The School of Law will draw upon its inventory of resources to begin the work of the Center. Our current faculty and curricular, co-curricular, and community offerings already reflect tremendous engagement with social justice issues. Our vision for the Center builds upon these strengths and resources to deepen student involvement in the social justice work of the Center, and to support our faculty in expanding their work.
Bridgette Baldwin, Professor of Law, has a Ph.D. in Law, Policy and Society, teaches Domestic and International Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Critical Race Theory, and is the organizer of the School of Law’s outreach projects with the Point of View community newspaper in Springfield and the Color of Law Speaker Series.
Erin Buzuvis, Professor of Law, is a nationally recognized expert on gender in sports and education.
Tina Cafaro, Clinical Professor of Law, directs the Criminal Defense Practicum and the Criminal Prosecution Clinic, teaches Criminal Procedure courses at the School of Law, and teaches Constitutional Law and Criminal Law and Procedure to law enforcement personnel.
Lauren Carasik, Associate Dean for Clinics and Clinical Professor of Law, is the director of the International Human Rights Clinic.
Matthew Charity, Professor of Law, teaches in the area of human rights, international law, and criminal law, and is co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers (a national social justice and advocacy organization), and Chair of the Human Rights Commission in Amherst, MA.
Beth Cohen, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, is a co-director of Mini-Law School, a community civic education program, serves on the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Advisory Committee on Professionalism, and has developed a range of pro bono programs.
Justin Dion, Professor of Legal Skills, has committed much of his professional life as a practitioner to assisting indigent families in the community with debt resolution services and bankruptcy.
Anne Goldstein, Professor of Law, teaches Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, and Civil Rights: Police Misconduct. She defended the civil rights of people of color, prisoners, and women for eight years in Boston before joining the faculty, and writes about the rights of gays and lesbians.
Eric Gouvin, Professor and Dean Emeritus, serves on the boards of Community Legal Aid, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, and The Entrepreneurship Institute of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
Jeanne Kaiser, Professor of Legal Writing, serves on the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) Children and Family Law program (CAFL) panel for representing parents and children in cases involving termination of parental rights, and serves as a mentor to new attorneys on the panel.
Jennifer Levi, Professor of Law, is a nationally recognized leader in LGBTQI advocacy and impact litigation.
Bruce Miller, Professor of Law, teaches Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Federal Courts & Jurisdiction.
Pat Newcombe, Associate Dean for Library and Information Resources and Professor of Law, co-directs Western New England’s Mini-Law School program, which offers non-lawyers an understanding of legal topics that impact their everyday lives and has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for many years advocating for abused and neglected children.
Myra Orlen, Professor of Legal Writing and Director of Academic Success Programs, serves on the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) post-conviction panel and the children and family law appellate panel and also serves as a consulting mediator with The Mediation and Training Collaborative in the On-site Mediation Programs of the Hampshire and Franklin county Probate and Family Courts and the Family Resolutions Specialty Court.
Barbara Reich, Professor of Law, teaches and writes in the areas of bioethics, end-of-life law, racial disparities in health care, and clinical research ethics.
René Reich-Graefe, Professor of Law, teaches Corporate Social Responsibility and serves on the Board of Directors of Classcrits, a network of scholars and activists engaged in a critical analysis of law and the economy.
Sudha Setty, Dean and Professor of Law, is a nationally recognized expert in comparative national security, government accountability, and rule of law.
Robert Statchen, Associate Clinical Professor of Law, heads the School of Law’s Small Business Clinic and Real Estate Practicum and works with the ACLU Immigrant Protection Project of Western Massachusetts.
Julie Steiner, Professor of Law, provides expertise in environmental justice and in marijuana legalization and regulation.
Tim Webster, Associate Professor of Law, teaches a variety of international law classes
Arthur Wolf, Professor of Law, teaches Immigration Law and is the Director of the Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs.
Access to Justice
Cannabis Law and Policy
Child, Family, and State
Comparative Constitutional Law
Corporate Social Responsibility
Critical Race Theory
Employee Benefits Law
End of Life Law
Federal Courts and Jurisdiction
First Amendment Rights
Health Care Liability and Quality
International Criminal Justice
Labor and Employment Law
Landlord and Tenant
Law and Social Change
Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and the Law
Special Education Law
Title IX: Sex Discrimination in Education
Some of these doctrinal courses are offered every year, while others are offered on a biennial or occasional basis.
The School of Law is pleased with the robust participation of students in its broad array of experiential offerings, which focus on giving students the skills they need for practice, and often serve as the spark that leads them to develop a passion for a career in public interest law. The majority of our experiential offerings provide public interest service to the local community and beyond.
More than 80% of the class of 2019 participated in a clinic or externship, and many students have participated in more than one clinic or externship.
Between clinics, externships, and pro bono hours, our students’ contributions to the public interest were considerable. The graduating class of 2018 performed 22,163 service hours over the course of their studies at the School of Law.
Clinics and Practicums
Criminal Prosecution ClinicCriminal Defense Practicum
Elder Law Clinic
Family Law Mediation Clinic
International Human Rights Clinic
Legal Aid Clinic (run in conjunction with Community Legal Aid and Central West Justice Center), which includes Veterans, Immigration, Housing, and general civil units
Small Business Clinic
Our students engage in social justice work at many externships each year. Below is a partial list of placements:
ACLU of Connecticut
ACLU of Western Massachusetts
Committee for Public Counsel Services (Massachusetts Public Defender)
Committee for Public Counsel Services Youth Advocacy Department
Committee For Public Counsel Services - Children and Family Law Division
Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities
Connecticut Public Defenders
Department of Children and Families
Massachusetts Fair Housing Center
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
National Labor Relations Board (Hartford)
The Children's Law Center (Hartford)
American Association for Justice Trial Competition
Jessup (International Law) Moot Court Competition
First Amendment Moot Court Competition
National Moot Court Competition
Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition
Rendigs (Product Liability) Moot Court Competition
National Environmental Moot Court Competition
Williams Institute (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law) Moot Court Competition
Some of the social justice-oriented moot court teams participate in regional and national competitions every year, while others run on an occasional basis depending on student interest and the availability of support.
Black Law Students Association
Environmental Law Coalition
Family Law Association
Health Law Association
Latino/a Student Association
National Lawyers Guild
Public Interest Law Association
Women’s Law Association
Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs
The Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs hosts a wide variety of programming including seminars, workshops, and legislative hearings, which are open to the general public. The Institute serves as a resource for alumni, state and local officials, and practicing attorneys who are interested in a variety of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs, and offers occasional opportunities for student engagement. Past programming has included naturalization ceremonies, a Celebration of Women in Public Service, and public hearings by the State Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. The Institute also organizes an annual Supreme Court review, discussing the important decisions of the Court’s prior term.
Study Abroad in Israel
Students examine, compare, and explore the basic principles of gender, discrimination, equality, and justice across various legal regimes, including the U.S. and Israeli civil law system, as well as Jewish and Muslim religious law, which also operates in Israel. Instruction (in English) is provided by U.S. and Israeli faculty with expertise in human rights, family law, religious law, and discrimination law. Field trips in Jerusalem and Ramallah allow students to visit legal institutions, NGOs, and other locations that emphasize the historical and cultural context for the legal issues being studied.
Pro Bono Service
Western New England University School of Law has a long tradition of service in Springfield and surrounding communities. In the spring of 2011, the faculty acknowledged the importance of this service by adopting a pro bono graduation requirement. In order to graduate, students must complete 20 hours of pro bono service. The Pro Bono program allows students to provide thousands of hours of legal services to underrepresented community members while honing their own legal skills. Recognizing the importance of modeling the pro bono commitment the School of Law hopes to inspire, we were one of the first law schools in the country to adopt a pro bono obligation for the faculty as well. In practice, many faculty and students vastly exceed the requirement.
The School of Law also works in partnership with the Hampden County Bar Association’s Legal Clinic, a pro bono program that strives to improve access to justice for the underserved in Hampden County through volunteer efforts of legal professionals.
Color of Law Speaker Series
Created in 2007, the Color of Law Roundtable brings attorneys of color to Western New England University School of Law to share their educational, career, and personal experiences. The speakers provide students with an opportunity to ask candid questions about career choices, career challenges, and the decisions that the speakers made in response to those challenges. Roundtable speakers, many of whom are graduates of Western New England University School of Law, represent a wide range of practice areas and careers, giving students a firsthand look at the numerous possibilities a legal education can provide.
Public Interest Month
The School of Law holds an annual celebration of public interest law every fall. Programming includes nationally recognized keynote speakers on a variety of current social justice topics, panels on public interest law topics and opportunities, and career advice for students interested in practicing as public interest lawyers.
Alternative Spring Break
Alternative Spring Break gives students the opportunity to provide public service while gaining valuable legal experience and fostering relationships with public interest legal organizations and government agencies across the nation. Each year, students spend their spring break providing law related service to people in need, while also fulfilling the School of Law's pro bono graduation requirement. Some of the costs incurred by students are defrayed by fundraising and other efforts.
Previous trips include:
2007 Bilox, MS: Students worked on post-hurricane Katrina relief.
2008 New Orleans, LA: Students worked with the City Attorney’s office.
2009 Edinburg, TX: Students assisted Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
2010 Navajo Nation: Students worked with the Southwest Native People’s VITA Coalition to staff Volunteer Tax Assistance Program tax clinics in Tuba City, Chinle, and Kayenta, Arizona.
2011 New Orleans, LA: Students worked with the Orleans Public Defenders, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, and Health Law Advocates of Louisiana.
2012 Chicago, IL: Students worked with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Center for Disability and Elder Law.
2013 New Orleans, LA: Students worked with the Orleans Public Defenders, Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, and the Louisiana Bar Foundation.
2014 Southern Nevada: Students worked with the Clark County Legal Defender’s Office.
2015 San Antonio, TX: Students worked with RAICES, Catholic Charities, and the Community Justice Program.
2016 Los Angeles, CA: Students worked with the ACLU of Southern California, Bet Tzedek, and Public Counsel.
2017 Nashville, TN: Students worked with the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center and the law firm Nelson Mullins.
2019 San Juan, Puerto Rico: Students partnered with students in the Legal Aid and Human Rights Clinics at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico’s School of Law.
Mini Law School
Mini-Law School offers non-lawyers an understanding of legal topics that impact their everyday lives. Each class is taught by Western New England School of Law faculty. Recent topics have included: Marijuana Law and Policy; Labor Rights of Public Employees: Free Loaders, Unions Dues, and Teacher Strikes; Understanding the Criminal Court Process; What We Mortals Need to Know About End-of-Life Law; and Protecting Children, Protecting Families.
Point of View Community Paper
School of Law faculty, administrators, and staff write a monthly column for the local Af-Am Point of View newspaper on a rotating basis.
Diversity Law Day
The School of Law, in collaboration with other New England law schools, hosts Diversity Law Day workshops to demystify the application process and help prospective students of color consider how to strengthen their applications.
A Day in the Life Program
This annual event, sponsored by the School of Law’s Outreach and Diversity Committee and the Black Law Student’s Association, brings high school students to the university to tour the campus, shadow law students, observe a law school class and interact with both undergraduate and law school students, faculty, and staff.
School of Law Speakers Bureau
Through the Speakers Bureau, School of Law faculty visit college campuses around the region, engaging students in a discussion of the legal issues, including many that relate to the social justice work of the Center.