BY SHERRYL KLEINMAN
This week, the Defenders of Civil Rights called on the UNC Law School administration and faculty to make the Center for Civil Rights a clinical project of the law school, to ensure that the community lawyering performed with and for low-wealth communities of color will continue.
On Friday, the UNC Board of Governors imposed a policy banning the UNC Center for Civil Rights from engaging in advocacy for clients.
The ban on the Center’s work prohibits the Center from representing clients in any capacity. The policy forbids the Center from “act[ing] as legal counsel,” meaning it won’t be allowed to give any legal advice to anyone. The policy also bans the Center from referring clients to other lawyers or helping them find legal assistance in any way. This policy effectively ends the work of the Center for Civil Rights and the legacy of Julius Chambers at UNC School of Law.
Defenders of Civil Rights and the undersigned UNC student organizations and community partners condemn this vote. There can be no meaningful civil rights work for communities and no legitimate civil rights training for students at UNC Law under this policy. The ban will prevent UNC School of Law from fulfilling its mission of public service to all North Carolinians by depriving low-wealth communities across the state of access to justice. It also limits the educational experience of students at the law school, many of whom came to UNC Law specifically to do the kind of civil rights, social justice and public interest work that the Center exemplifies.
The Board of Governors policy specifically exempts legal clinics from its coverage. Any civil rights program at UNC School of Law must include practical legal experience and direct representation of underserved communities. We call on UNC Law School administration and faculty to make the Center for Civil Rights a clinical project of the law school, to ensure the continued legacy of Julius Chambers and the essential work of the Center he created.
Defenders of Civil Rights
UNC School of Law Student Bar Association
Elizabeth Adkins, UNC-Chapel Hill Student Body President
UNC-Chapel Hill Student Government Undergraduate Executive Branch
American Civil Liberties Union, Carolina Law Chapter
American Constitution Society, Carolina Law Chapter
Asian American Law Students Association
Black Student Movement
Black Law Students Association
Carolina Black Caucus
Carolina Feminist Coalition
Carolina Public Interest Law Organization
Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies, UNC-Charlotte
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Branch of the NAACP
Christian Legal Society
Conference on Race, Class, Gender and Ethnicity
Death Penalty Project
Education Law and Policy Society
Entrepreneurial Law Association
Environmental Law Project
Faculty Forward Network
Hispanic Latino Law Students Association
Immigration Law Association
Invested Students of UNC Law
Jewish Law Association
Lambda Law Students Association
Law Students Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
Law Students for Reproductive Justice
Media Law Society
Native American Law Students Association
National Lawyers Guild, Carolina Law Chapter
N.C. Conference of American Association of University Professors
Progressive Faculty Network, UNC-Chapel Hill
Rachel Carson Council
Sexuality and Gender Alliance
UNC Innocence Project
UNC Young Democrats Executive Board
Photo credit: Mark Dorosin
Guest blogger Sherryl Kleinman is a professor of Sociology and an AAUP member at UNC-Chapel Hill.
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