Clinical Law Program Newsletter
For over 30 years, the University of Baltimore School of Law's Clinical Law Program has
served as a model for law clinics nationwide. We offer an unparalleled opportunity for students to not only read about lawyering, but to experience lawyering by representing actual clients. Faculty who teach in the clinics not only have deep experience as lawyers and are leaders in their respective fields, they are also skilled teachers who expertly guide students through the many dimensions of effective lawyering.
An important part of UB’s clinical experience entails making a difference in the lives of those in need. UB student-attorneys have played a crucial role in promoting water accessibility, exonerating the wrongfully convicted, and protecting the rights of, among others, veterans, low-income taxpayers, tenants, the mentally ill and immigrants. Students not only learn about how to be lawyer: their work benefits society at large.
While the Covid pandemic has created challenges for all of us, I’m proud to say that our clinics have adapted to the times. We are continuing to provide the clinical experience thousands of UB alumni benefited from as they pursue their careers. We look forward to continuing that tradition! -- Robert Rubinson, Acting Associate Dean for Experiential Education and Professor of Law
Clinical Program Reaches a Milestone
The UB Clinical Law Program entered a new era in 1989. From the beginning, the clinic focused on both client representation and systemic advocacy, with an emphasis on clinical pedagogy, including a fellowship program to train new clinical law professors.

Read about the history of the clinical program in the current issue of Baltimore Law magazine. Read a profile of Prof. Jane Murphy, one of the founders of the clinical program, who retired this past summer.

Take a look at a commemorative 30th anniversary brochure showing the impact of the clinics on individuals and the community at large.
Clinics' Year in Review
In The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic, led by Prof. Hugh McClean, above, and Clinical Teaching Fellow Katy Clemens, students assist veterans with their VA benefits claims, discharge upgrades, and other service-related legal needs. Students develop essential lawyering skills through direct representation, community outreach projects and legislative advocacy.

In 2019-20: Student-attorneys won several difficult cases for clients, including winning benefits for a widow whose veteran husband died of a prescription drug overdose due to VA medical negligence, winning an upgraded discharge for a client who was given a less than honorable discharge due to misconduct caused by his untreated mental illness, and winning service-connected disability benefits for a veteran who was diagnosed with leukemia due to exposure to toxic burn pits in Iraq.

Assistant Professor Nickole Miller, above, and Clinical Teaching Fellow Jessica Den Houter, student-attorneys learn multidimensional lawyering through litigation, legislative advocacy and community-based projects. They represent clients in court seeking civil-protection orders in cases of domestic violence and family law orders, including divorce, child custody, child adoption, child support and name changes.

In 2019-20: FLC student-attorneys secured custody and a predicate order and findings in support of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status in a complex case based on a theory of death as abandonment after the children's father died unexpectedly in the United States, leaving them and their mother penniless. 
Working with Menstrual Equity Alliance for Maryland Students (MEAMS), a team of three students provided written and oral testimony in support of HB208 in the Maryland General Assembly. The bill required Maryland county boards of education to provide free menstrual products in public school restrooms.
The Community Development Clinic, led by Prof. Jaime Lee, above, and Clinical Teaching Fellow Veryl Pow, provides a wide variety of transactional legal services to and advocacy for historically underserved communities in Baltimore. Student-attorneys provide legal representation about such matters as business formation, operations and financing, land use and real estate acquisition to community associations, nonprofit organizations and small-business owners.

In 2019-20: Student attorneys provided legal counsel to organizations empowering workers through the development of cooperative business structures, supporting mothers in building intergenerational wealth through homeownership, promoting childhood well-being through the use of educational technology and holistic family support systems, developing alternatives to exploitative real estate practices, offering health-related services and job opportunities (including those related to COVID-19) to underserved populations, and building sustainable and independent food networks for Black communities.

Student-attorneys also learned about opportunities for systemic change as they studied Baltimore’s water crisis and gentrification injustices, and translated the law in these areas into educational materials for the public. The CDC received Honorable Mention as a 2020 CLEA Excellence in Public Interest Project for its work on Baltimore’s water crisis.

The Criminal Practice Clinic, led by Director Dan Shemer and Prof. Mary Jo Livingston, places students in a state’s attorney’s or public defender’s office. Under the supervision of an assistant state’s attorney or an assistant public defender, student-attorneys prosecute or defend people charged with crimes.
In the Human Trafficking Prevention Project, led by Director Jessica Emerson, above, student-attorneys work to reduce the collateral consequences of criminal legal involvement for survivors of human trafficking and those populations made most vulnerable to exploitation. Students also advocate for systemic criminal legal reform at both the state and federal level, as well as provide support for the legislative efforts of partnering agencies that are working to dismantle other oppressive systems impacting our clients.
In 2019-20: In the pandemic-shortened 2020 state legislative session, HTPP student-attorneys and faculty researched and drafted testimony in support of nine separate pieces of legislation proposed by Maryland legislators. This includes legislation designed to enhance Maryland’s ability to protect foreign workers legally entering the United States on H-2 temporary work visas from human trafficking, and the establishment of a comprehensive rehabilitative pre-release facility for female inmates.

The HTPP continues its practice of weighing in not only on issues that directly affect survivors of trafficking, but also on measures that would reduce the likelihood that Marylanders as a whole will experience exploitation stemming from a particular vulnerability, such as incarceration, immigration status or substance use. 

The HTPP also experienced a significant legislative victory with the passage and enactment of the “True Freedom Act of 2020,” which significantly expands the number of convictions that survivors are able to remove from their criminal records, if the criminal act was committed at the time the survivor was being trafficked. The HTPP has been the lead advocate on this bill for the past six years.
In the Immigrant Rights Clinic, led by Prof. Elizabeth Keyes, above, and Visiting Assistant Professor Nickole Miller, student-attorneys represent low-income immigrants in Immigration Court and before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Asylum Office. The clinic focuses principally on asylum cases, but handles related matters including family reunification, detention and naturalization.

In 2019-20: Clinic student-attorneys won cases for asylum-seekers from Central America who had fled gang violence, domestic violence, or a combination of both. Some clients were families who had been separated and detained at the border. Another client, from Thailand, won her court case after waiting roughly seven years for her day in court.

Notably, when COVID-19 posed dire health issues for immigrants in nominally “civil” detention facilities, Professor Miller helped students transition rapidly to securing the release of detainees with underlying health vulnerabilities. Whether in-person or remote, as the year progressed our student-attorneys interviewed clients and witnesses; developed persuasive legal theories; counseled clients on case strategies; gathered evidence to prove their clients’ claims; addressed family members’ immigration options; and argued the cases in legal briefs, at the asylum office and in court.
Students in the Innocence Project Clinic, led by Director Michele Nethercott, learn client-centered lawyering through investigating and litigating claims of factual innocence. Students interview witnesses, obtain records, draft motions and pleadings, and argue cases in trial courts throughout Maryland. Students also participate in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of the wrongly convicted.

In 2019-20: Clinic student-attorneys
investigated more than 15 cases, filed multiple petitions for DNA testing, and assisted in the presentation of three cases to the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit and to the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney.

In November 2019, the clinic, along with the Conviction Integrity Unit, the Office of the Public Defender, and the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, secured the exoneration of Alfred Chestnut, one of three men who were arrested as teenagers and wrongly convicted of murdering a 14-year-old student at Harlem Park Junior High School. All three men served 36 years in prison for a crime none of them committed. Students also worked on efforts to reform Maryland’s exoneree compensation statute.

In the Legal Data and Design Clinic (LDDC), led by Prof. Colin Starger, above, and Clinical Teaching Fellow Alexandra Smith, students focus on “digital advocacy” using data, principles of design, and technology to problem-solve for organizational clients working to advance evidence-based criminal justice reform.
In 2019-20: Launched in January 2020, LDDC partnered with the Maryland Office of the Attorney General to help pass House Bill 280, which eliminated driver's license suspensions for failure to pay traffic-related debt. Student-attorneys performed a data analysis that showed such suspensions disproportionately affect African Americans and residents of poorer, rural areas, and they provided written and oral testimony during the legislative session.

Student-attorneys also assisted the Maryland Federal Public Defender in developing sentence comparator tools, which analyze thousands of cases, that will be used in their sentencing practice.
In the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, led by Director John Snyder, above, student-attorneys represent taxpayers in federal tax disputes. Cases involve administrative controversies before the IRS and the state comptroller’s office, as well as litigation in federal courts. Students are responsible for all aspects of representing clients, including interviewing and counseling clients, developing case strategy, engaging in fact investigation and discovery, drafting documents, negotiating with adversaries and conducting hearings and trials.

In 2019-2020: The clinic’s student-attorneys litigated over a dozen cases in U.S. Tax Court, obtaining favorable settlements or concessions in most, and expanded the Pretrial Settlement Day program for taxpayers needing to consult an attorney about pending U.S. Tax Court cases. 

They also successfully negotiated offers to compromise with the IRS on the tax liabilities of numerous low-income clients facing medical issues, financial problems, and other serious life events. A clinic student-attorney created the Maryland Access to Justice Commission's "Tax" COVID-19 page, which explains tax-related issues for low-income taxpayers.
Students in the Mediation Clinic for Families, led by Prof. Robert Rubinson, above, and Clinical Teaching Fellow Alexandra Smith, represent clients in the mediation process, co-mediate family law disputes and engage in projects designed to improve the practice of family mediation.

Student mediators and attorneys often appear in cases before the Family Division of the Baltimore City Circuit Court, but they also may be involved in mediation in other contexts, such as cases in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and in international abduction mediations.

In 2019-20: Clinic students have represented clients in mediation and mediated family disputes in the Circuit Court of Baltimore City. They have also represented clients in the collaborative law process in conjunction with the Collaborative Project of Maryland. 

Student-attorneys made presentations on mediation and conflict resolution as part of the Center for Urban Families’ STRIVE Future Leaders Program, which focuses on enhancing career readiness for Baltimore youth. They have also engaged in projects about mediating international abduction cases under the international Hague Abduction Convention.
Students enrolled in the Mental Health Law Clinic, led by Prof. Donald Stone, above, and Assistant Public Defender Linda Penn, represent and advise children and adults facing involuntary psychiatric civil commitment within the Sheppard Pratt Health System. Administrative hearings are conducted each week, and student-attorneys handle cases, including the initial interviews of clients, witnesses and experts; case preparation and investigation. Students research procedural errors, prepare memoranda, argue motions and represent clients at the hearing before administrative law judges.
In 2019-20: Students represented clients who were allegedly mentally ill and dangerous to themselves or others. Students met with many adults and children, advising them of the right to postpone cases or admit themselves voluntarily, or to prepare for representation at involuntary civil commitment hearings. Student-attorneys successfully argued for the release of individuals in cases in which procedural errors occurred and in cases on which the merits were at issue. They extensively researched various legal issues, contacted witnesses -- including the treating psychiatrist and family members -- and prepared arguments to present to the administrative law judge.
They also negotiated with parents, caregivers and governmental agencies to secure voluntary admission or to allow for treatment in less restrictive settings.

In the Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic, led by Prof. Michele E. Gilman, above, Prof. Dan Hatcher and Clinical Teaching Fellow Emily Poor, student-attorneys represent low-income clients in civil litigation. Caseloads are diverse and cover many areas of civil practice, including housing, employment, consumer rights, education and public benefits.
In 2019-20: This year, clinic student-attorneys advocated for low-income individuals defending against unfounded debt collection actions, challenging unsupported claims from former landlords, and seeking to expunge criminal records so they can obtain employment. Student- attorneys also aided impoverished elderly individuals defending against an illegal eviction from a nursing home and appealing incorrect reductions of their Social Security benefits. The clinic is assisting clients facing eviction, as well as participating in the Attorney General’s COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force by providing research on cutting-edge strategies for assisting Marylanders facing housing and consumer law challenges.
Meet Our 2020-21 Clinical Teaching Fellows
Our clinical law program offers a three-year rigorous clinical teacher-training program. Our fellows supervise student attorneys, teach clinical seminars and engage in scholarship. Our former fellows have gone on to full-time teaching positions at other law schools. Joining current fellows Katy Clemens, Veryl Pow and Alexandra Smith are Jessica Den Houter, Emily Poor and Sakinah Tillman.

Jessica Den Houter teaches in the Bronfein Family Law Clinic. Prior to joining the UB faculty, she worked at Disability Rights D.C., the protection and advocacy system for Washington, D.C., where she advocated and litigated on behalf of children and adults with mental illness and developmental disabilities. Learn more about Den Houter.

Emily Poor teaches in the Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic. She came to UB Law from the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, where she was a staff attorney on the Home Preservation Project. Prior to that, she spent two years as a staff attorney at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, representing survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in a wide range of civil matters, and advocating for the rights of victim-survivors in the criminal and campus disciplinary processes. Learn more about Poor.

Sakinah Tillman, above, teaches in the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic. Over her career, she has represented numerous clients in matters before the Internal Revenue Service. Prior to joining the UB faculty, Sakinah was a senior state and local tax associate at RSM US, LLP, where she represented clients on technical state and local tax issues, prepared complex returns on behalf of partnerships and S corporations, and wrote memoranda, matrices and other client deliverables. Learn more about Tillman.
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