Faculty Post: Lessons From a Law School Clinic

by Jennifer Howard

As officers of the court, fluent in the language, creators of, or at least participants in, its local practices, lawyers sometimes forget that many would-be litigants enter the courthouse with much trepidation and misinformation. While law school on the whole seeks to prepare students for their role as knowledgeable problem solvers, clinics provide students with a unique opportunity to learn about how to use that knowledge to help real people, with real problems. Explaining the legal system is one of an attorney’s most important tasks.

The Domestic Violence Institute at Northeastern University School of Law currently offers students two opportunities to learn to advocate for survivors of domestic violence: one through the Legal Assistance to Victims Project, a new community lawyering project aimed at connecting survivors to legal services at those places they first turn to for help; the other, through the Domestic Violence Clinic, founded in 1991. While both programs strive to educate students about the unique challenges faced by survivors navigating the legal system; it is the Clinic that delivers the chance to advocate in court on their behalf. The experience of direct, in-court advocacy provides soon to be lawyers many important lessons.

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Faculty Post: The Law & Morality

by Professor David M. Phillips

Mills v. Wyman, an 1825 Massachusetts case, which is featured in one of the more popular first year casebooks, raises the question of the relationship between law and morality. Incurring various expenses, Daniel Mills cared for a 25 year old sick sailor, Levi Wyman, who then died. His father, Seth Wyman, wrote to Mills promising to pay for those expenses, but then reneged on the promise. Mills brought suit, but the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a lower court holding that no action lay. Consideration is required to hold liable a promisor, and according to the court, Mills had given no consideration in return for Wyman’s promise; consideration could not consist of past action. Despite their respective holdings, the lower court had termed Wyman’s conduct “a strong example of particular injustice,” and the Supreme Judicial Court stated that Wyman had a “moral obligation” to fulfill the promise. But, to the court, a violation of a “moral duty” was not equivalent to a violation of a legal one. Continue reading

From Global Law to Local Justice

by Professor Hope Lewis, who co-founded the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy

It is now a standard observation: the legal academic, activist, and employment world is globalizing. U.S. Based law schools are partnering with schools in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and East Asia. LL.M. And S.J.D. Students from around the world have arrived in the U.S. To enrich classroom discussions and practice with their perspectives about the U.S. And about their home countries. Many well-prepared “domestic” lawyers will, at one time or the other, encounter clients, adversaries, partners, and issues that raise “global law” problems (i.e., International Comparative, Foreign, National Security, Immigration/Refugee/Asylum, Trade, Business Transactions, and the like). Many of our students and colleagues take advantage of our human rights program to engage in on-the-job learning in Switzerland, India, and Colombia. In addition to the wonderful opportunities for travel and exposure to other cultures, such opportunities offer the chance to hone language skills and to learn innovative problem-solving strategies. The “Bringing Human Rights Home” movement has once again stimulated U.S. Social justice activism on issues as broad-ranging as post-Katrina housing in New Orleans, misuse of force, racial discrimination, extrajudicial killings of young minority men, and violence and trafficking against girls and women with disabilities.

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Student Post: Practice Exam

by Zach ’17

One of the many great experiences I have had at NUSL this fall was the opportunity to take a practice exam.  No, I am not that into my studies that I actually enjoy exam-taking, but I appreciate the opportunity that Northeastern provided me to take part in a “test run” without the typical exam pressures.

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Faculty Post: WORKING AS A TEACHING OR RESEARCH ASSISTANT

By Professor Daniel A. Austin

Law school can seem like a pie-eating contest where the reward is more pie. If your diet of coursework, research, and writing leaves you hungry for more, consider working as a teaching or research assistant for a professor during your 2L and 3L years. The pay is not great, usually only $15 per hour max, but it’s a good resume-builder, and you get a close-up view of the teaching or research side of law. Plus, you will probably become better acquainted with the professor than if your only interaction were as a student in her/his class. This can be a good resource at bar admission or letter of recommendation time.

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Faculty Post: Human Rights and Gender-Based Violence

by Katherine Schulte, Supervising Attorney, Domestic Violence Institute at Northeastern University School of Law

Monday March 10, 2014 marked the launch of the 58th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58).  Representatives from Member States, UN agencies, and civil society have come together in New York City to address the issue of equality for women and girls.  The theme for this year’s session is “Challenges and Achievements in the Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls.” These goals were adopted 13 years ago to promote women’s fullest enjoyment of their rights. Particular target areas include eradicating the disproportionate poverty of women and girls, increasing women’s participation in politics, and ending gender-based violence. CSW58 provides an opportunity for stakeholders to review what progress has been made in these areas, and what improvements are still necessary.

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