Skip to main content

Cross-posted from Asian Pacific Americans for Progress:

Law school clinics are programs run by law schools that provide students the opportunity to gain practical experience by taking real cases and representing actual clients in court or in other ways.  Typically, clinics focus on various areas of need, such as domestic violence, immigration, or civil rights.  Since they provide free services to marginalized populations, clinics naturally represent the "little guy," often against government or wealthy corporations.  The New York Times reports that corporations and politicians that are unhappy with law schools are now attempting to lobby state legislatures to cut off or restrict funding for clinics that sue the government or corporations, as well as force clinics to disclose information about their clients and work.

I rarely get too angry at stuff in the news, as I'm not too surprised by the bad stuff anymore.  However, this article has me frothing at the mouth.  Those of us who have been to law school know that clinic is about the only chance you get for practical education, i.e., learning about how to actually practice law.  And those of us in social services know that law school clinics are critical to helping ease some of the enormous burden on legal aid and other agencies and non-profits; I referred a lot of domestic violence and sexual assault victims to the UT Family Violence Clinic when they had been turned away by others because of limited resources.  Without clinics, thousands more each year would end up homeless or even dead, without realistic recourse against the perpetrators of harm and wrongdoing.  Attorney-client confidentiality issues aside, the proposed measures would basically prevent those most in need from getting legal representation.

And in response to that one politician who talked about pro-life or pro-death penalty clinics, there ARE several law clinics around the country that have worked on behalf of so-called "conservative" causes, including 2nd Amendment rights, religious practices, and entrepreneurship (such as the Institute for Justice/Federalist Society-funded clinic at my alma mater, the University of Chicago).  In reality, most of the work done by clinics is not really ideological; it's simply exploring what possible remedies may exist for their clients.  Suing a corporation such as Perdue is not about clinics wanting to be regulators; rather, as ethically required of attorneys, clinic students and professors have an obligation to examine all legal options.  If any other attorney told her client, I'm sorry, I can't make such-and-such legal claims against our opponent because I'm philosophically opposed to such laws, then that lawyer would almost certainly face a malpractice suit and serious discipline by the bar.  If a client comes to a clinic saying, hey, I'm suffering from such and such disease because of this company's practices, then a clinic would be breaching its ethical duty by saying, okay, we'll represent you, but we'll only make two out of five possible claims.

It's already objectionable enough that clinics are currently feeling forced to turn down clients because they are not likable or popular.  If there is a credible movement to shut down or restrain clinics, then I believe it is very reasonable to say that the damage inflicted on vulnerable populations will increase tremendously.  I would be willing to dedicate my life and resources to opposing such efforts if necessary.  After all, the Supreme Court now says we can spend all the money we want on this stuff.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are solely the views of the author in his capacity as a private citizen.  None of the above should be construed as legal advice.  None of the above should be construed as a political endorsement for or against any candidate for any office.

Originally posted to rameyko on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:25 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site