Find out why our clinical program is ranked #17 nationally. And then discover why that ranking only vaguely approximates the true value of your clinical experience.
Recent Clinic News and Victories
Homeless man in Herald Square sitting on "his" boulder eating meal delivered by Muslims Giving Back.
For a group of Brooklyn Muslims, the month of Ramadan is a blur. They fast during daylight hours, pray repeatedly and use every bit of their remaining energy to feed the hungry. They are doing this every night during Ramadan at the foot of Macy's Herald Square in Manhattan for as many as 200 hungry and homeless people each night. Mohammad Widdi, coordinator of Muslims Giving Back, says, "If you want doors to open, do good." The delivery ends around midnight. Sometimes, if it's raining the volunteers head for the Penn Station to check for more homeless people. They have a half hour drive back to Brooklyn, and then disperse until prayers begin before 5 a.m.
Tom Suozzi (bottom center) recalls then Dean Feerick '61 encouraging him to take up his first "real public service project." Responding to the pandemic has been Suozzi's focus since the start of the outbreak, working on the two main aspects of the crisis: healthcare challenges and economic impact.
Conducting meetings and interviews is central to the Democracy Clinic's work (co-taught by Dean Feerick and Professor John Rogan) on developing and promoting democracy reforms. Students touched on projects the clinic has worked on over the past year: reforms to the way special counsel investigations are conducted, changes to the presidential primary process, and reforms relegated to the Supreme Court. "These are all very heady and complicated topics," said Suozzi.
Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski, Getty Images. Taken outside Cook County Jail in March 2020. Sign made by incarcerated persons says, "Help. We Matter 2."
At Fordham, the Federal Litigation Clinic and Criminal Defense Clinic, began working immediately on the early release programs in New York on behalf of their incarcerated clients. "There is no question that our students are engaged in this topic," Michael W. Martin, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning, said. "They are trying to get people out of prison and they feel like life and death are at stake."
The clinic's three professors, Michael W. Martin, Ian Weinstein and Jennifer Louis-Jeune, and 12 students immediately began contacting their clients and their clients' families to determine whether there were any underlying conditions that made their clients especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. But speaking to incarcerated clients has been especially difficult during the pandemic due to the lockdown orders instituted in prisons. Facilities are only sporadically permitting legal calls.
One client's sentence was reduced by four years due to compassionate release. The Clinic also successfully renewed its request for bail for another client whose incarceration time threatened to go beyond what the judge was likely to sentence him. In a third case, involving a client for whom the Clinic had recently won a habeas corpus motion in a "reverse stashhouse sting case," see below and Federal Litigation Clinic Wins Habeas Motion in "Reverse Stash House Sting" Case, the Clinic needed to work closely with immigration counsel, who convinced Immigration Court to terminate removal proceedings. On Monday, April 13, 2020, after almost six years in custody, the client walked out of the Metropolitan Detention Center into the arms of his waiting sisters.
The Criminal Defense Clinic, directed by Cheryl Bader and Martha Rayner, has taken a slightly different approach in protecting the health of their clients in an incarcerated environment. While they are working on the early release of individuals, these clinic students are also focused on education and advocacy. They are getting accurate information by way of a "weekly bulletin," to people who are incarcerated. Criminal Defense clinic students have also been participating in efforts -- such as a virtual phone bank -- to raise awareness about the dangers to prison populations and the need for further action to address the "time bomb" that prisons present at this time.
While two CDC clients were granted parole, one is due to be released within weeks, but the other will not be released for months. Due to this client's age and multiple underlying medical conditions, continued detention places her in grave danger. CDC students are pressing Governor Cuomo to grant a modest commutation of sentence to avoid this needless risk, and collaborating with Legal Aid's Prisoners' Rights Project to challenge continuing imprisonment under the threat of Covid-19 as cruel and unusual punishment.
The Immigrant Rights Clinic Achieves the Right Result For A Love Story Gone Bad
Students in the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC), directed by Professor Gemma Solimene, won a meaningful victory in mid-March for a client of the clinic since 2016 -- her green card. The client, born in the Dominican Republic, came to the United States in 2015 with her two daughters to live with her US citizen husband, whom she had met through her aunt. After their marriage in the Dominican Republic, the husband petitioned the government to have her come to the U.S. She and her minor children were granted a visa with provisional residence. Almost immediately upon her arrival in the U.S., the relationship turned abusive, with the husband being verbally and psychologically cruel and possibly physically abusive. The client had to leave her husband and seek refuge.
Clinic students represented the client by successfully having the spousal condition removed from her provisional visa and obtaining her permanent resident status. They had to prove that the client entered the marriage in good faith, but was subject to extreme cruelty resulting in her inability to file a joint spousal petition to remove the condition on her permanent residency.
Fordham's Foundry Holds Legal Workshop With Entrepreneurial Law Clinic
The Foundry, Fordham's hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, partnered with the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, directed by Bernice Grant, for a virtual event at the end of April to discuss the top five legal issues entrepreneurs face: Co-founder relationships, choosing a name and protecting IP, liability protection, growing workforce while cash-strapped, and financing.
About 25 people attended.
Season Two of StartupLAWnchpad, the Podcast Program of the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (ELC), Goes Live
In December 2018, StartupLAWnchpad.org, a podcast series of 16 episodes, was launched by Professor Bernice Grant and the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic at Fordham. Clinic students and Prof. Grant performed many roles themselves, including recording guest speakers and conducting interviews as well as voice overs, sound and other production elements to bring together the podcast series dedicated to young entrepreneurs.
Earlier this month, Season Two's first seven episodes were published. Topics range from the Road to IPOs to Access to Capital for Female and Minority Entrepreneurs. You can listen to any and all episodes here.
Federal Litigation Clinic Students Argue Appeal Before Second Circuit
Katherine Anne Boy-Skipsey '20 (center) and Nina Riegelsberger '20 had been intensely preparing for over five weeks for oral argument before the Second Circuit held last week. Under the direction of Prof. Michael W. Martin, Director of Clinical Programs and Associate Dean, and Prof. Ian Weinstein, the Federal Litigation team rehearsed and made their best argument for a criminal case using unconstitutional vagueness as their primary argument. Though Boy-Skipsey credits participation in Moot Court and its Director, Maria Marcus, with being a good antecedent to taking part in a clinic, she remarks that appearing before the three-judge panel for this appeal was the "most exhilarating and elevating experience" in law school because she knew she had responsibility for another person's life. "To go from the law school classroom to this case," she said, "where I was accountable and had ownership of it was transformative on so many levels." The decision will come down in a few weeks.
Federal Litigation students with Professors Ian Weinstein (far left) and Michael W. Martin (far right), from left to right: Benjamin Winnick '20, Kelly O'Connor '20, Natalie Hoehl '20, Journee Berry '20, and Sean Donoghue '20.
In 2015, a group of Federal Litigation Clinic students, under the supervision of Professors Michael W. Martin and Ian Weinstein, took on representation of a client who was arrested in a controversial drug "stash house sting." Recently, students in the Fall 2019 Clinic won a habeas corpus petition in federal court, resulting in striking one of the most onerous convictions from the client's record that affects his immigration status.
The outcome of the habeas decision was critical to the client's ability and ongoing effort to regain his permanent legal resident status. Last summer, several clinic students drafted a clemency petition to the Governor asking that he take into consideration that their client was not a hard criminal and that his minor New York State crimes were playing an outsized role in his immigration proceedings.
Lincoln Square Legal Services, the professional law firm run by the faculty of Fordham Law’s clinical program, has launched its new website. The site spotlights the practice areas of the School’s live-client clinics and the clinical faculty lawyers who supervise them. It highlights news about the firm and its advocacy for, and victories on behalf of, clients.
Lincoln Square Legal Services provides Fordham Law students with valuable legal training. Students participate in all aspects of the casework and are supervised by Fordham Law clinical faculty throughout their work.