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Adv Legal Rhetoric: Writing in the Public Interest (LAW-795-010)
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In Advanced Legal Rhetoric: Writing in the Public Interest, students will develop their legal writing and research skills by producing a document or documents for a public interest organization. After a few classes of refreshing and polishing research and writing skills, students, in pairs or groups of three, will meet with their “client,” a representative of a public interest organization that needs a specific document researched and written (students may select the project on which they want to work from a list developed by the course professor). The students will spend the rest of the semester completing the document (or documents, if short). The class will operate as a writing workshop, in which students working on different projects will review and critique each other’s work, progressing through a number of drafts. The library faculty will give some guest presentations to bring the students up to speed on specialized areas of research, and other faculty will work with students on substantive areas presented by the project. Outside experts may lecture on the requirements of certain kinds of documents, such as policy reports. The grade for the course will be based on the quality of the final written project, the quality of the critiques given on others’ projects, general class participation, and professionalism. Partners and projects will include some of the following possibilities (more are being developed so this list is not exhaustive but merely exemplary): 1. National Hispanic Media Foundation: policy report on how to improve the depiction of Hispanics in the media and the relationship between depictions and hate crimes. 2. World Organization for Human Rights USA: a report or memo for attorneys working on cases for UNCAT or for the ICPR. 3. AARP: research memo on whether the recent 3rd Circuit dicta in Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action concerning the defendant’s burden of proof in disparate impact cases narrows or expands disparate impact or reasonable accommodation jurisprudence in any way. Can the language be used to bolster client rights? 4. NAACP Legal Defense Fund: project will focus broadly on civil rights legislation, policy, or law in areas of education, political participation, economic justice, or criminal justice. 5. Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities: About a year ago, there was a DC Court of Appeals case, In re Martel, that we were involved in as lead amicus. We argued that the attorney for the ward in a guardianship proceeding was required to zealously advocate for the ward's stated position -- not the position of the guardian ad litem (who is also an attorney, and who also makes an argument before the court). We lost that point -- with the court finding that the law requires the attorney to argue for the ward's interest, which includes her best interest as described by the GAL. In that case, the ward was left with no one to advocate for her point of view. We are interested in a study of other states' guardianship laws to see how this is handled in other jurisdictions. Our ultimate goal is legislative reform, so we are looking for models and possibly model legislation for DC. 6. Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless: The Legal Clinic's Permanent Supportive Housing Initiative has monitored and endeavored to improve the District government's efforts to move people out of shelters and into permanent housing with supportive services (PSH). To be sure that these efforts truly are responsive to the needs of those whom PSH is intended to serve, we have gathered materials from various jurisdictions around the country that have similar permanent supportive housing initiatives. Students will go through and organize these materials, highlighting "best practices"; outlining sources of authority for these programs, and anything else needed to make the materials user-friendly.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
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