New Re-Entry Clinic Provides Experiential Opportunity for Evening Students

Nov. 20, 2019

REC Student Attorneys with REC Director Margaret Martin Barry, center, during the clinic's swearing in ceremony.
REC Student Attorneys with REC Director Margaret Martin Barry, center, during the clinic's swearing in ceremony.

The WCL Clinical Program has long sought to provide clinic options for students in WCL’s highly-ranked part-time program. Because part-time students are usually full-time employees who may also have other commitments, serving them in a clinic requires structuring seminars, assignments, and case work so that most of their participation can happen outside of business hours.

For many years, the Clinic has set aside an evening section of the Civil Advocacy Clinic for part-time students, who represented clients in matters relating to bankruptcy, trusts and estates, consumer law, worker’s compensation, public benefits, and more.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, in response to informal feedback from a number of part-time students, the Clinic administered a survey to all part-time students to determine whether and how to change its part-time offerings. One finding of the survey was that part-time students favored an offering that included aspects of both criminal and civil law. Thus, the brand-new Re-Entry Clinic (REC), directed by visiting Professor Margaret Martin Barry, was born with the goal of serving clients who are seeking to restart their lives by getting out of confinement, clearing their criminal records and overcoming other barriers to re-integration in society.

"I am delighted that we can offer this unique experiential learning opportunity to our part-time students while also addressing a critical need in the community," said Professor Jayesh Rathod, associate dean for Experiential Education and director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic. "We are fortunate that Professor Barry, a highly experienced clinician, is leading our efforts in this area.”

REC's inaugural class began in fall 2019. Currently, the docket consists mainly of parole matters on behalf of clients serving de facto life sentences in Maryland for crimes committed as juveniles. This expands the program’s capacity to serve this client population and may help to influence the state of Maryland to resolve the conflict between its parole practices and the requirements of the 8th amendment with respect to these “juvenile lifers” under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) and the subsequent line of Supreme Court rulings.