Immigrant Rights Clinic secures asylum for three clients in as many weeks

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

Emily Torstveit NgaraProfessor Elizabeth Keyes, director of UB’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, sends exciting news:

I am so happy to let you all know that, under the supervision of Emily Torstveit Ngara (above), our fellow in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, the clinic just got its third asylum victory in as many weeks. These cases were filed two years ago — the asylum office backlog has been that bad — and the clients have been in limbo.

Now a young gay man from Jamaica, a delightful yet deeply traumatized young woman from Rwanda and an older Rwandan man (a lawyer in Rwanda) have gained the ability to stay here, which puts them on a path toward permanent residence and citizenship down the road. Over the years, clinic students Rexanah Wyse, Amanda Heffernan, Miranda Russell and Erika Flaschner did superb lawyering work for all these clients, especially Erika (now a 3L)…

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The Bob Parsons Veterans Center Co-Sponsors Judicial Conference on Veterans’ Needs

Prof. Hugh McClean and student attorneys from the Veterans Advocacy Clinic.
Prof. Hugh McClean and student attorneys from the Veterans Advocacy Clinic.

Most military members return to civilian life and lead happy, healthy and productive lives. But for those who experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and related illnesses, the transition can be overwhelming.  The University of Baltimore School of Law and the Judicial Institute of Maryland recently sponsored a judicial conference titled, “Veterans’ Needs: The Current State of Veterans in Our Courts,” which was held March 15-17, 2015. Judges from the Maryland judiciary, both appellate and trial, attended the conference, as well as 40 out-of-state judges representing more than 20 jurisdictions.

The purpose of the program was to educate judges about the effects of PTSD and TBI on veterans and their families, and to examine the needs of justice-involved veterans. Judges examined the Veterans Treatment Court model, and discussed how these courts are being implemented across the country to link veterans with federal, state, and local resources. Speakers included experts from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Maryland legislature, as well as students and faculty of the Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic. The law school is pleased to bring together judges, scientists, lawmakers, faculty, and students to discuss strategies to assist veterans and their families.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Returns to UB Clinical Law Program

This semester, the University of Baltimore Tax Clinic became the law school’s newest clinical offering.

Originally established in 2000, the Tax Clinic operated for a decade until shutting down in 2010. In summer 2014, the law school applied for a grant from the Internal Revenue Service to partially fund a revived Tax Clinic. In November 2014, the law school was notified that it would receive the grant it requested. John B. Snyder, III, who worked in the clinic’s prior incarnation as a Clinical Fellow, returned to serve as Clinic Director. The Tax Clinic accepted its first clients in early January, 2015.

The Tax Clinic represents low-income taxpayers in federal tax disputes before the Internal Revenue Service and federal courts. The clinic does not normally prepare tax returns and does not handle accounting or transactional tax matters. As in the school’s other clinical programs, student attorneys are responsible for all aspects of representing clients, ranging from interviewing and counseling to conducting hearings and trials. Typical student work includes arguing innocent spouse applications, preparing audit reconsiderations, briefing and appearing in collection matters, and tax litigation. Student attorneys have already accomplished impressive results for their clients, including trying a case in U.S. Tax Court under the Court’s student practice rules.

For more information on representation, please visit our website or call 410-837-5706 and ask for ‘Tax Clinic Intake.’

3rd Community Legal Clinic Provides Free Advice and Consultations to More Than 20 Maryland Nonprofit Organizations

University of Baltimore School of Law Community Development Clinic student-attorneys and Community Law Center attorneys spend day providing free services to new and established nonprofits

On Saturday, Feb. 28, the University of Baltimore School of Law Community Development Clinic and Community Law Center Inc. held a daylong program to provide free advice and legal consultations to Maryland community based nonprofits. The program organizers scheduled free, 45-minute meetings between Community Law Center attorneys and representatives of 21 organizations from Baltimore City and elsewhere. The event took place in the John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore.

The event, the third in a series, evolved from an initiative planned last spring by student-attorneys in the Community Development Clinic (CDC) and by Community Law Center. To date, the collaboration has provided legal advice, counsel and resources to more than 60 organizations across the state, while more than 20 groups have submitted applications for further services.

“Clients walk in with so much hope and inspiration for their projects, but also with some real fear. They wonder ‘Am I doing this right?’ and ‘What am I missing?’” said Jaime E. Lee, assistant professor of law and director of the Community Development Clinic. “It is a privilege to connect with these visionaries and to empower them through access to the law, and students notice this right away. Students are also always surprised at how much they personally have learned in just half a semester, and how they, too, are empowered as a result.”

At the Feb. 28 event, seven Community Law Center attorneys and a CDC clinical professor worked with a rotating group of eight CDC student-attorneys to interview representatives of community groups and nonprofits. They met organizations with tax and compliance questions, and groups with complex concerns regarding startups and exciting new initiatives. They were even asked a basic question or two that the attorneys could answer on the spot. The legal team was enthusiastic and humbled by the rich diversity and passion of the organizational representatives and by the scope of their vision and achievement.

“Community Law Center was delighted to partner with the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Community Development Clinic once again to provide access to free legal advice for Maryland’s community and nonprofit organizations,” said Kristine Dunkerton, the group’s executive director and an alumna of the University of Baltimore Community Development Clinic.

The critical, and largely unmet, need for free and affordable legal services for poor and middle-class Marylanders has been well documented by the Maryland Access to Justice Commission. However, the need for organizational and transactional legal services for small nonprofits and community enterprises that serve those populations remains understudied. Most groups surveyed after the Feb. 28 event reported that they had never spoken to an attorney about corporate, tax, employment and other areas of law and compliance that directly affect their ability to operate.

“By offering these free brief advice sessions, we were able to assist 21 nonprofits and answer a wide array of legal questions,” said Kelly Pfeifer, a supervising attorney with Community Law Center. “Several organizations have already applied for further legal representation through Community Law Center, and we look forward to working with them in that way as well.”

The two collaborating programs continue to plan initiatives to meet the demonstrated need for free and affordable legal services for community groups and organizations throughout Baltimore and Maryland as a whole.

The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Community Development Clinic offers free, nonlitigation legal services to Baltimore-area community organizations, coalitions and for-profit community enterprises. The CDC helps underserved communities to help themselves by supporting nonprofits, small businesses and social enterprises. The clinic also helps groups promoting affordable housing and equitable development, community associations, cooperatives and other locally based organizations. Student-attorneys gain experience working with clients within a structured educational framework while helping to strengthen underserved local communities. For more information, please call 410.837.5706 or visit http://law.ubalt.edu/clinics/clinics/community.cfm.

Community Law Center is Maryland’s only legal services organization dedicated solely to strengthening neighborhoods and the nonprofit sector. Community Law Center’s mission is to provide legal services and technical assistance to improve the quality of life and economic viability of communities. For more information and to learn about how to apply for legal assistance for community organizations or nonprofits, please call 410.366.0922 visit http://www.communitylaw.org