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True Tales of Law School Lawyering

A dozen Rutgers–Newark faculty members have joined together to create a book about the work and accomplishments of the law school’s legal clinics. Edited by Professor Frank Askin, who has directed the school’s Constitutional Litigation Clinic for the past 40 years, the book describes how Rutgers’ clinic students under faculty supervision not only learn the law, but also help make the law. 

The book’s title, You Can Tell It to the Judge . . . and Other True Tales of Law School Lawyering (March 2009), is derived from the opening chapter, which tells about a case handled by the Constitutional Litigation Clinic which put an end to the practice of some municipal court judges to hold in contempt recipients of traffic/parking tickets who included derogatory/profane comments on the checks they submitted to the local courts in payment of fines.

Askin Vandeplas book

This 219-page book published by Vandeplas Publishing describes the diverse activities of the law school clinics, which range from challenging the constitutionality of the war in Iraq to providing equal funding for inner-city schools. It describes how eager students have:

  • helped invalidate zoning laws that screened out affordable housing in upscale suburbs
  • successfully challenged inhumane conditions of confinement of immigrant asylum seekers by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service;
  • guaranteed fair hearings for persons denied Social Security and disability benefits;
  • aided families with special-needs children to navigate the institutional bureaucracy and obtain their rights; 
  • forced municipalities to open their public parks to residents from neighboring communities; 
  • secured free elections and free speech for residents of common-interest communities governed by tyrannical trustees;
  • won hiring and promotional rights for non-whites in police and fire departments;
  • and helped change the way the public views non-human sentient beings.

In the 26 essays, Rutgers School of Law–Newark faculty members explain how clinics in constitutional litigation, environmental law, child advocacy, special education, urban justice and animal rights used live clients and current issues to train students to represent the public interest and reform the law while learning the tools of their trade.

Contributors to the book, in addition to Professor Askin, are Clinical Professor Penny Venetis, co-director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic; Professor Jon Dubin, director of the law school’s clinical program; Clinical Professor Randi Mandelbaum, director of the Child Advocacy Clinic; Clinical Professor Robert Holmes, director of the Community Law Clinic; Clinical Professor Esther Canty-Barnes, director of the Special Education Clinic; Professor Jonathan Hyman, who is of counsel to the Constitutional Litigation Clinic; Professor Paul Tractenberg, education law specialist who instituted New Jersey’s school-funding litigation through the Constitutional Litigation Clinic; Professor Gary Francione and Adjunct Professor Anna Charlton, who ran the school’s former Animal Rights Clinic; Professor John Payne, land-use authority who handled the landmark Mt. Laurel litigation through the school’s Environmental Law Clinic; Clinical Professor Laura Cohen of the Urban Legal Clinic; Clinical Professor Jennifer Rosen Valverde of the Special Education Clinic.

You Can Tell It to the Judge . . . and Other True Tales of Law School Lawyering can be purchased from Vandeplas Publishing, 801 International Parkway, Lake Mary, FL 32746 for $29.95.