BUSINESSWEEK: Bill aimed at limiting Louisiana law clinics dies

May 20, 2010
Sonia Smith

A Senate committee scuttled a bill Wednesday aimed at shuttering the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic that critics say would have hampered operations at all the state's law clinics.

The measure would have prohibited university law clinics that get state funding from suing individuals for damages, taking government agencies to court or making constitutional challenges.

Republican Sen. Robert Adley told the Senate Commerce Committee that Tulane accepts around $45 million in state money each year and yet runs a environmental law clinic that runs jobs out of the state by suing industry and government agencies.

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Original article here...
This issue was the subject of an earlier alert: Law clinics under attack http://www.democracysquare.org/LA_MD_law_clinics_under_attack

More News:
A strike against oil-spill lawsuits http://motherjones.com/rights-stuff/2010/05/strike-against-oil-spill-law... http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202458112680&Chemical_a...
Chemical association escalates attack on Tulane over law clinic http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202458112680&Chemical_a...
Panel derails law clinic bill http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/94371459.html?index=1&c=y

Law Clinics Under Attack

Center for Campus Free Speech
What's happening: 

UPDATE: The bill pushed by the Louisiana chemical industry to restrict the activities of Tulane University's law clinic has died in a Senate committee. More here...

The New York Times recently wrote an article on a new legislative attack on academic freedom.[1] In two states, Louisiana and Maryland, legislators have introduced bills to restrict the cases and clients that law clinics at public universities can take on. These bills come hot on the heels of two high profile public interest lawsuits filed by clinics at the University of Maryland and Tulane.

Law clinics provide important hands-on training for law students at public universities across the nation. Challenges to the academic freedom of these law clinics are not new. Research from Professor Robert R. Keuhn at St. Louis University found that more than a third of faculty at law clinics expressed fears about university or state reaction to their casework and a sixth had turned down unpopular clients because of these fears.[2] But the two bills currently being considered are the first time that legislators have directly tried to restrict the opportunities afforded law students through these clinics. Both of these bills have been introduced at the behest of industries that have recently been the targets of lawsuits from public law clinics.

In Maryland the state senate tacked a provision onto a routine budget bill threatening millions of dollars of funding for the University of Maryland if its law clinic did not disclose information about its clients and finances. While our allies in Maryland were able to get the state assembly to remove this amendment, some of these provisions appear to have been reinserted in the final draft bill.

In Louisiana, State Senator Robert Adley has introduced a bill to prevent public law clinics from litigating against government entities, corporations, or individuals unless approved by the state legislature. The bill, being promoted by oil and gas companies, comes on the heels of a suit from the law clinic pushing for better enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

Both of these bills are attempts by powerful interests to restrict what amounts to course content and take control of those decisions out of the hands of faculty members. This legislation shows us that while Horowitz and his Academic Bill of Rights may have fallen out of style with the opponents of the academy, the attack on the free exchange of ideas is not over.

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