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Federal employees volunteering for law clinics: What could go wrong?

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a mark-up session next Thursday, Sept. 30, to act on S.2888, Law Student Clinic Participation Act.

In his December 2009 news release announcing the bill's introduction, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) cited the most compelling kind of individual casework that might benefit from more forces in the law clinics.

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has introduced legislation that would increase opportunities for law students who work for the federal government to participate in legal clinics, helping more Americans gain access to qualified legal guidance and expanding students' experience in federal law. S. 2888, the Law Student Clinic Preparation Act of 2009, would allow law students who work for the federal government to participate in legal clinics in which a case may be brought against the United States or a substantial U.S. interest.

"Unfortunately, many low-income Americans do not have access to justice. They may be battling to keep their home from foreclosure, trying to sort out veterans benefits with the VA or tax issues with the IRS, but they can't afford to hire a lawyer or obtain legal assistance during a serious time. This legislation takes a step forward in closing this gap by expanding the number of law students eligible to volunteer their services at legal clinics," said Senator Cardin.

The legislation prohibits an EPA employee, for example, participating in a suit against the EPA, so that direct conflict of interest is avoided. But given the political activism of so many legal clinics, you just have to be skeptical of directing federal employees into their activities.

P.S. This mark-up session will also consider the nomination of Robert Chatigny to the U.S. Second Circuit. Chatigny was the only one of the controversial five judicial nominees the committee did not approve this week.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.