Pro Bono News

Lawyers Turn to Activism as Civil Liberties Come Under Attack

Monday, August 06, 2018

Lawyers Turn to Activism as Civil Liberties Come Under Attack

"To train a new generation of lawyers to fight for the rights of immigrants after the 2016 elections, Claire Thomas started an asylum clinic at the New York City law school where she taught.

In Seattle, Michelle Mentzer retired five years early as an administrative law judge so she could volunteer as an attorney with the ACLU.

And in Texas, Anna Castro traded her full-time job for contract work so she could prepare to attend law school to better serve her community.

The country is seeing a wave of legal activism as attorneys and attorneys-to-be have risen to defend civil liberties from the policies of the Trump administration and an increasingly conservative judiciary.

“Sometimes the law is taken for granted, like the air we breathe, and it’s not until we are gasping for breath that we can appreciate it,” said Kellye Testy, president of the Law School Admissions Council. Testy had served for 13 years as law school dean at Seattle University and the University of Washington in Seattle. “It is the lawyers who are there defending liberty and there when nothing else is going to help.”

And a new generation of social justice lawyers has apparently been inspired. Flat since at least the start of the Great Recession, law school applications are up nearly 9 percent. The number of people taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) through mid-July increased more than 23 percent over last year, according to the LSAC..."

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