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Recent Clinic News and Victories
From left to right: Prof. Elizabeth Cooper, Rachel Smith, Daria Schieferstein, Jessie Boas, Elaina Aquila, Gaby Kornblau, Sam Zuckerman, and Prof. Elizabeth Maresca.
New "Poverty, Tax and Justice" Clinic Amends New York State Tax Law with Poverty Exception
... and wins "Honorable Mention" award for Excellence in a Special Project from CLEA (Clinical Legal Education Association).
Over 24,000 New Yorkers have suspended driver's licenses because they owe $10,000 or more in past due taxes. The new Poverty, Tax and Justice Clinic worked to amend the law that allows the suspension, NYS Tax Law §171-v, to carve out a hardship exception for those taxpayers who are too poor to pay their taxes. On Sunday, March 31, 2019, the bill was signed into law by the NYS Legislature and Governor Cuomo.
The clinic is a collaboration between the Federal Tax Clinic, under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth Maresca, and the Legislative and Policy Advocacy Clinic, under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth Cooper. Depriving low income New Yorkers of their driver's licenses only decreases their ability to pay their tax debt. Using direct legislative advocacy efforts, the clinic students and two professors travelled to Albany multiple times this semester to speak with Assembly and Senate members and their staffers to advocate for a fair and just statute that protects at-risk New Yorkers from the disastrous consequences of living without a driver's license.
"It felt like a job, not a class," said 3L Gaby Kornblau, "I never thought a group of students could impact legislation so directly. Now we can use these skills when we start working." Learn more.
Immigrant Rights Clinic Secures Guardianship and the Path to Legal Status for Two Young Clients from El Salvador
The clients -- 17 and 11 year old boys -- are brothers who were neglected and abandoned by their parents. After years of suffering, the boys came to the United States to be with an individual who could properly care for them. The Nassau Family Court found that reunification with their parents in El Salvador was not in their best interest and their guardian was found to be providing a stable home for them and adequately providing for all their needs. The Clinic can now move forward in assisting the boys to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and having the deportation proceedings pending against them terminated. Clinic students Emily Allen '19 and Molly Greathead '19 worked on this case.
The Fordham Law Clinic Gets Ready for Graduation from Scales of Justice Summer Program
This summer, Fordham Law School hosted the 11th annual Scales of Justuce Academy, a three-week legal education program aimed at preparing young women for entrance into law school. The program is under the stewardship of Leah Hill, clinical professor and director of the Family Advocacy Clinic.
The 36 young women who attended the Academy this summer graduated in late July and received a certificate to mark the event. Shown above: Prof. Hill (center right) and clinical support staff, Anisa Rahaman and Edlira Vickers prepared for the final day. Read more here.
From left to right: Whitney Rosser '20, Liliya Avshalumova '19, Maureen Paparo '20, John Reklaitis '19, Dmitriy Gelfand '19, John Bradshaw '19, Professor Paul Radvany.
Securities Arbitration Clinic Participates in SEC Investor Advocacy Summit
"There is a lack of pro bono work in securities arbitration. These are the types of claims that law firms are not incentivized to take on," explained Whitney Rosser, a student in the Securities Clinic. Consequently, the clinic's clients would not be able to obtain representation from attorneys if they had been defrauded by a broker. In many of the clinic's cases, brokers fill out account opening forms on behalf of their clients which contain false information, allowing the broker to make riskier investments.
The goal of the summit was to provide the SEC and FINRA with suggestions on improving their regulatory systems to prevent low-income and inexperienced investors from being taken advantage of. The summit was sponsored by the SEC and held in Washington, D.C. in April. Learn more.
Democracy and the Constitution Clinic Meets With Legislators in Washington to Discuss Legal Reforms
The Democracy and Constitution Clinic focuses on developing reforms with the express purpose of strengthening the country's democracy. Led by John Feerick, former Dean, and John Rogan, Visiting Clinical Professor, clinic students met with representatives in Congress and legislative staffers to discuss a number of issues including electoral college reform and presidential powers.
The twenty-fifth amendment, dealing with procedures for when the president dies or becomes incapacitated, is an important topic not only for the country but also for this clinic. Dean Feerick helped to draft the original amendment in the mid-sixties. One of the congressmen with whom the students met, Jamie Raskin, has introduced new legislation regarding the twenty-fifth amendment. Learn more.
International Human Rights Clinic Conducts Gender Justice Workshop in Kenya
Using a manual designed in the Fall semester for proposing Gender Justice in Japan, the International Human Rights Clinic, directed by Chi Adanna Mgbako, partnered with the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) to adapt the training manual to the Kenya context and highlight issues at the intersection of gender studies and human rights.
In November, the Leitner Clinic traveled to Nairobi to conduct the multi-day gender justice and human rights interactive workshop for a gathering of diverse young Kenyan activists and university students. Several workshop participants have indicated their intention to replicate parts of the workshop within their schools, organizations, and communities.
In the spring, the clinic partnered with students and faculty from the Strathmore Law School Clinic in Nairobi, Kenya, to continue the Leitner Clinic's global gender justice and human rights education campaign. The Leitner Clinic continued to build on this work by partnering with Strathmore Law School to develop the gender justice workshop for participants in Kibera, the largest impoverished urban settlement in Nairobi, where sexual and gender-based violence rates are very high.
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.