UB, Maryland Carey law schools announce legal incubator program

A new program designed to provide in-depth legal and business training to recent law school graduates has been announced by University of Baltimore School of Law Dean Ronald Weich, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Dean Donald B. Tobin and the Maryland State Bar Association.

The incubator was the focus of a July 27 article in The National Law Journal, “Schools Collaborate on Baltimore Legal Practice Incubator.” (You need a subscription to read the full story.) The Baltimore Business Journal and the JD Journal also featured stories about the Baltimore incubator.

The legal incubator program, which is to begin in the coming academic year, will provide low-cost and in some cases free, or pro bono, legal services to Maryland clients while helping young lawyers build robust legal skills, learn sound management practices and sharpen their ethical legal and business judgment.

“We are thrilled to partner with the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and the Maryland State Bar Association to establish a legal incubator program in our state,” Weich said. “In this new program, recent law graduates will refine their skills and build their practices under the guidance of experienced lawyers. This partnership will be a big advantage for new UB and UM graduates and a big win for the Maryland legal community.”

Said Tobin: “The incubator offers a great opportunity for recent graduates to gain experience while providing affordable legal services to people in the state. The incubator partnership was the result of two years of hard work by the MSBA’s Special Committee on Law School Graduates and would not have come to fruition without strong support by the Maryland State Bar Foundation.”

Initially, the law schools will identify a total of five or six recent law graduates who have passed the Maryland state bar examination. Each lawyer will develop a business plan and provide legal services during his or her 12 to 18 months in the program. The new lawyers will not be employees of either law school, nor will they be affiliated with each other.

Incubator attorneys will receive office space, equipment, and phone and Internet service from the UB and Maryland Carey law schools, and malpractice insurance and bar membership from the MSBA. In addition, they will have free access to Westlaw, which donates its services to beginning attorneys in incubator programs across the country.

The new lawyers will be supervised by an experienced attorney from Civil Justice, who will conduct weekly case reviews and split his or her time between the two law schools, where the incubator participants will be based. The salary of the supervising attorney, who is to work part time, will be covered by a grant from the Maryland Bar Foundation.

The incubator lawyers, who will also have access to other legal mentors, will be trained in substantive law, advanced advocacy skills, law-practice management and business development. The new lawyers must agree to donate at least 10 percent of their billable hours to low-cost clients and to take at least one pro-bono case during their time in the incubator. They will be compensated by the fees they collect.

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Profs. Anderson and Jaros discuss Gray case in The Sun

Professors Jose Anderson and David Jaros are quoted in a July 23 Baltimore Sun story, “Defense: Mosby either failed to turn over Freddie Gray evidence, or independent investigation didn’t happen.”

Lawyers for the six Baltimore police officers charged in Freddie Gray‘s arrest and death in April filed a motion Thursday saying that prosecutors either did not turn over evidence or else lied about conducting a full investigation into Gray’s death in police custody.

Anderson, a former public defender in Baltimore, said the defense could be trying to “sow doubt about the state’s case in the court of public opinion,” The Sun wrote. Anderson said such a strategy was “worthwhile” to “diminish the perceived strength of the prosecution’s body of evidence.”

Jaros said defense attorneys made a strong case that the work done by prosecutors is not privileged and must be turned over. He said the question before the judge who will rule on the motion is not whether the state’s investigation happened, but “at what point the prosecutors stopped ‘acting like police officers’ and started crafting their case against the officers.”

Anderson and Jaros were also quoted in The Sun earlier in the week, in a story about publicity surrounding the Freddie Gray case. Defense attorneys have been seeking a change of venue for the case, saying a “media frenzy” has tainted the jury pool in the city. The defense also has urged that Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby be removed for “trying to fan the flames of public opinion,” The Sun wrote.

Said Anderson: “This is a whole lot of case, so you have to work hard with the world watching, with your client watching, with the public watching. A case like this tests the strength of the process, and the process should be tested by a case of this size and importance, to see how it does.”

Jaros discussed arguments for a venue change. “This media question, which goes to the venue question, touches on some really deep issues both about criminal law and government accountability and the right of a community to take part in the justice process,” he said. “We’re weighing the community’s really fundamental and constitutional right to be jurors in cases in their community against due process concerns on the part of the defendants.”

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Prof. Hugh McClean addresses Army JAG officers about work of Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic

Pictured from left:  Col. Lee Cummings, deputy commander - East, U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command; Aniela Szymanski, visiting professor of practice, William and Mary Law School; Professor Hugh McClean; Daniel Nagin, vice dean for experiential and clinical legal education and clinical professor of law, Harvard Law School; Maj. John Fitzpatrick, supervising attorney and senior clinical instructor, Harvard Law School; Laurie Neff, director, Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic, George Mason University School of Law.

Pictured from left: Col. Lee Cummings, deputy commander-East, U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command; Aniela Szymanski, visiting professor of practice, William & Mary Law School; Hugh McClean, visiting assistant professor of law and director of the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic; Daniel Nagin, vice dean for experiential and clinical legal education and clinical professor of law, Harvard Law School; Maj. John Fitzpatrick, supervising attorney and senior clinical instructor, Harvard Law School; Laurie Neff, director, Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic, George Mason University School of Law.

Professor Hugh McClean, director of The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic, gave a presentation July 18 at the annual U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command Northeast Region JAG On-Site Legal Training Conference, held at Fort Belvoir, Va.

McClean, who served in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps from 2003 to 2014, was among several law school clinicians to address Army JAGs about their clinics’ work and about how clinicians and JAGs might work together to help active-duty military members and veterans. The conference focused on providing legal assistance to members of the military and their families.

Legal assistance encompasses a wide body of civil legal issues, including landlord-tenant, employment and family law cases, as well as military-specific matters such as discharge upgrades, veterans’ benefits and VA access-to-care issues.

The clinicians’ panel was well-received by JAGs in the audience, according to Maj. John Fitzpatrick, supervising attorney and senior clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Prison Legal Assistance Project.

“Your panel was still being talked about by everyone at our conference today,” Fitzpatrick said in a July 19 email to participants. “There were many JAGs in that audience who did not previously know there were clinics such as yours they could look to for referral suggestions and/or questions they may have. One young Captain intercepted me in the hotel lobby this morning to thank all of you. She is an active duty JAG with little experience in an underserved area. She has a large docket of veterans’ and service members’ legal assistance cases she was given to handle. She had been unsure about how to deal with these cases. But she was encouraged and relieved by your appearance to know there are law school clinics such as yours to which she can turn for referral or other suggestions. She seemed so happy, it was clear how very worthwhile your participation was.”

Learn more about Professor McClean.

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Dean Ronald Weich in The Washington Post: Mandatory minimums all about math, not people

Dean Ronald Weich is quoted today in a Washington Post story on the human toll of the government’s decades-long war on drugs and on the particular damage done by mandatory-minimum sentences.

Reporter Sari Horwitz‘s article — “From a First Arrest to a Life Sentence: Clemency is the only way out for the thousands of nonviolent drug offenders serving life terms in federal prison” — is the third in a series titled “Unwinding the Drug War.”

Horwitz tells the story of Sharanda Jones, prisoner 33177-077 at the Carswell women’s prison in Fort Worth, Texas. Jones, a first-time, nonviolent offender, was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1999 by a federal judge after she was convicted on a single cocaine offense.

Writes Horwitz: “Jones almost certainly would not receive such a sentence today. Federal sentencing guidelines in similar drug cases have changed, in particular to end disparities in how the courts treat crack cocaine vs. powder cocaine. And, following a 2005 Supreme Court decision, judges have much greater discretion when they mete out punishment. In the past decade, they gave lower sentences by an average of one-third the guideline range, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.”

But the hangover from the years of harsh, mandatory-minimum sentencing continues.

Jones is among about 100,000 federal inmates — about half the total population — doing time for drug offenses. Of them, many thousands are nonviolent offenders serving life without the possibility of parole. Four in five are black, like Sharanda Jones, or Hispanic.

Weich, who served as a special counsel to the U.S. Sentencing Commission in the late 1980s, told the Post that mandatory-minimum sentences were about math, not about people.

Said Weich: “These laws forced judges to look at their calculators instead of into the eyes of the defendants they were sentencing. They weren’t allowed to ask, ‘How did they get to this point in their lives?’ and ‘Who were they going to be in five or 20 years?’ ”

President Barack Obama, who this week granted clemency to 46 nonviolent drug offenders, is visiting Oklahoma today to promote a plan to overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system. Such a move was championed by former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who in 2014 called mandatory-minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders “draconian.”

Learn more about Dean Ronald Weich.

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On WYPR, Professor Jane Murphy and co-author advance new approaches to family dispute resolution

Jane Murphy, Laurence M. Katz Professor of Law and co-director of the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Mediation Clinic for Families, took part in a “Maryland Morning” segment — “Rethinking Family Dispute Resolution” — that aired July 15 on WYPR (88.1 FM).

Also speaking with host Sheilah Kast was Jana B. Singer, a professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Murphy and Singer are the co-authors of Divorced from Reality: Rethinking Family Dispute Resolution, which was recently published by NYU Press.

Murphy emphasized that poor parents must navigate a court system that has not evolved sufficiently to help many of today’s families with child support and custody, among other matters. Meanwhile, she added, more affluent parents are able to bypass the courts by using specialists, such as mental-health experts and mediators.

“There are really two systems now,” Murphy said.

To help families without the resources to hire specialists, Murphy and Singer advocate a move away from traditional litigation – or what Singer called “traditional, zealous, gladiator representation” — toward a more collaborative, interdisciplinary system in which lawyers work with health and financial professionals to sort out a family’s reorganization after divorce or other separation.

Murphy and Singer pointed out that divorce is often not the issue among less well-to-do families, in which parents are frequently not married. Murphy noted that, nationwide, about 40 percent of children are born to unmarried parents and that, in Baltimore, 83 percent of couples in Circuit Court in 2014 for custody or visitation matters were unwed.

“While we’ve had significant demographic changes, the court system is still built around the model of a divorcing nuclear family,” Singer said.

Murphy and Singer’s new book urges the development of programs tailored to parents who may never have shared child-rearing duties.

Murphy stressed that reform does not mean lawyers should not have a key role in family dispute resolution.

“In order to negotiate and participate in collaborative conflict resolution, you need to understand what the law says about custody, child support and property, if that’s involved,” she said. “It’s not a process that one should engage in without the assistance of lawyers. We’re concerned about the lack of lawyers for these nonmarital families in court.”

Learn more about Professor Murphy.

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Prof. Dillard discusses Eric Garner settlement on HuffPost Live

Prof. J. Amy Dillard

Professor J. Amy Dillard was interviewed July 15 for a HuffPost Live segment about New York City’s recently announced $5.9 million settlement with the family of Eric Garner. Garner died a year ago after an encounter with police, who apprehended him because he was allegedly selling cigarettes illegally. Cell-phone video of the fatal July 2014 encounter shows Garner, who was black, being held on the ground in an apparent chokehold by a police officer; Garner can also be heard repeatedly yelling, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!”

In response to a question from host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani about the specific amount of the settlement, Dillard said settlements often reflect the amount of insurance coverage that a jurisdiction possesses to cover such cases. While Dillard said she did not know if the New York City comptroller’s settlement reflected the amount of an insurance policy, she noted that the $5.9 million settlement in the Garner case was roughly in line with settlements in two other high-profile police misconduct cases in New York: The family of Amadou Diallo, who was shot and killed by police in 1999, received $3 million, while Abner Louima, who was brutally beaten and sodomized by police in 1997, received $8.75 million.

The other guests on the HuffPost Live segment were Cheryl Dorsey, a retired Los Angeles Police Department sergeant, and Marq Claxton, director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance.

Learn more about Professor Dillard.

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Daily Record highlights Fannie Angelos Program, student

The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Fannie Angelos Program for Academic Excellence and UB law student Matthew Bradford were the focus of a July 9 Daily Record story, “Law school pipeline program connects at firm.” (You will need a subscription to read the full article.)

From the story:

“The program includes two parts, the Baltimore Scholars Program and the LSAT Award Program. The Scholars portion gives eight undergraduates the opportunity to experience a two-week ‘boot camp’ immersion into law school life, while the Awards portion covers the majority of a semester-long LSAT preparation course for up to 80 students or graduates, including the eight Scholars.

“Students like Bradford, who complete the Baltimore Scholars Program and are accepted to UB Law with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.5 and an LSAT score of at least 152, receive a full-tuition scholarship to the law school.”

While the Fannie Angelos program began as a collaboration between the UB School of Law and Maryland’s historically black colleges and universities, its format has changed over time.

“Building on the pipeline concept, we realized it’s not just enough to connect one part of the pipe to another,” DLA Piper Professor of Law and program director Michael Meyerson said.

Meyerson said students need to be connected not just to law schools but also to law firms and the legal community: “Showing that [the students] are top-notch legal professionals and connecting them with law firms is the next major area we’re working on.”

Bradford, who will be a 3L, is a summer associate at Miles & Stockbridge. He is the first student from the Fannie Angelos program to earn a summer spot at the firm.

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