Dear Students and Colleagues,
We invite you to watch our Meeting the Moment video series below and meet a few of the Fordham clinicians who lead our students through the incredible work that prepares them for their future careers. The students and faculty in our clinics are working harder than ever to serve their clients and provide crucial legal counsel and representation during this time when aspects of our lives have returned to normal following the global health pandemic, but legal issues surrounding equity and access to justice remain and are even exacerbated.
Meet the newly launched Right to Housing Litigation Clinic, the newly launched Global Anti-Racism Clinic, the restructured Family Defense and Advocacy Clinic, and the innovative Entrepreneurial Law Clinic.
I am grateful for all your dedication and hard work.
Michael W. Martin, Associate Dean for Experiential Education
The Right to Housing Litigation Clinic
Housing affordability is one of, if not the most, significant domestic policy issues of our time. New York has long been a leader on issues of housing affordability. Professor Norrinda Hayat, who leads the Right to Housing Litigation Clinic, is an award winning housing advocate who joined the full-time faculty at Fordham Law in the fall. In this clinic, students use legal strategies to assist clients facing housing-related issues.
The Global Anti-Racism Clinic
The Global Anti-Racism Clinic is a new joint initiative of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice and the Center on Race, Law and Justice at Fordham Law School. Spearheaded by Zenande Booi, Paolo Galizzi, Gay McDougall, and Elisabeth Wickeri, the clinic engages students in projects that aim to challenge and redress racism, global discrimination and inequality at national, regional and international levels.
The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic
Entrepreneurship is growing in New York City and Fordham Law is in the center of it all. Under the supervision of clinic director Bernice Grant, the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic provides free transactional legal services to startups in New York, helping turn entrepreneurs’ ideas into flourishing enterprises. The ELC helps entrepreneurs achieve ambitious business goals, build a talented workforce, and protect their budding brands.
The Family Defense and Advocacy Clinic
The Family Defense and Advocacy Clinic is a partnership between Fordham's clinical program and the Center for Family Representation ("CFR"). The Center is a holistic, multi-disciplinary legal services organization whose mission is to keep families together through legal representation and social work support to prevent children from entering the foster care system or minimize their time away from home. Hear from the clinic's director, Leah Hill, about this critical and humbling work.
Recent Clinic News and Victories
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.
The aggressive sales practices of a large bank resulted in the IRS claiming the Federal Tax Clinic's client owed more than $17,000 in unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest. The reality was that he owed nothing in taxes. The IRS attorneys only conceded after the three Tax Clinic students pictured above submitted a demand letter arguing that the bank was wrong and that the client had no unreported income.
Nearly six years after suffering a workplace injury, the Tax Clinic's client received $50,000 in worker's compensation, which is generally not subject to income tax. He wanted to safeguard the money in a savings account, but without the client's permission, the bank opened an annuity plan instead. When the client learned his money was unavailable because it was tied up in a 25-year annuity, he filed a complaint, and the bank reluctantly issued a $50,000 refund. Two years later, he received a notice from the IRS claiming he failed to report the funds in retirement income. The bank claimed that the refund of the workman's comp funds they had issued was subject to income taxes.
Under the direction of Prof. Elizabeth Maresca, and in advance of the December trial date, the student team researched the issue and -- relying on statutes, regulations, and case law -- drafted a demand letter arguing that the client would prevail on a motion for summary judgment. The IRS conceded the matter, agreeing that the client owed no taxes or penalties.
Careless mistakes by large institutions -- in this case by a large bank and the IRS (which relied on the bank's reporting, not the individual's) demonstrates the negative effects on individual taxpayers in addition to money, such as confusion, stress, and anxiety. This is especially true for low-income taxpayers who often face bills that can surpass their yearly income. By participating in this Clinic, the students learned firsthand the issues that can arise, causing those who lack access to good lawyers to end up paying money they do not owe.
Video Mitigation Project x Criminal Defense Clinic
Tell Stories of Low-Income and BIPOC Defendants To Judges
Fordham's Law's Criminal Defense Clinic, under the direction of Prof. Cheryl Bader and social work supervisor, Kaela Economos, is partnering with The Video Mitigation Project (VMP) of the Legal-Aid Society to educate clinic students in doing defense work with video mitigation and the advantages of visual advocacy. To mitigate clients' sentences in criminal court, public defenders rely on written mitigation reports often accompanied by reams of mental health records, psychological evaluations and documents. They are very often impersonal at best. Used recently at private bar cases, mitigation videos enhance the technical record by conveying a client's relationships, mood, tone, pain and humility in a way that paperwork simply cannot. Video mitigation has a strong potential for low income clients. Of the 22 cases submitted by VMP, the work yielded reduced sentences, alternatives to incarceration, and elimination of bail conditions.
Rashika Jikaria '23, a clinic student, found dramatic benefits to the student as well to the client. She is eager to work with this project because it provides "an opportunity to create a story in a humanizing way that law students have not been able to use through the applicable law." Rashika's client, a young man in his 20's who has been in NYC since a small child, was charged with DUI, a misdemeanor. Because of his illegal status, he may suffer the harsh implications of deportation. Legal-Aid has hired an immigration attorney to represent him, but the team will have to show how his family, job, connections, and friends are all here. Rashika is looking forward to telling his story through the use of video.
The Rule of Law Clinic, taught by former dean, John D. Feerick, and Professor John Rogan, issued a report recently on Gubernatorial Succession in New York State. The report made headlines in various legal publications and was distributed to the New York State Law Revision Commission and the relevant committees of the New York State Bar and New York City Bar Associations. The report also sparked a conversation between Professor John Feerick and Attorney Michael Miller, two legal powerhouses, on the Amicus Curiae podcast.
In the report, "Changing Hands: Recommendations to Improve New York's System of Gubernatorial Succession," the Rule of Law Clinic urges changes in the line of succession and would require confirmation of a new second-in-command. In the past year since Governor Kathy Hochul ascended to her position from Lieutenant Governor, New York has also seen three people serve as Lieutenant Governor. Noting the multiple unexpected turnovers in the state's highest executive offices in recent years, the report underscores a "sobering reality that New York is unprepared to deal with a panoply of issues relating to gubernatorial succession."
"It is past time for New York to shore up its gubernatorial succession procedures, said Dean Feerick who played a key role in framing the U.S. Constitution's 25th Amendment, which deals with presidential succession and inability.
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.