a background in representing clients in family law matters, particularly in cases involving domestic and sexual violence, and supervising law students in clinical casework. The Clinic is an “in-house” clinic that functions as a small pro bono law firm representing low-income Pennsylvanians in a variety of family law matters, including divorce, custody, protection from abuse, child support and adoption. The director manages the Clinic’s direct legal services to clients, and supervises the law students who represent those clients. Situated at Penn State’s largest campus in University Park, Pennsylvania, the Family Law Clinic is an integral part of Penn State Law’s work as a land grant university serving rural Pennsylvanians while competing on a global scale with scholarship and public policy work. Examples of Family Law Clinic cases and projects include protective orders for victims of domestic violence, securing financial support and property for indigent clients in divorces, asserting custodial rights for parents, and conducting Brief Legal Advice workshops on family law issues. The Director is also responsible for teaching the weekly Clinic seminar class, including simulations and other skill-building exercises, doctrinal law instruction, and case rounds. The Director ensures the effective management of the Clinic year-round, including during summers and other academic year breaks, which may include supervising student work on client matters. In-depth knowledge of Pennsylvania family law and domestic violence required, with preference for those with experience in VAWA work and/or in certain other Clinic practice areas -- specifically, divorce economic relief, child custody and support, and campus sexual assault. The Director also manages Penn State Law’s Public Interest programs, which includes management of a large grant that partly funds the Clinic’s operations. The Public Interest programs job duties include collaborating with numerous student initiatives like the Family Law Society; Public Interest Law Fund and Alternative Spring Break; chairing the Public Interest Law Placements faculty committee; working with Career Services staff to maximize student matching with public interest opportunities; cultivating and publicizing pro bono opportunities for students; representing Penn State Law on public interest law boards and committees such as Student Legal Services, Mid-Penn Legal Services, the PA-IOLTA Board; and the AALS, ABA, and other national groups’ Public Interest/Pro Bono networks. Must have a desire to mentor, supervise and train law students in an “in-house” clinical program; a demonstrated passion for social justice and a commitment to working with low-income communities; excellent writing, communication and organizational skills; and the ability to work effectively within diverse stakeholder communities. The successful candidate will display excellent written and oral communication skills, demonstrated knowledge and experience with client-centered lawyering, and outstanding legal practice skills. We seek a candidate who is creative, curious and self-motivated with an ability to anticipate issues and follow-up independently; is an exceptional strategist who can thrive in a collaborative, collegial environment and enjoys thinking through complex legal issues; and exhibits professionalism, drive and tenacity. This position is a benefits eligible, fixed-term academic appointment beginning in Summer 2019 and funded for two years from date of hire. Starting rank is negotiable depending on the applicant’s experience. A J.D., admission to Pennsylvania Bar or eligibility to become a member of the Pennsylvania Bar and minimum four years of family law practice experience with substantial trial work preferred. Preferred start date is July 1, 2019. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled; only those candidates selected for interviews will be contacted. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.


November 14, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

HELP NEEDED FROM VOLUNTEER LAWYERS: The Pepperdine Disaster Relief Clinic and the Woolsey Fire

Dear Lawyers, Law Professors, Legal Clinics: 

We need your help. Today, I am officially launching the Disaster Relief Clinic to serve Malibu, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the Conejo Valley here in Southern California where the Woolsey Fire is still burning. 
Pepperdine students are displaced and scattered, and we are closed through Thanksgiving, when we are embarking on a massively ambitious, dense final week of school and finals, all while we try to be compassionate to the students. I do not want to put volunteering on their plate until we can launch the clinic course in January. 
So now, we need volunteer lawyers and clinical law profs. We're going to run an emergency, triaged VLP. I need lawyers and law profs to take cases by referral. 
Law profs, I hope that you can recruit students at your schools and clinics to work under your supervision to handle cases and questions as they arise. (I have no capacity to supervise other people's students; I'm sure you understand). 
Spread it far and wide. 
I will provide some training on FEMA matters soon, and I have some excellent, ready resources for fire responses in California for everyone who volunteers, thanks to FEMA, MoFo and Horwitz & Levy.  
Write me directly with questions, but please volunteer quickly. 
Thank you all, 

November 14, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Pepperdine, the Woolsey Fire, and the Disaster Relief Clinic

Dear Friends, 
Several of you have reached out as we endure fires in Southern California, and we are grateful.  Fires assailed Pepperdine Friday night, and it is still a dynamic situation around us. Many faculty and staff (including my family and me) live on campus, and our campus plan calls for us to shelter-in-place.  3500 of us sheltered in central buildings on campus, and our university’s planning and preparation was successful and effective.  Firefighters battled all night to defend us and our homes and university (and Malibu and beyond), and we emerge safe and sound.  All Pepperdine people and buildings are safe, even as we assess needs and grapple with immediate survival and recovery to come. 
While in shelter, we started planning to relaunch our Disaster Relief Clinic. We launched the Disaster Relief Clinic as a temporary project last year in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, then turned its practice to serve people affected by our neighbors hurt by the Thomas Fire in the spring semester. 
Now we are battered by the Woolsey Fire, but we have the resources and proximity to serve our neighborhood and region soon. The fires continue even today and will continue for days more. We will begin assessing needs and capacity between now and Thanksgiving and hope to have firmer plans by then.  Our campus is closed, and classes are cancelled until then, too. We will work in the meantime to make plans, connect our networks, and integrate systems. Then we will be able to share plans and needs and look forward to the generous, creative, and compassionate help that this community of clinicians and clinics always provide. 
Until then, thank you for your generosity, prayers, love, hope, and contributions to our wounded community. 

November 11, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Balsam and Reuter, Externship Assessment Project: An Empirical Study of Supervisor Evaluations of Extern Work Performance

From Professors Jodi S. Balsam & Margaret Reuter, their exciting, useful new paper:

Externship Assessment Project: An Empirical Study of Supervisor Evaluations of Extern Work Performance, 25 Clinical Law Review 1 (Fall 2018)

 The paper tells the story of a year’s worth of field supervisor evaluations of student externs to extract insights about the extern experience, especially regarding the variety, complexity, and responsibility levels of their work.  Using qualitative data analysis, we distilled the supervisor narratives in a comprehensive, uniform, and disciplined matter.  We overlaid those narratives with student demographic data to understand variations along class year, GPA, gender, and race.  The evaluations revealed that educational opportunities varied among different field placement settings and practice areas, in expected and some unexpected ways.  Our analysis seeks to describe extern performance and learning in a clear-eyed fashion and offer guidance for externship program design and assessment of programmatic and institutional learning outcomes.

November 6, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Book Announcement: Reimagining Clinical Legal Education

By request of the publisher, Hart Publishing, an announcement for the new book, Reimagining Clinical Legal Education.


Reimagining Clinical Legal Education

Edited by Linden Thomas, Steven Vaughan, Bharat Malkani and Theresa Lynch


Clinical Legal Education (CLE) can be defined in broad terms as the study of law through real, or simulated, casework. It enables students to experience the law in action and to reflect on those experiences. CLE offers an alternative learning experience to the traditional lecture/seminar method and allows participants to take the study of law beyond the lecture theatre and library. CLE has been a part of English law schools for several decades and is becoming an increasingly popular component of a number of programmes. It is also well established in North America, Australia and many other countries around the globe. In some law schools, CLE is credit-bearing; in others, it is an extracurricular activity. Some CLE schemes focus on social-welfare law, whilst others are commercially orientated. A number are run in conjunction with third-sector organisations and many are supported by private practice law firms. This edited collection brings together academics, lawyers, third-sector organisations and students to discuss the present experience and potential of CLE. As such, it will be of interest to a wide and diverse audience, both within and outside the UK.


Linden ThomasSteven Vaughan and Theresa Lynch are all researchers at the Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research (CEPLER) at the Law School, University of Birmingham.

Bharat Malkani is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law and Politics at Cardiff University.



October 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 29, 2018

LawClinics@50: 50 Years of Clinical Legal Education at Georgia Law

This year marks the 50th anniversary of clinical legal education at the University of Georgia School of Law. We are celebrating this milestone with a series of events and collaborations, including CLEs, conferences, and awards.

As part of our LawClinics@50 celebration, we have entered into a partnership with the Online Platform of the Georgia Law Review. The clinical faculty will write a series of short articles addressing the past, present, and future of many of our individual clinic and externship courses.  The series starts with a reflection on 50 Years of Clinical and Experiential Learning at Georgia Law by current Associate Dean for Clinical Programs and Experiential Learning, Professor Ellie Lanier. Future articles will address our poverty, environmental, family violence, externship, veterans, criminal justice, and other courses.

I append below the flyer announcing this collaboration. Watch this space for links to each publication as it appears.

Alex Scherr

Director, Veterans Legal Clinic



Clinic Release

October 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Mid-Atlantic Clinicians' Writing Workshop Fall 2018 remaining sessions

The next session of the Mid-Atlantic Clinicians’ Writing Workshop is taking place at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law on Friday, October 27 at 9:30 am.  Lindsay Harris, Assistant Professor of Law, University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, will present her paper entitled Withholding Protection.

The schedule for the remaining fall writing workshops is as follows:

At 10 am on November 16, Professors Medha Makhlouf of Penn State Dickinson Law and Tomar Pierson-Brown of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law will be presenting at Penn State Dickinson Law.

At 9:30 am on December 7, professors Nichole Tuchinda of Georgetown University Law Center, Saba Ahmed of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, and Kim Rolla of the University of Virginia School of Law will be presenting at Georgetown University Law Center.

Sessions of the Mid-Atlantic Clinicians’ Writing Workshop are open to all area clinicians.  For more information, please contact Katie Ladewski, Sherley Cruz, Andrew Budzinski, or Joe Pileri.

October 24, 2018 in Conferences and Meetings, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 22, 2018

Clinical Law Review: Applications to the Board of Editors

Via Prof. Wendy Bach:


The Clinical Law Review seeks applications for three vacancies on the Board of Editors.  The Board urges you to think about whether you would be interested, and to think about others whom you would encourage to apply.


Members of the Board of Editors serve for a term of 6 years. The term of the new Board members will commence in January 2020. Board meetings customarily are held twice a year: once at the annual Clinical Law Review Workshop at the end of September and once at the AALS Spring clinical workshop or conference. Board members are expected to attend meetings regularly. Policy matters for the Review and status of upcoming issues are discussed at these meetings. Throughout the year, Board members are asked to work with authors to edit articles. Board members also customarily serve as small group leaders in the Clinical Law Review Workshop.


Applicants should explain their interest in the position and should highlight the aspects of their experience that they believe are most relevant. The Board seeks applications from people committed to the work of the Review and strives to select people with diverse backgrounds and varying experiences in and approaches to clinical legal education. Applications and supporting resumes must be received no later than April 1, 2019. Please email them to me at with the subject line “Clinical Law Review Application.”


The committee to select new Board members is always chaired by a current Board member whose term is expiring. I will be serving this year as the chair of the Selection Committee. The other members of the committee have been designated by the three organizations that sponsor the Clinical Law Review -- AALS, CLEA, and NYU -- each of which designated two committee members.  This year’s committee consists of myself, Melanie Derousse, Marty Guggenheim, Randy Hertz, Praveen Kosuri and Danny Schaffzin.


I encourage you to contact me or other current or former Board members with any questions or for information about service on the Board. My fellow Board members and I have found it a very rewarding and informative way to continue the advancement of clinical legal education.


The members of the Board are: Muneer I. Ahmad, Amna A. Akbar, Sameer M. Ashar, Wendy A. Bach, Susan D. Bennett, Warren Binford, Martin Guggenheim, Jennifer Lee Koh, Jeffrey Selbin, and Kimberly A. Thomas.


The current Editors-in-Chief are Randy Hertz, Phyllis Goldfarb and Michael Pinard.


Those who previously served on the Board are: Jane Aiken, Tony Alfieri, Bev Balos, Margaret Martin Barry, Ben Barton, Juliet Brodie, Angela Burton, Stacy Caplow, Bob Dinerstein, Jon Dubin, Cecelia Espenoza, Keith A. Findley, Gay Gellhorn, Michele Gilman, Carolyn Grose, Peter Toll Hoffman, Jonathan Hyman, Peter Joy, Minna Kotkin, Deborah Maranville, Bridget McCormack, Binny Miller, Kim O’Leary, Ascanio Piomelli, Mae Quinn, Paul Reingold, Brenda Smith, Jim Stark, Paul Tremblay, Nina Tarr, Rod Uphoff, and Leah Wortham.



October 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Call for Papers: 2019 Applied Legal Storytelling Conference

Sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute and CLEA, the Applied Legal Storytelling Conference brings together academics, judges, and practitioners:

The conference has previously convened in 2007 (London), 2009 (Portland), 2011 (Denver), 2013 (London), Seattle (2015), and Washington D.C. (2017). We are very excited to bring it back to the Mountain West (Boulder) in July 2019. Applied Legal Storytelling (AppLS) examines the use of stories—and of storytelling or narrative elements—in law practice, legal education, and the law. This definition is intentionally broad in order to allow people creativity in the way they think and present on the topic. Such topics may include: the ways in which fiction-writing techniques or narrative theory can inform legal storytelling; stories in the law, or law as stories; legal storytelling and metaphor; client story advocacy; legal storytelling and cognitive science; and ethical considerations in legal storytelling.

The conference is in Boulder, Colorado, July 9–11 2019. There are two deadlines for submitting proposals: January 21, 2019 (priority deadline) and March 11, 2019 (extended deadline).

Consider the full Call for Papers here: Applied Legal Storytelling 2019 CFP


October 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 12, 2018

Pepperdine Appellate Clinic Director Nominated to the United States District Court

Our brilliant friend, colleague, and law partner in the clinics, Prof. Jeremy Rosen, director of Pepperdine's Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic, is nominated to the United States District Court for the Central District of California. He has led our clinic to great outcomes, including published opinions advancing civil rights for prisoners, hourly employees, and access to justice to for clients in forma pauperis in the Ninth Circuit. He will be a great judge.


Here is our press release:

Director of Pepperdine Law’s Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic, Jeremy B. Rosen, has been nominated by the President to serve as District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Rosen is a partner at the Los Angeles office of Horvitz & Levy LLP, where his practice focuses on appellate litigation. Under Rosen’s direction of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic, Pepperdine Law students have consistently won cases at the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Former Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge and Dean Emeritus Deanell Reece Tacha comments, “Jeremy Rosen is an outstanding choice for the U.S. District Court. I worked closely with him when we began the Ninth Circuit Appellate Clinic at Pepperdine Law. He is the model of intellectual, ethical, and professional excellence that characterizes the best judges in the nation. He will serve the Central District and the nation with distinction.”

Via The White House Nominations & Appointments announcement:

Jeremy B. Rosen of California, to serve as District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Jeremy Rosen is a partner in the Los Angeles, California, office of Horvitz & Levy LLP. His practice focuses on appellate litigation, primarily in the Ninth Circuit, California Supreme Court, and California Courts of Appeals. He specializes in First Amendment cases, with expertise in both the Speech and Religion Clauses, and is a California Bar Certified Appellate Specialist. Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Rosen clerked for Judge William Matthew Byrne, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, and he later clerked for Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Rosen received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Cornell University and a J.D. and L.L.M., magna cum laude, from Duke University School of Law, where he served on the Duke Law Journal.

October 12, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The New Champions of the Presumption of Innocence?

Like many of you who were concerned about the confirmation and hasty swearing in of our newest Supreme Court Justice, I woke up this morning tempted to despair. As I caught up with the public statements of McConnell, Collins, and others, however, I realized that there’s no need to fear for the independence of the judiciary—especially as it relates to criminal justice reform and mass incarceration. Indeed, those of us who spend our days in prisons, jails, courtrooms, and classrooms—worried about the school to prison pipeline; implicit (and explicit) racial bias; institutionalization; and whether our indigent clients can ever get a fair shake in this country—now know for certain that we have new champions in our corner, new converts to our cause: Republican Senators!

Mitch McConnell, who for years has played a leadership role in the Senate, supporting, for example, the war on drugs, disparities between sentencing for crack cocaine and powder cocaine convictions, the federal death penalty, and limitation of federal habeas relief, has now proclaimed himself the Standard Bearer for the Presumption of Innocence! Mitch, welcome to the team! I would never have guessed that this was your pet issue! Criminal defense attorneys don’t judge, however; it’s never too late to start spending time with people of color just hoping they can get a jury of their peers to see them as human beings! As they say on The Price is Right (not a reference to your donor base)… Come On Down!

And Senator Susan Collins, dang girl! I’m totally borrowing from your statement in my next appeal challenging the sufficiency of the evidence of a criminal charge! This is good stuff:

...we will be ill served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be. We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy...

I literally couldn’t have said it better myself. I know it must have taken a good deal of principle to risk alienating your base, which—let’s be honest—has supported you more for your votes supporting, say, withholding federal funding from sanctuary cities and authorizing (and extending) the Patriot Act. But you did it!! You planted your feet and stood up for the little guy facing the awesome power of the federal government arrayed against him. Well, not quite—but close enough.

So this is just an educated guess, but I suspect our new Presumption of Innocence Champions are going to start with national bail reform. I mean, that’s kind of low-hanging fruit, so it only makes sense. Divorcing considerations of wealth from considerations of whether a (presumed innocent) defendant will show up for court is a no-brainer! First, it supports the new Republican cause celebre (sweet! political points scored!). Second, it saves money (which is Republicans’ second favorite thing!) related to the expense of housing presumed-innocent defendants as they await trial—some for as many as several years. Third, it keeps families together until there has been a definitive adjudication of guilt. That only makes sense for Senators Collins and McConnell. I can’t wait to stand with them on this!

The next steps in criminal justice reform are anyone’s guess, really, and the sky’s the limit! There are so many many many many opportunities in America to support the ideal of the presumption of innocence and protect those facing charges when “fairness is most in jeopardy,” according to Senator Collins. All I know is, I want in! I mean, I’ve been waiting my whole career for someone to listen to the voices crying out in the wilderness for true justice for those facing criminal accusations. Oh me of little faith.

October 7, 2018 in Books, Criminal Defense, Current Affairs, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

JOBS: Gonzaga Federal Tax Clinic

Gonzaga School of Law seeks applicants for a three-quarter-time Lecturer in its Federal Tax Clinic, with flexibility to serve in other areas as needed by the clinical program, as well as the opportunity to teach doctrinal classes.  This position is dependent on a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) grant awarded from the IRS which  Gonzaga has been receiving for over 15 years. Gonzaga has a long standing clinical program which has served the low income Spokane community since 1975. Here is the link with more information on how to apply:

September 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 29, 2018

UDC Law's Immigration & Human Rights Clinic's Pro Se Asylum Filing Workshop with Human Rights First

I write to share with my experiential educator colleagues a fairly recent addition to our work in the Immigration & Human Rights Clinic work at the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law).  

On Friday September 28, we had the pleasure of partnering, for a second time, with non-profit Human Rights First(HRF). In Fall 2017, we worked with HRF to serve Central American families fleeing violence and seeking protection in the United States. Building on that success, we decided to do it again this year.

Clinic students and other UDC Law student volunteers met yesterday with 10 asylum-seeking families from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. These families were previous detained at one of the nation’s three family detention centers, but were released to pursue their asylum claims while living with family and friends in Maryland. The families are all currently in removal proceedings before the Baltimore immigration court.  None of the families have yet found legal representation for their asylum claims.

In an era of immigration court backlogs, the court in Baltimore, Maryland, has actually has seen the highest increase since the beginning of FY2017 -- a stunning 96% increase in the last year of individuals put into removal proceedings–- doubling the court’s caseload.  Increases have also been dramatic in Massachusetts, Georgia, and Florida. As a consequence, the access to counsel gap is severe and many individuals appearing in Baltimore lack legal representation. In the immigration context, although only around 37% of non-detained immigrants are represented, legal representation makes it five times more likelyan individual will be granted relief.

As a small step in trying to address the justice gap, yesterday UDC Law’s Immigration Clinic completed 17 asylum applications total for the 10 families– the families will file these with the court in just a few days. Many of these cases presented complex legal issues, including those past the one-year filing deadline for asylum. While our Clinic lacks the capacity to take on full representation for each of these families, we hope that our work will set them on the right path and enable them to more easily find pro bono or low bono representation for their future hearings.

This work not only benefitted the asylum-seeking families, but our students, requiring them to engage in:

  • Quick rapport building
  • Interviewing survivors of trauma
  • Fact investigation and information gathering
  • Credibility assessment and checking internal consistency with records from previous government interactions
  • Legal drafting and editing to ensure that each application made out a prima facie case for asylum, meeting all required legal elements.
  • Concise, direct writing to communicate a compelling narrative
  • Explaining legal standards in an accessible way
  • Wrestling with recently changed and evolving law, thanks to Attorney General Sessions in Matter of A-B-,for individuals fleeing domestic violence and gang targeting.
  • Address changing facts and emerging details – for example one team started the day thinking they were working with a mother and three teenagers with asylum claims based on the same facts, but as it turned out, one of the teenage boys had been persecuted based on his sexual orientation and another had been recruited by gangs and threatened with death. This team had to deal with very delicate family dynamics around the disclosure of sexual orientation status.

Participants in the workshop included 3L and 4L Immigration Clinic students, 2L students, including several who had served as Clinical Associates as 1Ls in their first year as part of UDC Law’s required community service, and two of whom who participated in our spring 2018 service-learning tripto Berks family detention center in Pennsylvania, an extended clinic student, 1L students, and a UDC 2018 graduate. Clinic Co-Directors Kristina Campbell and Lindsay Harris along with Clinical Instructor Saba Ahmed supervised students working for the day, along with HRF staff attorney Alexander Parcan and Legal Services Coordinator Sugeily Fernandez.  HRF’s two undergraduate interns and social worker were also on hand to assist.

92818 Pro Se Asylum Filing Workshop

Photo above -- Many of the Clinic students and other volunteer students for the day, fresh-faced and ready to work in the morning, along with Professors Campbell & Harris and HRF staff.

Volunteer students are invited to debrief what was an intense, challenging, and at times no doubt emotional day along with students enrolled in the Immigration Clinic during our clinic seminar

Clinicians interested in replicating this program should feel free to be in touch with Professor Lindsay M. Harris. While there are numerous logistical challenges and hurdles, we find this experience well worthwhile and have tips to share. In many ways the day is a preview of what it is like to work in faster-paced legal services setting, contrasted with many traditional law school clinic models where “law in slow motion” may be the norm.  The workshops also provides an opportunity to generate interest in Clinic work and for 1L and 2L students not yet in Clinic to gain hands on experience and insight into an area of law in which many seek to gain exposure. 

We are grateful to UDC Law staff and faculty for their support of this program.

September 29, 2018 in Clinic Students and Graduates, Clinic Victories, Current Affairs, Immigration, New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 28, 2018

"Advice and Consent" and the Senate's Standards of Evidence

Today, Senator Jeff Flake has said that he is torn and uncertain, beset with doubts, but that without "corroborating evidence" (which is available but which the Judiciary Committee has ignored, alas) he simply cannot vote to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. Politically, that's a position, but it's not a legally necessary position. It's a standard he is adopting voluntarily to justify his vote, not reluctantly simply because he has to.
The Constitution requires the Senate to give "advice and consent" to a President's nominee. That's the standard, and it's not much. It's whatever the Senate decides it is, and it is, at its heart, political. In criminal cases, prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, plaintiffs must prove their cases to a preponderance of evidence. In other cases, claimants must prove their cases with clear and convincing evidence.
None of those are the standard for the Senate. If they were, we would have seen a trial yesterday, instead of a brutal sham where one witness was interrogated by a prosecutor with fulsome answers and another witness shouted interruptions, evaded straight answers, and railed hysterically against political enemies. It was not a legal proceeding. It was a political proceeding orchestrated for a particular outcome, and that is as the Senate's controlling party designed it, as it is allowed to do by the Constitution.
Turning back to Sen. Flake, surely all of the Senators are imagining the standard that will justify their preferred positions, because they can. Who among us wouldn't choose the standard by which we would be judged?
Here are some other permissible standards. It may be that the credibility of one witness so outweighs the other that the Senate decides to believe her instead of him. In this case, Dr. Ford was imminently credible, expert, and forthcoming; Judge Kavanaugh was evasive, petulant, hysterical, and imprudent. That's enough to oppose his nomination simply by weighing their credibility (which is actually enough under the preponderance standard).
It may be that conscience is a sufficient standard of evidence. Ensuring that Supreme Court Justices assume their seats without lingering questions of character, integrity, trust, substance abuse, and violence is enough to oppose a nomination, especially when there are plenty of other conservative options.
In may be that the legitimacy of the Court, independent of the facts of this case, is a sufficient standard. Bald, brutal, partisanship and a profoundly flawed nominee will mark the Court as unreliable for a generation or more. At its heart, the Court only has its legitimacy, its credibility. The rule of law depends on that reliability, so if a nominee reveals himself to be a furious partisan operative, that is enough to oppose his nomination.
Of course, the Senate can also consent to whomever a President sends to them, even if it is merely to assure a partisan victory in the short term, even if there are plenty of other options. The Senate can do that under the Constitution.
Whether the People can abide it is another question we have yet to answer. Whether we can tolerate it as a Republic is an open question.

September 28, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)