College Students Gain Fair Housing Law Experience Through Internship Program at The John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Support Center

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Raising awareness through education is the goal of the Fair Housing Internship Program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, now training 16 college students in fair housing law.

Raising awareness through education is the goal of the Fair Housing Internship Program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, now training 16 college students in fair housing law.

The program was so successful in the 2011-2012 academic year, that the Fair Housing Legal Support Center received funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the current academic year.

Professor Michael P. Seng, co-executive director of the Center, sees the program as a tool to expand the base of those who know the importance of fair housing and fair lending obligations. He has been sharing his expertise with hundreds of law students and community leaders during the past 20 years, but this program has enabled the Center to reach a new demographic.

Attorney Tiffany Hughes, the program manager, said, “We recognize that the average age of those dedicated to working in the realm of fair housing is 55 years old and up. We need to educate the younger generation about what fair housing law is and what they can do to get involved. That’s why we’ve focused on college students who can carry the message back to their communities and hopefully educate others.”

Hughes credits the Fair Housing Legal Clinic at John Marshall with instilling in her the passion and dedication to tackle the issue. She spent three semesters at the clinic as a student, was a scholarship recipient and after graduation continued working for Professor F. Willis Caruso, co-executive director of the Center.

In the fall 2012 semester, Hughes worked weekly with 15 students selected for their commitment and interest in fair housing law. Hughes is working with 16 students this semester.

These students, from varied backgrounds and pursuing different majors, are enrolled at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Robert Morris University, Lewis University, Wheaton College, Truman College, South Suburban College, East-West University, Joliet Junior College, Concordia University-Chicago, College of Lake County, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Triton College, Lake Forest College, Dominican University, Northeastern Illinois University, the University of St. Francis and Roosevelt University.

In addition to taking the Fair Housing Law class, students are interning at organizations and agencies that deal with housing issues, including HUD; Illinois Department of Human Rights; The John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic; HOPE Fair Housing Center; Latin United Community Housing Association; and the Oak Park Regional Housing Center.

“Sometimes they are surprised by what they learn because they may not have recognized the circumstances as a problem,” Hughes said.

“We’re not restricting the program just to undergraduates who are interested in attending law school or any one particular major. Fair housing plays a significant role in all majors and professions,” Hughes said. “For example, this semester we have students in architecture, social work, psychology and accounting at their respective colleges and universities.”

About The John Marshall Law School
The John Marshall Law School, founded in 1899, is an independent law school located in the heart of Chicago’s legal, financial and commercial districts. U.S. News and World Report America’s Best Graduate Schools 2013 ranks the law school’s Legal Writing Program sixth in the nation. The publication also ranked the Intellectual Property Law Program 17th. John Marshall offers the nation’s only graduate program in employee benefits. Its program in Information Technology and Privacy Law remains the only graduate law program in the country that emphasizes privacy as part of its core curriculum. And, The John Marshall Law School is one of three law schools in the country offering graduate programs in real estate law.

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Marilyn Thomas
The John Marshall Law School
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