• Law Students' Efforts Extend Outside Courtroom

7/14/2009

Students in the Law School's Clinical Defenders Program have developed three outreach projects paying real-life dividends to their clients.

  • A book drive for the Nashua Street Jail in Boston came about after the students visited the jail during their clinical orientation. “All the students noticed the library at the jail was pretty sparse and in need of some new books,” said Dennis Toomey, a recent Law School graduate. So Toomey and classmate Adam Sansolo spearheaded a drive to collect hundreds of books from students and faculty on campus and from area defense attorneys. Jail Librarian Marianne Kimball wrote to Sansolo and Toomey, saying, “We have nominated you for superhero status for replenishing our very depleted library shelves.”
  • Recent Law School graduates Rebecca Chernin and Ben Farrell developed a calendar-distribution program after noticing that clients in the mental health court of the Boston Municipal Court were having trouble with court schedules. “We thought the best solution would be to donate small pocket calendars to make it easier for these clients to be able to make their next court date,” said Farrell. With the blessing of Judge Patricia Bernstein and BMC Chief Justice Charles R. Johnson, the clinical students bought about 200 pocket calendars. The program was funded in its entirety by Suffolk Law faculty and administrators. Chernin said the project sent a positive message to her clients: “It showed them the system is trying to help them, even with something as small as a calendar.” 
  • Chernin and classmate Paul Lonardo-Roy also spent the spring semester updating a complex brochure from the National Lawyers Guild’s Street Law Project. The brochure educates recipients on basic criminal procedure and their legal rights. The two students edited the document to reflect recent changes in the law and to make it more reader-friendly.

“I am extraordinarily proud of the students and the Suffolk Law community for each of these efforts,” said Professor Christopher Dearborn, who supervises the clinic. “They stem from a desire not only to contribute to the delivery of justice, but also to recognize the basic humanity of the underprivileged members of society.”

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