Ours is a profession of service and justice. We serve our clients, our communities, and the people. In the past decade, with the Great Recession and tightening budgets, it has become apparent that more people are being left behind, left to fight for justice on their own.
In March, we marked the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), a landmark decision that established the right to counsel in criminal cases involving a felony. We have struggled as a country and as a profession to fulfill the promise of Gideon. We have not been successful in expanding that promise to civil cases, including ones involving parental rights, livelihoods, housing, and protective orders.
In this issue, I hope you find inspiration. Our cover story describes the plight of those struggling with access to justice issues and efforts to address those needs, including the involvement of Moritz students and alumni. Some of our alumni have dedicated their professional careers to public service, while others have worked it into already busy schedules. Access to justice was the subject of a terrific conference co-hosted by two student organizations, the Ohio State Law Journal and the Public Interest Law Foundation, in partnership with the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, earlier this spring.
As you read this issue, I hope that you will join us in celebrating the Moritz tradition of public service, supporting our campaign which includes initiatives aimed at strengthening public service opportunities and programming, and reaffirming the values of our profession. The College’s amazing clinical programs continually touch the lives of children, blossoming businesses, and those in need of representation. Each spring, our community comes together to raise money for our Public Interest Law Foundation, supporting students who spend their summers gaining hands-on legal experience while often representing the most vulnerable. Each year our graduating classes perform around 15,000 public service hours, and that does not include everything that we do.
But, we plan to do more. Our strategic plan calls for the creation of a new Public Service Law Center, a dedicated space in Drinko Hall, which thanks to the generous support of Mike Finn ’67, will become a reality in 2014. The new Capt. Jonathan D. Grassbaugh Veterans Project will officially launch this year and provide service to Ohio veterans facing struggles that often only an attorney can resolve (see pages 26-29). We also received support for a new post-graduate fellowship focused on serving juvenile human trafficking victims funded by Greif Packaging Charitable Trust and a renewed prosecution fellowship supported by the Reinberger Foundation, which supports a recent graduate and four interns. Recent graduates also are serving as fellows in bankruptcy court and with the Wrongful Conviction Project.
The access to justice crisis is real, and the legal needs of too many are unmet. Yet, I continue to be inspired by the ways this law school and its students and alumni fulfill our mission as a part of the solution.Tags: Mike Finn