It was great seeing many of you for our Section’s session, Incorporating Access to Justice & Pro Bono Across the Law School Curriculum. The session, moderated by incoming Co-Chair Darcy Meals, offered attendees an array of examples of how to expose students to the realities of the justice gap and the potential power they have to improve the ways in which our legal system might serve lower-income litigants. Jim Sandman, President Emeritus of the Legal Services Corporation and Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law, shared alarming statistics about the state of access to justice and set the stage for a conversation about the importance of making law students (and faculty) aware of the extent of the need in this country. Stacy Butler, Director of the Innovation for Justice Program at the University of Arizona School of Law, talked about the value of collaborative, multi-disciplinary approaches to making the legal system more user-friendly. Lauren Sudeall, Faculty Director of the Center for Access to Justice at Georgia State University College of Law, outlined her team-taught course, Access to Justice: Law Reform, which gives students a chance to design their own proposals using user-centric principles and best practices in legal design. Finally, Julia Vazquez, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Community Lawyering Clinic at Southwestern Law School, described a collaborative experiential course she taught in conjunction with community partners at both Southwestern and UCLA Law, utilizing technology to help students work with migrants seeking asylum at the border. In each of the courses the panelists described, students gain an understanding of the ways in which the legal system falls short of meeting the needs of lower-income litigants and how students might use their skills to better serve vulnerable populations. Attendees left the session better equipped to weave these important opportunities and principles into their doctrinal classes through court observation, guest speakers, pro bono opportunities, and simulation exercises.
We were also thrilled to honor our three award recipients, each of whom stands out on their campuses and in the legal profession as a leader in promoting access to justice and pro bono service. Their work is inspiring and ongoing, and it was a pleasure to recognize them for all that they do. Congratulations to Russell, Stephen, and Deborah!
Lifetime Achievement Award
Professor of Law & Director of Clinical Programs
New England Law, Boston
Access to Justice Award
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives,
Director of Innovation and Scholarship
Baylor University School of Law
Emerging Leader Award
Director of Pro Bono Programs
University of California, Berkeley School of Law