Category Archives: Legal Academia

Possible Tool for Looking at Poverty Measures: Poverty Calculator

Poverty Calculator [allows users to select what they think should be included and excluded from income and then generate info on poverty demographics].

-Thanks to Francine Lipman for the heads up on this resource which can help understand poverty measures.

AALS Poverty Section Service Trip during the Annual Meeting, Jan. 5th in Washington, DC.

From the organizer of the service project of the Poverty Law and Pro Bono & Public Service Opportunities sections:

For those of you planning to attend the AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in January, I hope you’ll consider registering to participate in the service project that the Poverty Law and Pro Bono & Public Service Opportunities sections are co-sponsoring at Food and Friends.  Food and Friends is a local organization that prepares and delivers specialized meals and groceries and offers nutritional counseling for individuals living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging illnesses.  More information about Food and Friends is available here: http://www.foodandfriends.org.

Participants will prepare, portion, or package food, pack groceries, or assemble meal and grocery packages for other volunteers to deliver to Food and Friends clients throughout the District.  The organization has a really nice facility and offers a warm welcome and a well-organized, engaged experience for volunteers.

The project will be held on Monday, January 5 from 8:30am to 12:30pm.  A bus will board outside of the front lobby entrance of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel at 8:15am and depart at 8:30, and will return participants to the hotel by 12:30pm.  There is no additional charge to participate in the project.

The project can accommodate a maximum of 25 volunteers.  I hope that many of you will be among them!

New-ish Article: “Addressing the Foreclosure Crisis Through Law School Clinics”

New Article: Nathalie Martin & Max Weinstein, Addressing the Foreclosure Crisis Through Law School Clinics, 20 Geo. J. Poverty Law & Pol’y 531 (2013).  Abstract below:

Since the 2008 financial crisis, unprecedented numbers of homes have been lost to foreclosure in the United States, all while public funds for free or reduced fee legal representation in some communities have all but disappeared. This means that most homeowners in foreclosure are unable to find lawyers to represent them. At the same time, clinical legal education, especially in subjects related to business and commercial law, is on the rise. This convergence offers a unique opportunity for law school clinics to give students valuable training in both litigation and financial law and also help fill the deep need for legal representation by homeowners in foreclosure. Each of us has experience representing homeowners in foreclosure, Max at Harvard Law School in the Predatory Lending and Consumer Protection Clinic, and Nathalie in the University of New Mexico School of Law’s Business and Tax Clinic.

In this Article, we discuss our experiences and offer advice and insights for clinics considering taking cases of this kind. Part I provides a very brief overview of the conditions that led to the financial crisis, a description of the extent of the problem, and a few ways clinical law programs can help. Part II discusses the practical and philosophical reasons why law school clinics play such a pivotal role in stemming the effects of the crisis on homeowners, through examples of cases litigated in Max’s clinic. Part Ill attempts to give readers a few of the basic tools they need to add this practice to their clinics for the benefit of individual homeowners and their communities.

New Article: “Deregulating Public Interest Law”

New Article: Tom Lininger, Deregulating Public Interest Law, 88 Tulane L. Rev. 727 (2014).  [NOTE: UNFORTUNATELY Tulane Law Review does not seem to offer the article as a PDF from its own website, instead it directs you to paid services].  Abstract below:

The shortfall of legal services for indigent clients is alarming. The present rules seem unlikely to incentivize or require lawyers to address adequately the unmet legal needs of the poor. Several commentators have suggested the possibility that increased regulation could improve access to legal services. Very little scholarship, however, has considered whether the opposite proposition might be true: Could deregulation actually improve the availability of legal services for the poor?

This Article will consider four fairly radical proposals: (1) liberalizing the restrictions on foreign attorneys in order to allow outsourcing of legal aid services to India and Mexico, (2) permitting the practice of public interest law by laypeople in related fields such as family counseling and social work, (3) suspending the application of certain ethical rules to individuals and firms that exceed a minimum number of pro bono hours, and (4) reining in the American Bar Association’s accreditation requirements in order to allow the creation of “public interest academies” that would provide a low-cost alternative for law students who aspire to practice public interest law.

Close scrutiny reveals that the first three of these proposals are not viable. But the fourth proposal could transform American legal education and greatly advance the goal of equal access to justice. This Article concludes by noting some potential objections to the proposal for public interest academies and by identifying areas for future research.

Equal Justice Works Job Fair Deadline Fast Approaching

Equal Justice Works Job Fair Deadline Fast Approaching: Information for Law Students and Graduates | Equal Justice Works.

Slides for Class – for those teaching from the Brodie et al. textbook.

Quick note: for those teaching poverty law from the Brodie et al. textbook, I am happy to share the powerpoint slides that I am using this semester with anyone who wants them; just send me an email.  -E.R. 

Pilot Study Preliminary Report: “Got Clean Slate? New Study Suggests that Criminal Record Clearing May Increase Earnings”

Pilot Study Preliminary Report: Jeffrey Selbin & Justin McCrary, Got Clean Slate?  New Study Suggests that Criminal Record Clearing May Increase Earnings, SSRN Aug. 2014.  Abstract below: 

The more staggering impacts of the decades-long wars on crime and drugs are well-known. Almost seven million Americans – one in 35 adults – are incarcerated or under correctional supervision (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013). As many as one in four adult Americans has a criminal record, mostly for arrests and misdemeanors (NELP, 2011). By age 23, almost half of all African American men, more than a third of white men, and almost one in eight women have been arrested (Brame, et al., 2014). Arrest, conviction and incarceration records create collateral consequences that too often serve as a lifelong obstacle to employment, education, housing, public benefits and civic participation (National Institute of Justice, 2013).

Perhaps spurred by these disturbing trends, public defender offices, civil legal aid providers and law school clinics have established “clean slate” programs to help people avail themselves of criminal record clearing remedies. Studies consistently find that people with criminal records have dramatically reduced job prospects and income. However, until now we have had only anecdotal evidence that clean slate programs improve employment outcomes or earnings for people with criminal records. Gainful employment is critical to successful reentry for the tens of millions of Americans with a criminal record because it has the potential to reduce recidivism and related social and economic consequences for individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities.

Through a retrospective study of clients served by the East Bay Community Law Center’s Clean Slate Clinic, we analyzed the impact of obtaining criminal record remedies on their subsequent earnings. To our knowledge, this study is the first quantitative assessment of whether clean slate programs improve reported earnings. Through econometric techniques to control for the effects of changes in the larger economy on earnings, we can report two preliminary findings: 

(1) People with criminal records seek clean slate legal remedies after a prolonged period of declining earnings. This finding has implications for the delivery of clean slate legal services to people with criminal records, including targeting earlier intervention to help prevent deteriorating economic circumstances.

(2) Evidence suggests that the clean slate legal intervention stems the decline in earnings and may even boost earnings. It is too early to tell if the boost is significant and sustained, but halting the decline in earnings suggests that the intervention makes a meaningful difference in people’s lives and is a key component of an effective community reentry strategy.

 

Thoughts on Transferring for Law Students

This blog post is aimed largely at law students, not at law professors.  But I have felt I should say something about the topic of law student transfers for some time, if for no other reason than so that I can point them somewhere.  My students almost inevitably discover I was a transfer student myself (Georgetown to Harvard) so I get inundated with emails that run something like this:

                Student: “Can we meet sometime to talk about something not related to Property Law?”

                Ezra: “Yes.”

Then they come to my office and immediately want to close the door to talk about a “sensitive topic.”  If this weren’t my first time, my nervousness would shoot way up, but having heard the spiel before, I know the next line is, “I’m thinking about transferring.” 

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Let Them Eat Cash – NYTimes.com

Let Them Eat Cash – NYTimes.com.  (Could be good as an assignment for a class.)

Foreclosure in Detroit: 43,634 Challenges to a City’s Revival – NYTimes.com

Foreclosure in Detroit: 43,634 Challenges to a City’s Revival – NYTimes.com.  Pretty cool — and depressing — graphic.  Would be good for class.