Albany Law School Justice Center Provides Legal Advocacy for 600 Community Clients

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Center ranked 32nd nationally among all law school clinics.

Through the Albany Law School Clinic & Justice Center, law students annually help approximately 600 clients in New York’s Capital Region who would not otherwise have legal representation for cases involving health care, domestic violence, taxes, civil rights, and other issues.

The Law Clinic & Justice Center, which has six sub-clinics, was ranked 32nd out of all U.S. law school clinics earlier this year by U.S. News & World Report.

Third-year Albany Law Student Chaula Shukla, who worked in the Family Violence Litigation Clinic, said, “Often times victims of domestic violence do not have the resources to obtain legal services as they are being controlled financially by their abusers. The Clinic not only helps clients regain control by representing their interests during difficult family court proceedings, but it also helps to educate them on their various options within the judicial system and beyond.”

“The tools you receive guarantee a better understanding of the practice of law,” said Shukla, who is spending her summer with The Legal Project in Albany, providing legal assistance for women affected by domestic violence who need pro bono services because of economic restraints.

Stefen Short, another third-year student who spent two semesters in the Civil Rights & Disabilities Law Clinic, said, “I learned how to use the law to achieve progressive victories for people who are otherwise unrepresented or underrepresented. The clinic took classroom doctrine – which can sometimes seem dry – and brought it back to life.”

Short is spending his summer working with Disability Advocates, Inc., in Albany, handling cases in diverse areas such as special education, discrimination and prisoners’ rights.

“The Law Clinic & Justice Center functions as a public interest law firm within the law school, in which students, under supervision by licensed attorneys and professors, are able to handle their own caseload,” said Clinic Director and Clinical Professor of Law Joseph Connors. “This environment allows the students to develop, early in their legal education, the real-world skills necessary for the practice of law.”

Nearly 200 Albany Law School students – one-third of the total student body – are working in the Clinic during in any given semester. The Law Clinic & Justice Center’s six sub-clinics are: Civil Rights & Disabilities Clinic; Domestic Violence Prosecution Hybrid Clinic; Family Violence Litigation Clinic; Health Law Clinic; Introduction to Litigation Clinic; and Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Albany Law School is a small, independent private school in the heart of New York state’s capital since 1851. As the oldest law school in New York and the oldest independent law school in the nation, the institution offers students an innovative, rigorous curriculum taught by a committed faculty. Several nationally recognized programs—including the Government Law Center and the Albany Law Clinic & Justice Center—provide opportunities for students to apply classroom learning. Students have access to New York's highest court, federal courts, the executive branch and the state legislature. With more than 9,000 alumni practicing in every state in the country, and several continents, Albany Law’s graduates serve as a vital community and resource for the law school and its students.

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Nick Crounse
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