Clinics on Supreme Court, Environment, Iraqi Tribunal, Poverty Law to Be Offered Next Year

April 28, 2006

The Law School will be offering several new clinics during the next academic year, including the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, one of only a handful in law schools nationwide that focus on live Supreme Court cases.

"Students have been reading all these Supreme Court cases for years. This will help let them make one," said law professor Dan Ortiz, who will be teaching the clinic with Mark Stancil '99, an appellate litigation attorney with law firm Baker Botts and a former clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. They will be assisted by adjunct professor David Goldberg, who clerked for Justice David Souter.

"I doubt there's anyplace else in the curriculum that will allow them to refine all their legal skills at the cutting-edge of law," added Ortiz, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr.

The course-a yearlong, five-credit class open to as many as 12 students-will provide participants with invaluable experience in drafting cert petitions, merits briefs and amicus briefs, Stancil said. The material will vary based upon which cases are available to the clinic and the class will be augmented by guest speakers and moot courts.

Stancil said the clinic will improve students' legal writing skills. "If you're a good writer…your life after law school and after clerking is immensely better," he said.

Students also will gain a skill set "that in our experience is hard to acquire in any other way," Stancil said. "If this class were here when I was in law school, it would have been at the top of my list to do."

Students interested in the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic should apply by May 3. The application is online and requires a writing sample, transcript, and a resume. The course is open to third-year law students. There are no prerequisites other than Constitutional Law, but courses on federal courts and criminal procedure are helpful.

The Law School is also creating an Environmental Law and Conservation Clinic that will offer students practical experience in environmental problem-solving in a fashion that will be fully integrated with the rest of the curriculum. In the spring semester of 2007 the clinic will accept six students for four credits, with the goal of increasing enrollment in future years to 12 students per semester, with the clinic offered in fall and spring.

Clinic students will work on commenting on and appealing permits (including permits issued under the Clean Water Act and related state statutes); commenting on rules and participating in court challenges to rules; conducting research on important environmental policy questions and publishing articles and reports designed to inform or effect policy changes; providing advice to community groups and other nonprofit organizations; drafting and assisting in the implementation of conservation easements; working with landowners on implementing cooperative programs to protect land and restore watersheds; participating in local land-use planning issues; and developing legal, policy, and practical strategies to protect key natural resources in Virginia and elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region.

In addition to working on actual legal and policy matters, clinic students will participate in a weekly seminar designed to augment their clinical experience by exploring issues related to their projects and by providing additional intellectual content to their work. The clinic will be led by Leon Szeptycki, former general counsel and eastern conservation director of the national environmental organization Trout Unlimited, where he was responsible for litigation and other legal activities relating to conservation. For several years, Szeptycki co-taught Environmental Lawyering, a principles and practice course at the Law School that used case simulations to develop students' environmental advocacy skills.

The Iraqi Tribunal Clinic, taught by William & Mary law professor Linda Malone, will be offered in spring and fall as semester-long clinics for one year only through a unique arrangement with the Department of Justice Regime Crimes Liaison Office in Baghdad. Malone, who directs William & Mary's Human Rights and National Security Law Program, initiated the course at William & Mary, where it was reported on in the Washington Post. Clinic participants research and submit legal memoranda to assist in prosecutions before the Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) as part of the IST's Academic Consortium.

Malone will also teach the International Tribunal Clinic in spring 2007, in which students research and submit legal memoranda to assist in the prosecution of persons before the current international tribunals, including those for Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and the International Criminal Court.

The Family Resource Clinic, which is offered in conjunction with the Legal Aid Justice Center, will be available during the spring 2007 semester and will be offered again as a yearlong course beginning the following fall. Led by Dan Nagin, who taught Issues in Poverty Law in spring 2005, the clinic addresses the legal needs of low-income families who seek or receive public benefits, or who are former public benefit recipients attempting to make the transition to financial independence. Clinic participants will assist clients in obtaining or keeping benefits from programs such as TANF, Medicaid and Food Stamps.


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