The Work We Do
Our faculty and staff engage in a tremendous amount of social justice work, in scholarship, through advocacy work, in their pro bono practices, and elsewhere. Below is a partial listing:
Professor Erin Buzuvis is an expert in Title IX, the federal statute prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded schools. She teaches, researches, writes, and advises institutions in the area of gender and discrimination in education and athletics, including Title IX's application to campus disciplinary proceedings for sexual assault, Title IX and college athletics reform, intersecting sexual orientation and race discrimination in collegiate women's athletics, retaliation and related discrimination against female college coaches, and participation policies for transgender and intersex athletes. Professor Buzuvis is a founder and contributor to the Title IX Blog, an interdisciplinary resource for news, legal developments, commentary, and scholarship about Title IX.
Professor Justin Dion has committed much of his professional life as a practitioner to assisting indigent families in the community with debt resolution services, and bankruptcy. He developed and directed an undergraduate bankruptcy clinic in which he and his students assisted dozens of indigent families with bankruptcies pro bono. Professor Dion received the prestigious Adams Pro Bono Publico Award from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for his work assisting indigent families facing home foreclosure.
Professor Harris Freeman is a founder and coordinator of the Immigrant Protection Project of Western Massachusetts, a cutting-edge program of the ACLU of Massachusetts that has organized the local legal community to provide pro-bono representation for immigrants in western New England and in the detention centers on the U.S./Mexican border. Professor Freeman researches and writes on the exploitation of precarious low-wage workers and has authored a number of amicus briefs on this area of law and provided testimony to the U.S. Congress on this issue. He previously served on the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board, appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to oversee public sector labor relations in Massachusetts.
Professor Jeanne Kaiser serves on the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) Children and Family Law program (CAFL) panel. As a member of the panel she represents parents and children in cases involving termination of parental rights and serves as a mentor to new attorneys on the panel. Professor Kaiser has represented clients in dozens of appeals before the Massachusetts Appeals Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Most notably, she represented parents in Adoption of Rico, a case that expanded post-adoption visitation rights for parents and children, and Care and Protection of M.C., which provided new protections against self-incrimination for parents facing both criminal charges and termination of parental rights.
Professor Jennifer Levi is an internationally recognized and celebrated advocate for LGBTQI rights. Professor Levi’s work includes serving as co-counsel in legal challenges to the transgender military ban in Doe v. Trump and Stockman v. Trump. She has successfully litigated other groundbreaking cases on transgender rights, including O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue (2010), which established that medical care relating to gender transition qualifies for a medical tax deduction; Adams v. Bureau of Prisons (2011), which successfully challenged a federal prison policy excluding medical care for transgender inmates who came into the system without a transition-related medical plan; and Doe v. Clenchy (2014), the first case in which a state high court ruled that a transgender girl must be fully integrated into her public elementary school as a girl, including having full and equal access to restrooms. Professor Levi has also served as co-counsel in two landmark marriage equality cases, winning the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Massachusetts (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2003) and Connecticut (Kerrigan v. Department of Public Health, 2008), and recently secured a groundbreaking child-centered parentage ruling at the Vermont Supreme Court in Sinnott v. Peck (2017).
Professor Bruce Miller serves on the boards of the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the Rosenberg Fund for Children. He is also active with the advocacy and educational organizations Massachusetts Campaign Against Torture, No More Guantanamos and the Immigrant Protection Project. Professor Miller's abiding concerns as a lawyer and law teacher focus on the potential (and limits) of law in dismantling poverty and on the challenges to the rule of law in the United States in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
Professor Barbara Reich teaches Torts and a variety of health law subjects, including bioethics, health care finance & delivery, medical liability & quality, and end-of-life law. She has served as a member of various hospital ethics committees and institutional review boards. Her research interests include legal and ethical issues in end-of-life decision making; comparative end-of-life law; pediatric health care law and ethics; racial disparities in the delivery of health care, and clinical research ethics. In addition to her teaching and research, Professor Reich engages in public education on end-of-life law and ethics via public events and continuing medical education seminars. She is currently working on a book, titled Intimations of Mortality: Decision-Making at the End of Life, for Cambridge University Press.
Professor René Reich-Graefe serves on the board of directors of Classcrits, a network of scholars and activists engaged in a critical analysis of law and the economy, aimed at "confronting the roots of economic inequality in divisions such as race and gender and in legal and economic systems destructive to the well-being of humanity and the planet." Professor Reich-Graefe is hosting the 2019 Classcrits conference at Western New England University School of Law entitled Facing Our Challenges: Rescuing Democracy, Ensuring Wellbeing & Exorcising the Politics of Fear (Or: How To Be Free).
Professor Julie Steiner provides expertise and education in the emerging legal specialty of cannabis law and policy. Through her work, the School of Law has served as a host location for some of the Cannabis Control Commission’s regulatory public hearings, and she has been retained by the City of Springfield to advise on a fair and equitable process to solicit and select marijuana establishments. In addition, Professor Steiner counsels educational institutions on the topic of drug policy, has spoken extensively on the subject, and has been interviewed by NEPR and other major media outlets.
Professor Tim Webster was the Director of Asian Legal Studies at Case Western Reserve University and has taught a variety of international law courses, including International Human Rights Law, and China and International Law. He has taught Chinese Law and worked on legal reform projects in constitutional law and criminal procedure in China, and his research on human rights issues in China, Japan, and Korea appears in the Virginia Journal of International Law, Michigan Journal of International Law, and NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, among others.
CPCS-CAFL Pipeline Program
The School of law offers a program with the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) Children and Family Law program (CAFL). The purpose of the program is to foster an interest and provide training in representing children and parents involved in care and protection cases. These cases can culminate in termination of parental rights. Students who participate in the program are eligible to take the certification training for membership on the private attorney CAFL panel shortly after graduation.
Immigrant Protection Project
The Immigration Project of the Massachusetts ACLU (IPP) is a coordinated regional effort by attorneys and more than 30 organizations, including the School of Law, to provide immigrants in western Massachusetts with referrals for legal assistance and connections to other services.
The Law School is an important project partner of the IPP. Faculty and students have provided critical support for this pro bono effort that has begun to address the unmet legal needs of immigrants in western New England and on the U.S./Mexican border by working in partnership with immigrant rights organizations representing migrants and asylum seekers detained in federal facilities in New Mexico and Texas. Faculty, students, and staff have been part of successful efforts that have won the release of asylum seekers and others immigrants from ICE custody.
The School of Law partners with the American Civil Liberties Union of Western Massachusetts Law to offer a legal hotline for anyone seeking the assistance of the ACLU. Volunteers develop client interaction, intake, and issue spotting skills by returning calls left on the ACLU Hotline.
High School Pipeline Programs
Duggan Mock Trial
Partners: Duggan Academy, Discovering Justice, Hon. Mark J. Mastroianni
In this program, School of Law students coach a group of middle school students from Duggan Academy to prepare a mock trial before U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni. Discovering Justice provides the curriculum.
Judicial Youth Corps
Partners: Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts Bar Association, local trial courts
In this twelve week program, five students from Springfield High Schools participate in this educational/ internship program. During the summer portion of the program, students work as paid interns in trial courts in Springfield.
JTB/ MassMutual Summer Legal Institute
Partners: MassMutual, Just The Beginning –A Pipeline Organization
This program consists of an intensive week long law camp provided free of charge to Springfield area high school students.Mentoring
Massachusetts Bar Association Tiered Mentoring Program- Worcester, MA
Partners: Massachusetts Bar Association, Quinsigamond Community College, Burncoat High School
In this two-semester Semester program, five cohorts engage in law-related visits and activities. Each cohort consists of high school student, community college student, law student, and attorney.