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After Decades of Service to D.C. Youth, Joe Tulman Retires from Full-Time Teaching

Monday, November 19, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: UDC Law Staff
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Professor Tulman at podium
Professor Josepth B. Tulman was awarded the 2017 Justice Potter Stewart Award by the Council for Court Excellence. Photo credit: Jose L. Argueta Photography for Council for Court Excellence

After over 32 years of service at the law school, Professor Joseph B. Tulman retired this year from full-time teaching. Professor Tulman joined the law school in 1984 as a teaching fellow in the Juvenile Law Clinic at UDC Law’s predecessor institution, Antioch School of Law, receiving his M.A.T. in Clinical Education in 1986. He began teaching the same year, pioneering the use of special education and disability rights advocacy on behalf of children.

During his long tenure as director of the Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic, Professor Tulman has represented countless young people in life-altering delinquency and affirmative special education proceedings. His innovative use of special education advocacy in combination with delinquency defense has helped to slow the school-to-prison pipeline, shrink the delinquency system, and focus attention on improving the special education system in D.C. By training lawyers, in addition to law students, and through persistent advocacy, Professor Tulman has also helped increase access to justice for the District’s youth, with D.C. lawyers litigating a full 45% of all special education hearings in the entire nation for several years.

Professor Tulman litigated important cases such as In re T.R.J., a D.C. Court of Appeals decision affirming that “the best interest of the child” standard, rather than some alternative, controls the decision to close a child welfare case. He also litigated Evans v. Williams, a class action lawsuit that exposed a pattern of abuse and malpractice at a government-run facility for people with intellectual disabilities and secured closure of the notorious institution. In Evans, Professor Tulman helped negotiate a $31 million settlement that, among other things, established the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities which continues to serve D.C. residents to this day.

Professor Tulman has authored numerous influential articles, book chapters, and practice guidance while instilling a commitment to serve the most vulnerable across multiple generations of public interest attorneys graduating from the school. He served on the faculty of the National Judicial College and, over the years, has trained attorneys in a majority of states. In 2010, Professor Tulman was named the founding Director of the Took Crowell Institute for Youth at UDC Law, an advocacy program focusing on disrupting and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.

Professor Tulman has contributed to a variety of projects devoted to improving the lives of D.C. residents. By appointment of the mayor, Professor Tulman served as Chair of the D.C. Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. In 2011, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates awarded Professor Tulman its Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Educational Advocacy on behalf of children with disabilities. In 2007, the AALS Clinical Section Committee on Lawyering in the Public Interest named him a Bellow Scholar. In 2001, he received the D.C. Bar’s Jerrold Scoutt Prize in recognition of his work providing direct legal services to disadvantaged persons in the District of Columbia and, in 1996, the Criminal Law Section of the ABA awarded him its Livingston Hall Juvenile Justice Award.

A beloved professor and respected District-wide for his advocacy on behalf of young people, in 1995, Professor Tulman was awarded the D.C. School of Law’s distinguished service award, and in 2012, UDC awarded him The Cleveland L. Dennard Distinguished Service Award, as an individual who has demonstrated a long-term commitment of outstanding service to the University or to the Washington, D.C. community. Just last year, in the latest of his many awards, the Council on Court Excellence honored Professor Tulman for his lifetime of service in the public interest with a Justice Potter Stewart Award.

Professor Tulman is currently living in Geneva, Switzerland where his wife, Deborah Greenfield is the Deputy Director General for Policy of the International Labour Organization. In addition to being a “trailing spouse” and “house husband” as he refers to himself, Professor Tulman consults on a pro bono basis and continues to work on projects to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in states across the U.S.

This article appears in the Fall 2018 issue of Clinic Notes, the UDC Law Clinical and Experiential Program newsletter available here.


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