Dean Ronald Weich testifies in Annapolis against bill to limit law schools’ clinic work

Dean Ronald Weich testified March 6 before the Maryland House of Delegates Appropriations Committee in opposition to a bill that would prohibit the clinics at Maryland’s two law schools from taking legal action against the state.

3L student Kyle Kushner testified alongside Weich.

The bill, HB 559, sponsored by Del. Jason Buckel (R-Allegany County), would bar clinics’ participation in litigation opposing, contesting or seeking judicial review of an act, decision or determination by a state agency.

Weich set forth three reasons he opposes the bill (quotes are from his prepared comments):

First, the bill would adversely affect the people of Maryland, many of whom cannot afford needed legal services and therefore benefit from law clinic help.

Second, the bill would hurt legal education: “The clinics are a core component of our curriculum, and this bill would prohibit students from taking full advantage of this program. Law school clinics in neighboring jurisdictions – particularly in the District of Columbia – do not operate under the restrictions this bill would impose. Passage of this bill would place the two Maryland law schools at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting and educating students.”

Third, the bill would compel law school faculty and clinic students to violate the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct: “It would mandate incompetent representation by imposing restrictions that have nothing to do with the nature of the legal issues presented; restrict clients, without their consent, from determining the scope of representation; and impair lawyers’ ability to perform a core function of legal representation – providing ‘independent professional judgment’ because such judgment would now be limited by state law.”

Donald Tobin, dean of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, also testified.

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