Public Interest: Professors

The faculty at the Washington College of Law specializes in a broad range of legal fields, many of which are in the public interest. Professors have expertise in disability law, criminal law, sexual orientation and gender identity issues, civil rights law, poverty law, and many other fields. Public interest students are encouraged to learn more about the faculty at Washington College of Law and to contact faculty members to speak with them about their work. Please visit this page that lists Faculty by Area of Specialization for more information.

Public Interest Faculty Spotlights

March 2016- Professor Ezra Rosser

Professor Rosser has been teaching at WCL since 2006. He teaches a variety of courses but
amongst his specialties, he has a passion for Poverty Law.

Why Poverty Law?
When you grow up close to poverty – quite poor – it’s hard to NOT be interested in Poverty Law. One of my parents was a bus driver while the other was a carpenter. I started teaching the class at Loyola in New Orleans, and they have a Poverty Center and require students to take Poverty Law classes. I taught at Loyola shortly after Hurricane Katrina and became involved in Poverty Law after the original professor had to focus on post-Katrina clinic work. If you want a more informative and entertaining story about how Professor Rosser evolved and began enjoying brie, take a look at his article On Becoming “Professor:” A Semi-Serious Look in the Mirror, available here.

How have you been involved in public interest here at WCL?
I began the Navajo Nation Alternative Spring Break trip that is now organized by Action for Human Rights during my first year teaching here. I had a Navajo Nation Supreme Court Justice come visit and speak to the students. I did a similar trip while I was in school and wanted to bring the same type of opportunity to students here.

I’m also starting the Economic Justice Program here with a number of other faculty members, which
will hopefully give students additional opportunities to work in Poverty Law.

Tell us more about the Economic Justice Program!
I’ve been thinking about starting this program for a long time, but I wasn’t sure what it would mean or do. I didn’t just want it to be about self-promotion. I asked myself “what would it add to the WCL community?” I work with a lot of 1Ls who are not always sure what they want to do or how they can be involved in social justice. I’m hoping the Program will be able to bring opportunities to these students, almost like a magnet function to connect students and opportunities.

What do you want to accomplish with the Economic Justice Program?
The Program should always be about serving the students or its larger purpose. This is not being done for the sake of appearances but to actually help interested students who want to help poor people in various ways. We also want people to be able to share work that’s being done at WCL. Additionally, students come to me frequently for paper topics, and I would love to see students do work on topics that advocacy organizations say they could use student help. I want students to be able to truly participate in the field of Poverty Law – to know that the work they are doing is advancing the field and serving a real world purpose.

When will you officially announce the Economic Justice Program?
Very, very soon. I want to start the Program off right and our first event on March 23 is going to include a panel featuring one of the co-authors of the Ferguson Report.

What other work have you done in Poverty Law recently?
I recently co-edited The Poverty Law Canon. It’s basically like a supplement for the textbook I helped write on Poverty Law that was released a couple years ago. It was also a great excuse to have a conference on Poverty Law. In the last few years I organized a poverty law conference here and another in Seattle, and we will hopefully organize another conference here at WCL under the banner of the Economic Justice Program.

What advice would you give to students interested in poverty law?
It sounds trite but life is best when you follow your passions. I have seen students go onto all sorts of jobs, but the graduates who tend to be the happiest are those who do work they are passionate about and that helps others. They may not have the most money but they are living meaningful lives in which their work and personal lives are in line with each other. Finally, just because it is a pet peeve of mine: I would love to see more students willing to try living in places other than D.C., New York, or California!