News Blog

CLEA news blog: you can use your news aggregator to monitor the latest on the CLEA website.

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  • 08 Jul 2020 5:21 PM | Michael Murphy (Administrator)


    We write this call at an unprecedented moment. Streets are filled with protesters rising up in response to horrific and ongoing systemic racism manifested by the continued attack on black and brown lives, and the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our daily reality. This has and will impact our professional and personal lives in critical ways. We are called upon as clinical faculty to reflect on and approach our pedagogy and practice differently. We are in new territory trying to determine the best way to run our clinical programs with the need for all or some of our teaching, services, and advocacy to be delivered remotely. We must re-examine the best way to teach about racial injustice and leverage clinical resources to take action to bring about real, lasting change. With these challenges and the inability to connect in-person, it is our goal to build community, draw on our collective wisdom, and provide a forum for discussion.

    The AALS/CLEA Virtual Clinical Conference will be held from Tuesday-Thursday, July 21-23.

    The conference will consist of two plenaries, a webinar, asynchronous videos, large group discussions, small group discussions focused on specific topics or within affinity groups, programming sponsored by Clinicians of Color (a committee of the Section), and a final community-building session.

    The conference will run during the following times:

    (All below times Eastern)

    Tuesday, July 21: 12:00pm - 5:00pm

    Wednesday, July 22: 12:00 - 6:00pm 

    Thursday, July 23: 12:00 pm - 4:30pm 

    Registrants can sign up to participate in all or some sessions, and can choose whether to participate in one discussion group and one affinity group discussion per time slot. Registrants need not attend all scheduled sessions of a discussion or affinity group unless otherwise specified.

    To see the conference program guide, please click here

    To register for the conference, please click here


  • 30 May 2020 1:26 PM | Michael Murphy (Administrator)

    Thanks so much to the *hundreds* of you who joined us on Wednesday, May 27 for this year's first (and hopefully only) virtual AALS Clinical Section/CLEA Award Ceremony, held on Zoom and in your house. Here's a video of the event, hosted on our Facebook page!

    We celebrated the following exemplary clinicans:

    Alexis Karteron (M. Shanara Gilbert Award)
    Sameer Ashar (Ellmann Memorial Clinical Scholarship Award)
    The University of Chicago Law School Federal Criminal Justice Clinic (CLEA Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project)

    Congratulations to the award winners - we look forward to celebrating with you in person as soon as possible.

  • 15 May 2020 11:44 AM | Lauren Bartlett (Administrator)

    The Spring 2020 CLEA Newsletter is now published!

    We hope you enjoy,

    The CLEA Newsletter Committee

  • 05 May 2020 1:33 PM | Jeff Baker

    In a remarkable partnership from opposite sides of their state, Prof. Wendy Bach’s clinic at the University of Tennessee College of Law (which she teaches with Joy Radice and Sherley Cruz) collaborated with Prof. Katy Ramsey’s clinic at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law to empower attorneys and clients facing eviction procedures during the COVID-19 disaster.

    This post from UT explains their innovations in teaching, practice, and partnerships when the pandemic disrupted law schools and heightened vulnerability for renters during the pandemic:

    When the threat of COVID-19 led to the cancellation of in-person classes, legal clinic professors at the University of Tennessee College of Law and the University of Memphis School of Law began scrambling to reinvent their curriculum.


    Professor Wendy Bach’s legal practice history with eviction defense in New York City had given her firsthand knowledge of how economic crises can lead to homelessness.


    "'I was looking for something meaningful for our students to take on that was a direct response to this crisis," Bach said. “Legal services attorneys are facing a wave of eviction-related work. There is a moratorium on eviction proceedings now. But when that’s lifted, the number people dealing with these situations will skyrocket. And the proceedings will move very fast.”


    Bach reached out to legal services organizations throughout the state to determine whether students could assist in some way related to eviction law. Her queries led Bach to Professor Katy Ramsey at the University of Memphis who also had eviction law experience.


    . . . .


    Bach and Ramsey began brainstorming and about how they could collaborate. They realized their clinic classes were scheduled to meet at the same time and that they could bring their students together – via classroom Zoom sessions – to partner and find solutions for Tennessee’s COVID-related eviction issues.


    “Tennessee does not have strong tenant protection laws so evictions are always a problem and tenants don’t have lot of recourse,” Ramsey said.


    . . . .


    The students drafted model pleadings that attorneys can use as templates to request emergency hearings.


    . . . .


    In partnership with Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, students in the two classes also took on the task of surveying counties and sheriff’s departments throughout the state to learn how they were handling evictions.


    County courts have discretion about whether they will accept eviction filings during this time, and sheriffs can interpret how they want to proceed with executing writs that were issued prior to court closures throughout the state.


    The information was important for TALS to have when they receive calls their helpline,” Bach said. “They wanted to be able to accurately answer questions for clients about how to best deal with situations in their home counties.”


    The students also gathered information about Tennessee eviction laws in relation to public health emergencies then crafted opinion pieces to share with Tennessee newspapers.


    “We looked into what happened during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, and if what happened then carries over to today, we’re about to have a significant housing crisis,” Tennessee College of Law student Allen Heaston said.


    Heaston, who will work in family, civil and criminal law through Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem after graduation, said learning about housing law through the Legal Clinic was a worthwhile experience.


    “It was just a very different area of study for me,” he said. “Just the vast amount of knowledge we were able to absorb in a short period of time has been incredible.”


    Bach, Ramsey and Heaston agree there were significant benefits to the collaboration that allowed students to gain new experiences while helping people throughout Tennessee.


    "This is definitely a collaboration I hope the College of Law will continue,” Heaston said.

  • 21 Apr 2020 11:16 AM | Michael Murphy (Administrator)

    April 21, 2020

    The Clinical Legal Education Association (“CLEA”), the nation’s largest association of law professors, urges State authorities in charge of attorney licensure to promulgate rules and policies in response to the current pandemic that expand the availability of legal representation for underserved clients and equitably account for the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on recent law school graduates. In the face of this unprecedented crisis, we are called to work together to protect each other. We must be pragmatic, flexible and caring. While we are strongly drawn to precedent and tradition, as are all lawyers, we urge that strict adherence to the current model of a single, high stakes, timed bar examination as the primary gatekeeper to the profession will needlessly exacerbate inequality and further injustice during this pandemic.

    As this crisis has developed, a number of approaches to bar licensure have emerged. Some jurisdictions have announced plans to postpone the bar exam a few months and then require applicants to sit for the traditional exam. These plans seem not to fully grapple with the difficult situation in which we find ourselves. CLEA joins others in calling for jurisdictions to adopt alternatives to the bar exam, such as supervised practice, sequential licensing, and diploma privileges. We recognize that one size may not fit all and that solutions will vary according to the needs and circumstances of each locale. Nevertheless, one thing is certain – this is not a time for business as usual.

    CLEA has long expressed concerns about the deficits of the bar exam in the licensure system for American lawyers. This position is rooted in CLEA’s mission, which promotes justice and diversity as the core values of the legal profession and recognizes that licensure regulations inevitably shape legal education, particularly clinical legal education. CLEA has consistently urged that direct assessment of relevant professional skills, on analogy to training in medicine, would be better than inferring those skills from academic performance. Bar exam scores correlate well with law school GPAs and, to a lesser extent, with LSAT scores, but neither of these measures has been shown to relate to success in the profession or competence in lawyering. The bar exam is not designed to measure competence in representing clients or advancing justice, as is required of all lawyers. We have repeatedly urged that supervised practice and other experiential assessments would much better protect our clients and foster professional excellence. These deficits of the traditional bar exam are thrown into high relief by the bright light of the virus.

    First, there is an unprecedented need for legal counsel for low and moderate income people, so many of whom will need legal assistance on issues of employment, housing, business and finance during and after this crisis. The need for advice and representation in family law, criminal law and immigration matters is also acute. Licensing alternatives such as supervised practice, graduated licensing and admission by diploma privilege would expand the availability of legal services at this crucial time and permit law graduates to serve their communities.

    Second, the COVID-19 crisis has impacted law students unequally. Some are infected, while others are caring for family members. Many are dealing with severe economic dislocation and beset by daily crises; they are caring for children, older relatives and in some cases, face illness themselves. In the coming months, the results of any exam will turn upon the circumstances of the test taker rather than their ability to ethically practice law and meet their professional obligations. Most law schools have recognized that reality by adopting some form of pass/fail grading for this semester. In this moment, limiting admission to practice to those capable of sitting for and passing the traditional bar exam will only exacerbate these inequities; it will adversely impact those facing personal challenges brought on by this crisis while rewarding the fortunate and the wealthy.

    Third, we must recognize the impracticality of administering a bar exam now or in the near future. Some states have announced their intention to move forward with the July 2020 exam and others have postponed the July exam to September. Although we cannot be sure, given the dynamism that characterizes this moment, there seems little likelihood that large groups of graduates could safely take an exam in person during the coming months.

    We urge the state licensing bodies to recognize that this state of emergency requires us to seek creative, sensible and realistic solutions. We must try to better meet the legal needs of underserved groups and respond with care, concern and thoughtful reforms to the very serious challenges those striving to enter our profession face in this unprecedented time of crisis. Let us not look back and regret that we did not give enough attention to the least fortunate among us and let inequality flourish in disaster.


  • 19 Mar 2020 5:15 PM | Lauren Bartlett (Administrator)

    A JOINT STATEMENT OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF LAW SCHOOLS CLINICAL SECTION AND THE CLINICAL LEGAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

    March 19, 2020

    We are clinical law professors working all around the United States, in rural and urban settings, representing vulnerable families, incarcerated people, small business owners, immigrants, community associations, veterans, low-income taxpayers, and many, many more groups of people with whom we seek the full protections and rights afforded by our laws. Across the country, our clinical programs provide more than three million hours of free civil and criminal legal services each year.

    From this wealth of experience in diverse communities, we know that much of the mainstream outlook on coronavirus preparation and mitigation, as well as vulnerability to the virus, misses crucial issues facing large swathes of our nation. We are writing to add these missing perspectives and to urge immediate action at the local, state, and federal levels.

    Exposure Vulnerability

    When a virus spreads into a deeply unequal society, we should not be surprised to see deeply unequal impacts. Some of the particular vulnerabilities worrying us include:

    Our massive prison population. This population includes those serving criminal sentences after convictions, the large number of people held before trial who could safely be released to the community but for the unaffordability of bond, and the tens of thousands of migrants being held either at the border or in massive facilities in the interior of the country. In all these settings, where people have limited access to health care and cannot avail of the social distancing recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus will spread quickly. And while incarcerated people cannot access the world outside, correctional officers may be bringing the virus from the outside into these facilities.

    Low-wage and service workers. People in the most public-facing occupations are necessarily more exposed than office workers, remote workers, and many others who are being encouraged to self-quarantine. People working in pharmacies or grocery stores where we get our medicine and our food, people working in restaurants, people cleaning our schools and office buildings — they all face a far greater exposure to the virus than people who are able to limit their time outside of their homes or outside of other carefully sanitized spaces.

    Low-income families who rely on public transportation. When the only way to get to work is a crowded bus, social distancing is impossible.

    Immigrants without health care. From green card holders to the undocumented, immigrants have been deterred from seeking health care. The Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule makes people ineligible for citizenship if they receive certain public benefits. Even when a benefit does not make people ineligible, the fear and confusion around this issue — as well as the possibility that something allowed today might make problems with a change in policy tomorrow — has led to a massive drop in people accessing programs that improve baseline health. And those who lack legal status have no access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

    Participants in overcrowded court systems.Courts that serve poor people do not look like the courts we see on TV or in the movies. We regularly appear in courts with crowded waiting rooms, where thirty cases or more might be called in a single two-hour period. Whether that is a criminal court where defendants (and their lawyers) are awaiting arraignment, or an immigration court where dozens of people wait side-by-side in standing-room-only courtrooms, far too many of our courts are ill-equipped to keep people safe. And yet those same people, vulnerable to infection in those crowded, unsanitized spaces, would bear exceptionally high costs if they did not show up to court: evictions, warrants for arrest, defaults that could result in seizures or wage garnishment, orders of deportation, the loss of child support or unpaid wages, and more. We are grateful that, increasingly, jurisdictions are taking smart, timely measures to reduce these risks.

    Health Care Workers. All health care workers, even those who otherwise occupy privileged positions in our society, are working the frontlines of the response to coronavirus, which is an extraordinary commitment and service. Among this category, though, are people facing extra vulnerabilities. With a median hourly wage of $13.72, nursing assistants and orderlies have limited resources to keep themselves healthy, even while working in contaminated locations.

    People Experiencing Homelessness. Already highly vulnerable to a host of illnesses, those who rely on shelters face acute difficulties in maintaining social distance from those who may be infected with coronavirus, because shelters can be terribly overcrowded. They may also lack reliable access to soap and water. And with more than 30% already suffering from chronic lung diseases, the virus is likely to present more severely amid this population.

    Unaffordability of Preparation

    Much of the good, common-sense advice about preparing for coronavirus asks people to have supplies on hand for about two weeks, in the event that self-quarantine is needed. In Midwestern cities, the average consumer spends a little over $300 for food and personal items for two weeks. In more expensive cities in the Northeast, that number rises to about $350. Those amounts are well over half of the two-week take-home pay for a minimum wage worker. And the Federal Reserve has found that fully 12% of Americans would be unable to find any way to cover an unexpected $400 expense — meaning that 12% of the U.S. population is unlikely to be able to afford the supplies needed for an effective self-quarantine.

    The Challenges of Social Distancing

    We have already demonstrated why the vulnerable communities we work with are more likely to come into close contact with the coronavirus. Once exposed, people need to self-quarantine, according to the CDC. For three distinct reasons, this is a difficult solution for many of the people we work with.

    Necessity of Work. People without paid sick leave face the choice between staying home — which will help prevent the spread to others — and providing for themselves and their families. Without paid sick leave, we leave these individuals in an impossible situation. Today 34 million Americans lack paid sick leave, and the first wave of federal coronavirus legislation left millions of these workers still unprotected. Some SNAP food benefits recipients are also limited to three months of aid in a 36-month period if they are out of work or underemployed, although those requirements are in flux for many states starting in April. For those still subject to those requirements, missing work may mean missing out on crucial nutrition. We applaud the emergency efforts, like legislation in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, aimed at assuaging economic insecurity to help people comply with social distancing.

    School Closures, Poverty, and Childcare. One of the mitigation strategies we are increasingly seeing is school closures. Although essential, these closures are especially difficult for the communities we serve for three reasons. School may be the only place where a poor child can reliably access nutritious meals provided by school lunch programs. Also, when a child is home from school, someone needs to care for that child. Parents without childcare risk child protective services or criminal investigations if they work and leave their children home alone. School closures also create inequities between well-resourced school districts that can move learning online, and districts without those capabilities (and within districts, there may be disparate access to computers and reliable internet).

    Intimate Partner Violence. Self-quarantine may leave people in dangerous situations. The economic stress of lost wages and work opportunities will harm some low-income people who are victimized by intimate partners and other family members, depriving them of the resources they need to maintain their safety. Moreover, the loss of employment may drive increases in violence; intimate partner violence against women is highly correlated with male under- and unemployment. Quarantine will mean that people in violent relationships may find themselves sharing small spaces under stressful conditions with those using violence against them, without the ability to seek other shelter or assistance, for significant periods of time. The World Health Organization attributes a connection between disasters and increases in domestic violence and child and elder abuse to the lack of provisions, the dismantling of social networks, and the stress of lost earnings. As one clinician noted, “For survivors who haven’t escaped yet, telling them to stay home is telling them to stay in the most dangerous place possible.”

    Lack of Access to our Clients. Prisons are banning visitors, and lawyers will have greater-than-normal difficulty accessing clients. As universities close down, we will have greater challenges communicating with and meeting other clients. While clinical professors across the country are rapidly adapting our intensive teaching and supervision methodologies to use online tools, we also know that many of our clients lack access to the internet at home, and nothing will be able to substitute for in-person meetings with many whose cases are moving ahead even as the virus inhibits the ability of lawyers to do their job.

    Looking Ahead

    We fear that as the economy lurches toward a recession, the very nonprofit agencies whose services do so much to meet all the challenges laid out above, will lose vital grant, private, and government funding, making all of this much more difficult. Our clinical programs across the country support many innovative community organizations who make profound differences in small, unsung ways — and those organizations will need tremendous support to continue their critical work in these times. We also have great concern that, even with some short-term moratoria in place, evictions will ultimately rise as people choose between medical care and paying rent. We fear the virus will depress responses to the census, which will have massive down-the-line harms for funding of vital government programs.

    We greatly worry about what will happen as courts close or limit access to civil litigants. Domestic violence survivors will not be able to secure final protection orders or enforce child support orders. Workers cannot hold employers to account for unpaid wages — and risk missing statutes of limitation on filing those claims (though we hope courts will extend, or “toll,” those deadlines). Enforcing these rights matters. Court closures will make much of that work impossible.

    The coronavirus exposes structural injustices that have long existed. This crisis shows that the boundaries we draw amongst ourselves are profoundly porous, whether it is the corner-office law partner exposing the low-wage contractor cleaning his building after hours, or the wealthy family whose elderly mother is cared for by an underpaid nursing aide who took three contaminated buses to get to work.

    We hope that by revealing our deep and mutual interdependence, this crisis helps move forward policies that would benefit us all by reducing some of the inequalities embedded in our society. Paid sick leave and universal health care are obviously relevant to this current moment. But so are challenges to our sky-high rates of incarceration and the use of cash bail, and the efforts to raise the minimum wageand end immigration detention.

    For decades, we, as clinicians, have seen the many ways that injustice flourishes in our society. We hope that, if nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic shows us the importance of interconnection, and how all of us do better when society works for all of us. We call on our elected leaders to make justice a core part of all responses to this pandemic. And we ask everyone to consider how a more just society would make so many things better than what we see today.

    .

    VULNERABILITY AND COVID-19

    A JOINT STATEMENT OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF LAW SCHOOLS CLINICAL SECTION* AND THE CLINICAL LEGAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

    March 19, 2020

    We are clinical law professors working all around the United States, in rural and urban settings, representing vulnerable families, incarcerated people, small business owners, immigrants, community associations, veterans, low-income taxpayers, and many, many more groups of people with whom we seek the full protections and rights afforded by our laws. Across the country, our clinical programs provide more than three million hours of free civil and criminal legal services each year.

    From this wealth of experience in diverse communities, we know that much of the mainstream outlook on coronavirus preparation and mitigation, as well as vulnerability to the virus, misses crucial issues facing large swathes of our nation. We are writing to add these missing perspectives and to urge immediate action at the local, state, and federal levels.

    Exposure Vulnerability

    When a virus spreads into a deeply unequal society, we should not be surprised to see deeply unequal impacts. Some of the particular vulnerabilities worrying us include:

    Our massive prison population. This population includes those serving criminal sentences after convictions, the large number of people held before trial who could safely be released to the community but for the unaffordability of bond, and the tens of thousands of migrants being held either at the border or in massive facilities in the interior of the country. In all these settings, where people have limited access to health care and cannot avail of the social distancing recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus will spread quickly. And while incarcerated people cannot access the world outside, correctional officers may be bringing the virus from the outside into these facilities.

    Low-wage and service workers. People in the most public-facing occupations are necessarily more exposed than office workers, remote workers, and many others who are being encouraged to self-quarantine. People working in pharmacies or grocery stores where we get our medicine and our food, people working in restaurants, people cleaning our schools and office buildings — they all face a far greater exposure to the virus than people who are able to limit their time outside of their homes or outside of other carefully sanitized spaces.

    Low-income families who rely on public transportation. When the only way to get to work is a crowded bus, social distancing is impossible.

    Immigrants without health care. From green card holders to the undocumented, immigrants have been deterred from seeking health care. The Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule makes people ineligible for citizenship if they receive certain public benefits. Even when a benefit does not make people ineligible, the fear and confusion around this issue — as well as the possibility that something allowed today might make problems with a change in policy tomorrow — has led to a massive drop in people accessing programs that improve baseline health. And those who lack legal status have no access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

    Participants in overcrowded court systems.Courts that serve poor people do not look like the courts we see on TV or in the movies. We regularly appear in courts with crowded waiting rooms, where thirty cases or more might be called in a single two-hour period. Whether that is a criminal court where defendants (and their lawyers) are awaiting arraignment, or an immigration court where dozens of people wait side-by-side in standing-room-only courtrooms, far too many of our courts are ill-equipped to keep people safe. And yet those same people, vulnerable to infection in those crowded, unsanitized spaces, would bear exceptionally high costs if they did not show up to court: evictions, warrants for arrest, defaults that could result in seizures or wage garnishment, orders of deportation, the loss of child support or unpaid wages, and more. We are grateful that, increasingly, jurisdictions are taking smart, timely measures to reduce these risks.

    Health Care Workers. All health care workers, even those who otherwise occupy privileged positions in our society, are working the frontlines of the response to coronavirus, which is an extraordinary commitment and service. Among this category, though, are people facing extra vulnerabilities. With a median hourly wage of $13.72, nursing assistants and orderlies have limited resources to keep themselves healthy, even while working in contaminated locations.

    People Experiencing Homelessness. Already highly vulnerable to a host of illnesses, those who rely on shelters face acute difficulties in maintaining social distance from those who may be infected with coronavirus, because shelters can be terribly overcrowded. They may also lack reliable access to soap and water. And with more than 30% already suffering from chronic lung diseases, the virus is likely to present more severely amid this population.

    Unaffordability of Preparation

    Much of the good, common-sense advice about preparing for coronavirus asks people to have supplies on hand for about two weeks, in the event that self-quarantine is needed. In Midwestern cities, the average consumer spends a little over $300 for food and personal items for two weeks. In more expensive cities in the Northeast, that number rises to about $350. Those amounts are well over half of the two-week take-home pay for a minimum wage worker. And the Federal Reserve has found that fully 12% of Americans would be unable to find any way to cover an unexpected $400 expense — meaning that 12% of the U.S. population is unlikely to be able to afford the supplies needed for an effective self-quarantine.

    The Challenges of Social Distancing

    We have already demonstrated why the vulnerable communities we work with are more likely to come into close contact with the coronavirus. Once exposed, people need to self-quarantine, according to the CDC. For three distinct reasons, this is a difficult solution for many of the people we work with.

    Necessity of Work. People without paid sick leave face the choice between staying home — which will help prevent the spread to others — and providing for themselves and their families. Without paid sick leave, we leave these individuals in an impossible situation. Today 34 million Americans lack paid sick leave, and the first wave of federal coronavirus legislation left millions of these workers still unprotected. Some SNAP food benefits recipients are also limited to three months of aid in a 36-month period if they are out of work or underemployed, although those requirements are in flux for many states starting in April. For those still subject to those requirements, missing work may mean missing out on crucial nutrition. We applaud the emergency efforts, like legislation in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, aimed at assuaging economic insecurity to help people comply with social distancing.

    School Closures, Poverty, and Childcare. One of the mitigation strategies we are increasingly seeing is school closures. Although essential, these closures are especially difficult for the communities we serve for three reasons. School may be the only place where a poor child can reliably access nutritious meals provided by school lunch programs. Also, when a child is home from school, someone needs to care for that child. Parents without childcare risk child protective services or criminal investigations if they work and leave their children home alone. School closures also create inequities between well-resourced school districts that can move learning online, and districts without those capabilities (and within districts, there may be disparate access to computers and reliable internet).

    Intimate Partner Violence. Self-quarantine may leave people in dangerous situations. The economic stress of lost wages and work opportunities will harm some low-income people who are victimized by intimate partners and other family members, depriving them of the resources they need to maintain their safety. Moreover, the loss of employment may drive increases in violence; intimate partner violence against women is highly correlated with male under- and unemployment. Quarantine will mean that people in violent relationships may find themselves sharing small spaces under stressful conditions with those using violence against them, without the ability to seek other shelter or assistance, for significant periods of time. The World Health Organization attributes a connection between disasters and increases in domestic violence and child and elder abuse to the lack of provisions, the dismantling of social networks, and the stress of lost earnings. As one clinician noted, “For survivors who haven’t escaped yet, telling them to stay home is telling them to stay in the most dangerous place possible.”

    Lack of Access to our Clients. Prisons are banning visitors, and lawyers will have greater-than-normal difficulty accessing clients. As universities close down, we will have greater challenges communicating with and meeting other clients. While clinical professors across the country are rapidly adapting our intensive teaching and supervision methodologies to use online tools, we also know that many of our clients lack access to the internet at home, and nothing will be able to substitute for in-person meetings with many whose cases are moving ahead even as the virus inhibits the ability of lawyers to do their job.

    Looking Ahead

    We fear that as the economy lurches toward a recession, the very nonprofit agencies whose services do so much to meet all the challenges laid out above, will lose vital grant, private, and government funding, making all of this much more difficult. Our clinical programs across the country support many innovative community organizations who make profound differences in small, unsung ways — and those organizations will need tremendous support to continue their critical work in these times. We also have great concern that, even with some short-term moratoria in place, evictions will ultimately rise as people choose between medical care and paying rent. We fear the virus will depress responses to the census, which will have massive down-the-line harms for funding of vital government programs.

    We greatly worry about what will happen as courts close or limit access to civil litigants. Domestic violence survivors will not be able to secure final protection orders or enforce child support orders. Workers cannot hold employers to account for unpaid wages — and risk missing statutes of limitation on filing those claims (though we hope courts will extend, or “toll,” those deadlines). Enforcing these rights matters. Court closures will make much of that work impossible.

    The coronavirus exposes structural injustices that have long existed. This crisis shows that the boundaries we draw amongst ourselves are profoundly porous, whether it is the corner-office law partner exposing the low-wage contractor cleaning his building after hours, or the wealthy family whose elderly mother is cared for by an underpaid nursing aide who took three contaminated buses to get to work.

    We hope that by revealing our deep and mutual interdependence, this crisis helps move forward policies that would benefit us all by reducing some of the inequalities embedded in our society. Paid sick leave and universal health care are obviously relevant to this current moment. But so are challenges to our sky-high rates of incarceration and the use of cash bail, and the efforts to raise the minimum wageand end immigration detention.

    For decades, we, as clinicians, have seen the many ways that injustice flourishes in our society. We hope that, if nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic shows us the importance of interconnection, and how all of us do better when society works for all of us. We call on our elected leaders to make justice a core part of all responses to this pandemic. And we ask everyone to consider how a more just society would make so many things better than what we see today.

    Original post by Wendy Bach available here.

  • 24 Jan 2020 12:00 AM | Lauren Bartlett (Administrator)

    For up-to-date information on the Teaching Justice Webinar Series, please visit https://www.cleaweb.org/Teaching-Justice-Webinar-Series.

  • 07 Jan 2020 1:04 PM | Lauren Bartlett (Administrator)

    The CLEA Newsletter for Winter 2019-20 is now published!

    Happy New Year,

    The CLEA Newsletter Committee

  • 18 Dec 2019 12:57 PM | Lauren Bartlett (Administrator)

    If you’re at the AALS meeting, don’t miss the inaugural meeting of the new Provisional Section on Community Economic Development (CED) on Saturday, January 4 from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. at the Marriott Wardman Park (room tba). We’ll discuss the section’s activities in the coming year, and we would love to hear from you about your interests, emerging needs, or perceived gaps that we can work to fill with section programming. Refreshments will be provided.

    The CED Section is designed to be a dynamic, collaborative space to enhance the scholarship, activism, and direct legal work of CED-focused faculty and staff. Community Economic Development focuses on community-driven strategies designed to provide meaningful economic opportunities for communities that have been economically oppressed, subordinated, or marginalized.

    If you can’t make the meeting but want to connect with the CED Section, please email Camille Pannu at cpannu@law.uci.edu.

  • 07 Nov 2019 5:54 PM | Jeff Baker

    By Paul Radvany

    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. 

    We are including the audit here as a resource for professors. 

    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: radvany@law.fordham.edu.

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