Bellow Scholars Work to Improve Quality of Justice Through Research

By Zaena Ballon

Since 2002, the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education has hosted the Bellow Scholars program to support the pioneering work of clinical law professors. The program was founded to reflect the ideals of Gary Bellow, one of the founders of clinical legal education who played a crucial role in establishing legal services for the underserved. Professor Bellow had a successful career as a public defender and criminal defense lawyer before co-founding Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center. Professor Bellow co-authored The Lawyering Process: Materials for Clinical Instruction in Advocacy in 1978.

The section’s committee on Lawyering in the Public Interest oversees the program and reviews innovative project proposals and appoints participants for two-year projects, selected every other year. Proposals are assessed for their potential to become successful research projects and selected by the committee. Once selected, winning proposals are announced in January at the AALS Annual Meeting with final presentations made at the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education. Participants commit to presenting their work in various stages over two years, guaranteeing a structure for these scholars to receive feedback and support in finding outlets to publish the project’s findings.

The committee seeks to highlight scholarship that will improve the quality of justice, legal services, and economic and social justice with an emphasis on projects that use empirical analysis. Selected proposals will be published in different law reviews and journals after the completion of the program. Projects over the years have addressed immigration, housing, climate change, domestic violence, and policing.

Outlets for presentation include the Clinical Law Review Writer’s Workshop, the AALS Clinical Conference, and Bellow Scholars Workshop, where they receive feedback from past scholars, other researchers, clinicians, and prospective scholars. After the project, scholars assist the program by selecting future participants, planning the Bellow Scholars Workshop, attending events, mentoring prospective and future scholars, or serving on the Bellow Scholars Committee.

Bellow scholars

A few of the past Bellow Scholars and their projects are listed below.

Professor Margaret Drew was selected as a Bellow Scholar in 2015-16 for her research on Title IX changes. Professor Drew is an Associate Professor and Director of Clinics and Experiential Learning at the University of Massachusetts School of Law and was selected as a Bellow Scholar for her article “It’s Not Complicated: Containing Criminal Law’s Influence on the Title IX Process.” The article explores concerns with how Title IX investigations and hearing processes are conducted and the impact that criminal law and criminal lawyers have had on Title IX processes. She proposes recommendations to address the needs of the accused as well as protect the harmed student. Professor Drew’s article was published in the Tennessee Journal of Race, Gender, & Social Justice.

Michael Kagan (UNLV, William S. Boyd School of Law) and Fatma E. Marouf (Texas A&M University School of Law) co-authored the article titled “Chivalry, Masculinity, and the Importance of Maleness to Judicial Decision Making” along with political science professor Rebecca D. Gill (UNLV). This article compared female and male judge’s explanations of decision outcomes in court cases. Professor Marouf was a 2012-13 participant of the Bellow Scholar Program and is a current co-chair on the Committee on Lawyering in the Public Interest. Professor Kagan was also part of the 2012-13 program. The article was published as part of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series.

Professor Davida Finger, a 2017-18 Bellow Scholar, is the Associate Dean of Students and Experiential Learning Distinguished Clinical Professor of Law at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. Professor Finger was selected for her research on eviction cases in New Orleans to quantify the problem of evictions, learn more about where evictions occur, and who is evicted. Professor Finger’s article is titled “The Eviction Geography of New Orleans: An Empirical Study to Further Housing Justice,” published in the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Research Paper Series.

Professor Rachel Moran is an associate professor and founder of the Criminal and Juvenile Defense Clinic at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Professor Moran was named a 2019-20 Bellow Scholar for her scholarship on issues pertaining to police accountability, policing reform, and public access to records of police misconduct. Professor Moran’s article “Law Enforcement Perspectives on Public Access to Misconduct Records” examines whether permitting public access to police misconduct records causes any identifiable harm to police officers. Her article will be published in the Cardozo Law Review, forthcoming in April 2021.

Visit the Bellow Scholars website for additional information on the program and a list of current and past scholars.

Thank you to the Committee on Lawyering in the Public Interest for their work in overseeing the program: