Law school launches clinic dedicated to protecting human rights within the U.S.

Dec 12, 2016

The University of Massachusetts School of Law will launch a law clinic dedicated exclusively to protecting basic human rights within the United States in January.

The Human Rights at Home Clinic will be led by Professor Margaret Drew, whose work on domestic violence and the rights of people living with HIV has earned national attention. The clinic design differs from other law school human rights clinics in that it will focus only on human rights within the US, said university officials. It is designed for flexibility to address pressing local and national human rights needs as they arise, and will provide students an opportunity to represent individual clients as well as work on broader advocacy issues, added officials.

The clinic will focus, in part, on unmet needs of those in the area living with HIV, as well as represent survivors of gender violence, and assist transgender individuals who wish to petition the courts for name changes. Those needs were uncovered through a study conducted in partnership between the School of Law and the College of Nursing, said officials.

Professor Drew has long been involved in domestic human rights, including her work during the Castle Rock v. Gonzales case, which involved a mother suing a police department for failure to enforce a restraining order against her estranged husband that resulted in tragic consequences. The case was heard in both the U.S. Supreme Court and at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Professor Drew assisted with amicus briefs for both the Supreme Court case and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights petition.

The Human Rights at Home Clinic will be the fifth clinic at the law school, joining those focused on immigration, small business development, tribal law, and criminal prosecution.

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