CPR President Rena Steinzor (former director of the University of Maryland’s Environmental Law Clinic) and Robert Kuehn, president of the Clinical Legal Education Association, have a post over at ACSBlog putting the recent attack on the independence of the Maryland clinic into the context of other such moves across the country.
The Maryland legislature recently stepped back from an earlier threat to withhold funding to the clinic if it did not turn over private client information to the state. The issue came up when the clinic represented two advocacy groups suing chicken farmers over alleged pollution violations, leading to a backlash from the industry and its supporters (see Shana Jones’ earlier post).
Steinzor and Kuehn put the Maryland incident in the context of a “rising tide of attacks on law school clinics by those powerful interests affronted by law clinic opponents’ access to pro bono assistance.” They conclude:
Few issues are more important to the legal profession than the lesson taught by Atticus Finch: lawyers who do not defend access to justice for those shunned by society’s most powerful interests betray the profession’s reason to exist.