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Clinical Legal Education News

Veterans Clinic student on MSNBC discussing film project about veterans' mental health

Duquesne law student Theo Collins, who participates in the School of Law's Veterans Clinic, traveled to New York City recently to tape a segment on MSNBC about his film project. Collins is assistant producer for Project 22, a film that seeks to raise awareness about suicide rates among our nation's veterans.

Watch the MSNBC Video
March 2014

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review study notes Duquesne's Veterans Clinic saves taxpayers' money

A recent study of the Veterans Court of Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes that keeping veterans out of jail saves local taxpayers a significant amount of money each year. Judge John Zottola estimates the specialty court saves taxpayers "thousands of dollars each," in part because Duquesne University School of Law's Veterans Clinic represents indigent veterans for free.

Read the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story,
November 9, 2013

Duquesne law students write sustainability rules for Pittsburgh

The city of Pittsburgh credits law students from Duquesne University's Urban Development Practicum, who took on the work of poring over ordinances and land titles, with playing a key role in the city's move toward a greener skyline.

Read more the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story.
October 14, 2013

Duquesne to open roomier legal clinic

Duquesne University's School of Law on Thursday will open a new, larger legal clinic for low-income residents, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  In the article published days before the dedication, Law School Dean Ken Gormley comments on why the Tribone Center for Clinical Legal Education on Fifth Avenue will be able to help more people in its new location.

Read the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story.
September 20, 2013

Duquesne University law clinic provides legal aid to veterans

With the opening of the new Tribone Center building for its clinical legal education program, Duquesne University's Law School aims to provide easier access and expanded services to people who need, but can't afford, legal representation, says Stars and Stripes. This article, which was originally published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, quotes Clinical Legal Education Director Laurie Serafino.

Read the Stars and Stripes article,
September 23, 2013

Federal Practice Clinic wins in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

August 9, 2013
Federal Practice Clinic Charles SapienzaToday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed grant of habeas relief in the case of "James Washington v. Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, County of Philadelphia, Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania," argued by 4E student Charles Sapienza III on May 15, 2013.

The court added a footnote to the opinion saying that Duquesne University's Federal Practice Clinic ably represented the client in the appeal and thanked the School of Law for its service.

Learn more about the Federal Practice Clinic.

Charles is shown here with Dean Gormley and Supervising Attorney Adrian Roe in May after the oral arguments.


Brandon Herring Honored with Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Student Award

At the 2013 graduation reception and awards ceremony third-year student Brandon Herring received the Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Student Award. The prestigious CLEA award is presented to a graduating student who has excelled in clinical work during his or her time at Duquesne University School of Law.

In nominating Herring, Supervising Attorney Kirsha Weyandt noted Herring's extraordinary passion and dedication to clinical and pro-bono work. His excellence in field work including assisting a client in every phase of a criminal case, including presenting an opening statement in a jury trial, drafting and litigating a suppression motion as well as a post-sentence motion, a direct appeal with Superior Court, and a petition for allowance of appeal with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Herring served as president of the Public Interest Law Association and volunteered as a clinic representative at informational events and the annual open house, among his many activities at Duquesne University School of Law.


Federal Practice Students Argue in U.S. District Court

Federal Practice StudentsThree Duquesne University School of Law students argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in May 2013.

Stephanie Noel, a third-year student, and Jesse Drumm, a second-year student, appeared on Tues., May 14 and argued in Verde-Rodriguez v. Faber, an immigration case. Charles P. Sapienza, III, a third-year evening student, appeared on May 15 and argued in Washington v. Secretary, PA Department of Corrections, a criminal case. Read more about the cases and the Federal Practice Clinic.


Duquesne University Receives $500,000 RACP Grant for Law Clinic Site

The Duquesne University School of Law has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) that will be utilized for developing the future site of the school's Clinical Legal Education program.

The law school's clinical programs-which benefit underserved families, individuals and communities-address the areas of civil rights, unemployment, urban development and veterans assistance.

"The new clinic, located in the Uptown community, will enable the Law School and our students to directly deliver much-needed legal services to citizens in the community," explained Law School Dean Ken Gormley. "This will enrich our law students' experience by giving them hands-on training handling real clients and resolving real problems. It will simultaneously enrich the community by allowing Duquesne's School of Law to become a partner in revitalizing the Uptown corridor by providing services in a key, accessible area of the City. We are deeply grateful to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Allegheny County for awarding these grants, which will revitalize our law clinic and transform it into one of the finest clinics in the United States."

The law school's Clinical Legal Education Program was established to serve the community by providing good counsel, to train students in the practice of law and to promote the rewards of public service.

"The RACP funding, when matched with Duquesne University's financial commitment to the project, will allow us to move forward immediately, hopefully in time to relocate to the new Clinic quarters by the beginning of next academic year," said Gormley.

The RACP is a commonwealth grant program administered by the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget that was developed for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic and historical improvement projects. In addition to the RACP grant, the School of Law received a $250,000 grant in November from the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority to help purchase equipment and furnishings for the new clinic. Located at 914 Fifth Avenue, the new site for the clinical education program will include client meeting rooms; nearly double the space of the existing law clinic; a conference room for hosting meetings with judges and practicing attorneys; and a Moot Court room equipped with state-of-the-art technology where students can practice their skills and receive feedback from experienced instructors and leaders in the legal field.

Duquesne's Clinical Legal Education program also provides services associated with real estate development in distressed areas throughout the region. These include general real estate matters, title searches, negotiation and drafting of agreements, preparation of land use cases, zoning issues, mortgage foreclosure matters, property tax assessment appeals, appellate land use practice, and participating in public meetings.

Read media coverage:

"Duquesne University School of Law Clinical Program Expands"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 20, 2013

"Allegheny County Redevelopment Funds Projects"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 10, 2012


Duquesne Student Attorneys and Veterans Court Forge Unique Partnership

Veterans who have been charged with crimes are receiving additional assistance thanks to a partnership between the Duquesne University School of Law's Veterans Clinic and the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas' Veterans Court, both of which are pioneers in the service that each organization provides.

"Duquesne University has one of the first criminal law veterans clinics in the nation," said Laurie Serafino, director of clinical legal education and associate law professor at Duquesne. "Our student attorneys work with an experienced, supervising attorney to represent individual veterans who are charged with crimes. The students prepare and present cases for disposition in the Court of Common Pleas and stay in touch with veterans to ensure they are following court-ordered treatment plans. The School of Law clinic is providing a vital service to veterans and to the community."

By being a partner of the Veterans Court, Duquesne's Veterans Clinic hopes to save Allegheny County tax dollars while helping keep the recidivism rate low for Western Pennsylvania veterans.

"The role of Duquesne's clinic in Veterans Court is to protect and preserve the rights of our veterans as they journey through the criminal justice system and attempt to regain their lives," said the Hon. John Zottola, director of the Veterans Court, which is based on a model used for drug treatment and/or mental health treatment courts.

One of the only of its kind in the nation, the Veterans Court was launched in 2009 to assist veterans in the criminal court system. Participants in the Veterans Court often have physical, social and mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder or addictions. Substance abuse or mental health treatment is offered as an alternative to incarceration.

The Duquesne student attorneys will work within the Veterans Clinic for a full academic year to provide continuity for the veterans. Daniel Kunz, the clinic's supervising attorney, supervises the students and leads them in rigorous course work related to criminal process and procedure, probation and parole, and ethics issues. Debra Barnisin-Lange, senior assistant district attorney, serves as the prosecutor for this specialty court and co-teaches the classroom component of the course.

"As a member of the armed forces myself, I see that most-if not all-truly want to do better and just need the structure and support system offered by the staff and programs of veterans court to succeed," said student attorney John Woodruff, 2nd Lt. USMC, who participates in the Veterans Clinic.

The School of Law's Clinical Education Program serves the community by providing good counsel, trains students in the actual practice of law and promotes the rewards of public service. The Veterans Clinic is one of 13 clinical and externship opportunities offered through the program.


More Media Coverage

"Law Students Help Job Seekers Trying to Clear Records"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Feb. 19, 2012

"City Helps Residents Deal with Property Appeals"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Feb. 17, 2012


Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award

The Unemployment Compensation Clinic led by Supervising Attorney Michael Simon (L’ 80),  received the 2010 Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award.  The award recognizes attorneys and judges who have made exceptional contributions to improve civil legal aid in the Commonwealth.

During 2009-2010, students in the Unemployment Compensation Clinic handled 87 clients at Unemployment Compensation referee hearings throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.  This is the largest number of clients served by the Unemployment Compensation Law Clinic in its history.