For Immediate Release
ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN LAW SCHOOLS TO SPONSOR NATIONWIDE EQUAL JUSTICE COLLOQUIA
September 13, 2000, Washington, D.C. – In response to the critical national need to provide competent lawyers for persons and communities unable to afford adequate legal representation, the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) has begun a project calling upon law professors to work to improve universal access to the legal system. The AALS, the Washington D.C.- based member organization for over 160 law schools nationwide, will sponsor 19 Equal Justice Colloquia during the 2000-01 academic year in law schools across the country. The inaugural Colloquium will be co-hosted by American University's Washington College of Law and Howard University School of Law on September 21-22, 2000.
The Project is the initiative of this year's AALS President, Professor Elliott Milstein of American University's Washington College of Law. "A major goal of the AALS is the improvement of the legal profession through legal education. This Project seeks to inspire law faculty to participate–through their teaching, scholarship, and service–in the tremendous challenges of providing effective representation to the large numbers of people and communities left out of today's legal system," said Professor Milstein.
Funded by a grant from the Open Society Institute, the Colloquia Series will bring together law school faculty, students, and staff with legal services lawyers, public defenders, nonprofit and private public interest lawyers and firms, and pro bono lawyers in an effort to forge greater cooperative efforts around the critical issues of equal representation in the current legal system. The Director of the AALS Equal Justice Project, Professor Dean Hill Rivkin of the University of Tennessee College of Law, observed: "The delivery of competent legal services to many segments of our population is reaching crisis proportions. Poor people lack proper representation in our civil and criminal systems, our juvenile courts, and in the pervasive administrative tribunals that determine important issues for people with disabilities, those out of work, or those facing discrimination. Communities facing environmental harms or seeking the benefits of economic development often face legal obstacles without skilled lawyers. Law schools have an important role to play in helping solve these problems, from providing theory and data to educating the next generation of lawyers who will face these complex issues."
The 19 Law Schools where the Colloquia will be held are developing programs that will be responsive to the concerns of their communities, states, or regions. "This Project encourages interested faculty to peer outside of the ivory tower, see the systemic needs that our legal systems have, and join with lawyers and others on the front-line to develop long-term solutions to what may be the most pressing set of problems facing the legal profession today," said Carl Monk, the Association's Executive Director. A full listing of the Equal Justice Colloquia is contained in the attached brochure or on the Association's website: www.aals.org/equaljustice.
For additional information about the Equal Justice Project, please contact the Project Director, Professor Dean Hill Rivkin, University of Tennessee College of Law, by telephone at 865/974-1481 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.