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2019 AALS Clinical Conference Features UDC Law Faculty, Leg. Clinic Takes Home CLEA Award

Wednesday, July 10, 2019  
Posted by: UDC Law Staff
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Renee Hutchins and Marcy Karin on stage
UDC Law Dean Renée Hutchins (left) presents UDC Law Prof. Marcy Karin with the 2019 CLEA Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project on behalf of the law school’s Legislation Clinic.

The clinical faculty of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law) turned out in force for this year’s Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Conference on Clinical Legal Education. The four-day meeting, held in San Francisco from May 4 through 7, showcased the broad scope of innovative programs, pedagogy, and scholarship produced by UDC Law’s renowned clinical and experiential faculty. UDC Law clinicians participated in no less than nine sessions at the conference, and the law school’s Legislation Clinic took home the prestigious Clinical Legal Education Association Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project for the clinic’s trailblazing work in support of menstrual equity.

The theme of this year’s conference, “Teaching the Next Generation of Lawyer Leaders in a Time of Polarization,” prompted a rich selection of plenary panels, works-in-progress presentations, and practice-based workshops focused on the unique challenges facing clinical legal educators and law students in an increasingly polarized world. This article highlights the extraordinary contribution of UDC Law faculty in making the event a success.

Leading-Edge Clinical Programs and Pedagogy: From Part-Time Evening Program Design to Interactive Training Modules

Matthew Fraidin, Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs, kicked off the conference on Saturday with the plenary session “Planning and Responding to Political Interference.” The session brought together experiential and clinical directors from across the nation to discuss strategies and tactics for addressing political interference in law school clinical and experiential programs. Rising domestic polarization threatens public law schools in particular given their dependence on legislative appropriations and the penchant of law school clinic representation to involve advocacy or litigation against government agencies.

Group photo of Jones and Toussaint
UDC Law alumna and GW Law Professor Susan R. Jones, left, and UDC Law Prof. Etienne Toussaint presented "Rebellious Transactional Lawyering: Innovative Pedagogical Tools to Advance Economic Justice in a Time of Political Polarization.”

Dean Fraidin followed up the next day with a workshop, co-led by Donna H. Lee, Senior Associate Dean of Clinical Programs for the City University of New York School of Law (CUNY Law). The workshop, titled “Learning about Social Justice Lawyering from Teaching in Part-Time Evening Clinics,” featured in-depth discussion of the benefits and challenges of clinical programs for part-time evening students. The lion’s share of legal practice tends to occur during the day, and evening students often juggle part-time studies with full-time jobs as well as family and other obligations that create barriers to doing daytime work. Participants considered emerging approaches to the problem based on UDC Law’s evening clinical program, established in 2010, and CUNY Law’s program, which graduated its first class of part-time evening students in spring 2019.

On Monday, Assistant Professor of Law and Community Development Law Clinic Co-Director Etienne Toussaint led the concurrent session “Rebellious Transactional Lawyering,” hosting a lively discussion of innovative pedagogical tools for advancing economic justice in the context of transactional law clinics. Professor Toussaint designed and coordinated the session, which featured transactional clinic faculty from law schools across the nation including UDC Law alum Susan R. Jones, ’81, who is Professor of Clinical Law and Director of The George Washington University Law School’s Small Business & Community Economic Development Clinic.

Group photo of Steglich, Harris and Natoli
Elissa Steglich, left, UDC Law Prof. Lindsay M. Harris, and Christine Natoli presented on legal interviewing and language access films developed with Tulane Law’s Laila Hlass (not pictured).

Also on Monday, UDC Law Assistant Professor Lindsay M. Harris presented on the Legal Interviewing and Language Access Film Project, which she co-developed with Laila Hlass, Director of Experiential Learning at Tulane University Law School. The video series coaches law students through client interviewing techniques in the immigration law context. Since its launch in November 2018, more than 70 law school clinical and experiential programs have requested the teacher's guide to the innovative series. On the day of the panel, Professor Harris, who is Co-Director of UDC Law’s Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, led a discussion of best practices for using the video series in the classroom, alongside clinical faculty from other law schools who were early adopters of the training module.

Professor Harris also participated in a Tuesday concurrent session, contributing to a panel discussion about best practices for law student engagement in the immigrant family detention context and in crisis lawyering situations more broadly, such as the current situation on the border. The panel – titled “Learning in Baby Jail: Lessons from Law Student Engagement in Immigration Detention Centers” after Professor Harris’ recent Clinical Law Review article of the same name – reported back on the results of a nationwide survey of clinicians and professors who have engaged in deportation defense in family detention centers in recent years. In her remarks, Professor Harris highlighted lessons learned from UDC Law’s signature service-learning practicum and seminar, which led students to engage in immigration advocacy within family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania.

CLEA Presents UDC Law Legislation Clinic the 2019 Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project

On Monday, Jack and Lovell Olender Professor of Law and Director of the Legislation Clinic Marcy Karin accepted the prestigious Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project on behalf of the law school’s Legislation Clinic. The CLEA Award recognized the UDC Law Legislation Clinic’s groundbreaking two-year partnership with Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters (BRAWS), a nonprofit that distributes new menstrual products, bras, and underwear to schools and more than 45 shelters serving the greater D.C. area.

In the Legislation Clinic, student attorneys worked to advance menstrual equity through legislative lawyering and policy advocacy, achieving significant reforms across multiple jurisdictions – including the repeal of D.C.’s “tampon tax,” funding for the D.C. repeal, and passage of a Virginia law mandating that correctional facilities provide free menstrual products to inmates. In May 2018, the Legislation Clinic doubled down on its successes with the release of Periods, Poverty, and the Need for Policy: A Report on Menstrual Inequity in the U.S. Among other things, this groundbreaking report captured the voices of women and girls on menstruation, dignity, and access that were shared at the first-ever Congressional Briefing on menstrual equity. In addition to Professor Karin, Professor Laurie Morin and Clinical Instructor Monica Bhattacharya, LL.M. ’18, supervised the student attorneys working on menstrual equity projects.

Holly Seibold, BRAWS' Founder and Executive Director, had high praise for UDC Law students and faculty in her letter nominating the clinic for the CLEA Award. With the Legislation Clinic’s assistance, BRAWS has “accomplished extraordinary feats in such a short period of time. We were able to overcome insurmountable obstacles, such as a stigmatized topic, and became a credible, key player in public policy."

Hard-Hitting Clinical Scholarship: From “Rebellious” Clinical Pedagogy to Law Reform

Group photo of Schommer, Sherman-Stokes, Harris and Zapata
Erica Schommer, left, Sarah Sherman-Stokes, Lindsay M. Harris, and Cindy Zapata presented "Learning in Baby Jail: Lessons from Law Student Engagement in Immigration Detention Centers.”

On the last day of the conference, three UDC Law faculty members delivered scholarly presentations. In “Strangers in the Village: Critical Clinical Pedagogy and Rebellious Transactional Lawyering,” Professor Toussaint built on the theme of his Monday panel discussion. His paper advances a bold vision for the integration of a critical legal studies perspective into transactional law clinics. Professor Toussaint offered a critique of the dominant learning ecology of transactional law clinics, the majority of which prioritize opportunities in the technology space and deemphasize the persistent economic justice issues that plague marginalized, low-income, and underrepresented communities. Drawing on his experience as Co-Director of UDC Law’s Community Development Law Clinic, Professor Toussaint laid out a roadmap for a “rebellious” approach to transactional legal education that intentionally uplifts marginalized communities and combats systems of oppression.

In the Employment Law works-in-progress track, Professor Karin presented her paper “Periods and Workplace Policy.” The paper outlines her proposal for a federal menstrual management workplace protection law modeled, in part, on the Affordable Care Act’s breastfeeding accommodations law. Building on the lessons learned from the Legislation Clinic’s award-winning representation of BRAWS, Professor Karin expands the menstrual equity response into the workplace. In so doing, she proposes a three-part framework for legislation to address menstruation at work by creating a right to reasonable access to menstrual accommodations, including job-protected breaktime without fear of retaliation, requiring access to clean water and sanitary facilities, and interpreting anti-discrimination laws to cover menstruating individuals.

Nicole Tuchinda, LL.M. ’17, workshopped her draft paper “Trauma-Responsive Individualized Education Programs” during a works-in-progress session. Currently a Clinical Teaching Fellow and Supervising Attorney with Georgetown Law’s Health Justice Alliance Clinic, Professor Tuchinda will return to UDC Law this fall as Visiting Assistant Professor of Law to teach in the law school’s Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic. In her scholarly paper, Professor Tuchinda presents a critical analysis of the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as well as a three-pronged approach to reforming the special education system based on the robust body of research demonstrating the urgent need for special education to embody trauma-responsive principles.

Alumnae of UDC Law’s LL.M. Program Take the Stage

The 2019 Clinical Conference also featured presentations from alumnae of UDC Law’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) program in Clinical Education, Social Justice, and Systems Change.

Drawing on her work as a Clinical Instructor with UDC Law’s Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, Saba Ahmed, LL.M. ’19, presented at a Tuesday concurrent session titled “I Just Met You, And This is Crazy, But Here’s My Number, So Call Me Maybe: Developing Student Attorney-Client Relationships and Communication from Afar.” During the session, Professor Ahmed and other panelists discussed remote communication strategies in the clinical legal context, including the interactive classroom simulations designed by the Legal Interviewing and Language Access Film Project. Professor Ahmed will join CUNY Law this fall as Visiting Assistant Professor in the law school’s Immigrant and Non-Citizen Rights Clinic.

For her part, Emily Torstveit Ngara, LL.M. ’14, in the concurrent session “Gumming Up the Wheels of Injustice,” reflected on the need for law school immigration clinics to adapt pedagogical methods and litigation tactics in the context of this rapidly changing area of legal practice. Professor Ngara – who is starting a new immigration clinic at Georgia State University – discussed a variety of emerging methods and tactics designed to better disrupt the federal regulatory turn toward aggressive immigration enforcement under the Trump administration.


more Calendar

No Classes/University Closed (Veterans' Day Holiday)

11/26/2020 » 11/28/2020
No Classes/University Closed (Thanksgiving Holiday)

12/2/2020 » 12/14/2020
Final Examination Period (12/2-12/14)

University Closed (Christmas Day)

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