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New Book Describes How Rutgers Clinical Students Help Make the Law, Not Just Learn the Law

March 30, 2009 – 

Since 1968, a pioneering clinical program has been one of the principal distinguishing characteristics of Rutgers School of Law–Newark. Working on real cases under the supervision of practiced lawyers and teachers, students gain experience in every form of legal activity while providing representation to underserved individuals and communities. In the new book You Can Tell It to the Judge . . . and Other True Tales of Law School Lawyering (Vandeplas Publishing, 2009), 13 members of the Rutgers faculty write about some of the clinical program’s most compelling legal challenges and valuable pedagogical lessons. The book is edited by Professor Frank Askin, founding director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic and author of the phrase, “At other law schools, students learn the law; at Rutgers, they help make the law.” Professor Askin also contributed several essays to the book.

The Rutgers–Newark clinical legal education program has been ranked 13th in the country for “Best in Practical Training” by National Jurist magazine. The 26 essays explain how clinics in constitutional litigation, environmental law, child advocacy, special education, urban justice, and animal rights used real clients and current issues to train students to represent the public interest and reform the law while learning essential lawyering skills. Clinic activities range from challenging the constitutionality of the Iraq war to providing equal funding for inner-city schools to helping families with special-needs children obtain their rights to organizing a non-profit.

Professor Askin, along with two other faculty members, established the first Rutgers clinical program in 1968 in conjunction with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. In the fall of 1970, he established the Constitutional Litigation Clinic which, together with the new Urban Legal Clinic, became the foundation for one of the most extensive clinical programs in the country.

You Can Tell It to the Judge . . . and Other True Tales of Law School Lawyering can be ordered from the publisher as well as from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other internet sites.