Susan Bennett

Professor of Law
Director of the Community & Economic Development Law Clinic

Office: Room Y254
Phone: 202-274-4149
Email: vCard

Susan D. Bennett founded and directs the Community and Economic Development Law Clinic, through which students provide transactional representation to non –profit organizations, small businesses, and affordable housing cooperatives in under-served neighborhoods in D.C. and the metro area. She held the position of Director of Clinical Programs for the Washington College of Law from 2003 to 2006. Before coming to WCL, she specialized in housing and consumer litigation at the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau.

Professor Bennett holds expertise in community economic development, nonprofit organizations, poverty law, civil legal services for poor people, public interest law, and federal housing law and programs. Bennett is the author of numerous articles, including articles in the Clinical Law Review; "On Long-Haul Lawyering," in the Fordham Urban Law Journal; and “No Relief But Upon the Terms of Coming Into the House: Controlled Spaces, Invisible Disentitlements, and Homelessness in an Urban Shelter System,” in the Yale Law Journal. She co-authored the text, Community Economic Development Law: A Text for Engaged Learning. Professor Bennett co-chairs the Section on Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice of the District of Columbia Bar. She is a member of the D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono Committee, the Advisory Board for the D.C. Interpreter Bank, and the steering committee of the D.C. Reduced Fee Lawyer and Mediator Referral Service (“DC Refers”). She chaired the Advisory Board of the D.C. Bar’s Community Economic Development Project from 2011-2012, was vice chair from 2008-2011, and participated as a Board member from 2006-2012. From 2007-2010 she served on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Homelessness and Poverty. Professor Bennett chaired the Section on Poverty Law of the Association of American Law Schools and acted as the Section’s Program Chair and Nominating Committee Coordinator. She served as member, secretary and co-chair of the board of directors of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, and has served twice as co-chair of the Legal Educators’ Division of the ABA Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law.

Areas of Specialization

  • Clinical Legal Education
  • Community Development Law
  • Public Interest Law
  • Housing Law
  • Poverty Law
  • Social Entrepreneurship

Degrees & Universities

  • J.D., Columbia University School of Law 1979
  • M.A., Yale University 1975
  • A.B., Yale University 1973

  • Selected Publications

    • + More Publications...

    • Susan Bennett, Creating a Client Consortium: Building Social Capital, Bridging Structural Holes, 13 Clin. L. Rev. 45 (2006).
    • Susan Bennett, Embracing the Ill-Structured Problem in a Community Economic Development Clinic, 9 Clin. L. Rev. 45 (2002).
    • Susan Bennett, Little Engines That Could: Community Clients, Their Lawyers, and Training in the Arts of Democracy, 2002 Wis. L. Rev 469 (2002).
    • Susan Bennett, The Possibility of a Beloved Place: Residents and Placemaking in Public Housing Communities, 19 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 257 (2000) (reprinted in Representing the Poor and Homeless: Innovations in Advocacy 55, ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty (2001)).
    • Susan Bennett, On Long-Haul Lawyering, 25 Fordham Urb. L.J. 771 (1998).
    • Susan Bennett, No Relief But Upon the Terms of Coming Into the House: Controlled Spaces, Invisible Disentitlements, and Homelessness in an Urban Shelter System, 104 Yale L.J. 2157 (1995).
    • Susan Bennett, The Threat of the Wandering Poor: Welfare Parochialism and Its Impact on the Use of Housing Mobility as an Anti-Poverty Strategy, 22 Fordham Urb. L.J. 1207 (1995).
    • Susan Bennett & Kathleen Sullivan, Disentitling the Poor: Waivers and Welfare, 26 Mich. J. L. Reform 741 (1993).
  • + Selected Presentations

    • Susan Bennett, Panel Moderator, Foreclosing on the American Dream: The Housing Crisis and the Role of Lawyers and Laws in Securing Housing Justice (ABA Mid Year Meeting, Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, Bos. Mass., Feb. 13, 2009).
    • Susan Bennett, Panel Moderator and Program Chair, Privatization: Pitfall and Promise at the Intersection of Law, Markets and Poverty (Program of the Sec. on Poverty Law, Annual Meeting, AALS, San Diego, Cal, Jan. 9, 2009).
    • Susan Bennett, Co-Presenter and Team Member, Establishing and Enhancing Clinical Legal Education in China: Faculty Workshop Presented by American University Washington College of Law (Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou, P.R. C., July 28- Aug., 2008).
    • Susan Bennett, Panel Moderator, Long Term Affordability in Home Ownership (ABA Forum on Affordable Hous. & Community Dev. L., D.C., May 22, 2008).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, Constructing the Social Impact Statement to Measure the Full Cost of Urban Renewal (Program on Affordable Housing and Public/Private Partnerships, University of Colorado Law School, Boulder, Colo., Oct. 19 - 20, 2007).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, Interviewing and Establishing the Client-Lawyer Relationship (D.C. Consortium of Legal Services Providers, New Lawyer Training, Wash., D.C., Oct. 4, 2007).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, Bellow Scholar Project Research Workshop (University of Maryland, School of Law, Balt., Md., Sept. 28, 2007).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, Faculty and Full Day Consultation on Developing Transactional Law Clinics (Wake Forest University Law School, Winston Salem, N.C., Sept. 20, 2007).
    • Susan Bennett, Co-Presenter & Team Member, Establishing and Enhancing Clinical Legal Education in China: Faculty Workshop Presented by Washington College of Law, American University (South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, P.R.C., July 16 - Aug. 3, 2007).
    • Susan Bennett, Commentator, Interschool Junior Faculty Workshop on Poverty Law (American University Washington College of Law, Wash., D.C., June 1, 2007).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, Affordable Housing Development for Persons with Limited English Proficiency (Annual Meeting, ABA Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law, Wash., D.C., May 25, 2007).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, What is the Place of Poverty Law in the Law School Curriculum? (Fordham University Law School Symposium, N.Y.C., N.Y., Mar. 5, 2007).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, Janet R. Spragens Memorial Symposium: Low-Income Workers and the Federal Tax System (American University Washington College of Law, Wash., D.C., Feb. 23, 2007).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, Insuring Access to Housing for Persons with Limited English Proficiency (ABA Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law, Program on Creating Healthy Communities: Ending Homelessness, St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 23, 2006).
    • Susan Bennett, Presenter & Co-Organizer, Project on Clinical Legal Education in China (Zhejiang Gonshang University School of Law, Hangzhou, P.R.C., Dec. 13 - 16, 2006).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, Symposium on Poverty Under International and Domestic Law: The Responsibility of Lawyers (American University Washington College of Law, Wash., D.C., Mar. 27, 2006).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, Law School Clinics and Training in Issues of Linguistic Diversity (District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission, Conference on Language Access, Wash., D.C., Nov. 2, 2005).
    • Susan Bennett, Presentation, The Community Lawyer: Enhancer of Social Capital, Manager of Structural Holes (Sixth International Conference on Clinical Legal Education, Lake Arrowhead, Cal., Oct. 30, 2005).
    • Susan Bennett, Presenter, Panel on Language Access (Mid-Atlantic Clinical Teachers’ Conference, Wash., D.C., Sept. 23, 2005).
    • Susan Bennett, Group Leader, Evaluating Students and Evaluating Outputs (AALS Annual Meeting, S.F., Cal., Jan. 6, 2005).