The DePaul Legal Clinic was recently spotlighted as one of the city’s best. Earlier this month, the National Law Journal included the College of Law's clinical programs in its Best of Chicago 2012 awards, reader’s choice recognition of the top legal programs in Chicago. The award follows DePaul's recent unveiling of the Housing & Community Development Legal Clinic.
Established in spring 2012, the Housing & Community Development Legal clinic aids in the preservation and expansion of affordable housing in Chicago. It was developed and directed by Assistant Clinical Professor Julie Lawton, former senior supervising attorney to Georgetown’s housing law clinic.
The new clinic offers students opportunities to provide transactional legal assistance to small for-profit and nonprofit organizations engaged in affordable housing and community development work. Law students work with the institute to provide legal perspective in the development of policy initiatives to support the creation and preservation of affordable rental housing in the city. The Housing & Community Development clinic is aligned with the Institute for Housing Studies, an affordable housing research center in DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business.
DePaul University has a long tradition of community-based service learning, and the College of Law continues to exemplify this practice through its legal clinics. In the DePaul Legal Clinic, students have worked to defend copyright and trademark issues, represented clients in immigration court, drafted and negotiated housing contracts, and represented clients convicted of felony offenses in the appellate court.
DePaul's Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic is looking for interested and dedicated law students to assist their community-based organization partners with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
On June 15, 2012 President Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a policy making a certain group of individuals a low priority for immigration enforcement—undocumented individuals who arrived in the US as children and who have pursued education. There are certain disqualifying factors and all applicants are required to show, in addition to proof of education, proof of physical presence and continuous residence.
DePaul's Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic partners with 26 not-for-profit community-based organizations serving low-income immigrants throughout Illinois. Since the announcement of DACA, these CBO partners have seen an overwhelming increase in the demand for services. They are now working extra hours to meet the demand for DACA, in addition to their existing workload and with the same limited resources. The Clinic is looking for law students to help assist those partner organizations in responding to this need.
Professor Andrea Lyon, associate dean for DePaul College of Law's clinical programs, and DePaul Legal Clinic students will represent client Gerald Reed in his upcoming retrial. Reed, one of the victims of torture under Commander Jon Burge, was assigned to a judge at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. He received a life sentence in the 1990s, after a detective working beneath Burge physically coerced Reed into confessing to a double murder.
This second-chance trial is the result of a series of extended investigations by the Illinois Torture Relief and Inquiry Commission on victims of the Burge torture scandal. The commission, specifically designed to process claims related to the Jon Burge scandal, granted a new case to Reed and four other victims.
The Chicago Tribune reported on the announcement yesterday in an article quoting Professor Lyon. In the piece, Lyon offered a note of optimism, reasoning that the commission had already "sorted the wheat from the chaff," therefore making it possible for the court to view Reed's case with a fresh eye.
The four other defendants all allege that they, too, were bullied into confessing to crimes under the Burge regime. Continuation of the high-cost torture commission hinges on the General Assembly's allocation of funds. According to the Chicago Tribune, a queue of 80 additional claims pends further examination.
John Conroy joins DePaul University College of Law as senior lecturer and director of investigations for the DePaul Legal Clinic. In his role at DePaul, Conroy will assist clinics with investigative work for their clients, including family law, misdemeanor, criminal appeals and death penalty. Conroy will work directly with students, helping them develop and craft investigations. In spring 2013, Conroy will teach a fact investigation course at the College of Law.
Conroy is an award-winning investigative reporter, lecturer and acclaimed author of “Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture” and “Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life.” Beyond his contributions to the New York Times, Washington Post and Chicago Public Radio, Conroy is renowned for his journalistic work at the Chicago Reader, where he was instrumental in the investigation of Chicago's police torture scandal. As senior investigator for the Better Government Association, Conroy directed an investigation of the human, social and financial costs of wrongful conviction in Illinois. The investigation led to a 2011 state senate hearing.
Most recently, Conroy debuted as a playwright with “My Kind of Town." The two-act production is currently nominated by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee for best new work. Directed by DePaul Theatre School graduate Nick Bowling (MFA ’96), "My Kind of Town" addresses Chicago's response to the trial of former Police Department commander Jon Burge.
In August, students in the DePaul Civil Rights Clinic along with People’s Law Office represented Bianca Feliciano, a young Latina transgender woman, in securing a historic settlement with the town of Cicero. College of Law Civil Rights Clinic Director Joey Mogul, a partner at People’s Law, led the litigation. The settlement promotes new policies to protect transgender individuals against gender identity discrimination, making Cicero Police Department one of the first metropolitan police departments in the country to incorporate such guidelines.
Windy City Media reported on the Feliciano v. Town of Cicero verdict. Town of Cicero spokesperson Ray Hananina, who is quoted in the article, encouraged other communities to follow suit.
DePaul’s Civil Rights Clinic focuses on civil rights cases involving police or prison misconduct as well other claims involving race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Professor Mogul specializes in civil rights cases involving police misconduct, First Amendment expression, and capital defense cases.
On July 16, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) honored rising 3L Dan Sylvester with the Veteran of the Month Award, an accolade achieved through more than two decades of service, pro bono work and efforts on behalf of veterans. Sylvester's colleagues and friends from DePaul College of Law, including Dean Gregory Mark, Professor Bruce Ottley and Dean for Strategic and Community Alliances Francine Soliunas, attended the ceremony at Holland & Knight, where Sylvester works as a summer associate.
"Daniel Sylvester epitomizes the fact that veterans continue to serve after taking off the uniform," IDVA Director Erica Borggren told the crowd of attendees Monday evening. An 11-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Sylvester spent the larger part of the '90s as an army officer, was involved in humanitarian operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and garnered roughly a dozen military awards for achievement and merit. He has also worked with votevet.org and the Truman National Security Project to lobby Congress on veteran issues and national security.
"He has made a deep impact on Illinois veterans through his work at DePaul University College of Law," Borggren emphasized, "consistently advocating on their behalf."
Sylvester is the current president of the DePaul University College of Law’s Veterans Assistance Service Organization (VASO), which he founded last year. The student organization works with veterans and advocates on their behalf, while exploring how the law affects veterans.
Students and staff started a new program to assist homeless individuals get state identification cards and expunge or seal minor criminal records. The program, Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project (NLAP), takes place every other Saturday at Grace Episcopal Church on 637 S. Dearborn St. Students meet homeless clients at the free breakfast program run by volunteers from The First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple. By helping homeless clients get state identification cards, NLAP helps homeless clients receive public benefits. With their record sealed or expunged, homeless individuals can get housing or employment.
NLAP collaborates with several other agencies to make the program work. Franciscan Outreach through St. Peter's Church trained students on getting state IDs. Cabrini Green Legal Aid trained students in expungement and sealing of minor criminal records. The program began on March 17 and will continue every other Saturday. Alumnus Damon Ritenhouse ('11) supervises the clinic. For more information, contact Cheryl Price, Director of the DePaul Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to view the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin's recent piece on NLAP (note that subscription is required to view the article).
DePaul law alumnus Dennis Kass (JD '06), a history teacher at a Little Village Lawndale High School, puts his law degree to use in a unique way -- offering free legal advice to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students and families.
In 2010, Kass started the Chicago Law and Education Foundation as a way to bring legal services to low-income communities and legal educational initiatives to CPS. He estimates that the foundation has helped thousands of families through a free clinic that operates monthly at nine city high schools.
Read more about Kass and the foundation's work in The New York Times article "A free legal clinic that opens when class is over" or in the Chicago News Cooperative article "A teacher's extra-credit offer: Free legal advice."