In the area of teaching, we are seeking to build a network for justice that will assist in bridging the gap in access to legal services for Latinos. This gap has grown increasingly acute with the dramatic increases in the size of the Latino population. This lack of access comes at an unfortunate time, a moment when the full incorporation of Latinos is critical to our nation’s future. We believe that law schools can play a critical role in addressing this gap. Howard Law School became a critical resource in the African-American quest for access and inclusion in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Although there is no equivalent law school that can play this role for the Latino population today, we do have a resource that did not exist in the mid-twentieth century. With the rise of the clinical education movement, there are now appellate advocacy and public policy clinics at many law schools around the country. Moreover, we have the benefit of new technologies that can readily link their work at locations around the country.
Despite the robust number of appellate and policy clinics, they have seldom worked cooperatively on shared issues of importance. Nor have they necessarily developed strong ties to the Latino communities in their areas. Once again, we propose to bring diverse stakeholders together to facilitate law and policy reform. We would ask that legal advocacy organizations and clinics collaborate to forge sustained relationships with the Latino community. To that end, we would use technology to create a kind of “virtual Howard” by ensuring ongoing communication and immediate sharing of ideas and strategies. In addition, we would host periodic meetings among attorneys from the clinics and advocacy organizations so that they could benefit from one another’s experiences in providing legal representation, reflect on the performance of the network, and think creatively about next steps. To maximize the impact of the network’s leading-edge work, we would create an on-line bank of appellate briefs and legislative proposals that any interested individual or organization could readily obtain through our website.
This arm of the project is being led by Luz Herrera, Professor and Associate Dean for Experiential Education at Texas A&M School of Law, and Leticia Saucedo, Professor and Director of Clinical Legal Education at UC Davis School of Law. Together, they designed a program that explored the state of Latinos in California, the nature of national and state advocacy networks, and models of advocacy that could guide the creation of a Network for Justice.