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

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  • 03 Jan 2021 4:38 PM | Michael Murphy (Administrator)

    Please see over forty pages of new CLEA news in our CLEA Newsletter Winter 2020-2021. We hope everyone has a safe and smooth start to the new semester!


  • 09 Nov 2020 1:43 PM | Jeff Baker (Administrator)

    By Prof. Alicia Plerhoples

    Pivoting to Represent Nonprofits Confronting the Pandemic and Anti-Black Racism

    During a typical semester in the Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Law Clinic (SENLC) at Georgetown Law, law students represent D.C.-area social enterprises and nonprofits working in a range of fields, including social services, education, and international development. During this atypical semester, SENLC students have not only pivoted to virtual representation, they have also sharpened the focus of their representations to serve organizational clients who are responsive to the converging COVID-19 pandemic and our national reckoning with anti-Black racism. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the racial wealth gap, disparities in access to capital for Black-owned businesses, as well as workplace and educational inequities between a professional workforce who can work remotely and a working class who cannot.

    Recognizing that the pandemic is not only a public health crisis, but also an educational and economic crisis that has disproportionately impacted communities of color, and heeding our moral obligation to work to dismantle these inequities, this semester SENLC students are representing:

    (1) A newly-formed Virginia nonprofit that is providing college- and master-level tutors to low-income K-12 students to enhance their online education during COVID-19 school closures. The nonprofit is in its pilot phase and is operating with the support of Senator Warner (D-VA) who hopes to champion it nationally under the AmeriCorps umbrella;

     (2) A D.C. legal aid organization committed to saving the homes of D.C. residents through pro bono foreclosure legal defense;

    (3) A Virginia nonprofit focused on educational equity by providing scholarships and social-emotional learning resources to low-income college students;

    (4) A D.C. nonprofit whose mission is to empower, prepare, and advocate for Black women in the quantitative sciences, including economics, finance, and data sciences; and

    (5) A D.C. nonprofit offering free home ownership workshops and financial resources for teachers and other employees of D.C. Public Schools, 70% of whom are people of color and 50% of whom are Black, to allow educators to live where they work and build intergenerational wealth.

    SENLC students are representing these clients on grant funding, governance, contracts, liability protection, and compliance issues. The Clinic will continue to work with organizational clients confronting the economic and educational impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and anti-Black racism for the foreseeable future and has plans to work with mutual aid organizations and worker cooperatives in the spring semester.


  • 29 Oct 2020 3:03 PM | Lauren Bartlett (Administrator)

    The 2020 election for CLEA's Board of Directors and Executive Committee will open on November 1, 2020 and the voting will close at midnight on December 1, 2020.

    On November 1, you will receive an email with a link to the voting platform. We recommend that you remove “noreply@qemailserver.com” from your email spam filters before November 1 to be sure that you receive your ballot.

    All CLEA Members in good standing are eligible to vote. If you are not yet a CLEA Member and you would like to be, please visit our website at CLEAWeb.org to become a member. All new member registrations must be completed by close of business Friday, October 30, 2020 in order to be able to vote in the 2020 election. If you are not sure about your membership status, please contact Gautam Hans (Gautam.hans@vanderbilt.edu) and Kathryn Banks (kpbanks@wustl.edu), Co-Chairs of the Membership Committee.

    In advance of the opening of the Board elections, please review the candidate’s statements and bios linked here.

    This year’s slate of candidates for the CLEA Board are as follows:

    Chante Brantley

    Davida Finger

    Pedro Gerson

    Crystal Grant

    Llezlie Green

    Melina Healey

    Ronnie Hochbaum

    Anna Kirsch

    Gowri Krishna

    Tameka Lester

    Michael Murphy

    Jenna Prochaska

    Paul Radvany

    Melissa Redmond

    Rebecca Robichaud

    Shanda Sibley

    Sarah Horn Wolking

    And the nominees for the Executive Committee are:

    Secretary: Jodi Balsam

    Co-Vice Presidents: Caitlin Barry & Shobha Mahadev

    Thank you and we look forward to CLEA’s election season!

    Sincerely,

    The CLEA Elections Committee

    Lauren Bartlett, St. Louis University School of Law

    Melanie DeRousse, University of Kansas School of Law

    Kendall Kerew, Georgia State University College of Law

    Lynnise Pantin, Chair, Columbia Law School


  • 28 Oct 2020 1:11 PM | Jeff Baker (Administrator)

    By Melissa Toback Levin, Lewis Steel Racial Justice Fellow, New York Law School

    The Racial Justice Project (“RJP”) is a legal advocacy organization housed in New York Law School dedicated to protecting the constitutional and civil rights of people who have been denied such rights on the basis of race, and to increasing public awareness of racism and racial injustice in, among other areas, the areas of education, employment, political participation, economic inequality, and criminal justice.  The RJP’s work includes impact litigation, appellate advocacy, legislative advocacy, training, and public education.  Professor Penelope Andrews and Professor Alvin Bragg co-direct the RJP; they are aided by post-graduate fellows and students in the Project’s work. 

    Recently, the RJP has been keenly focused on efforts to promote police transparency and accountability as well as efforts to end the criminalization of poverty.  The following provides an overview of two RJP matters:

    Carr v. de Blasio

    In late August 2019, the RJP filed a petition on behalf of Eric Garner’s mother, sister, and police accountability advocates against the Mayor of New York City, the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) Police Commissioner, and other New York City officials.  The petition was brought under Section 1109 of the New York City Charter, a “sunlight” provision which allows a judge to preside over a summary inquiry at which City employees and officers can be made to testify about violations or neglect of duties.

    The respondents moved to dismiss the petition.  On September 24, 2020, Justice Joan A. Madden granted the majority of the petition for a summary inquiry. The Court granted the petition for a summary inquiry with respect to alleged violations and neglect of duty in connection with: (1) the stop, arrest, and use of force against Mr. Garner; (2) the filing of false official documents concerning Mr. Garner's arrest; (3) the leaking of Mr. Garner's alleged arrest history and medical condition in the autopsy report; and (4) the alleged lack of medical care provided to Mr. Garner by police officers. 

    The respondents filed a notice of appeal and are seeking to invoke an automatic stay.  If the inquiry proceeds, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Police Commissioner O'Neill, among others with knowledge or information concerning the four areas of inquiry, will be required to testify and a transcript of their testimony will become a public record.

    In addition to the lawsuit, the RJP submitted a Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) request to the NYPD and the Civilian Complaint Review Board (“CCRB”) relating to Mr. Garner’s arrest and death.

    The lawsuit and FOIL request were part of a broader campaign to repeal New York State Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, which provided protections for police officer personnel records and had been interpreted in an overly broad manner.  (The City had pointed to Section 50-a as a basis for the lack of key disclosures concerning Mr. Garner’s death.)  In October 2019, New York Law School Professor Alvin Bragg testified at a hearing before the New York State Standing Committee on Codes on the repeal of Section 50-a on behalf of the RJP.  On June 12, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an act to repeal Section 50-a into law.  As a result, the public has access to police disciplinary records as they are considered “presumptively open for public inspection and copying” under New York’s Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”).  One week after the law’s repeal, the City pledged to release all disciplinary records – this is now the subject of litigation brought by law enforcement unions, including the Police Benevolent Association.

    Driving While Black and Latinx: Stops, Fines, Fees, and Unjust Debts

    In February 2020, the RJP produced a report entitled “Driving While Black and Latinx: Stops, Fines, Fees, and Unjust Debts.”  The report examines the disparate impact that a law which authorizes driver’s license suspensions for non-payments of traffic debt and nonappearances in traffic court has on communities of color.  It notes that between January 2016 and April 2018 New York issued nearly 1.7 million driver’s license suspensions for traffic debt and highlights how the practice unduly targets and harms communities of color, forcing people to choose between, on one hand, stopping driving and not being able to get to work or, on the other hand, risking criminal charges by driving on a suspended license.

    The report was utilized in a campaign to help secure the passage of the Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act, which passed both chambers and now awaits Governor Cuomo’s signature. 


  • 07 Sep 2020 8:49 PM | Michael Murphy (Administrator)

    The CLEA Elections Committee (Caitlin Berry, Melanie DeRousse, Shobha Mahadev and Lynnise Pantin) is soliciting nominations through October 1, 2020, of individuals to serve on the CLEA Board of Directors starting in January 2021. This year, there are several Board positions open. All positions require a three-year commitment. See below for a memo prepared by the CLEA Elections Committee, which sets forth the activities and responsibilities of CLEA Board members in more detail. Current CLEA members are invited to nominate themselves or other CLEA members as candidates for one of these open positions. The committee also encourages "new clinicians" (defined as clinicians with fewer than 6 years of experience) to run for the CLEA Board. Our Bylaws create a separate election process for candidates identified as "new clinicians," to ensure that the identified "new clinician" candidate who receives the greatest number of votes will be assured a place on the Board.

    The Committee strongly encourages CLEA members to nominate individuals from groups that are currently underrepresented within the leadership of various clinical institutions, including CLEA, the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education, and the Clinical Law Review. The nomination process is simple. Nominate yourself or someone else by contacting the chair of the CLEA Elections Committee, Lynnise Pantin, lynnise.pantin@law.columbia.edu. If you are nominating yourself, please include a paragraph or two about why you are running and a link to your faculty profile, which will be included with the election materials to be sent later in the fall. If you are nominating another CLEA member, there is no need to include such a paragraph; the name alone will suffice, and the Elections Committee will contact the nominee for further information. If you have less than six years of clinical teaching experience and wish to be identified as a "new clinician" candidate, or if you want to nominate a candidate for the "new clinician" category, please indicate that as well.

    Although the process of nomination is easy, our Bylaws set a strict deadline for receiving nominations. All nominations must be received by October 1, 2020. If you have questions about the CLEA Elections process, please feel free to contact Lynnise Pantin at lynnise.pantin@law.columbia.edu.

    --------------------

    Why CLEA Exists

    The Clinical Legal Education Association is a membership driven organization that serves as a voice for instructors teaching clinic and skills courses, advocating on their behalf both inside and outside of the academy.  It is the largest association of law teachers in the United States.  The mission statement delineates the many purposes of CLEA and can be found here: http://cleaweb.org.  Historically, CLEA can act more quickly and speak more forcefully and on a broader range of issues than other clinical organizations.

    The organization engages in community-building activities, co-sponsors the Clinical Law Review, and engages in important advocacy efforts on behalf clinicians as a whole, as well as individual programs challenging political interference with educational activities.   Past board members have advocated to change the ABA’s evaluation of outcomes in the accreditation process, ensuring that clinical outcomes are integrated into new standards.  Others have fought to preserve gains in status won by earlier generations of clinicians.  Many have defended clinics from political attack and interference, most notably in Louisiana, Maryland, and New Jersey.  In addition, the organization continues to monitor and bring to the fore concerns about the racial diversity within clinical legal education.

    Board and Committee Activities

    The CLEA Board is responsible for the management of the business, affairs and programs of CLEA.  Board meetings take place twice a year, at the AALS Conference in January and at the Clinical Conference in April/May.  Throughout the year, the Board usually meets via conference call a number of times.  Board members are also expected to actively participate in e-mail discussion of various issues. 

    In addition to participation in CLEA meetings, Board members are expected to be actively involved in one or more of the CLEA committees.  Currently there are thirteen committees: Website/Communication; Accreditation/Standards (subgroups on Security of Position and Outcome Measures); Best Practices Implementation; Per Diem; Awards; Membership/Outreach; Creative Writing; Elections: Fundraising; Conferences; New Clinicians; Clinics and Law School Rankings; Task Force on Minorities in Clinical Legal Education.  The work of each committee varies.  Some are active all year (Accreditation/Standards) while others are active during particular times each year (Awards, Elections).  Board members are also expected to seek other ways to meet the mission of CLEA, such as being involved in special projects, writing for the CLEA newsletter or website, leading a small group at the CLEA New Clinicians Conference, or other appropriate activities.

    If elected, Board members serve for a three-year term and are eligible to run for two consecutive terms if they so desire.

    Board Member Responsibilities

    Each member of the Board should expect to do at least the following:

    • Prepare for and participate actively in each meeting of the board, and keep CLEA leadership informed if unable to do so.
    • Participate in the work of at least one standing CLEA committee.
    • Stay alert to matters of broad concern among clinicians and raise those concerns within CLEA as appropriate.
    • Become informed about matters relating to ABA regulation of legal education and CLEA’s advocacy: ask questions, get answers, be pushy, and figure it out!
    • Assist in administrative support for CLEA events, including staffing of dues tables and assistance with the New Clinicians Conference.
    • Remain current in CLEA dues, and encourage others at your school and in your region to pay their dues.

    It is understood that not all members of the CLEA Board will be able to attend the January meetings at AALS, particularly for those members newly elected (since they will not know the results of the election until mid-December).


  • 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 (Administrator)

    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.


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