News - January 2005Horwitz receives fellowship from National Bureau of Economic Research
January 26, 2005
University of Michigan Law School Assistant Professor Jill Horwitz has been appointed a faculty research fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Horwitz is currently working on empirical issues in health law and policy. Her research and teaching interests include health law, nonprofit corporations, empirical research methods, law and economics, and torts.
Three students earn prestigious fellowships
January 21, 2005
Three University of Michigan Law students have earned sought-after national fellowships in Washington, D.C. Amy (Maude) Myers has been awarded a Skadden fellowship that she will use to work for Women Empowered Against Violence (WEAVE), a Washington, D.C., nonprofit; Monica Saxena has been awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to work with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Her goal is to improve voter participation among "language minorities." Finally, Liza Zamd’s Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship will support her work with the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Myers’ particular interest is low-income survivors of domestic violence who are already involved or likely to become involved in the child welfare system as well. Myers sees a lack of services for women in this target group - neither child welfare advocates nor domestic violence attorneys are commonly trained in each other’s fields.
Her interest in gender justice issues is longstanding. "I came to law school so that I could better advocate for women’s and minority rights," says Myers. While a law student, she has combined volunteer work with her studies, working for the Family Law Project, the Washtenaw County Sexual Assault Crisis Center, and the Women Law Students Association Political Action Committee.
Students applying for Skadden Fellowships design their own job proposals. Myers worked with WEAVE’s Legal Director, Claudia Ramirez, to design the project, which will "enforce the legal rights of women and children to be safe and independent," she says. Clients will be identified through WEAVE’s Intake Centers at hospitals and courts and through referrals from the Child and Family Services Agency.
Monica Saxena’s work with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law will bring lawsuits on behalf of non-English speakers who have been denied the right to vote. Her interest in voting rights stems from Michigan Law Professor Ellen Katz’s Voting Rights class she took in the Spring of 2004.
"The power of the vote is overwhelming, and the sense of citizenship and belonging that voting provides is imperative, especially for newly minted citizens," Saxena says. She notes that effective minority language assistance has a significant, long-term economic impact - it enables minority language voters to elect their candidates of choice to office, who in turn can advocate for policies that help these voters achieve economic independence.
Saxena’s project will focus on local city government and state elections, where it has been proven that minority language ballots are most effective in the ultimate economic empowerment of non-English speaking citizens. Although there are a number of organizations that work in the areas of voting rights, few legal actions have been brought to compel communities to provide federally-required minority language assistance. Saxena will be both litigating and monitoring compliance with the court orders she expects will result from the litigation.
Liza Zamd says that she will be practicing employment discrimination law and health care law at her placement with the National Partnership for Women and Families. Her ultimate goal is to practice employment discrimination law in the nonprofit sector, so the fellowship will provide valuable experience in that area. "Employment law is one area where legislation preceded the evolution of social norms. The passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 enabled women to seek jobs that were previously unavailable to them," Zamd says. "It also allowed them to advocate for their interests through the courts." She believes that her efforts to end employment discrimination will assist women with gaining control of an important area of their lives.
Her more recent activities have prepared her well for the path she wishes to follow. Working with a variety of public interest organizations, Zamd has written appellate employment discrimination decisions, drafted sections for a federal housing programs manual, worked with the New York City Red Cross Headquarters where she assisted low-income disaster victims with their Section 8 housing applications, and worked with ACCION New York, a nonprofit micro-lending organization that focuses its resources on women and racial minorities.
MaryAnn Sarosi, director of the Office of Public Service at the Law School says "These are incredibly competitive fellowships that draw proposals from the best of the law schools throughout the country. We have such high caliber students at Michigan Law, so I’m not surprised to see three of our most accomplished students awarded these prestigious fellowships. The fact that they are going to use their legal training to defend the rights of some of the most vulnerable members of our society says a lot about who they are as people."
Zamd graduated in December 2004, and Myers and Saxena graduate in May of 2005. All three women will begin their fellowships in September.
Law School symposium debates future of critical race theory movement
January 20, 2005
The University of Michigan Law School’s Michigan Journal of Race & Law is sponsoring a symposium entitled "Going Back to Class?: The Reemergence of Class in Critical Race Theory" to more thoroughly examine the relationship between race and class at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The symposium is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, February 4th and 5th, and will take place at the Law School, which is located at the corner of Monroe and South State Streets.
Scholars from across the country will debate the future of the critical race theory movement; examine the relationship between race and class from many different perspectives, including sociology, political science, philosophy, and law; and consider how characteristics such as sex, gender, national origin, religion, and sexual orientation impact the connections between race and class. This symposium celebrates the Journal’s tenth anniversary by introducing a new movement within the law and presenting cutting-edge work from some of the nation’s foremost critical race scholars.
Professor Richard Delgado of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, who began a firestorm in 2003 by critiquing the current directions of critical race scholarship, will deliver the opening keynote address at 5:00 pm on February 4th at the Law School. Professor Gerald Torres of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, who co-authored The Miner’s Canary with Lani Guinier to propose a radical new way to confront race in the twenty-first century, will deliver the closing keynote address at the Symposium Banquet on the evening of Saturday, February 5th. Scheduled panelists include R. Richard Banks of Stanford University Law School; Lawrence D. Bobo of Stanford University; Paul Butler of George Washington University Law School; Robert S. Chang of Loyola Law School, Loyola Marymount University; Guy-Uriel E. Charles of the University of Minnesota Law School; Anthony Paul Farley of Boston College Law School; Angela P. Harris of the University of California–Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall); Jennifer L. Hochschild of Harvard University; Darren Hutchinson of American University, Washington College of Law; Kevin R. Johnson of the University of California, Davis School of Law; Charles W. Mills of the University of Illinois at Chicago; Daria Roithmayr of the University of Illinois College of Law; E. San Juan, Jr., of the Philippines Cultural Center; Chantal Thomas of Fordham University School of Law; Rodolfo D. Torres of the University of California, Irvine; and Rebecca Tsosie of Arizona State University Law School.
Reservations and payment for the symposium and banquet must be received by January 22, 2005. General audience admission for the symposium is $35, while there is no admission fee for students or University of Michigan faculty or staff. The fee for the Saturday banquet is $40 for general audience and $35 for students or University of Michigan faculty or staff. Checks should be payable to Michigan Journal of Race & Law and mailed to Maureen Bishop, Publication Center, 625 South State Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109. For more information about the event, please visit http://students.law.umich.edu/mjrl or contact Jacquelyn Ona at 734.763.4421.
U-M Law School host trailblazing jurist for MLK day
January 10, 2005
The University of Michigan Law School hosts "A Conversation with Judge Harry T. Edwards, Jurist, Lawyer, and Scholar" on January 17 in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Judge Edwards is Chief Judge Emeritus of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, considered the second most powerful court in the country next to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was appointed to the court by President Carter in 1980 and is only the second African American to serve both on the D.C. Circuit and as chief judge for that court.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Judge Edwards will discuss his most recent scholarship, "The Journey from Brown v. Board of Education to Grutter v. Bollinger: From Racial Assimilation to Diversity," which he wrote in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. The talk, which will be held at 4 p.m. in room 250 Hutchins Hall of the Law School at the corner of South State and Monroe Streets, will include a question and answer session and is free and open to the public. No tickets are required. Judge Edwards graduated from the University of Michigan Law School with distinction in 1965 and joined the prestigious Chicago law firm Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson, where he was the firm's first black attorney. He began his teaching career at the University of Michigan Law School where he became the first African American professor of law to gain tenure. Judge Edwards also received tenure as a professor of law at Harvard University.
During his service as chief judge for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Edwards moved the court forward on a variety of fronts including implementing case management programs that helped cut the court's case backlog and reduce case disposition times. At the same time, he has contributed to legal scholarship by coauthoring several books and publishing numerous articles and to his local community and the country through his service on boards of directors and his volunteer activities.
For further information please call Trudy Feldkamp, 734.936.0076, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guiding law students into real cases, real life U-M professor hones their courtroom skillsSunday, December 26, 2004
By Anne Reuter, Ann Arbor News Staff Reporter
2005, The Ann Arbor News. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
From her west side home, former big-city dweller Kimberly Thomas gets a kick out of walking to her office at the august, ivied University of Michigan Law School each day.
The solid credential of a 1996 Harvard Law School degree, magna cum laude, helped land her a job as assistant professor of clinical and criminal law here this past January. So did her real-world experience as a trial attorney defending indigent clients in Philadelphia. But it was her gift for teaching that made Thomas stand out for a law school search committee that screened hundreds of applications for the post.
"Her record is spectacular, but we get plenty of those," says Bridget McCormack, associate dean for clinical affairs at the law school. "She impressed us as being able to communicate really well with students. She was very open, very able to see many sides of a given issue."
Thomas was hired in part to teach in the law school's General Civil/Criminal Clinic, an intensive program in which students learn courtroom skills and take on real clients from underserved populations. She thinks her new job is a great fit. She's neither a corporate big-paycheck kind of attorney nor an ivory-tower scholar. She's an advocate for quality legal services for people with little or no money. For her, the U-M law school's supportive programs for students in public interest law were a big drawing card.
In the clinic, Thomas goes to court with her students. Students present the arguments, but one of the clinic's six faculty members must oversee the cases.
Professors also meet weekly or more with students individually to talk about the cases. "For me, it's the perfect balance between having one foot in the real world and one in teaching," Thomas says. She also teaches criminal law.
Thomas' most recent stop before arriving at the U-M was a 3.5 year stint as a trial attorney handling felony and misdemeanor cases for the Defender Association of Philadelphia.
The experience was "crazy and wonderful," she says, with too many clients and too little time. She felt a great responsibility representing her poor clients, many accused of drug crimes or offenses like breaking and entering, among whom mental illness was common.
"You're sort of the last step for them," she says.
Now, she's one of several law school professors who give law students a chance to feel that same sense of responsibility. Students sign up for a seven-credit public service course through the law school clinic. They learn courtroom skills in one segment, then get to represent real clients without means to hire their own attorneys in tenant/landlord disputes and other real cases before county and city courts. Some clients are referred by local courts, or by agencies like SAFE House. Some walk in the door of the clinic.
Third-year law student Amer Pharaon represented clients in several criminal cases under Thomas' guidance. "There were times when I felt overwhelmed. You want to do a great job....
"She would be able to strike a balance between telling you and helping you figure out what to do, and also stepping back and letting you do things by yourself, and encouraging you to take the initiative. The help and the autonomy really help you feel more confident."
He says the seven-credit experience last term "was probably the best thing I did in law school."
Thomas is still adjusting to life in a small city that she says offers a lot for its size. A runner, she's found plenty of convenient routes.
She finds big-city pleasures in Detroit. "I may go to Detroit more than the average Ann Arborite," she says with a smile. She loves the Eastern Market: "It's the best in the country."
She misses the ocean. The Great Lakes are gorgeous, she says, but not the same. And she can't let go of Maryland basketball. She grew up in Maryland and got her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland.
But Thomas is not stranger to Michigan. After majoring in journalism in college, she landed her first job as a reporter covering local government and other stories for The Detroit News. The newspaper strike about a year later helped end her newspaper career. "I made a decision I wanted to advocate rather than report," she says.
She briefly taught math at a small Catholic school in Hamtramck as she formed her plans to go to law school. "I wanted to be someone who was able to act on behalf of poor people," she says. At Harvard, she sought out internships in Cambodia, South Africa and Washington, where she worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
In her research and teaching, Thomas focuses on the effects of incarceration. She's aware of the plight of mentally ill people when their lives intersect with the justice system.
"The fewer services there are for the mentally ill, the more will end up in prison," she says. There are new problems when mentally ill prisoners complete their sentences, often landing in situations where they no longer get their medications regularly.
She advocates better services for people making the transition back into society after being incarcerated. Increased attention to this is cost-effective, because it reduces the odds a person will land back in prison, she argues. "If you don't see people come back, you really are going to save money."