Becoming Lawyers Inspired by Justice Thurgood Marshall’s Legacy

On January 18, 2022, The University of Baltimore School of Law held our Clinical Law Program Swearing-in Ceremony (video of ceremony available here). Due to the pandemic, the ceremony was held remotely. Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Shirley Watts administered the oath to seventy-five students, who became student attorneys licensed to practice law and represent clients under the supervision of faculty in UBalt Law’s eleven clinics.  Friends and family cheered on the students as they began their journey to serve clients in need and improve their lawyering skills. Student attorneys will represent entrepreneurial clients forming business entities, innocent clients seeking exoneration and release from prison, clients seeking veterans benefits essential to their livelihood, clients facing increased economic stress due to the pandemic, clients seeking family restructuring to best serve their children’s interests, and many others. The student attorneys will also work on community-based projects seeking water justice, reproductive justice, data justice, tax justice, consumer justice, and more.

In her remarks, Judge Watts offered inspiration drawn from Justice Thurgood Marshall’s legacy. Remarking that her life was altered due to Justice Marshall’s work as a lawyer and jurist, Judge Watts noted that Justice Marshall’s work embodied the principle of seeing what was possible, even if not yet realized. Justice Marshall was born during an era of legal segregation and other forms of discrimination. Despite this, Judge Watts stated, Justice Marshall “took the law and used it as an ally in his quest to achieve equality and justice for all.”

Judge Watts described Justice Marshall’s educational background, including being graduated first in his class at Howard Law School, and his service as the first Director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. As a living legacy of Justice Marshall, Judge Watts noted to the student attorneys that the NAACP Legal Defense Fund today is actively working to protect voting rights and other justice principles at stake in our democracy.

Judge Watts also discussed the important legacy Justice Marshall left as a jurist. As Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1967-1991, Justice Marshall’s written dissenting opinions, in which he “disagreed with the majority and felt compelled to give his reasons why,” far outnumbered his written majority opinions. Judge Watts explained that Justice Marshall wrote his dissents to meet the need for “independence, clarity, and leadership in the legal profession.”

Upon Justice Marshall’s passing on January 24, 1993, Chief Justice Rehnquist memorialized Justice Marshall as having done more than any other individual to make the Supreme Court Building’s inscription “Equal Justice Under Law” a reality.  Judge Watts stated, “Justice Marshall’s impact on the law both as a member of the bar and a jurist is immeasurable. His work changed the fabric of our nation and altered how many view and interpret the Constitution as a living document.” She encouraged the student attorneys to seek out more information about Justice Marshall if they needed further inspiration as student attorneys or throughout their legal career.

Civil Advocacy Clinic II students file appellate brief

After many weeks of research and drafting, Civil Advocacy Clinic 2 students Julianna Felkoski and Aiden Galloway filed an appellate brief in Circuit Court on a novel and complex area of law related to the pandemic fallout.  The Civil Advocacy Clinic represents low-income clients in a wide range of civil litigation and law reform efforts, particularly in the areas of housing, consumer, workers’ rights, and public benefits.

CAC students pose with appellate briefs

Julianna Felkoski and Aiden Galloway

Baltimore Law Prof. Erica J. Suter to Deliver Keynote Address at Annual Social Justice Lecture Series

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

Prof. Erica J. Suter, director of the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Innocence Project Clinic, will present the Third Annual Lecture hosted by The Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for Education, Justice & Ethics, on Thursday, Nov. 11.

The lecture will be presented in hybrid format. There will be a live audience at The Hotel at The University of Maryland in College Park, and a simultaneous broadcast to those joining virtually.

Erica J. Suter
Erica J. Suter

The annual Hon. Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Lecture series is a forum dedicated to recognizing those individuals and organizations whose exemplary commitment to education, restorative social justice, ethical leadership, and civic responsibility stands as a model of excellence and inspiration in the midst of a cultural and political environment increasingly characterized by cynicism, apathy, and polarization.

The primary focus of this year’s lecture is criminal justice reform. The lecture will recognize the…

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Baltimore Law Professor, Student, Share Reflections on the Impact of the Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

Over the past week, many Americans have reflected on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and what the terrorist attacks have meant for the nation as well as for them personally. The University of Baltimore held a 20th anniversary observance on Friday, Sept. 10, organized by The Bob Parsons Veterans Center and including various university faculty, staff and students.

The university also created a 9/11 remembrance web page to gather testimonials and reflections as well, including one from Baltimore Law 2L Tyler Walch, an Army veteran, who shared this:

I was a young 10-year-old  fifth-grader on Sept. 11, 2001. Despite my age at the time, I remember that harrowing day well and in detail. I’ll never forget the unity that followed—that sense of community, Americanism, and a commonly held commitment to mutual helpfulness. 

It was a sad day that soon brought about an immeasurable amount of patriotic fervor, as we put aside our differences to…

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Baltimore Law Clinical Fellow Sakinah Tillman Sworn In as President of Monumental City Bar Association

Congratulations, Sakinah!

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

Sakinah Tillman, clinical teaching fellow in the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, was sworn in June 22 as president of the Monumental City Bar Association.

Tillman joined the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic in July 2020. Over her career, she has represented numerous clients in matters before the Internal Revenue Service. Prior to joining the Baltimore Law faculty, Tillman was a senior state and local tax associate at RSM US, LLP, where she represented clients on technical state and local tax issues, prepared complex returns on behalf of partnerships and S corporations, and wrote memoranda, matrices and other client deliverables.

Sakinah Tillman with Hon. Michael Studdard
Sakinah Tillman with Hon. Michael Studdard

During law school, she received the Distinguished Student Award from the Student Bar Association. She has received the Donald A. Thigpen Rising Star Award from the Washington Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, which is awarded to an attorney who has…

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Baltimore City Council President Introduces Bill to Implement Water Accountability Measure Fought for by UB Law Clinic

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott has introduced legislation to update the implementation timeline for the Water Accountability & Equity Act, a measure for which UB School of Law’s Community Development Clinic (CDC) has been advocating for years as part of the Baltimore Right to Water Coalition.

The Baltimore City Council unanimously passed the Water Accountability & Equity Act (WAEA) in November 2019. The groundbreaking legislation will improve the city’s water billing practices by setting up a comprehensive Water For All affordability program and by creating a new, independent, Office of the Customer Advocate to handle disputes. On July 9, four days before this program became legally effective, Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young issued an executive order to delay its effective date until 30 days after the end of the Covid-19 state of emergency.

“The WAEA was sorely needed two years ago when it was first introduced, and it is even…

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More Wins for Veterans Thanks to Student-Attorneys in UB Law’s Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

The UB School of Law Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic (VAC) has three recent case wins to share with the community. Here are summaries written by Katy Clemens, clinical teaching fellow in the clinic.

In the first case, the VAC won disability benefits for a veteran whose right leg was amputated due to VA medical treatment that was negligent. We started with this case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, where student-attorneys Brendan Loughran, J.D. ’19, and Justin Hoy, J.D. ’19, served as lead counsel and won a remand of the case back to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals due to errors in the Board’s decision.

Student-attorneys Calvin Riorda, J.D. ’20, and Erin Cullinan, J.D. ’20, took over before the Board, obtained a crucial medical opinion for the veteran, and drafted a brief arguing the case to the Board. VA granted the…

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Student-Attorneys in UB Law’s Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic Score Important Wins for Clients

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

TheBob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic (VAC) has had many successes assisting veterans with a variety of legal challenges. But the team is celebrating several recent achievements, thanks to the persistence of clinic student-attorneys and the guidance of clinic director Prof. Hugh McClean and clinical teaching fellow Katy Clemens. Here is a summary of these cases from Clemens.

The first win is for a client who we met and represented at the Baltimore City Veterans Treatment Court. Our student Calvin Riorda, who was representing him, found out that his claim to the Department of Veterans Affairs for service-connected disability benefits for bipolar disorder — that he had before his military service but was permanently aggravated by his service — had been denied time and time again. Cal worked with the client to get a helpful medical opinion from his treating psychiatrist.

Our student Ross Varndell then took over…

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Community Advocates, and UB Law Clinic Director, Decry Last-Minute Delay of City Water Justice Legislation

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young has requested a one-year delay for the implementation
of the Water Accountability and Equity Act (WAEA), just three weeks before the legislation’s mandated implementation deadline. This push for delay comes after years of the Department of Public Works (DPW) dragging its feet on water justice action, water justice advocates say, and making promises to uplift racial equity despite clear evidence that this is a racial justice issue.

At a June 22 City Council meeting, the Young administration asked that the deadline for implementation be delayed one year, to July 1, 2021. The legislation grants discounted rates according to a customer’s income and provides easier ways to dispute water bills. Passed by the City Council in November 2019, the bill was the result of years of effort by students in the UB Law Community Development Clinic (CDC), in collaboration with other member organizations in the Baltimore Right…

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UB Law’s Community Development Clinic Honored by Clinical Legal Education Association for Water Justice Project — UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

This post is an edited version of an email sent to the UB School of Law community by Prof. Margaret E. Johnson, who is associate dean for experiential education, co-director of the Center on Applied Feminism, and director of the Bronfein Family Law Clinic. The UB School of Law Community Development Clinic (CDC)’s Water Justice […]

via UB Law’s Community Development Clinic Honored by Clinical Legal Education Association for Water Justice Project — UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law