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The University of Iowa College of Law

Outreach and Service Programs


From The Dean Welcome to the latest issue of the University of Iowa College of Law’s “Outreach and Service Programs.” This issue focuses on the Clinical Law Programs. The work of these programs is conducted by outstanding faculty, staff, and students, who, in countless ways, serve individual citizens, communities, the State of Iowa, and beyond. We hope you will find this issue informative and inspirational.

Gail Agrawal, Dean and F. Wendell Miller Professor of Law


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UI College of Law Clinical Law Programs Emily Briggs had planned a life as a ballet dancer. She had not expected that her pre-professional ballet training with the Joffrey Ballet School would be cut short by a broken foot, which would also shatter her professional dream. It was during her subsequent undergraduate years at the University of Michigan that she discovered a very different vocation and a new professional goal—criminal defense work. While at Michigan, Emily’s close friend and a family member became involved with the criminal justice system—the friend was killed by a drunk driver, and a family member became a defendant in a criminal trial. What Emily discovered from these two experiences is that “people speak up on behalf of the victim, but often not on behalf of the defendant.” Her perception of this imbalance convinced her of the value and importance of criminal defense work. These experiences led her to participate in the Prison Creative Arts Project, where she was able to draw on her artistic background. The program brought her into prisons to facilitate poetry and theater workshops, and other creative arts projects that engaged prisoners with the creative arts. What she learned, with some surprise, through these varied experiences is that “prisoners are people, too, with hopes and dreams like the rest of us.” Her next stop was at the University of Iowa’s College of Law, where she gained invaluable practical experience through participation in its legal clinic. The legal clinic at Iowa Law operates under an integrated legal practice model that is shared by only a few other legal clinics at law schools across the country. Here, seven experienced faculty clinicians, each with one or more areas of expertise, work in an integrated legal practice—a law firm model—each marshaling the individual specialized knowledge of one or more colleagues to collaborate as required on any given case. Students who participate in the clinic benefit from the wealth of this expertise, with the opportunity to work in and learn about several subject areas. For example, an immigrant from Mexico may seek assistance from the legal clinic in securing a divorce. This relatively simple case becomes infinitely more complex when it is learned that the immigrant’s spouse is no longer living in the U.S., but instead living again in Mexico.


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The combined efforts of the clinicians with expertise in the areas of immigration law and family law are brought to bear as the legal team crafts a legal template and solution to the problem. Deeply immersed in the research and consultation required to develop a legal strategy that will help to secure this divorce are the students who are working in the clinic, and earning academic credit toward their JD degree at the same time. By working alongside and under the supervision of the clinical faculty for a semester or more, these students are gaining invaluable practical experience that prepares them for the real life work they will encounter upon graduation.  And if members of the legal team develop a unique and creative legal solution to a problem one of their clients faces, they share that with the bar so that clients in other parts of the state can benefit from their work. In this manner, the clinic’s missions are fulfilled on behalf of the citizens of the State of Iowa: 1)  Legal services are provided to those unable to pay for them— on cases that are often highly complex and costly, which are referred to the clinic by legal practitioners whose legal offices do not have the capacity necessary to provide the service; 2) Law students are trained for real life practice, as they help devise and learn new legal solutions that they will take with them into their own practices—having been trained to become the lawyers of the future; and 3) The bar is assisted, as new legal knowledge and expertise are developed by the clinic through these processes, and shared freely.


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4) In addition to serving the citizens of the State of Iowa, the International Legal Clinic also works with government and notfor-profits abroad on projects that advance human rights and the rule of law. These projects can include legislative reform, policy development, legal research and analysis and providing public reports that document rights abuses. The legal clinic was not always robustly staffed, as it is today.  Founded in 1971, the clinic operated for many years as a two-person venture.  Gradually, over a twenty year period, additional uniquely qualified and committed practitioners were assembled, who now comprise the unusually gifted corps of practitioners who work together passionately in fulfilling the clinic’s multiple missions. In addition to these attorneys, the clinic is staffed by highly-skilled intake staff, who are the first contact point for clients and who provide an important interface between clients and attorneys, as they triage client inquiries, with referral to the appropriate clinic attorney. 


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Students who come to the clinic to learn and to earn academic credit are assigned to work on a wide range of cases—under the supervision of the attorney with the specialized knowledge required for each given case.  When Emily Briggs came from the University of Michigan to the Iowa Law School, she gained practical experience in the legal clinic, working on criminal defense cases under the supervision of John Whiston. She has no doubt that it is the superb, wide-ranging experience she received while in the clinic that not only helped her to get her current position as public defender in Colorado, but has also given her the confidence to do her work. Having engaged with clients in a variety of ways and contexts, and having appeared in court—not to mention the personal insights gained from these diverse experiences—has been invaluable for her. And it was a misdemeanor trial during a winter break, involving the non-emergent use of the 911 system, in which the defendant she represented was acquitted, that provided Emily trial experience that ultimately got the attention of her potential employer. Emily also recalls the important learning that flowed from the frequent overlap of practice areas brought on by collateral issues related to a client’s situation—including property law and family law. In some cases, Emily represented her clients in a criminal context. But she also worked on their behalf in negotiations with the Department of Human Services—dealing with custody issues for the children of her incarcerated clients. She notes ruefully that not everyone has extended family who “can step up to help” in these situations. Emily also saw the racial aspect of criminal defense— namely, the disproportionately high number of African Americans who are involved with the criminal justice system. This stark truth was again demonstrated when she participated in her first pre-trial conference with Professor Whiston—in which defendants appear en masse—with almost every defendant being African American. Professor Whiston confirms Emily’s observation. He reports by way of example that in Johnson County, IA, African Americans are arrested for marijuana use at eight times the rate of Caucasians. Whiston goes on to observe that, with respect to the issues of race and class, when you learn about these realities in school, you “see them,” once out in practice. Emily believes that without her legal clinic experience she could not have gathered the varied impressions that have broadened her view and have helped her to shape and focus her professional goals. While her prior dance performance experience may have been helpful initially in building courage to stand up before large groups of people,


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Emily stresses that public speaking is very different from dancing, and requires a whole new set of skills. Fortunately, she also was able to practice and learn a new competency—public speaking before the court--during her clinic experiences. Consequently, Emily graduated from law school with that new arrow in her quiver—and the requisite confidence and expertise to represent her new clients competently and zealously. When Professor John Whiston first joined the legal clinic, 19 years ago, he worked predominantly on supervising prison cases, together with Professor Barbara Schwartz. In these cases, students represented inmates to enforce consent decrees, related to prison conditions, that the courts had granted in the late 70’s and early 80’s, when the legal clinic sued the prison system. Then, in 1995 Congress passed a law that, in effect, nullified consent decrees. Professors Whiston and Schwartz challenged the constitutionality of this new law and won their case in federal district court in Des Moines, but lost in the 8th Circuit. John Whiston Professor Whiston joined the Iowa law faculty as a Visiting Professor in 1994. He was appointed to the faculty permanently in 1997. Before coming to Iowa, Professor Whiston had been a partner in the Missoula, Montana, litigation firm of Rossbach & Whiston, P.C., and had taught Torts at the University of Montana School of Law. At Iowa, Professor Whiston teaches in the Clinical Legal Programs and also teaches Evidence, Deposition Practice, Worker's Compensation, and Trial Advocacy. He supervises the law school's Trial Advocacy Program and coaches the school's regional trial teams. He is admitted to practice in the state and federal courts of Iowa and Montana and before the Eighth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal. He is a member of the Iowa State Bar Association and the Dean Mason Ladd American Inn of Court (Cedar Rapids, Iowa).

Simultaneously, in the mid-90’s, Professor Schwartz began to receive requests to help people who were incarcerated and faced challenges because of their immigration status. Consequently, in 1998 Professor Schwartz changed her focus to immigration law, and Professor Whiston, who had learned criminal law over the course of his career, reactivated his practice in criminal defense, creating the Criminal Defense Clinic. In 1981, Schwartz started the Misdemeanor Representation Clinic. Interestingly, it began under a hybrid model now being re-introduced at the law school by Emily Hughes, in which Professor Schwartz traveled with students to the Cedar Rapids Public Defender’s Office three days a week. A grant paid for the rental of the space there. After two years, the Public Defender’s Office needed the space back, so the clinic was brought in-house to the law school in 1984. The students in the Criminal Defense Clinic represent people referred from the Public Defender’s Office who are indigent, who are charged with a crime that carries jail time and who, therefore, under the 6th Amendment, have a right to counsel. (However, due to the conflict in representation that would result—because the legal clinic’s Domestic Violence Clinic, supervised by Professor Cox, represents the victims of domestic violence—the Criminal Defense Clinic does not represent those alleged perpetrators charged with domestic violence. Further, whenever a new case comes to the clinic, a conflict check is conducted.) The Criminal Defense Clinic handles 100 cases per year, representing people charged with serious or aggravated misdemeanors. (Students cannot handle felonies under the student practice rules of the Iowa


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Supreme Court.) Twenty to twenty-five cases come in to the clinic at the beginning of the spring semester. Professor Whiston’s goal is to prepare an experience in which each student is able to take the entire case from start to finish in one semester. The student is the lawyer and has primary responsibility for the case—including interviewing the client, reading the police reports, watching the patrol car video, negotiating with the county attorney, and taking depositions. Cases that come into the clinic mid-semester and can’t be completed by the students in the remaining time are handled by Whiston, or by students in clinic the following semester. In addition, the clinic structure allows Whiston the flexibility to take on any other cases that he believes have merit, or in which his sense of justice or outrage compels him to action. For example, he has sued on behalf of victims duped and pressured into buying used cars; he has pursued consumer credit civil litigation; and he has been involved in insurance litigation. Almost two years ago, the clinic received a call from a Des Moines attorney who had represented a client in federal district court, and who needed to refer the case, so the clinic took over the case pro bono. Stern v. Stern involved a claim under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, by the father of Ms. Stern’s seven-year-old son, that the child should be returned to Israel. It was after Ms. Stern prevailed in federal district court that Mr. Stern appealed, and the case was referred to the Legal Clinic. Ms. Stern was represented by clinic professors John Whiston and Lois Cox before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Students working on the case included James Vaglio ’11 and Christina Humphreys ’11, who argued the case to the Eighth Circuit panel a month before her graduation. A major Des Moines firm, a national firm from the East Coast, and a Harvard Climenko Fellow represented Mr. Stern. The decision of the Eighth Circuit, Stern v. Stern, 639 F.3d 449 (8th Cir. 2011), was affirmed on petition for rehearing, with students Edward Morris ’12 and Jacqueline Langland ’12 working on the brief. At the U.S. Supreme Court level, students Marcy Brant ’12 and Jacqueline Langland ’12 wrote the bulk of the brief in opposition to certiorari. Professor Ann Estin, a leading UI College of Law scholar in Hague Convention jurisprudence, provided essential advice to the clinic throughout the process. The legal issue in the case was the definition of “habitual residence” in the Hague Convention, a treaty that the United States ratified in 1988. The treaty helps ensure that decisions about child custody are made in the country best situated to make those decisions, and that


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signatory nations respect one another’s custody laws. The Convention typically comes into play not in cases of criminal abduction by strangers, but in international family law cases where one parent decides to move to or remain in a country with the child, without the other parent’s consent. The treaty’s overarching goal is to promote a child’s best interests by determining where the custody case should be adjudicated. On February 21, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari in Stern. By declining to grant certiorari, the U.S. Supreme Court let the Eighth Circuit decision stand as the final ruling in the case. This marked the end of a successful eighteen-month journey through the federal courts for Michelle Garland Stern and her minor son, and a valuable learning opportunity for five students in the College of Law’s in-house Legal Clinic. The case exposed Iowa students to the federal appellate process, international law, and foreign family law. Professor Whiston reflects in amazement how well the legal clinic students adapt and learn, as they work and practice criminal law under his supervision. Many of them have not seen “much of the underside of the rock.” But they are very good at making compassionate connections with clients—most of whom are indigent and are confronted with the wide range of problems associated with poverty. To help students prepare for the role of the responsible attorney, Professor Whiston requires students to write a preparatory “counseling memo,” outlining all the facts and legal issues of the case. Professor Whiston reviews these memos with the students, and together they expand and refine the case in advance of the student’s “counseling meeting” with the client. Sometimes, confronted with the troubling realities of some of their cases, students approach Whiston and ask, “How do you deal with the fact that you work really hard for the client, and then the client pleads guilty? Or the client isn’t responsive or doesn’t return your calls, or doesn’t stay out of trouble?” Whiston advises them to focus on the process: “Are you doing everything you can do? That’s what you have to focus on, because the outcome is most often not in your control.”

Byron Black, originally from Algona, IA, got his undergraduate degree in political science from Iowa State University, and then decided to go to law school at The University of Iowa. He had thought he might practice poverty law one day. But as it turns out, Byron, like Emily, is now interested in criminal law. One day he would like to work as a public defender or county attorney. Unlike some law


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students and practicing attorneys, Byron has a balanced view towards both defense and prosecution, and would be happy to work in either role. Currently, he is working as a clerk for a district court judge. Byron, too, believes that it is his legal clinic experience—especially the legal writing and the varied work with clients and the court—that helped him secure his employment. He says the legal clinic was a great experience, and that “all of the clinic experiences, without exception, are excellent!” In the clinic for three semesters, Byron worked with Professor Whiston on criminal defense cases; with Professor Cox on domestic violence cases; and with Professor Allen on civil cases. He also worked indirectly with Professor Schwartz, when some of his criminal defense cases also involved immigration issues. Byron explains that the domestic violence cases were interesting in part because they encompass civil work and yet are quasi-criminal: he helped people get protective orders; and if there was a violation, he helped to enforce the order. Byron added, “In Iowa, the law is in twilight between the civil and the criminal, because a civil violation can result in incarceration.” Byron describes how daunting it was to be responsible for a real case with impact on a human being. Byron marvels at how the clinical professors “gave the students space to figure out what should be done, but also were willing to step in at any moment and help if that was needed, without being overbearing. The clinic faculty is very patient and always collegial. But I really felt that what I was working on was ‘my’ case, and that helped me build judgment and confidence. Once in practice, I won’t be paralyzed by fear because I’ve learned so much from the practical experience in the clinic.”

Tom Francis worked as a police officer in California before coming to Iowa Law. He remembers his frustration with the immigration system when, working in California, he would arrest a person for a violent crime and discover that the person was an undocumented immigrant, who invariably ended up back “on the street” after the arrest. Imagine his surprise when his view of immigration was altered and transformed forever by his experience in Iowa Law’s legal clinic. Tom learned that the immigration system is “convoluted and complex,” and applies to a wide and varied range of people and situations. As a father of three children, Tom felt great empathy as he came into contact with other fathers who had legally immigrated to the U.S. but who were now struggling to comply with immigration laws and policies, petitioning for permission to bring their families left behind on foreign soil to the U.S. Tom worked for Professor Schwartz as a research assistant for four semesters, and spent two semesters in the clinic under her supervision, working on immigration issues.


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“Professor Schwartz gave us lots of cases. There were many asylees and refugees from Africa who required birth certificates and marriage certificates as proof for the immigration process,” said Tom. In one case, when the primary documentation was not available, Tom worked on the letter explaining the circumstances that then authorized the use of secondary information as proof. One year later, Tom’s efforts were rewarded when that application was approved. An important part of Tom’s learning experience was engaging with clients, and learning about their personal situations. Many of them were still working on learning English, were simultaneously going to school, working on the side, and sending money home to their families. One gentleman was saving money to defray the $10,000 plane fare that would bring his wife and eight children to the U.S. Tom explained that some of the clients he helped had been granted asylum in the US based on religious grounds. But some came from countries “where politics and religion get mixed, and these good people and their families had been subjected to torture, rape and murder for their views, before being granted asylum in the U.S.” Tom worked two additional semesters in the legal clinic with Professors Whiston and Allen in the Clinical Defense Group and the Muscatine Intake Project (not currently operating), respectively. Again, as a former policeman, he gained a new perspective. He came to understand that some of his clients had come from very difficult circumstances and maybe needed a break. He felt great satisfaction in advocating for them by helping to get their fines or required community service time reduced. While working with Professor Allen, Tom’s previous two-year mission in Peru, where he had learned Spanish, came in handy. His greatest triumph was trying a child custody case. Because both the client and defendant spoke only Spanish, the trial was interpreted, with Tom speaking English, while every other communication was in Spanish. Through that trial, Tom succeeded in getting his client full custody with supervised visitation. Tom is now working in Seattle with a mid-sized law firm. His pro bono practice will be in immigration law. Already he has discovered that many Seattle cab drivers come from Congo, Ethiopia and Burundi, and face the same challenges that his clients in Iowa Law’s immigration clinic faced. Tom said that “Professor Schwartz brings tremendous expertise to her immigration work. She is a nationally-recognized expert, and has created an immigration law list serve through which she shares her professional expertise with practicing attorneys—many of whom are former students.”


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Tom told as many students as possible to work in the legal clinic. He was awed by the volume of work that each clinical professor takes on—many of them working all day Saturday and Sunday to keep up. But notwithstanding their crushing work load, “they never failed to make time to talk and they knew the facts of every single case we were working on.” Tom concluded, “Clinic should be required for everyone. It was my best experience in law school. I loved every minute!”

Professor Lois Cox adds a word of caution: “The intellectual

Lois K. Cox Professor Cox joined the Iowa law faculty as a Visiting Professor in 1986. She was appointed to the faculty as Associate Clinical Professor in 1988 and promoted to Clinical Professor in 1992. Before joining the law faculty, Professor Cox was a staff attorney with the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa. She teaches in the Clinical Law Programs, focusing in the area of domestic violence. In the classroom, she teaches a course entitled Notable American Trials of the 20th Century: A Course in Trial Skills. From 1989 until 1996, Professor Cox served as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. She is a former board member of both the Iowa Civil Liberties Union (now known as the ACLU of Iowa) and the Iowa City Domestic Violence Intervention Program. She is admitted to practice before the state and federal courts in Iowa, before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and before the United States Supreme Court. She is a member of the Iowa State Bar Association, the Johnson County Bar Association, and the Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys. During 2002-2003, she served as president of the Johnson County Bar Association. From 1997 until 1999, and again from 2008 until 2009, Professor Cox served as the University Ombudsperson. In 2005, Professor Cox received the Michael J. Brody Award for Faculty Excellence in Service.

foundation for our students is laid in their first year of classes. Our faculty who teach that first year of coursework brilliantly may get short shrift, because without that basic knowledge gained in the first year, our students could not thrive the way they do in the legal clinic, where can they put their theoretical learning and understanding into practice. The legal clinic is a bridge between the classroom and professional work—it is really a capstone experience.” Professor Cox supervises the domestic violence cases that come to the clinic. She and her students also collaborate on other cases and with other professors, as time permits—such as the Stern vs. Stern case, mentioned earlier. The primary referral source for the cases Cox supervises is the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, which refers victims of domestic violence who are seeking protective orders, or are seeking to enforce violated protective orders. Cox says that “this is a tight little body of law, through which our students learn client and witness interviewing, negotiation, hearing and listening skills, direct and crossexamination, and receive an introduction into the rules of evidence.” This area of the law provides a very important learning experience for students in terms of understanding and learning to exercise and maintain an appropriate role vis a vis the victim—their client. “They have to learn that they’re not the best friend, the counselor, or the mother,” says Cox. Finding empathy for clients is not difficult for most students, but maintaining the appropriate distance can be challenging. Another piece of advice that Cox gives her students is the importance of being respectful when speaking to client victims about their abuser. This is because of the possibility that the victim will return to the abuser. It is important to conduct oneself in a way that leaves the door open for the victim, who has returned to the abuser, to again, later, seek help in the legal clinic without hesitancy or guilt from a feeling that “I let the people in the clinic down, too.”


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As an example, Cox remembers one extreme situation in which a victim of domestic violence doggedly remained with her abusive partner. But one day the victim returned home to find all of her clothes and possessions burned—with only a pile of ashes remaining. That finally brought the victim into the clinic, carrying only a little bag, filled with those ashes. Even after that had happened, it was “touch and go”— with the abuser trying to coax the victim back. In the end, the victim was able to break away, firmly and finally.

Professor John Allen supervises civil cases that are referred to the legal clinic through a variety of sources. Currently, community groups, lawyers and former clients are primary sources. The clinic referrals from private practitioners occur most frequently in instances where the practitioner doesn’t know the relevant law and doesn’t have time to learn it, and/or when the cases are of such complexity, requiring so much time and work, that they will not pay for themselves—such as an ERISA case involving a medical benefit. John S. Allen Professor Allen has been a member of the Iowa faculty since 1990. Before entering teaching, he was a staff attorney and senior staff attorney with the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa. He teaches in the Clinical Law Programs and offers a seminar on Poverty Law with Professor Cox. He has frequently taught in the law school’s trial advocacy program. Since 1993, he has supervised the Assistive Technology Clinic, funded through the Iowa Program for Assistive Technology. He also supervises the Clinic’s Muscatine Intake Project, where many of the clients communicate primarily in Spanish. Much of his work has been in the area of employment law; he has done employment discrimination, ERISA, and unemployment insurance cases. He also supervises the Poverty Law Internship Program, which provides paid summer internships to students placed at legal aid providers in Iowa. He is a member of the Dean Mason Ladd Inn of Court and is the law school liaison for the Inn.

Professor Allen currently spends approximately a third of his time working on cases involving employment law, which is an area of growing need, and through which students can gain litigation experience and knowledge that will be useful to them in future practice. He is also committed to providing students with the opportunity to work using Spanish. Many students leave college with Spanish language proficiency that atrophies from disuse. Other students, like Tom Francis, come to law school with high-level Spanish language skills that are begging to be put to use. Because of the large number of underserved Spanish-speaking people, Professor Allen himself learned Spanish in early middle age. Now he helps students build on their Spanish language skills by providing a range of legal services to Spanish-speaking people, which simultaneously serves a critically important unmet need. Students are exposed to the process of interpreting, and, more importantly, they learn about the cultural complexity involved in building a relationship between themselves and others who do not share the same language or upbringing. Professor Allen keeps another third of his caseload open so as to be free to help when there is no one else available to step up. “You can’t be all things to all people,” Allen explains, “but neither do we want to become too rigid in our structure or guidelines. We all, as lawyers, need to do our share of the work on cases where we feel ‘there ought to be a law,’ or ‘something should happen here.’ Of course we have to limit the subject matter to some extent, but it is part of our professional commitment to make necessary legal services available.”


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Out of that commitment, an important project evolved, which currently takes up the other third of Professor Allen’s time: the assistive technology legal project. (Assistive technology is equipment that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.) Under this project, federal funds provided to the UI Center for Disabilities and Development are in turn provided via contract to the legal clinic. The legal clinic further sub-contracts with Iowa Legal Aid. Together, the legal clinic and Iowa Legal Aid now provide services to the entire state. This is a long-term project that began in the mid-90’s, with the goal of removing legal barriers to necessary assistive technologies for individuals with disabilities. One focus of this project has been the development of better payment mechanisms for power wheelchairs through Medicaid. The need for better payment mechanisms is exemplified by the story of a young woman who was in a car accident, which left her with quadriplegia. She was placed in a nursing home that was responsible for providing her with necessary medical care. Serious health consequences result for individuals with quadriplegia who are not fitted with an appropriate wheelchair with built-in support that allows for proper posture. And a person with quadriplegia without a power wheelchair is unable to have any mobility, and is totally dependent on others for fulfilling even the smallest day-to-day needs and desires. But notwithstanding these very real issues of health and quality of life, the nursing home provided this young woman with an inferior wheelchair rather than with a power wheelchair that would have met her needs. Behind this decision lies the faulty reimbursement mechanism that the legal clinic challenged and is on the verge of changing. In Iowa, the Department of Human Services (DHS), via Medicaid, historically had given a per diem directly to the nursing home for the necessary care of an individual patient. Depending on the needs and the costs of care for an individual patient, the additional purchase of a wheelchair at a cost in the range of $15,000 could be far beyond the money allotted by Medicaid to the nursing home for the care of that patient. It is evident that the nursing home, in such a case, had a monetary disincentive to purchase the necessary wheelchair for its patient. Initially, the legal clinic attempted to rectify this problem by suing DHS on behalf of individual patients. But while the strategy addressed individual needs, this process did not produce the overall systemic, long-term change in the reimbursement mechanism that would have a permanent positive result for all patients.


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So the clinic decided to approach the issue from a public policy standpoint. Clinic faculty and students surveyed states across the nation and learned that more than half of the states provide payment for the cost of power wheelchairs, not to the nursing home, but directly to the dealer of the wheelchair. The clinic then reviewed DHS records and found that of 100 claims made, DHS had granted exceptions to their own reimbursement policy—permitting the purchase of necessary power wheelchairs—in 58% of the cases. The DHS exceptions had, in fact, become the rule. With these data, the legal clinic filed a petition for rule making and argued that 1) DHS’s failure to provide consistent and thorough review of nursing homes to assure that they are providing “necessary medical services” is inconsistent with the Medicaid Act; and that 2) DHS is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which sets forth a standard requiring that individuals with disabilities should not be living in a more restrictive environment than necessary. If nursing homes withhold mobility devices such as a power wheelchair from people like the young woman left with quadriplegia through a car accident, rendering her essentially a prisoner, with no freedom to move independently, then DHS is not meeting the standard required by the ADA. The legal clinic persuaded DHS to reconsider its policy. Under new rulemaking, DHS has offered the desired remedy—a change in the reimbursement mechanism. In the future, individual patients requiring power wheelchairs will make their cases to DHS directly. With the approval by DHS of the power wheelchair purchase (under the standards brought forward by the legal clinic in its argument), payment for the power wheelchair will be made by DHS directly to the dealer. This rulemaking is a legal triumph for the clinic. And it has been a superb learning experience for the many students who worked on the project. But most importantly, this action, which flowed from an overarching professional commitment to help those who have nowhere else to turn, is a service to the State and to the many individuals with disabilities whose quality of life has been forever greatly improved.

Jennifer Terry came to law school to start a second career, after having worked for many years as the Vice President of Business Development for a pharmaceutical company. She spent three semesters in the Family Representation Clinic under the supervision of Professor Jean Lawrence. The clinic represents parents who are involved in dependency proceedings—in which they have been alleged to be neglectful or abusive. They may have been the subjects


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of a CINA (Child in Need of Assistance) proceeding, in which they have lost custody of their children and, in some instances, may face termination of their parental rights. Jennifer said that working in this area was much like riding a roller coaster—some lows and some highs, which included representing a few clients whose children were returned to them. Jennifer had worked for a while as a certified prosecutorial intern, and loved it. But after representing the state, she wanted to get a balanced view—“the other side of the story”—by representing clients. She found this new perspective by working in the legal clinic. Jean C. Lawrence Jean C. Lawrence is a Visiting Clinical Professor of Law. Professor Lawrence directs a new offering in the College’s Clinical Law Programs: the family assistance project representing parents involved in Children in Need of Assistance (CINA) and termination proceedings in the Iowa City area. In addition to supervising law students working on these cases, she will be developing and implementing a series of educational programs and materials for use by the legal profession throughout the state of Iowa. Professor Lawrence is a 1980 graduate, with high distinction, from the College of Law and has practiced for the last sixteen years with the firm of Aasgaard & Lawrence, PLC, in Marion, Iowa. She has broad experience in juvenile law in general and particularly in CINA and termination cases. Before coming to the law school, she had taught in the paralegal program at Kirkwood Community College. The position in the clinic is funded by a one-year grant from the Children’s Justice Initiative at the Iowa Supreme Court. The Initiative is committed to optimizing how the Iowa child welfare systems works, especially for those children and parents who find themselves involved in it. To that end, the Initiative has led a series of conference, summits, and continuing legal education programs to improve the quality of legal representation in the system and to enlarge the training opportunities available for judges and lawyers who work there.

For Jennifer, the legal clinic “was the best experience of law school,” and she would make legal clinic mandatory for all law students. Her legal clinic experience—arguing in court, filing motions, and having difficult conversations with clients—helped her to make a favorable impression in her interview, which resulted in her being hired as an associate in a private firm. Jennifer believes that the clinic teaches students to perform at an extremely high level. She has heard practicing judges say that students perform especially well, and that they serve effectively as liaisons between the practicing bar and the legal clinic. Jennifer’s legal clinic experience was most important in developing a new level of compassion and understanding. Many of her clients faced complex problems associated with poverty, such as domestic violence and substance abuse. Jennifer learned from Professor Jean Lawrence the importance of “removing barriers” between her and her clients, and building a trusting relationship that would enable her to help her clients to “get out of where they are.” Jennifer concludes that “Professor Lawrence is transformational. She makes a real difference in this world.” Then she quotes a local judge, who said, “These parents have to walk through fire to get their children back.” In the legal clinic, Jennifer learned how to help them walk through fire.

Professor Jean Lawrence elaborates: “These are great cases for students to learn from, because what’s at stake is so huge. If a child is removed and the child is less than four years old, and the parents can’t show they have a home that the children can be safely returned to within 6 months, the parents are subject to having their parental rights terminated.” “Domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health problems are part of many cases,” Lawrence continues. “These cases are about more than giving good legal advice. If we’re not communicating with our clients in a way that they can understand, then we can’t help. We have to build trust, which is critical.


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“So, often we go into our clients’ homes to meet with them rather than requiring them to come to the law school. This is a good way for our students to find out what they can about the backgrounds of their clients.” A recent strategy brought Paige, a Masters in Social Work student, to the Family Representation Clinic, where she did her practicum. Her role was to function as a member of a team, in which she gave students presentations on topics such as interpersonal skills, motivational interviewing, and cultural competency. She was able to integrate the facts of current students’ cases into her presentations, and she came to client conferences and worked on case strategies with other members of the team. One student had to tell her client that the court had denied her request that her parental rights not be terminated. Paige engaged in role playing with this student to prepare her to present this difficult news to her client. After that session, the triumphant student told Professor Lawrence, “Paige taught me how to be empathetic!”

“ All of us who do this work gain so much satisfaction from making a tremendous difference in the lives of our clients.” — Professor Barbara Schwartz, Founder and Director of the Immigration Clinic

Cases are referred to the Family Representation Clinic by the Public Defender’s Office. “Our students bring unique energy and compassion to these cases,” says Lawrence. “In the real world, public defenders who take on these types of cases are often over-worked; and private attorneys are getting paid minimally, which makes it difficult to give priority to these cases. We took on these cases based on a perception that representation for these parents was often poor. The work that we do serves the clients, it serves the state (by reducing the workload), it sets a model for the appropriate representation of these clients in and out of court, and it teaches students, who will have better skills and be better prepared all around, to handle these types of cases once they’re in practice. Moreover, students initially often make assumptions about the reasons for removal, and about the types of people their clients are. For some students working on these cases smashes a lot of stereotypes, and is an invaluable life lesson.” Professor Lawrence has also been deeply involved in another project that will serve these clients and the state in important ways. Judge Sylvia Lewis, a retired judge on senior status, organized a steering committee composed of Emily Voss, the County Attorney; DHS staff; Jean Lawrence; and other community stakeholders to conceive and implement the Family Treatment Court (FTC). This is a specialized court for parents involved in juvenile court who have substance abuse problems. There were originally five sites across the State that received a federal grant to start the FTC in their counties. Now there are five additional counties, including Johnson, that are trying to maintain an FTC without this federal funding because this model has effectively focused help for people with these complex problems.


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Byron, Jen, and Tom—each profiled above and all spring 2013 graduates, each having spent three or more semesters in the legal clinic—were awarded the clinic’s Client Representation Award for excellence in client representation.

Professor Barbara Schwartz is the founder and Director

Barbara Schwartz Professor Schwartz joined the law faculty in 1977. Prior to that time, she taught in the clinic at Wayne State University. She teaches in the College of Law's Clinical Law Program where she currently focuses on immigration law. In addition, she has taught non-clinical courses at the law school in the areas of Criminal Law and Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Immigration and Asylum Law, and Trial Advocacy. She regularly gives presentations to the bar and the community on immigration law and policy, and frequently speaks at clinical education conferences. Schwartz is a founding member of the Clinical Legal Education Association, and a former member of the executive committee of the AALS Clinical Education Section.

of the Immigration Clinic. She explains, “There is one agency in the entire State of Iowa, based in Des Moines, called Justice for Our Neighbors. It does immigration work for the indigent; and some members of the Iowa bar provide pro bono work for immigrants. But oftentimes the immigration work is extremely specialized, complex and time-consuming, and even the most committed members of the bar simply cannot afford to do the work. For example, an asylum packet might be 1,000-plus pages long. You can imagine the time involved in preparing it. Further, in this practice area, the number of individuals who need help is far in excess of the services available. And this is where our clinic comes in. “Iowa has a history of being very generous to refugees. As a consequence, we have a number of refugee settlements—some populated, for example, by people from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and by Francophile Africans. Referrals to our clinic are by word of mouth, through immigration judges, the internet, former students now practicing in Iowa, other attorneys, and these refugee communities, who have very close connections with one another, and who are very supportive of newcomers. “One client came to us by a circuitous route. Speaking only French, he showed up at University Hospitals in Iowa City. As is its practice, the hospital secured a French interpreter to ask what the gentleman’s health issues and needs were. ‘I am looking for Dr. Schwartz,’ said he. This French-speaking African Congolese gentleman had ended up in Decorah, where the refugee community members had told him that the person who could help him with his immigration issues was Dr. Schwartz. After some conversation, the translator was soon able to discern that what the gentleman needed, and was looking for, was not a doctor of clinical medicine but this doctor of law! “In asylum cases, we must file for asylum on behalf of our clients within one year of their entry into the US. We try to assign two students to file such a petition on their behalf at the beginning of the fall semester. Then, in January, they participate in the interview with the asylum office, and often, within one academic year, we will know whether asylum was granted. (We’ve only lost one asylum case in the last ten years.)


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“One year after asylum has been granted, we help the asylee apply for a green card (permanent residence). Within two years after the asylum grant, the asylee must file for permission to bring family to the US, which the clinic also helps with. Once family arrives, we help recent arrivals with green card applications. And then the final step is helping with the naturalization applications. The assistance that we offer is particularly important for immigrants who have a disability that inhibits their ability to pass the requisite civics and/or English proficiency exams. “Another important area of our work is representing women under the Violence Against Women Act. This law comes into play when a foreign national has married an abusive US citizen. Under normal circumstances, the US citizen would file for residency on behalf of his spouse. But an abusive husband can use his power and withhold filing on behalf of his foreign national spouse. Without the abusive husband’s help in gaining residency, the spouse would have no means of supporting herself in a foreign country. The Violence Against Woman Act permits us to file for residency on behalf of the abused foreign national spouse without the participation of the abusive spouse. Nathan Miller Nathan Miller is an Assistant Director of the Center and the Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Iowa  College of Law. He directs the International Legal Clinic at the College of Law, where students provide legal assistance to governments and nongovernmental organizations on projects related to human rights, development, and the rule of law.  He also teaches undergraduate human rights courses as part of the Center’s Certificate program. Nathan joined the College of Law in 2011 after a decade of international advocacy spanning more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the United States. Nathan served as a legal advisor to the government of what is now South Sudan, where he lived for three years during its transition from civil war to constitutional democracy. He has served at the United Nations and as the inaugural human rights officer at the International Senior Lawyers Project in New York. He is a graduate in philosophy and Spanish, cum laude, from the University of Dayton (1998), and in law from the New York University School of Law (2002).

“I like doing this work because immigration law is a challenging body of law that keeps us constantly engaged. We have a body of students with a passion for this work, which is not common. Many of them come in knowing that they care about the clients, as they have already gained, as citizens, the requisite important political knowledge and understanding about the range of challenges many immigrants face. And some of them have also worked previously in the immigration area as paralegals or political activists for nonprofits. All of us who do this work gain so much satisfaction from making a tremendous difference in the lives of our clients. Our clients are unbelievably appreciative, and the personal connection we develop with them is very rewarding.” University of Iowa Law School Senior Fellow Nathan Miller directs the International Legal Clinic, and works with government and not-for-profits in the U.S. and abroad on projects that advance human rights and the rule of law. These projects can include legislative reform, policy development, legal research and analysis and producing public reports that document rights abuses. For example, this past March, Miller and May 2013 graduate Sharad Bijanki traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to submit a report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC). The report, prepared by the legal clinic on behalf of the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, detailed the ways in which individuals’ right to be free from torture and inhuman, cruel, and degrading treatment is violated in the Midwest. Bijanki, who was one of the primary student authors


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of the report working under Miller’s guidance, was selected to attend the meeting in Geneva during his third year at law school. “We routinely subject individuals in detention to prolonged solitary confinement, we provide neither oversight of nor accountability for the conditions of immigration detention, and we allow police officers to subject people to electroshock with very little oversight—all in contravention of our obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Miller said.

. . . “this hands-on experience was an opportunity for law students to transfer their skills into the real world.” — Marcella David, Professor of Law and International Studies and Associate Dean for the College of Law

“When many people think of human rights violations, they think of those violations outside of the U.S.,” Bijanki said. “While the U.S. does a better job than many countries for human rights, it still struggles with its own domestic human rights abuses.” About every six years the U.S. comes under review for its compliance and treaty obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty signed by the U.S. and ratified in the early 1990s. On a rotating basis, the Human Rights Committee (HRC) reviews for compliance each one of the 167 nations party to the ICCPR. Each review involves questioning by the HRC targeted toward the most important ICCPR infractions. The HRC creates a list of issues (LOI) to guide this questioning well in advance of the actual examination, and invites Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to submit any relevant legal and factual reports. The HRC review of U.S. compliance with the ICCPR is scheduled for October of this year, and the preparation and development of the LOI for the U.S. review was this March in Geneva. “The meeting in Geneva this March was very important because it was a critical time to persuade the HRC to adopt particular issues onto the LOI,” Bijanki said. “As part of its diplomacy efforts and treaty obligations, the U.S. government will thoroughly respond to and investigate any issues raised in the LOI. In October, the U.S. government will send a delegation to Geneva to respond to any outstanding issues raised by the HRC. Following that meeting, the HRC will prepare and release a public report recommending any improvements or changes in U.S. law or procedures to reduce future human rights abuses.” The Legal Clinic’s report was an attempt to get the Committee to ask questions about the issues they raised. During the trip Miller and Bijanki had meetings with many of the members of the HRC to convince them of the relevance and importance of the issues they addressed. “Other NGO advocates were present and competing to have their own issues heard, but the environment was very collegial because they were all fighting for the same basic principle,” Miller said.


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Some of their meetings were casual, “one-on-ones,” in the cafeteria over coffee or tea, and others were more formal. For the more formal meetings all of the advocates met in a conference room and each advocate took a few minutes to outline issues of concern before some of the HRC members. “We met informally with members of the Committee to brief them about our concerns and to urge them to reflect those concerns in their official list of issues,” Miller said. “Two weeks later, when the list was released, we were pleased to see that four of the five issues we raised were in fact included. When the U.S. delegation appeared in Geneva in October our work formed part of the discussion. We’re quite proud.” Marcella David, Professor of Law and International Studies and Associate Dean for the College of Law, said this hands-on experience was an opportunity for law students to transfer their skills into the real world. “Law students spend a lot of time arguing fake cases and doing fake case briefs,” David said. “This was an opportunity to go and present a report that had a real world purpose. It had an advocacy purpose and going on the trip allowed them to see the process to the end. Pedagogically, it had a significant impact as measured by their successful advocacy in having their recommendations incorporated into the official list of issues.” Researching the report revealed surprising realizations for Bijanki. He said he found out how much information very capable and well-funded NGOs and advocacy groups do not have about domestic human rights abuses. “For example, experts are confident that rape and other sexual assaults are vastly underreported in the general population of U.S. citizenry, and even more underreported in prisons” he said. “Consider, then, the extent of underreporting by non-citizens imprisoned in detention facilities without a right to counsel or the money for an attorney, and who are slated for deportation in the coming months.” Although the trip primarily benefited and exposed matters on human rights, it also had an effect on Bijanki personally. “What had the most impact on me, on a personal level, was reading the narratives of those who have suffered human rights abuses under color of law,” he said. “Following law school I will not be practicing directly in the field of human rights law, but I have discovered that I am passionate about fighting for this particular cause, and I plan on keeping attuned


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for more opportunities to aid human rights organizations pro bono.” For much of the past year the clinic has been conducting research on behalf of the ACLU of Iowa on issues related to the individual rights of Iowans. Students have conducted requests for information under Iowa’s Open Records Act, interviewed public officials, and analyzed the policies of specific county and municipal agencies. The clinic looks forward to continuing to work with the ACLU of Iowa to develop and implement policy recommendations that will help to ensure that all Iowans enjoy all of their civil rights.

Leonard A. Sandler Len Sandler is a Clinical Professor of Law who joined the College of Law faculty in 1990. After stints as a U.S. Navy submariner and a newspaper reporter, he received his law degree from the University of Maryland School Of Law. A Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow, he represented migrant farm workers, abused and neglected children, persons with disabilities, and low-income families before turning to clinical teaching. He has practiced law and taught at law schools in Maryland, Vermont and Iowa. Professor Sandler advocates for and represents individuals and organizations and advises lawmakers, local governments, companies and community organizations. The award-winning Law and Policy In Action community-based projects he designs and supervises focus on disability, civil rights, healthcare, housing, transportation, and other matters. Sandler and clinic students also represent and provide transactional services for individuals on estate planning, guardianship, disability, and other legal issues. His Law and Policy in Action clinic has developed award-winning, communitybased, systems reform and legislative initiatives. Noteworthy examples include the Washington Court Housing Survey: A Report on Accessibility and Universal Design in Affordable Housing, published in the Journal (continued on next page)

The clinic also works with partners overseas. Recently, on behalf of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and as part of its ongoing effort to pass anti-torture legislation, the clinic produced a comparative study of torture legislation and its enforcement in 12 different countries. In the clinic’s first year of operation students worked to promote inclusive voting in Zimbabwe, creating a novel argument under international law that excluding citizens outside the country from voting in national elections violated their right to participate in national politics—especially when many left the country to flee persecution by the national authorities. “Our work has been very important in helping to raise awareness of human rights abuses, and has also been successful in bringing about critically needed changes,” says Miller.

Professor Len Sandler directs the Law and Policy in Action (LPA) Project.  This specialty clinic provides law students the opportunity to partner with grassroots organizations, non-profits, businesses and public officials to solve recurring and systemic problems that cannot be adequately addressed through litigation or traditional legal methods. Oftentimes, students learn how to address problems through persuasive collaboration and the provision of resources rather than solely through advocacy. This is an award-winning clinic program that furnishes representation, research, technical assistance and advice, legislative advocacy, workshops, awareness training and other community-based services and initiatives.  The work of this clinic has been inspired by and has evolved from an orientation and sentiment expressed in the Beach Boys’ song,“Wouldn’t it be nice…?”  Wouldn’t it be nice if housing were built in a way that could accommodate, in a cost effective manner, the needs of all individuals regardless of age, size, shape or ability? Wouldn’t it be nice if providers of mental health services understood the substance and interaction of privacy laws, and could with ease provide necessary mental health information, where appropriate, to assure optimal health of patients?  Wouldn’t it be nice if municipal codes were up to date and written to fully protect our most vulnerable citizens’ civil rights? 


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These and other dreams become realities through the work of clinic students, under the supervision of Sandler. 

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of Affordable Housing and Community Development, and The Housing Project to change local and statewide funding priorities and use HUD funds for home modifications. In November 2012, the project released “Privacy & Confidentiality of Medical Information and Records, a Guide and Workshop Toolkit to Help You Understand and Decide If, When and How To Disclose Protected and Confidential Health, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Information.” The materials were prepared for the Johnson County System of Care Group and will be the basis for statewide workshops. Also in 2012, another project team released “Using or Converting Mobile Home Parks to Increase Affordable Housing Options: A Preliminary Study Report for Johnson County Livable Community. The project website is at www.uiowa.edu/legalclinic. Professor Sandler and his students have conducted facility and programmatic accessibility and compliance audits of shopping malls, houses of worship, colleges, sports arenas, parks, banks, businesses, schools, museums, and historic properties —for education, advocacy and litigation. He is a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission’s Iowa Advisory Committee and Global Universal Design Committee’s Commercial Building Consensus Committee. He also has advised or served on the Rebuild Iowa Commission, the Governor’s Task Force on Dependent Adults with Mental Retardation, the Iowa Housing Policy Roundtable and many other state and local bodies. Len Sandler has received many awards for his work on civil rights; he lectures extensively and has written or co-authored articles, legislation, codes and ordinances, a U.S. Supreme Court brief, and best practice materials and policies.

The refrain starts with an idea and request from an individual, grassroots organization, business, lawmaker or agency to solve a particular problem. Students tackle these extremely complex problems by gathering facts; conducting legal, social science and other research and interviews; developing strategies to create and implement practical and effective solutions; and advocating with, by, and for clients to achieve various objectives. Projects grow and evolve. Ultimately a goal is fulfilled, only to be replaced by a new mission or dream—perhaps a related need that becomes the new focus of the clinic’s work. Or new tactics are developed when the first attempt is not successful. Working with local grassroots disability rights and racial justice groups requires law students to explore different approaches to empowering clients, to develop skills in the arena of social justice, and to understand the power imbalances that their clients confront every day. They must also develop strategies for crossing advocacy modes and helping the client decide whether to file complaints or lawsuits, publicize the issue in the media, take direct action (boycotts, pickets, sit-ins), or combine several different approaches to achieve their goals. The LPA Project’s work flows from its multiple missions: to increase mainstream housing opportunities for persons with disabilities and for older Iowans, and to promote universal design and sustainable, multigenerational housing; to empower people with disabilities and remove roadblocks they encounter trying to secure gainful employment, health care, housing, assistive technology, transportation and equal access to services; to advocate with and on behalf of community groups and promote education and awareness through interactive workshops, presentations and materials in alternate formats; and to propose and press for changes to law and policy and encourage people to transcend legallymandated minimum requirements to improve the quality of life of all Iowans. In recent years, the students’ primary focus has been on empowering people with disabilities and removing roadblocks they encounter trying to enter and use public and private facilities and homes, secure gainful employment, health care, housing, assistive technology, and access to public and private services and facilities. Together, they have altered the physical landscape of Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and other cities and towns, changed the attitudes of many people and officials, and increased housing, transportation


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A C C E S S


Universal Design & Green Home Survey Checklist ©2013 Leonard A. Sandler University of Iowa Clinical Law Programs leonard-sandler@uiowa.edu March 2013

We developed this checklist in conjunction with the Washington Court Housing Survey, a report on universal design and accessibility in affordable housing, www.uiowa.edu/legalclinic. It is designed for use by consumers, architects, developers, realtors and other stakeholders interested in designing and building livable, energy-efficient homes and apartments that people of all ages and abilities can use, enjoy and adapt to suit their changing needs. Our goal is to promote independent living, safety, comfort, convenience and conservation of energy and natural resources. A few words, cautions, and disclaimers are in order. Think Family: Try to anticipate the children and adults who might live, own, rent or visit the residence. People come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities—tall, short, lean, hefty; so do our pets and service animals. Think Ahead: Consider your current and future needs, resources, budget, and health. Think Green: Be energy conscious when you design, build, and occupy the home. Conserve heat, water, electricity, and energy to reduce your utility bills and protect the environment. Recycle and reuse materials and buy local whenever possible. For ease of use, we have marked all of the Green Features with an asterisk *. Do Not Think Disability, Wheelchairs or Ramps. But keep in mind that our lives—and your family’s life—could change in an instant without warning because of accident, injury or aging. Do Not Think ADA, Fair Housing Act or Other Accessibility Guidelines. Most of these standards do not apply to private homes and address mobility and vision impairments primarily. They provide only minimum standards that too often do not reflect the real world needs of most people with and without disabilities. Keep In Mind the Magic Numbers. Your home should at least meet the minimum dimensions in these accessibility codes: www.hud.gov/offices/ fheo/disabilities/accessibilityR.cfm and www. access-board.gov/adaag/about/. 36 inches: width of an accessible route, path, sidewalk or hallway

32 inches: width of the interior opening for all doors (clear passage) 30 by 48: space needed for a standard wheelchair expressed in inches 60 by 60: maneuvering room needed for a standard wheelchair expressed in inches or 5 feet by 5 feet

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and employment opportunities for people with disabilities across the state. These collaborative efforts include a “Who’s Who” of establishments and services committed to increasing their customer base, social participation, usability, safety, and health through design, including the Cedar Rapids Kernels, Coral Ridge Mall, the City of Iowa City, the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, McDonald’s, Walmart, Wendy’s, the Englert Theater, CSPS Performing Arts Center, University of Iowa facilities, Coe College, the Helen G. Nassif YMCA, and the Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church, among others. A sampling of the wide range of superb work that the project has undertaken during the past decade appears in the inset to the left on page 26. For more detail, please see the project’s web site:  http://www.uiowa.edu/legalclinic. Two projects are particularly noteworthy. In 2005, the City of Dubuque and Gronen Restoration, Inc., asked the clinic to provide technical support and consultant services for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of what had been an empty, century-old casket factory. Students and faculty were involved in every phase, from design and construction through post-occupancy inspections and evaluation. Project teams also conducted a formal research study to learn more about tenant awareness, use and benefits of accessibility and universal design features in affordable housing. The project, which was ongoing from 2005 to 2009, is chronicled in the “Washington Court Housing Survey: A Study of Accessibility and Universal Design in Affordable Housing.” Out of that project grew the development of a universal design and green home survey checklist, the introduction of which is included in the box to the left on this page, explaining its use for multiple constituencies, and providing a flavor of the depth, range and value of this resource. This survey has been adopted, adapted or referenced by state and local government, building and trade professionals and associations, in design texts, by Ireland’s Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, by civil rights and human rights agencies and by many others in the U.S. and overseas. Another project began when the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission asked the clinic to review its civil rights code, research best practices, and make recommendations to bring the act in line with state law. The project’s mandate expanded and the focus shifted after the floods of 2008 to address housing discrimination based on lawful sources of income, providing across-the-board coverage for other protected classes, defining and providing guidance about animals used by persons with disabilities, and holding companies more accountable for failing to design or construct buildings to meet


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(continued from previous page) 28 to 34: finished tabletop or countertop heights for accessibility expressed in inches

27 to 29: 15 to 48: 1: 12: 1: 48:

knee clearance measured from finished floor to bottom of desk, table, etc. expressed in inches minimum and maximum height for controls, outlets, shelves, items expressed in inches maximum slope of ramps expressed in a ratio (1 inch of rise per 12 inches in length) maximum slope of parking spaces, access aisles, etc. expressed in a ratio or a percentage (2%)

One Size Does Not Fit All: No two people are alike. We cook, bathe, socialize, study, play, learn, and live differently. This checklist is not intended to address how to modify or customize a home, room, or feature for a particular person’s disability, special need, or functional limitation. Think Beyond: This checklist is not intended to be comprehensive, and no single checklist or source can provide all of the information you need. Please refer to the checklists, websites, and other information in the Washington Court Housing Survey, www.uiowa.edu/legalclinic, 19 Journal of Affordable Housing 191 (2010). Using This Checklist: Take this checklist, a clipboard, a pen or pencil, and a tape measure with you around your home. Check all of the features and amenities present in each room. The checklist begins with the outside of the home, but you may start wherever you like.

A Few Ongoing and Past Law and Policy in Action Project Activities and Reports City of Iowa City Racial Equity in Employment: Assist city personnel and officials to identify policies, practices, and procedures that inhibit or promote employment of persons of color, as well as recommend model practices and possible corrective measures. Develop and pilot test a racial equity assessment toolkit. 2013 – Medical Deportation Research Study: A multidisciplinary formal research study of medical deportation, the practice of health care facilities transporting out of the U.S. patients without documented immigration status and the ability to pay for health care —without patient consent or resort to or benefit of formal government or agency proceedings. Team members are from the colleges of law, public health, and social work, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Law, Health Policy, and Disability Center. 2013 Rainbow Health Clinic: Collaboration with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Lesbian,

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minimum accessibility features. Then, on January 10, 2012, after four and a half years of work, the Mayor and City Council approved the proposed revisions to the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Ordinance that were drafted by the students of the Law and Policy in Action Project, making Cedar Rapids a state and national leader in the scope of civil rights coverage. Sandler contacted and congratulated team members who, over the years, had “persevered through floods, the firing of an Executive Director, turnover of Commissioners and Staff, staunch opposition, personal attacks, ever-changing and evolving subjects ranging from home rule, preemption, and miniature horses, to tensions between the Iowa Civil Rights Act, the ADA and the Fair Housing Act. Well done.” President Sally Mason acknowledged the importance of the project in a letter to Sandler and the students in the LPA Project, expressing the broad-ranging impact of their work: “The mere fact that our students have assisted a city in this way is something to celebrate---a wonderful example of engagement and the ways in which we at the UI strive to make life better for Iowans. But this particular project carries special meaning and weight as it has a special focus on civil rights protections and fair housing issues. I am grateful that we have been able to play a part in providing protection and services to some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. No matter what we do at the university, excellence remains a paramount goal, and I am therefore also extremely pleased to know that…the amendment has made Cedar Rapids a state and national leader, with the scope of their civil rights coverage being an Iowa first as well as being uncommon nationwide. As well , HUD has recognized the amendment as being responsible for that agency’s first-ever fair housing certification for provisions relating to animals used by persons with disabilities.” “This has no doubt been one of the most important educational experiences for the students involved,” President Mason continued, “providing them with unparalleled research and service experience. The UI Clinical Law Program is providing our students and our institution with remarkable engagement opportunities and is accomplishing that work to the highest levels of achievement. I thank you again for providing this invaluable service to Iowans and for doing the work so well.” More recently, at the request of the Johnson County System of Care Group, the project put together a handbook and toolkit to help health care and social service agencies negotiate an array of federal and state health privacy laws. The group is a network of organizations that treat and provide services to clients who have complex medical, mental


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(continued (continuedfrom fromprevious previouspage) page) Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Healthcare Clinic to conduct patient needs assessment survey, review and revise policies regarding access to treatment, amendment of birth certificates and other issues, and develop a consumer guide to legal and other identity documents for transgender clients. 2013 Coalition for Racial Justice: Conducted surveys and focus groups to identify the community’s most pressing housing needs; facilitated community workshops and created handbooks on public and private housing, renters’ rights, and credit scores and reports and criminal background history; coordinated efforts to assist tenants who had to relocate or lose housing subsidies, and supported the coalition’s race equity and other initiatives. 2012 Davenport Civil Rights Commission Administrative Rules: Draft administrative rules to implement the city’s civil rights ordinance with the Director and staff. 2012 Privacy & Confidentiality of Medical Information and Records: A Guide and Workshop Toolkit to Help You Understand and Decide If, When, and How To Disclose Protected and Confidential, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Information. Help providers create or update privacy policies, protocols, forms and manuals and orientation and training materials. Using or Converting Mobile Home Parks to Increase Affordable Housing Options: A Preliminary Study Report for Johnson County Livable Community Initiative to assist development of additional community-based housing for persons with disabilities and persons age 55 and older. Johnson County System of Care Group: Technical assistance to providers, service and support agencies on how to share clinical information, reduce administrative burdens and paperwork and preserve client decision-making autonomy. Facilitate workshops and create toolkits on key privacy laws, and advocate on issues concerning regional redesign of Iowa’s mental health and disability services delivery system. Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Code Amendments: A four and one half year project that resulted in amendments that bolster protections and coverage of the city’s civil rights ordinance. The team provided statistical analysis, research and advocacy; made presentations to the Commission, City Council, focus groups, landlords and real estate agent groups; prepared reports and furnished technical assistance and other services and supports. Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals under the Fair Housing Act and the ADA & An Overview of Assistance Animal Laws of Select States: A Comparative Study for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

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health, and substance abuse disorders. The member organizations were having a difficult time determining what information they could share with other agencies and health care providers without running afoul of privacy laws. Now, with this new handbook, these organizations are better equipped to assure that mental health and substance abuse clients get the services they need.  Throughout 2013, the students have used the new materials to conduct workshops for care providers, agencies, and consumers around the state, under Professor Sandler’s supervision. These workshops have helped providers decide if, when, and how to disclose confidential and protected health and mental health information. Michael Flaum, clinical professor of psychiatry in the UI Hospitals and Clinics and member of the System of Care Group, says that prior to the development of the toolkit, the agencies interpreted health care privacy laws differently, making it difficult for all parties to share information that would help. “Some of us are more likely to pick up a phone and call another agency and ask for information, while others are reluctant to do that for fear of violating privacy laws, or because they don’t want to bombard a patient with a lot of information and paperwork,” says Flaum. “We found there are real barriers and perceived barriers to good communication. We have to make sure the only barriers are real barriers, and overcome the perceived barriers.” Sandler and a team of 10 law students spent about seven months researching federal and state health care privacy laws. What they found was that the laws were immensely confusing, filled with overlap, contradictions, and gaps. The caregivers had hoped the guide would be a series of questions with fairly simple yes-no answers, but the students quickly found that wouldn’t be possible.  “While we were doing our research, it was hard to confirm, even with experts, what the law says in certain circumstances because nobody really knows,” says Phillip Van Liew, a third year law student who worked on the project. Instead, the group developed a series of flow charts designed to account as much as possible for the various exceptions, overlaps, and gaps in the three sets of laws. Still, despite the confusion, Sandler says the laws provide greater latitude for sharing information than many agencies thought. “People believe they can’t share information because federal law ties their hands, when it turns out that they are free to share information in many circumstances,” says Sandler.


UI College of Law Clinical Law Programs

28 • University of Iowa College of Law Outreach and Service Programs

(continued from previous page) (continued from previous page) The Use of Undercover Testers to Identify and Eliminate Discrimination in the Selection and Hiring of Employees: A Special Report Prepared for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Peer Action Disability Support and Johnson County Coalition for Persons with Disabilities: Representation, consultant services, training and other support to grassroots disability groups in Linn ad Johnson counties on accessibility, civil rights, paratransit and transportation, housing, healthcare, estate planning, public and private benefits, agency rules, legislation, policy and other matters. We helped secure the Department of Justice ADA Settlement Agreement with Wendy’s Restaurants on behalf of PADS and its members, and partnered on accessibility surveys of, with, or for McDonald’s, Wal*Mart, ATM machines at Iowa City banks, New Pioneer Coop, Coral Ridge Mall, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church, New Veterans’ Memorial Stadium, Veridian Credit Union, local government, Coe College, Helen Nassif YMCA, Englert Theater, CSPS Performing Arts Center, and other many other establishments. Step-By-Step Project: Historic preservation in Dubuque. Helped a nonprofit and the city rehabilitate and transform an 1890s brownstone into seven universal design apartments and a community kitchen for use by persons with disabilities. Conducted legal research, reviewed floor plans and drawings, developed tenant eligibility preferences, lease and application materials, and accomplished other tasks. The Washington Court Housing Survey: A Study of Accessibility and Universal Design in Affordable Housing: A Report Prepared by the University of Iowa Clinical Law Program about tenant awareness, use and benefits of accessibility and universal design features in an affordable housing complex in Dubuque, Iowa. The Executive Summary was published in the Journal of Affordable Housing. The Housing Project: University of Iowa President’s Award for State Outreach and Public Engagement: The project was created to help communities obtain or leverage funds to retrofit homes, help people pay for home modifications or change local or state policy to ensure that the mainstream housing needs of persons with disabilities are given top priority. The Universal Design Project was established to eliminate the need for costly retrofits by promoting barrier-free design and requiring, through statute or administrative agency rule, that homes built with public funds include minimum access features. The three project phases included design and construction of an award-winning universal design home, amendments to Iowa City’s residential building code, and proposed legislation to establish statewide access and design standards for publicly-funded homes

Beyond the many projects described above, Professor Sandler also supervises law students in the Estate Planning project. They prepare wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills and other documents and transactions clients need to plan for temporary or long term absence or incapacity, or death. Sandler and students help parents whose children with a disabilities are reaching their 18th birthday obtain legal guardianship and conservatorship. They do the same for children whose elderly or disabled parents cannot manage their financial or medical decisions or affairs day to day, and for relatives of children whose parents have died. The clinic students offer training presentations on a wide range of subjects, including estate planning, writing wills and advance medical and financial directives, and the basics of guardianships and conservatorships. And many other projects are on the horizon.  As long as Sandler and his students can view the world from different perspectives, and dream, “Wouldn’t it be nice…?” the clinic will continue to explore valuable new ventures to serve those in need.

Likewise, the work of the legal clinic as a whole, which has greatly expanded over time, will continue to be dictated by the continuing and changing needs of the underserved.


“The UI Clinical Law Program is providing our students and our institution with remarkable engagement opportunities and is accomplishing that work to the highest levels of achievement. I thank you again for providing this invaluable service to Iowans and for doing the work so well.� —UI President Sally Mason


The University of Iowa College of Law 280 Boyd Law Building Melrose & Byington Iowa City, IA 52242 319 . 335 . 9034


Outreach and Service Program: Legal Clinic  

A publication of the University of Iowa College of Law about its outreach and service programs. This issue is dedicated to its Legal Clinic...

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