Louisiana Bill Takes Aim at Campus Law Clinics

May 11, 2010

Lawmakers in Louisiana are pushing legislation that would severely limit the work of law school clinics that provide free legal services -- a measure that campus officials say would force many such clinics to close, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported. The legislation sponsored by a state senator would bar university law clinics from suing government agencies in court, among other things. It is widely acknowledged to be aimed at Tulane University's environmental law clinic, which was the focus of a similar push more than a decade ago and was characterized by one business leader as having a "wanton disregard for the economic well being of the state," the Louisiana newspaper reported. The legislation in Louisiana follows a move by legislators against a law clinic at the University of Maryland, and prompted a letter to Louisiana senators from the Clinical Legal Educators Association that reads, in part: "The provisions in this bill demonstrate a failure to understand the importance of providing access to legal representation to all citizens, rich or poor, and the structure of contemporary legal education. Those supporting this bill appear more concerned about protecting favored businesses from compliance with the law and punishing the state’s universities than about higher education and access to justice."

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