By creating the Network for Justice, we seek to advance the following goals:
- Improving the representation of organizations and individuals concerned with Latino-related issues. There has been widespread recognition of a gap in access to justice in America. Because of disparities in characteristics such as education, income, wealth, citizenship status, and language proficiency, Latinos are likely to find it difficult to obtain legal representation. By creating a network of law school clinics around the country that build ongoing relationships with organizations that advocate on behalf of Latinos, we anticipate that these interests will be more systematically represented in critically important litigation and legislative hearings.
- Building a network of support among law school clinics. At present, there is relatively little coordination among law school clinics that are working on Latino-related issues. Our network would allow clinics to share information about cases or legislation, develop new strategies, and think about long-term trends and their implications for law and policy in this area. This collaboration among clinicians should result in enhanced representation of clients as well as a richer educational experience for students.
- Creating better connections among law schools, the practicing bar, and the Latino community. Latino attorneys remain severely underrepresented in all sectors of the profession. For that reason, the Latino population may have little contact—formal or informal—with attorneys and little in the way of lasting connections that build the trust needed for the highest quality of representation and advocacy. Our network would be designed to forge long-term relationships among law school clinics, organizations focusing on Latino-related issues, and law firms that offer support to these clinics. Those connections should produce more sustained and meaningful attention to Latino concerns than can come from episodic representation in an occasional case.
- Cultivating the next generation of leadership. The partnerships that are forged among clinics and the practicing bar should help to create a pipeline of lawyers who are familiar with and prepared to address the legal issues facing the Latino community. In the long run, this training can help to mitigate the serious access to justice gap for Latinos. Students who participate in a law school clinic that is committed to addressing Latino concerns will be aware of the organizations that are advocating in this area, the legal trends that are emerging, and the strategies that are being brought to bear to address the need for reform. When these students graduate, they should have the knowledge, skills, and inclination to advance the representation of Latinos’ interests through a public interest, government, or pro bono practice.