News Blog

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

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  • 11 Nov 2019 9:00 AM | Lauren Bartlett (Administrator)

    Teaching Justice Webinar Series

    A project of CLEA's Best Practices Committee

    What is the Teaching Justice Webinar Series?

    The Teaching Justice Webinar series highlights new experiential approaches to teaching justice in the classroom, drawing on the wisdom of the current resistance movement and examining its intersections within a number of areas of law. This series explores the theory behind experiential faculty’s decision-making processes during an intense political movement, asking the question, “How do we show up as lawyers and teachers?” Presenters hope to develop a shared vocabulary and a deeper understanding of what it means to be a lawyer, whether we consider ourselves movement lawyers, rebellious lawyers, or transformative lawyers. 

    Upcoming Webinar Sessions:

    December 12, 2019: Teaching Environmental Justice Through Transactional Law

    9am PT/10am MT/11am CT/12noon ET

    Led by Camille Pannu in the Community and Economic Development Clinic of UC Irvine School of Law. Registration is limited, and you must sign up beforehand


    Jan 23, 2020: Teaching Justice by Keeping Families Together, Erin Miles Cloud and Lisa Sugoi, (Movement for Family Power) & Bobbi Butts (Starting Over Inc.)


    March 30, 2020: Beyond the Carceral State: Critically Teaching Criminal Law & Criminal Procedure, Amna Akbar (Ohio State University Moritz College of Law) and Jocelyn Simonson (Visiting Harvard Law School)


    June 2020: Teaching #MeToo, Amy Dillard (University of Baltimore)


    July 2020: Teaching Critical Lawyering, Denisse Córdova Montes & Caroline S. Bettinger-López (University of Miami Law School)


    Past Webinar Sessions:

    Teaching Racial Justice

    June 26, 2019 

    Taught by Jyoti Nanda (UCLA School of Law, Youth & Justice Clinic) and Mary Yanik (Tulane Law, Immigration Practicum and Senior Staff Attorney, New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice


    Teaching Justice through Misdemeanor Defense

    April 9, 2019 

    Taught by M. Eve Hanan (UNLV, Boyd School of Law), Robin Walker Sterling (Denver, Sturm College of Law), Rachal Moran (University of St. Thomas School of Law), and Anne Traum (UNLV, Boyd School of Law).


    Teaching Justice in the Context of Immigrants’ Rights

    December 6, 2018

    Taught by Annie Lai, Clinical Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, and Sameer Ashar, Vice Dean for Experiential Education and Professor of Law, UCLA. 

    Download the powerpoint presentation used during the December 6th webinar here.


    Shifting Power througTransformative Lawyering in Community Economic Development

    September 26, 2018 

    Taught by Renee Hatcher, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Business Enterprise Law Clinic at The John Marshall Law School, Alicia Alvarez (Michigan Law), Dorcas Gilmore (Univ. of Maryland Law), and Susan Bennett (American University – WCL).


    For questions about this series please contact the co-directors of the webinar series sub-committee, Laila Hlass lhlass@tulane.edu or Allison Korn korn@law.ucla.edu.

  • 07 Nov 2019 5:54 PM | Jeff Baker (Administrator)

    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.

  • 29 Oct 2019 12:08 PM | Lauren Bartlett (Administrator)

    Please join us for the following CLEA events at the AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 2 and 3, 2020:

    CLEA BOARD AND MEMBERSHIP MEETING

    The Members of the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Board of Directors cordially invite you to CLEA's bi-annual board and membership meeting and a pre-meeting dinner at the 2020 AALS Annual Conference in Washington D.C. 

    The Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Board of Directors and Membership Meeting will take place on Friday, January 3 from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. in the Chairman's Boardroom, Lobby Level at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, located at 2500 Calvert Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, directly across the street from the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

    Please RSVP for the meeting here (breakfast will be provided):https://doodle.com/poll/cxd94b25p7exgt46

    CLEA's board and membership meetings are open to members and others interested in learning more about CLEA's advocacy and other work.  Attending this meeting is a great way to meet up with CLEA Board Members and other clinicians attending the AALS Conference, as well as to find out how to get involved with CLEA. 

    PRE-MEETING DINNER

    The pre-meeting dinner is open to anyone interested in a social gathering of CLEA members and other clinicians from across the U.S. The pre-meeting dinner will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 2, at Mayahuel, 2609 24th Street, NE, Washington, DC 2008.  Dinner attendees are required to RSVP and to pay for their own dinner and drinks.

    Please RSVP for the dinner herehttps://doodle.com/poll/p3kkadis4h28xwzu

  • 22 Oct 2019 7:29 PM | Jeff Baker (Administrator)

    The Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) recognizes that many who receive U.S. News & World Report ballots in their capacity as clinical program directors find this ranking process uncomfortable. There are a number of problems with the ranking of clinical programs. First, it places us in competition with each other, when we as a group see ourselves in a shared struggle for social justice, equality, and improved legal education. Second, there are no articulated factors for ranking clinical programs, so the voting can be arbitrary to a degree. Third, some schools may unfairly suffer because they do not have the budget or the support of their administration to market their program or send their clinical faculty to annual conferences.

    While we might wish the rankings did not exist or hope to solve the collective action problem that bedevils creative responses, the USNWR rankings have remained a feature of our collective landscape. So, since rankings presently exist, what can we do now as faculty who teach clinics? 

    CLEA, through its Board of Directors, urges those ranking clinical programs to focus on factors that promote the principles for which CLEA advocates, namely the increased presence of clinical education (law clinics and externships) in law school curricula, security of position for clinical faculty, and diversity and equity. In evaluating clinical programs, CLEA urges voters to consider: 1) the number of law clinic and externship slots available relative to the student population at a school; 2) the breadth and quality of clinical curricular offerings available to students; 3) the school's security of position, academic freedom, and governance rights for faculty who teach clinics or externships; and 4) the extent to which the school has committed to diversity and equity in hiring for clinical positions with long-term security and retaining and promoting diverse clinical faculty.

    CLEA urges voters to score only those programs for which they have sufficient information to make informed decisions. It urges voters to choose the “No Answer” option when they have insufficient information to assess a particular clinical program.  

    Last, CLEA also urges those who receive ballots to consult their clinical colleagues for their views to increase the range of informed opinions reflected in the balloting.

  • 23 Sep 2019 7:11 PM | Jeff Baker (Administrator)

    Each member of the CLEA Social Justice Issues Committee has been writing or soliciting projects to highlight in this series. For my contribution this semester, I reached out to my friend, Prof. Sarah Gerwig-Moore, now the academic dean at Mercer University School of Law, who founded the Mercer Habeas Project. This year, Brian Kammer, former director of the Georgia Appellate and Resource Center, assumed its leadership. They contributed this good report on the clinic’s work:


    The Mercer Habeas Project was created in 2006 by Professor Sarah Gerwig-Moore, who was hired in that year to help create and teach in Mercer’s experiential learning program. The State of Georgia provides no right to counsel in post-conviction matters, so the clinic was created to help fill a void in legal services and because of Mercer’s particular strengths in legal writing. The course operates as a capstone clinic in which students put to use skills and prior coursework in constitutional law, criminal procedure, appellate practice, evidence, client counseling, and legal writing. A core value is to visit, spend time with, listen to, and partner with clinic clients—to provide client-centered representation and creative, attentive advocacy.

     

    Most of the clinic’s cases involve entering and providing counsel in pro se criminal or habeas cases pending in the Supreme Court of Georgia. Since 2006, the Clinic has represented more than 80 clients, including dozens of oral arguments, court hearings, parole petitions, and appellate briefs (and often a number of those vehicles in cases over long periods of time). Over the years, the clinic has had major successes in areas of due process, affirmative defenses, provision of effective assistance of counsel, and access to the courts (including provision of effective translators in court proceedings). The students' work has been recognized with two "Case of the Year" Awards from the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and in SCOTUSblog's "Petitions We're Watching." Sarah Gerwig-Moore was the 2013 recipient of the AALS Clinical Legal Education Section's Shanara Gilbert Emerging Clinician award, in large part because of her work with this clinic.

     

    The clinic has also weathered some hard losses, especially given the difficulty of overcoming procedural hurdles and statutes of limitation in older cases. Students and faculty have helped clients walk out of prison and rebuild their lives, packing suitcases with essentials and bringing them to the Greyhound Bus station. And students have stood vigil outside the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison while faculty witnessed their clients’ wrongful executions.

     

    The Project provides client-centered representation, which means we spend a lot of time in prison with our clients—and then talking and processing about those visits in local food joints. The work doesn’t stop when students leave the classroom, and it is not uncommon for students to work on our cases over weekends and breaks. Prison visit days start early in the morning. Whether or not the clinic sees a positive outcome of its cases, an intentional focus of the clinic is reflection upon systemic injustices in how poor people are charged in and treated by the criminal system.

     

    When Professor Gerwig-Moore moved into the role of Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in summer 2019, Mercer brought in Brian Kammer, former director of the Georgia Appellate and Resource Center, a nonprofit focusing on post-conviction litigation in Georgia’s capital cases. He brings with him more than twenty years of experience in habeas and appellate litigation, as well as a fresh perspective on the future of student work in the clinic.

     


  • 04 Sep 2019 7:28 PM | Jeff Baker (Administrator)

    By Shanta Trivedi, Clinical Teaching Fellow, Bronfein Family Law Clinic

    In May 2019, University of Baltimore Bronfein Family Law Clinic (“UB FLC”) and the ACLU of Arizona jointly filed an amicus brief in the Arizona Supreme Court in support of Juan P., a Mexican father fighting to get his son out of foster care in the United States and back to his family in Mexico where he belongs. 

    The UB FLC represents indigent clients in custody, visitation, divorce, and other family law proceedings and engages in litigation regarding important family law issues.  It also partners with community organizations to tackle larger systemic issues through advocacy, education, and legislative work. The fundamental, constitutionally protected liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of one’s children is a core principle of the UB FLC’s work and the community it serves. Juan P’s case was particularly compelling because it presented significant and timely issues of child custody and child welfare law that have broad implications for many children and parents, particularly during the ongoing family separation crisis at the Southern border.

    Juan P’s son, S.P., was born in the United States.  When S.P. was only a year old, Juan P. was deported and S.P. returned to Mexico with his father to live with his father and siblings. The following year, S.P. came to the United States to visit his mother in California.  Juan P. had daily contact with S.P. for several weeks until S.P.’s mother abruptly ceased contact.  Despite repeated attempts to contact the mother and find out his son’s whereabouts, Juan P. was unable to locate them.  Unbeknownst to Juan P., S.P.’s mother had moved to Arizona and had been embroiled in child welfare proceedings where she had been found an unfit parent. S.P. was placed in the custody of the Arizona Department of Child Safety (“DCS”) and ultimately with a foster family. 

    Juan P. only learned that his son was in foster care the next year and immediately contacted DCS to seek his son’s return to Mexico.  Shockingly, instead of returning the child as required by law, DCS filed a motion to terminate Juan P’s parental rights.  That motion was ultimately dismissed without a hearing, but the Arizona Court of Appeals twice denied reunification based on concerns that S.P. had bonded with his foster family and reunification with his biological family might cause him harm.

    Juan P. through his attorneys at the Maricopa County Office of the Public Advocate (“OPA”) filed a petition for review in the Arizona Supreme Court. UB FLC students Nathan Adams, Nell Fultz & Henry Lloyd, under the supervision of Clinical Teaching Fellow, Shanta Trivedi and Clinic Writing Instructor and Assistant Professor, Cheri Levin, researched and drafted a supporting amicus brief in conjunction with the ACLU of Arizona.

     The brief argued that, under the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, Juan P. had a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of his son.  The brief asserted that the state had no compelling interest in interfering with the parent-child relationship unless the parent was deemed unfit.  In this case, the lower court had explicitly found Juan P. to be fit on more than one occasion.  Thus, the state was unconstitutionally infringing on Juan P.’s fundamental right to parent his son.

    The brief also argued that, overall, the child welfare system disproportionately affects children of color and that this case was just one example of a larger systemic problem. Prejudice against minorities pervades the child welfare system, impacting which children are removed and which families are reunified. While this bias is often implicit, in this case it was overt and unapologetic. DCS had placed S.P. with a foster family who did not speak Spanish and repeatedly violated court orders requiring the child to receive Spanish lessons so that he could better communicate with his father and siblings in Mexico.  Worse, DCS had made disparaging remarks about Mexico on the record in arguing why S.P. should remain with his foster family.  The brief asked the court not to sanction such open and hostile discrimination.

    While the petition was ultimately denied, the students gained legal research and drafting experience and had a wonderful experience collaborating with a community partner.  Most importantly, they learned a larger lesson: family separation isn’t just happening at the border. Legal systems within this country separate families every day.  And Juan P., like the thousands of other parents separated from their children is continuing his fight.

  • 02 Sep 2019 1:32 PM | Jeff Baker (Administrator)

    The CLEA Elections Committee (Melanie DeRousse, Benjie Louis, Shobha Mahadev and Lynnise Pantin) is soliciting nominations through October 1, 2019, of individuals to serve on the CLEA Board starting in January 2020. This year, there are several Board positions open.  All positions require a three-year commitment.  I am attaching 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, 2019.  If you have questions about the CLEA Elections process, please feel free to contact Lynnise Pantin at lynnise.pantin@law.columbia.edu.


  • 20 Aug 2019 1:20 PM | Jeff Baker (Administrator)

    EVICTION CRISIS:  A CALL TO ACTION - by Judith Fox 

    Matthew Desmond is instrumental for bringing the devastating effects of eviction to the public in his award-winning book, Evicted.  The praise is well deserved.  While those of us in the clinical world have been all too aware of the issues, Desmond has given us platforms unlike any in the past.  People in power are now listening and we should make our voices heard. Matthew Desmond’s research had identified South Bend, along with Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, as one of three Indiana cities whose eviction rates placed them in the top twenty cities in America with the most evictions. This is the time for bold action.

    For the past twenty years, my clinic students and I have battled against a particularly bad slum lord in our community.  He was the ultimate Teflon-man.  He rented properties he did not own.  He rented properties that were not only in bad shape, many had been condemned by the city and issued with demolition orders.  Spurred on by the call to action, we decided it was time to put an end to these practices once and for all.  We set up a careful strategy, working side-by-side with local governmental entities and not-for-profits not only to stop this particular bad actor, but to combat the systemic issues that allowed him to continue for decades.  Our first target:  the lax Indiana laws that allowed this man to rent such deplorable properties.

    It is illegal in Indiana to rent a property that does not comply with housing codes, there is just no effective way to enforce that obligation.  My students and I worked with the city of South Bend to draft the Rental Safety Verification Program (RSVP), an ordinance that requires every rental home in South Bend to be certified safe.  My students brought their clients to hearings, testified to their experiences and met with local advocates, including landlords.  In the end, the ordinance passed.  We are now assisting families who have been displaced because the home they rented is not habitable. Our parallel efforts with the Indiana legislature were not so successful, but we will be back this year to try again.

    The second target of our efforts were the small claims courts that handle most of the evictions in our community.    Looking closely at the cases our targeted slumlord was filing, we noticed some peculiar things.  He did not own many of the parties he was renting.  The L.L.C. he was using, was not a valid company.  In one case, he used the L.L.C. of a competitor!  We thought this must be anomalous, considering this man’s history.  It was not.   We were appalled to discover how many landlords and rental companies were filing evictions using fictitious names.  We began challenging every eviction on standing grounds, and won.  As a result, the court instituted a local rule requiring parties in eviction to document their right to bring the case to court. Our slum lord has not brought an eviction case since.

    We had shown a light on eviction hearings and our new crop of Magistrates began to do the same.  They began to question why St. Joseph County allowed landlords to post their property as opposed to the cash bond required by State law.  This is significant because, in Indiana, there are essentially two proceedings in an eviction.  There is an immediate possession hearing which is quick and usually does not afford a tenant much of a chance to defend herself, followed more than a month later by a trial.  If someone is evicted in the immediate possession phase, even if they win at trial, they have already been displaced.  A landlord must post a bond at the immediate possession stage to reimburse a tenant wrongfully convicted.  A tenant can post an equivalent counter-bound to stay in the home pending trial.  The St. Joseph County courts were allowing the bond to be the rental property, completely precluding the posing of an equivalent counter-bound.  That practice too has ended.

    Our next target is the lax enforcement of licensing laws.  Federal and state law requires leasing agencies and others who buy and sell property or rent property they do not own to be licensed.  We discovered that almost none of them are.  Again, we have systematically began to file counterclaims using our state UDAP laws.  So far, these challenges have incentivized settlement in nearly every instance.

    We have made real progress in a year, but we are far from done.  This semester my students have teamed with the ACLU, Professor Florence Roisman at I.U. McKinney Law School and a Notre Dame Student chapter of the Roosevelt institute to do a court watch study of evictions across Indiana.  Anyone who has ever witnessed these hearings knows that the due process violations are mind-boggling.  We intend to shine a light on those practices.  The ultimate outcome will surely be a white paper and perhaps litigation.

    Eviction is an issue facing clients throughout our clinical programs.  Ann Juergens, Mitchell Hamlin Law School, recently reached out to the clinical community to suggest that we join forces across states to collaborate on solutions.  Ann and I will be giving the opening plenary at the Midwest Clinical Conference being held in October at the Michigan State Law School to formally begin this conversation.  This is no less than a call to action.  Whether you can come to Michigan in October, or simply want to send us an email, we welcome the entire clinical community to this issue.  The clinical community had a tremendous impact on homeowner’s rights during the foreclosure crisis.  It is time to turn our eyes to eviction.  As Michael Desmond has so eloquently said, eviction is not a symptom of poverty, it is a cause.  Clinical programs are uniquely placed to meet the challenge and make a dent in this crucial social justice issue.

    Judith Fox, Clinical Professor, Notre Dame.  Judith Fox and Linda Fisher, recently released  The Foreclosure echo:  How the Hardest Hit Have Been Left Out of the Economic Recovery (Cambridge, 2019).

  • 23 Jul 2019 3:20 PM | Jeff Baker (Administrator)

    By Anna G. Cominsky, Visiting Associate Professor of Law and Supervising Attorney at New York Law School

    Social justice is an integral part of Associate Professor of Law Gowri Krishna’s Nonprofit and Small Business Clinic at New York Law School. “I think of my clinic broadly as a social justice clinic,” Krishna says, “We support people and organizations that work towards economic, racial, social, and environmental equity.” Students in the yearlong Clinic provide transactional legal assistance to nonprofit organizations and small businesses. Under close faculty supervision by Krishna, students interview and counsel clients; plan and strategize on matters; research relevant questions of law; draft correspondence, memos and legal documents; manage client relationships; and negotiate agreements. Students take primary responsibility for work with multiple clients on a variety of matters such as entity formation, governance, contracts, intellectual property and regulatory compliance.

    The Clinic is comprised of seminar and fieldwork experience for both fall and spring semesters. During the fall semester, twice-weekly seminars focus on substantive areas of law, ethics and lawyering skills. Students prepare for and lead case rounds in which they discuss issues raised in and reflections on their fieldwork

    Clinic clients range from start-ups to more mature entities. Clients generally come from or benefit low-income communities, and all are unable to afford market rates for legal services. “We represent nonprofit groups and small businesses on non-litigation matters such as entity structure, formation, governance, contracts, leases, etc. The nonprofit organizations have varying missions that aim to improve the lives of and build power for the most vulnerable in some way, whether it is providing preschool programs for children in public housing, training immigrants for jobs in the culinary sector, or developing affordable housing policies (a sampling of this past year’s clinic clients).”

    The Clinic helps students explore and understand a new economic system, commonly referred to as the solidarity or cooperative economy, which is a movement to build a just and dependable economy. “Many of the small businesses we assist are ones that fit into the solidarity economy. They value democracy and cooperation and operate their business according to these principles. Transactional lawyers adapt existing legal structures and create new ones to meet their clients’ goal of prioritizing labor over capital. They counsel clients on governance structures that offer democratic participation by all of the workers in a business. This type of legal work is cutting-edge, requiring attorneys to think creatively and lawyer in novel ways. Law school clinics, nonprofit legal services, and private law offices should seek and embrace opportunities to support a more democratic economy.”

     This is a critical time in our history. Clinics, like Krishna’s, now more than ever have the ability to promote social justice by training future lawyers. The Clinic helps prepare students for work with organizational clients and introduces students to opportunities for transactional lawyers to further economic, environmental, racial and social justice. “My hope is that by getting to know their clients and their clients’ broader objectives, students will sharpen their critical thinking and creative lawyering skills and consider their role in effecting social justice.


  • 03 Jun 2019 8:34 PM | Jeff Baker (Administrator)

    By Julia Hernandez and Joe Rosenberg

     

    Reimagining our clinical practice. After a short hiatus, CUNY Law School’s Disability & Aging Justice Clinic (a/k/a Elder Law Clinic), resumed its practice in the Fall of 2018 as an evening clinic open to both day (full time) and evening (part time) students. The clinic’s teaching team—Julia Hernandez, Joe Rosenberg, and Liz Valentin—reimagined the clinic in order to incorporate our varied expertise, recent projects, and also to respond to the current political climate in which marginalized and vulnerable communities are increasingly under attack.

     

    As a result of this process, we decided to highlight our work with immigrant families, and to connect the intersections among the seemingly disparate practice areas of aging, disability, family, and immigration law in order to assist families in harnessing the law for protection and self-determination. We also intentionally used technology to facilitate and advance our work, and prepare students for  “Lawyering in the Digital Age” through the use of a paperless case management system, video conferencing, and projects to create guided interview applications.

     

    Initial reading assignments at the intersection of our practice areas. To introduce the students to how we conceived of our clinical practice, we assigned several short readings (hyperlinked at the end of this post) to discuss during our first class to provide background on the following themes:

    • Race, poverty, & social justice
    • Aging, disability, guardianship, & decision making autonomy
    • Immigration, families, & guardianship of children
    • Technology, privacy, liberty, & the law 

    Building on a project created to support undocumented parents. CUNY Law’s Planning with Parents (PWP) Project was created in response to the “enhanced” immigration enforcement following the November 2016 Presidential election. The PWP Project’s primary focus is on helping undocumented parents understand their rights and options for protecting family members in case the parents are detained or deported. The PWP Project works with immigrant families at risk of deportation and/or separation through several methods of engagement with local immigrant communities. The project has served as a resource for information to advocates and families through know your rights workshops, legal clinics, trainings, and limited legal representation. 

     

    Goals of the project. Beyond providing a laboratory for skills development or apolitical legal services, our aim was for students to explicitly engage the political dimension of lawyering with those excluded from the dominant social structure—in this case, undocumented immigrants—and to center those politics in their work. We identified and drew upon the main goals of the PWP Project:

     

    • ·       Arming families with knowledge. At community events and individual meetings, students developed expertise with legal tools families can use to proactively protect against deportation and to plan for minor children or differently abled family members in the event of detention or deportation.

     

    • ·       Using advance planning tools to support family self-determination. Students counseled families and advocates on temporary care of children, designation of a guardian, New York power of attorney, and other legal forms, assisting with execution of these documents for families who chose to do so. Students used their knowledge and expertise to bring our legal clinics into the digital age: we abandoned our paper based intake and legal forms and transitioned to using digital interactive PDF documents that are populated with answers to questions. Based on this experience, students collaborated with a developer to create a guided interview application that can be used by advocates to inform clients about advance planning and create legal documents.
    •  
    • ·       Representing children to stabilize immigration status. The PWP Project involved family law, lifetime planning, and immigration law. Guardianship across a broad spectrum—for minors and for adults who need support in making decisions due to mental health, cognitive, and age related issues—was a common thread of the project. With our students, this led us to represent children in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases to obtain Legal Permanent Residency and protect against deportation. This work is done in local Family Courts and with USCIS, the federal administrative body for immigration benefits.  
    •  

    Making connections across practice areas. By situating the PWP Project in this clinic, we exposed students to the intersectional nature of legal problems politically and socially marginalized clients face and themes that bridge practice areas. We put our experience in preparing advanced planning documents traditionally used in the disability and aging context, to work for immigrant parents and their children through temporary care of children, designation of a guardian, New York power of attorney, and other legal mechanisms. We expanded our representation to immigrant minors, who needed a guardian appointed in Family Court in order to apply for permanent residence status. Students drew connections among the different systems of guardianship for children, differently-abled adults, and elders, and explored power structures at play, who the different types of guardianships benefit, and ways in which they empowered or damaged the family, both individually and collectively.  

     

    Understanding the meaning and utility of law through the lens of those subject to it. One of our goals as a clinic is to help students understand clients—and their broader communities—as authoritative interpretive bodies. This bi-directional feedback helps students broadly envision different legal realities together with their clients. We facilitated this by structuring our clinic to empower and center the experience of students (our “clients”) in order to model how we wanted students to relate to their clients. Part of our motivation was to maximize the learning experience of our students—most of whom worked during the day and had to make the time for law school. We organized our clinic seminars in ways that enabled us to teach theory, doctrine, and practice primarily through individual and group supervision and highly structured student-led rounds. We hope our clinical practice will guide students as radical lawyers for social justice in whatever practice area they pursue.

     

    Initial Readings Assigned for Clinic Seminar:

     

    Race, poverty & social justice

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/05/14/william-barber-takes-on-poverty-and-race-in-the-age-of-trump

     

    Aging, disability, guardianship, & decision making autonomy

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/09/how-the-elderly-lose-their-rights

     

    (Read pp. 10-17 until Findings & Recommendations): Beyond Guardianship: Toward Alternatives that Promote Greater Self-Determination For People with Disabilities (National Council on Disability, March 22, 2018)

    https://ncd.gov/publications/2018/beyond-guardianship-toward-alternatives

     

    Immigration, families, & guardianship of children

     

    Kaye, The Kids are Citizens. The Parents Are Undocumented. What Now? (L.A. Times, March 10, 2017)

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-kaye-mixed-status-la-families-20170310-story.html

     

    When Immigrant Detention Means Losing Your Kids (NPR, December 8, 2017)

    https://www.npr.org/2017/12/08/565426335/when-immigration-detention-means-losing-your-kids

     

    Lovett et al., Undocumented Parents Facing Deportation Can Name a Guardian for Kids Under New Law (N.Y. Daily News, June 27, 2018)

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-immigrants-cuomo-savino-rozic-children-deportation-guardian-20180627-story.html

     

    Technology, Privacy, Liberty, and the Law

    What Do We Care So Much About Privacy?

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/06/18/why-do-we-care-so-much-about-privacy

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