A devoted cadre of twelve law students volunteered for the College of Law’s annual Juvenile Temporary Detention Center Spring Service Break Project from March 13-17, 2017. The project was organized by DePaul’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, Center for Public Interest Law, and University Ministry in the Loop. Throughout spring break week, the students worked in small groups to teach lessons on juvenile justice issues to incarcerated youth at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. The lessons covered topics such as handling encounters with law enforcement, the various stages of the juvenile justice system, the differences between probation and parole, and a juvenile justice jeopardy game. Opportunities for reflection and discussion were also part of the experience. The student volunteers found the week both challenging and rewarding. First year law student Katie Wishnew shared this about the volunteer week:
My experience at JTDC was invaluable, and one that makes me thankful that I answered my friend's casual question, “Wanna do this with me?” with my gut. My week at JTDC was practical; I was able to learn the general processes of the juvenile justice system from the youth and staff at JTDC. But, I also witnessed the real and often harsh effects of the juvenile justice system that I could not have realized outside of JTDC's walls. Though I became aware of the many injustices present in the system, I was more awestruck by the hope and fight the youth and their fervent advocates have for a more just future. Their desire to be better and make the system better was and is contagious. My experience at JTDC will have ripples for a long time.
In addition to teaching, the students met with a variety of juvenile court personnel in order to gain a better understanding of the juvenile court system and the role of attorneys, judges, and probation officers. Specifically, students had sessions with a juvenile court judge, attorneys from the Public Defender’s and State’s Attorney’s Office, and Intensive Probation Officers. Students also had an opportunity to talk with a formerly detained youth.
It was a week full of intense learning and inspiration for both the students and leaders of the service week. According to Cheryl Price, Director of the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, “I’m always so impressed by our students’ determination and flexibility when working with the youth at the JTDC. They work hard to engage with the kids in a meaningful and fun way and care deeply about the social justice issues associated with juvenile detention. Many of our students end the week with a strong commitment to helping marginalized youth in some capacity. It’s truly a life-changing experience.”
The Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center & SHALVA
are partnering to host a film screening and panel discussion of NO WAY OUT BUT ONE
. This award-winning independent documentary tells the remarkable story of Holly Collins, an American woman who kidnapped her children to save them from a life of abuse at the hands of their father. Holly went on the run and became an international fugitive pursued by the FBI. She and her children are the first American family to ever be granted asylum by the government of the Netherlands, due to domestic violence. Panelists include: David H. Hopkins, Partner, Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP; Jean M. Bax, Senior Staff Attorney, Life Span and Rosemary McKillip, SHALVA In-House Legal Liaison.
The event is taking place on International Women’s Day--Wednesday, March 8, 2017 from 3:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. at the College of Law (25 East Jackson), Room 241. Food and beverages will be provided. Two (2) hours of professional responsibility credit will be available for this program. Co-sponsored by DePaul's International Human Rights Law Institute and Journal for Women, Gender & the Law.
DePaul’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, Center for Public Interest Law, and Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative joined forces with Illinois Legal Aid Online to host a Legal Answers pro bono clinic in family and housing law. The clinic took place on Friday, February 24th at DePaul College of Law.
Fifteen pro bono attorneys, many of who are DePaul alumni, and twenty five law student volunteers participated in the virtual legal advice clinic. They worked in small groups to research and respond to family and housing law questions on the Legal Answers website (il.freelegalanswers.org). Legal Answers is an American Bar Association sponsored web program where lower income Illinois residents can ask an attorney for help with a legal issue. Legal Answers uses technology to increase access to legal help while making pro bono easy for attorneys. By the end of the clinic, the attorney/student teams answered forty-six family law and seven housing law questions.
The attorneys enjoyed working with students, helping them figure out how to answer complex family and housing law questions in a manner that is understandable and accurate. According to Michelle Cass, alumna and associate at Rinella & Rinella, Ltd.: “The pro bono clinic offered an excellent opportunity for practitioners and students alike to connect with and assist families in need of legal advice. Students rose to the challenge and conveyed professionalism and poise while addressing the access to justice gap that continues to be a rising call to action for the family-law community.”
The students found the hands-on experience invaluable. First-year law student and Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Fellow, Hannah Thayer, explained that the clinic was incredibly worthwhile: “The pro-bono event was extremely beneficial because I was able to work hands-on with a practicing attorney in a field that I am interested in to answer real-life questions. It gave me the opportunity to learn about specific statutes and requirements while also applying skills that are taught in 1L classes. This experience allowed me to gain more knowledge of and interest in family law, while also helping others in a time of confusion and need.” First-year law student Sal De Los Angeles agreed: “The Legal Answers Pro Bono Clinic was incredible. I think what made it so valuable to me as a student, was the opportunity to work and be mentored by a practicing attorney. I would definitely do it again.”
DePaul College of Law is the first law school in Illinois to offer this type of clinic and hopes to host additional clinics in the future. It was the perfect blend of pro bono, mentoring, and legal tech to address access to justice issues.
DePaul’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center recently held a Distinguished Lecture featuring guest speaker George H. Sheldon, Director of the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS). The lecture focused on Sheldon and the agency’s reform efforts of improving outcomes for children and families.
Sheldon began his presentation by explaining that for much of its history, child welfare services solely focused on the child’s safety by removing abused or neglected children from unstable and unsafe home environments. Sheldon believes that at the center of a child’s well-being lies a secure and healthy attachment to a committed, responsible adult. This core belief motivates the efforts made on behalf of DCFS to provide a positive and enduring adult attachment for children in its care. To accomplish this goal, DCFS focuses on three broad areas: family strengthening and preservation to keep children from coming into foster care; stability and family-centered care during the time in foster care; and timely permanency through adoption, permanent guardianship or reunification. Sheldon highlighted the love children have for their parents, even when they are imperfect by stating, “If we can find a way to strengthen families, by dealing with mental illness or substance abuse or anger or inadequate parental skills, we can keep that family together and avoid having children come into foster care.”
Through his reform efforts at the agency, Sheldon hopes to improve the lives of children and youth who come into the child welfare system by placing more of them in permanent homes. In Cook County alone, there are currently more than 400 children and youth in DCFS’s care that have been in the system for more than 10 years.
In closing, Sheldon encouraged law students to get involved with these issues by considering a law career in child advocacy. He also answered questions from a variety of topics including Governor Rauner’s Executive Order, which eliminates the use of the term “ward” from child welfare parlance in Illinois and “Normalcy legislation”, which grants foster parents the same kind of decision-making authority for children in their care as other parents and removes bureaucratic hurdles.
Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center hosted two Learn-N-Learn events in November.
The first featured James Pritikin, a
DePaul Law alumnus and partner at Beermann Pritikin Mirabelli &
Swerdlove LLP, examining Chicago Bulls player
Dwayne Wade's child custody case. As Wade's attorney throughout his divorce, as
well as during the child custody case, Pritikin offered unique
insights into the high-profile suit. Although the custody battle
began as a customary request for visitation and joint custody, it
continued for an unprecedented 38 days and lead to Wade winning sole custody of his sons. A major factor in the case
was the mother's parental alienation, and Pritikin further explored how courts may consider parental alienation when
determining child custody arrangements.
The second event focused on
collaborative divorces with speaker and attorney Sandra Crawford,
past president of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois and a
member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.
Collaborative divorce is a method of ending a marriage using interest-based negotiation. Unlike conventional divorces,
which often require litigation where the court makes the final
judgment, collaborative divorces provide clients with greater control
over the ultimate outcome. Each client hires a team of professionals, such as attorneys, mental health practitioners and financial
experts, who will work with the couple over several months to
resolve their issues. This process leads to more creative solutions,
as well as encourages positive communication between both parties.
DePaul University College of Law’s
Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center held its annual panel
on the practice of family law featuring attorneys from the public and
private sector. Its participants were Laura Ashmore, partner at Davis
Friedman; Dave Zwaska, associate at Dussias Skallas Wittenberg;
Alexis Mansfield, supervising attorney of CLAIM at Cabrini Green
Legal Aid and Andrea Belard, staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society
of Metropolitan Family Services. The first two speakers compared
practicing family law in a small and large firm, while the second two
discussed aiding low-income and incarcerated clients.
Although the speakers highlighted different areas of their careers,
they all gave attendees relevant information about pursuing their
own paths in family law. They encouraged students to take advantage of
the many opportunities DePaul Law has for students interested in the
field, including a Family Law Clinic and a Child & Family Law Certificate. Additionally, the four attorneys shared the belief that while family
law can be emotionally powerful, it also be very rewarding because you are helping real people and families.
The panel was co-sponsored
by Law Career Services and the Center for Public Interest Law.
University College of Law's Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center joined with the Center for Public Interest Law and the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative to host a discussion on
public service and child advocacy work. Professor Allison Ortlieb
moderated the panel, which featured the Honorable Patrick T. Murphy
of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Domestic Relations Division
and Susan DeCostanza, staff attorney from Chicago Volunteer Legal
Services. Focusing on the work of Cook County's Public Guardian Office, the
speakers educated attendees on the value of aiding others and how
experience in public interest can improve one's overall legal acumen.
Judge Murphy described his experience as the first Cook
County Public Guardian. During his 26 years in the role, he saw how
the Public Guardian program expanded from just aiding adults to also helping children. Throughout his career, he has also inspired legal reforms to benefit youths. DeCostanza further explored the importance of
Public Guardians, such as how they make the legal process easier for
children and families.
The Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center's October Lunch-N-Learn program focused on fee shifting in marital dissolution cases in Illinois. Alumna Michele Jochner, a partner at Schiller DuCanto & Fleck and an active member of the center’s advisory board, examined the history of fee shifting in the divorce context. She discussed the doctrine’s common law origin in 1917 and explained how the doctrine evolved to its current understanding today.
Additionally, Jochner highlighted a split among the Illinois Appellate Courts on this issue. Currently, the appellate courts disagree on which test the lower courts must apply to determine whether fee shifting in a particular case is appropriate: inability to pay or comparison of the parties’ financial standing. In January, Jochner will argue before the Illinois Supreme Court that a party must show an inability to pay in order for fee shifting to apply and that the parties’ financial standings is contrary to Illinois Supreme Court precedent and Illinois’ public policy.
Jochner’s presentation helped students learn that fee shifting is a common practice in family law. The students look forward to learning about the forthcoming Illinois Supreme Court decision on this issue, as it may shape their future work as family law practitioners.
law attorney and alumna Colleen Hurley
(JD ’14) presented on
interpreting the newly revised Illinois Parentage Act during a lunch-and-learn event sponsored by the
Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center.
Hurley explained many
of the changes found in the new act’s provisions by
contrasting them with the language in the former law. While Hurley
acknowledges that there are still uncertainties when deciphering the
statute, she has developed a firm understanding of how to utilize the
Hurley based her talk on her experiences as an associate at the family law firm of
Wakenight & Associates, PC. She covered areas ranging from how
one would establish paternity to how a legally recognized parent
would construct a parenting plan, and the relevance of attorneys in
developing these plans. Along with providing real-world anecdotes
about life as an attorney, she helped attendees expand their own
understanding of the act by allowing them to review a Cook County
order that laid out the formation of a parenting time allocation
After the presentation, Hurley answered questions about the practice of
family law and how to break into the field.
DePaul’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center
hosted Roger White
from White Scott & White, for an
informal discussion on life as a family law attorney. White provided
nearly 20 students with practical advice on the best courses to
enroll in during law school, tactics when interviewing for family law
jobs, and other methods for obtaining success, such as working hard
and adapting to new opportunities. White's guidance, which included
advice on practicing as an attorney and for working with family
clients, was useful for all students, regardless of whether they
choose to pursue family law.
White ended his
presentation with an anecdote about how a lawyer can go above and
beyond to impact his community and client. He talked about how family law attorneys can be essential to their clients' overall well-being
as well as the myriad of responsibilities that lawyers have in this role.
Students enjoyed the presentation and stayed after to ask
him questions about this practice area.
Family law attorneys shared career experiences, advice on practicing family law and tips on leveraging legal education during a panel discussion for students at DePaul's College of Law in April.
Panelists included attorneys from both the private and public sectors: Michael Alvarado, partner, Davis Friedman; Michelle Cass, associate, O’Connor Family Law; Stacy Freeman, partner, Rinella & Rinella; and James Champlin, staff attorney, Domestic Violence Legal Clinic. Alexandra Perraud, president of the Child & Family Law Association, moderated the event.
Perraud asked panelists about their day-to-day tasks, career paths and advice
for students hoping to become family law attorneys. Panelists encouraged
students to get as much practical experience as possible during law school and
emphasized networking. They encouraged students to
enroll in DePaul's Family Law Clinic and to take Evidence, Trial Advocacy and
Federal Income Tax. They also emphasized
the financial aspects of divorce and encouraged students to gain as much
familiarity with this aspect of divorce as possible. Though panelists agreed that the practice of family law can be stressful, they acknowledged it as a rewarding career path.
The Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center and the Child & Family Law Association partnered to present this event.
DePaul law and graduate counseling students spent five days at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) working directly with residents and staff as part of the Spring Break of Service in Chicago Project.
DePaul law students and College of Education counseling students worked in small teams to teach lessons on civics, juvenile justice issues and juvenile expungement to the youth.
"Taking this opportunity to work with the JTDC residents, although at times frustrating and saddening, has further solidified why I want to work in a helping profession," explained counseling student Sanober Kanjee. "It has fueled me to continue to be passionate about advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves and more importantly educating them on ways they can help themselves. I know my presence has not 'fixed' a person or a system but my hope is that I have positively impacted the lives of the youth that I've worked with and taken away a fraction of their distrust in adults and/or authority figures."
Each day before teaching, students met with various juvenile court personnel to learn more about the juvenile justice system in Cook County. For example, students met with several attorneys from the Juvenile Justice Bureau of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender. They also met with the detention center chaplain and a juvenile court judge.
Students found the service project informative and inspiring. "As someone who wants to work with children in the legal system, having this opportunity gave me a great amount of insight and perspective as to the challenges they are facing," said first-year student Rachel Migliore. "It’s easy to look at numbers of how many children are in the system, but entirely different to see their faces and hear their voices. This project gave a real face and name for me to all of the children in the juvenile justice system."
DePaul's Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center invited Professor Shari Motro from the University of Richmond School of Law to explain the concept behind her article "Preglimony" at the February Hot Topic event.
Under preglimony, Motro said, men in unmarried relationships would financially support their partners before a child’s birth. Men would help cover costs associated with pregnancy, such as maternity clothes and medical bills. This obligation would require men to cover costs that assist pregnant women in their own right and not as an element of child support. Thus, men would have a financial responsibility even if there is no birth.
Professor Motro further proposed tax law as a way to support and reward men who already participate in the costs of pregnancy. Akin to alimony payments, preglimony could be deducted from the income of the payor and included as income for the recipient if they elected to do so. This would provide a benefit in cases in which the payor’s income is higher than the recipient's.
As Professor Motro explained in her article: “The fact is that the world in which we live leaves many pregnant women to fend for themselves. Unless and until society steps in more robustly, incentivizing men to shoulder more of the burden is preferable to the status quo, and though it will only affect the well-off, its symbolic effects are likely to spread more broadly.”
The Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center
hosted a series of expert panels on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for its first annual family law symposium, “Making Non-Adversarial Proceedings a Reality: The Evolution and Impact of ADR in Child and Family Law Cases.”
For a room filled to capacity, panelists discussed the challenges and successes of mediation and arbitration in child and family law cases, as well as the differences between financial mediation and mediation to resolve parenting issues. Speakers also expounded on emerging models for children and families, exploring topics such as the value of restorative justice and serving as a parenting coordinator. Many touted ADR methods as highly effective in upholding a productive, non-adversarial environment.
“Our goal is peace,” summed up panelist Sandra Crawford, an attorney, mediator and trainer who discussed collaborative law at the symposium. Crawford covered the spectrum of conflict resolution and highlighted core concepts of the marital dissolution process—from the importance of a disqualification agreement to attorney roles as negotiator, navigator and educator.
Featured speaker, Judge Grace G. Dickler, talked about her efforts in getting the local rules for the Circuit Court of Cook County revised to include provisions relating to financial mediation in divorce cases. She described the committee that she created to draft the proposed revisions and the impact that the new rules have had on reducing conflict in family law matters.
Other symposium panelists included restorative justice pioneer Judge Martha Mills, who discussed the benefits of the circle process, as well as the original case that led to the establishment of her restorative justice pilot program in the Cook County Parentage and Child Support Court. “Children need families more than they need courts,” Mills advocated.
Closing speaker, Professor Andrew Schepard, talked about an interdisciplinary center being used in Denver where families can gain access to a range of services when getting divorced, including mediation, financial planning assistance and therapy. He emphasized the high satisfaction rates and lower stress reported by parents and children who used the center rather than pursuing a traditional divorce via the courts.
“The strong turnout at this event demonstrates that this topic—the use of ADR in family law matters—is something that attorneys and other professionals helping families in conflict are interested in learning more about and applying,” said Cheryl Price, symposium organizer and executive director of the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center. “All of the presenters did a fantastic job describing why these alternative models can be good for families pursuing divorce and separation and offering ideas for moving forward to make these models more ubiquitous in the field of family law. The audience greatly enjoyed the discussion and had excellent questions for the panelists. The center was very pleased to be able to offer a symposium on this very important topic.”
Assistant Professor Cary Martin Shelby
shared her experience growing up in foster care at the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center
's January 14 Lunch-n-Learn.
From a teen growing up in Illinois’ foster care system to a lawyer and law school professor, Professor Martin Shelby has surmounted many obstacles. Yet she cites the constant movement from one foster home to another as a top challenge in her life.
Describing her journey for law students and staff, Professor Martin Shelby credited teachers and caseworkers as some of her staunchest advocates, helping her with everything from clothing and toiletries to discovering a path to college. She recalled one caseworker, in particular, who told her she could attend college for free and helped her navigate the application process. Once in college, Professor Martin Shelby identified law school as a goal and proceeded to earn her JD from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Following law school, she joined law firm Sidley Austin and worked on regulatory and corporate matters involving hedge funds, commodity pools and derivatives trading.
Professor Martin Shelby also discussed the role of lawyers and the court system in her life. She found her guardian ad litem most helpful, she said, if she needed a new placement because of issues in a particular foster home or with a particular foster family. She also talked about how Illinois’ foster care system could improve, particularly when supporting youth who are transitioning out of foster care to independence.
The Black Law Student Association(BLSA) and Center for Public Interest Law co-sponsored the event. In addition to teaching at the College of Law, Professor Martin Shelby is the faculty advisor for BLSA.
BLSA President Gloria Crawford was deeply moved by the presentation. “The January Lunch-n-Learn with Professor Martin Shelby was one of my favorite panel discussions that I have attended thus far in my law school career,” said Crawford. “As BLSA president I have had the pleasure of working closely with Professor Martin Shelby. She has always encouraged and supported me both personally, and as a law student and student organization leader. For me, learning the story behind the woman was inspiring and motivating. Her experience in foster care was eye-opening for me, because my background in a two-parent household was vastly different. She could have let this difficult situation define her and her future. Instead, she used it as fuel for success for herself and her son. As a law student I feel blessed and honored to know that Professor Martin Shelby is on the faculty of my law school. Her presence lets me know that I can face adversity and win. One of the most important lessons that she taught me [during the presentation] was that it is possible to achieve success while unapologetically striving for my own happiness.”
DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center hosted a panel event on Thursday, October 29 during the lunch hour, featuring practitioners in family law. The event was
co-sponsored by Law Career Services, the Center for Public Interest Law, and
the Child & Family Law Association, and drew a large audience of interested law students. Practitioners on the panel were a mixture of private and public interest family law
attorneys, all of whom are alumni of DePaul's College of Law. They
included Andrew Engle, Partner,
Davis Friedman LLP, Kathryn Liss, Associate Attorney, Law Offices of JeanConde PC, Lisa Nelson, Supervising Attorney, DomesticRelations Division, Office of the Cook County Public Guardian and Andrea
Belard, Staff Attorney, Domestic Violence Division, Legal Aid Society.
Price, Director of the Family Law Center, moderated the discussion and asked the
panelists a range of questions about their work, including how they got started
in family law, and what they find the most rewarding and challenging about
their work. All of the panelists agreed
that this area of law can be emotionally charged but enjoyed helping others
through the stressful process of a divorce. They also talked about the differences between practicing family law in
the public versus private sectors. Director Price also asked the panelists to comment on what students can
do to prepare themselves for a career in family law, in which the panelists explained that both
interpersonal and trial/litigations skills are very important to this area of
law. They also recommended taking a federal
tax course because family law attorneys regularly deal with tax-related issues as part
of their practice.
event ended with several minutes for students to ask questions. One student was curious about how to get
involved with family law as a pro bono attorney, while another student wanted advice about how to
strike a healthy work-life balance. At
the end of the event, many students introduced themselves to the panelists and
asked a few more questions before heading off to their next class. The panelists were happy to speak with the
students and provide advice about starting a career in child and family
law. Both the students and the panelists
enjoyed the event!
The College of Law’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center hosted its first Lunch & Learn event of the year on Thursday, September 24. The Center was pleased to host Dean Rosato Perea as the speaker for the inaugural Lunch & Learn, which focused on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Law. The dean started out by giving a quick primer on ART, including statistics on the number and success rate of ART cycles per year. She then explained how family law, which was developed to address traditional heterosexual couples, has evolved over time in response to collaborative reproduction. This area of law is fascinating because it involves an intersection of constitutional law, contract law, and tort law. Unfortunately, the law has not kept pace with the rapid changes in collaborative reproduction.
The dean focused on three seminal ART cases to illustrate this point. The cases included In re Marriage of Buzzanca, In re Baby M, and Johnson v. Calvert. In all three of these cases, the courts faced an issue of first impression as to who was the lawful parent of a child carried by a traditional or gestational surrogate. In all three cases, the courts looked to the parties’ intent in making this determination. In addition to these three cases, the dean discussed Illinois’s surrogacy statute and explained that California is the least regulated state when it comes to ART.
The dean’s presentation was both interesting and engaging and provided the students with an excellent introduction to this dynamic and complex area of law. The Family Law Center looks forward to hosting additional Lunch & Learn events throughout the year. Its next event is a Family Law Practice Panel on Thursday, October 29 where students can speak directly with family law alumni in both the private and public sector.
When it comes to comparing maternity leave and paid-time off with other countries, the United States ranks close to last. The Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) gathered students, practitioners and faculty together on Wednesday, March 18 to discuss gender and pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Attorneys Amy Meek, Mike Persoon and Sarah Baum shared their knowledge, advice and personal experiences related to the topic of gender and pregnancy discrimination.
Meek, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois spoke specifically about her work at the ACLU and the new laws in Illinois that combat pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Meek detailed the recent and controversial case, Young v. UPS, which is still being decided in the Supreme Court, and spoke on its impact on state laws that may or may not benefit pregnant employees. Meek also discussed the three major differences between federal laws and laws in Illinois, the latter seeming to favor pregnant women much more.
Persoon, a DePaul alumnus and attorney with Despres, Schwartz, and Geoghegan, Ltd., focused on the different ways people are discriminated against by their employers. He discussed how victims can prove they were discriminated against, referencing the McDonald-Douglas scale and federal and state laws. Persoon also stated that although he rarely, if ever, hears of an employer discriminating against one’s gender, he surprisingly has a number of cases where women have been fired specifically because they were pregnant.
Baum, a DePaul alumna and attorney with DePaul University’s Croak Legal Services, spoke of her work with employment discrimination at LAF prior to joining Croak Legal Services. She detailed the Family Medical Leave Act, which offers employees 12 weeks of time off. Baum explained that employees, especially pregnant women, may utilize the act if they feel they are not given enough time off after childbirth.
Overall, all three attorneys emphasized that more work needs to be done, not only with gender discrimination, but also with pregnancy discrimination. Although many other countries offer six to nine months of maternity leave, paid time off and maternity leave for fathers, the panel felt that the likelihood of the United States adopting similar laws is slim.
The Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) teamed up with DePaul College of Law’s Child and Family Law Association
to host the first Donate-A-Day of the school year on Saturday,
September 27. The service day took place at A.N. Pritzker Elementary
School, a Chicago Public School in Wicker Park and one of PBCSI’s
Thirty three students joined together to assist with a variety of
projects at the school. The volunteers worked closely with teachers,
parents, and students who were all onsite to help get the school ready
for the service day. Pleasant weather allowed volunteers to help on
several outdoor projects. By the end of the day, the school’s outside
space had been cleaned and new flowers had been planted. Lines were
painted to create an outdoor basketball court and one volunteer even
painted a picture of the mascot at center court.
Inside the school, volunteers painted and helped teachers organize their classrooms.
Pritzker has hosted several Donate-A-Days for the College of Law, so
many and 2Ls and 3Ls were returning volunteers. They enjoyed recounting
some of the projects they completed at former Pritzker Donate-A-Days,
including painting a science lab and planting bulbs. Many volunteers
commented that it was nice to see familiar faces among the teachers and
students who were at the school that day.
PBCSI Coordinator Caitlin Duane helped to organize the day and explained that the volunteers had a very positive experience.
"PBCSI's Donate-A-Days are a great way to take a break from school
and spend a little time giving back," she said. "Every time I
participate I meet new people and it’s a great opportunity to network
with other students and members of the community."
At the end of the day, the principal at Pritzker personally thanked
the DePaul students for their efforts, to ensure that the volunteers
knew how much their hard work was appreciated. If you missed this
opportunity, the next Donate-A-Day is coming up on October 24th. Please
consider joining us!
Please contact Cheryl Price at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Students interested in juvenile law learned about careers in this area during a recent Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) event. Practitioners Betsy Clarke, of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, Peter Newman, of the Cook County Court, and Elizabeth Vastine, of Stone Vastine Group, discussed their work and the range of opportunities available in juvenile law.
Clarke (JD '77) is founder and president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI), which partners with John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Models for Change in Illinois. She explained how JJI works to address jurisdictional right-sizing and reform, reduce detention and incarceration of youth, eliminate racial disparities, develop community-based resources and enhance fairness.
Newman talked about his work as program administrator for the Juvenile Justice & Child Protection Resource Section of the Circuit Court of Cook County in Chicago. He assists and supports presiding Judge Sophia Hall in creating initiatives to bring the court into coordination with the community and to better serve children and families within the Juvenile Court's jurisdiction.
Vastine, principal at the Stone Vastine Group, develops curriculum, trains and consults in conflict resolution, mediation and restorative practices in a variety of settings including, group homes, academic institutions, law enforcement agencies and the juvenile justice system. She and Newman also teach Restorative Justice and Juvenile Justice courses at DePaul.
In addition to coursework, Clarke, Newman and Vastine all recommended that students volunteer on a regular basis and pursue internships to explore the area of juvenile law.
For decades, attorneys have used shaken baby syndrome, or SBS, as proof that a caretaker murdered a child. However, the medical community’s understanding of these symptoms has evolved, calling to question the justice of many convictions.
DePaul College of Law Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer’s new book, "Flawed Convictions: 'Shaken Baby Syndrome' and the Inertia of Injustice" (Oxford University Press 2014), examines the dangerous gap between advances in science and practices in criminal law. She will discuss her findings at a book signing event on Wednesday, May 7, from 12 to 1 p.m., DePaul University’s Loop Campus, Barnes & Noble, 1 E. Jackson Blvd., Chicago.
Researchers have discovered that a diagnosis of SBS alone cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an infant was abused or that the last person with the baby was responsible for the baby's condition, Professor Tuerkheimer writes. As a former prosecutor, she is deeply concerned with holding perpetrators of abuse accountable. However, she finds that the criminal justice system has been slow to re-examine cases that used this outdated evidence to convict caretakers of homicide.
In her recent article for Slate, Professor Tuerkheimer comments on the April 2014 federal district court judge's ruling to release former childcare worker Jennifer Del Prete from prison pending her appeal. Almost a decade ago, Del Prete was convicted of shaking a child to death in a Romeoville, Illinois, daycare center. Professor Tuerkheimer focuses on Del Prete's case in her new book, and calls the recent ruling "a critical turning point" in the way the justice system is re-examining such convictions. She has followed similar cases and proposes changes to the law to avoid further injustice.
In opinion piece "The Changing Face of Exonerations" for TIME magazine online, Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer said, "If we are to make meaningful progress towards freeing innocent people now serving time—a population some now place at more than 100,000—we need new laws designed to target miscarriages of justice that lack DNA evidence."
Her op-ed reacts to a report released in February by the National Registry of Exonerations, which found that the number of U.S. inmates exonerated after being falsely convicted of a crime hit a record high in 2013.
Based on the study's data, Professor Tuerkheimer considers how DNA evidence is often of little use to the wrongfully convicted. She discusses recent trends in post-conviction relief, including new laws that account for the lack of or faulty forensic evidence. She notes how this movement is especially important to women, a fast-growing segment of the prison population, whose alleged violent crimes "do not typically hinge on the whodunit question of identity that DNA is so useful in resolving."
Professor Tuerkheimer, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, has written widely on rape and domestic violence. She is currently a Public Voices Faculty Fellow with the OpEd Project. Her book "Flawed Convictions: “Shaken Baby Syndrome” and the Inertia of Injustice" (Oxford University Press) is forthcoming in April.
Rose Rivera (JD ’09) built the Center for Legal Justice from a model she’d been quietly hatching for years.
Rivera entered law school intending to eventually join a well-established nonprofit in Chicago, such as LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), and settle into the city.
When that didn’t pan out, she turned to a world of possibilities. She took the opportunity to move to Indiana and pursue her LL.M. in International Human Rights at Notre Dame. Rivera also tested the waters abroad, completing an internship at the International Criminal Court in Holland, but concluded that she wanted to work in the United States.
Deciding to stay in the area, at least temporarily, Rivera applied for a job as an immigration attorney at the Just Help: Elkhart County Legal Advocacy Center in Goshen, Indiana. She was hired in August 2010 and eventually promoted to executive director and lead attorney, inheriting 200 cases relating to family law. She spent three years with the organization at its Goshen location, during which she says she got a crash course in family law. When the center uprooted to Elkhart, Indiana, it served as the first legal immigration service in the South Bend area, aside from Catholic Charities. In Elkhart, a factory town with a large immigrant demographic, Rivera recognized a serious need for local immigration attorneys.
She revisited an old idea she had quietly considered while in college: opening up her own business. She began actively researching information, consulting friends and mentors on the topic until, in February 2013, the center unexpectedly announced its closure. Rivera took it as a sign to branch out on her own. “I was already thinking about the 200 clients they were going to drop,” she said. She met with other attorneys in the area who also agreed there was a need for nonprofit legal services in addition to what already existed.
“It just sort of came together,” Rivera said. She revised the bylaws and nonprofit application she’d developed while at Notre Dame and began scouting spaces to rent for her immigration-focused bilingual organization called Center for Legal Justice. Rivera received nonprofit status in March. “For the most part, the position felt like stepping into old boots,” Rivera said. The center focuses on family and immigration law, such as family-based applications for legal permanent residence, naturalization and citizenship, and works by providing services on a reduced fee scale. While some things changed, such as her professional liability insurance and bank, others remained.
The center’s board includes former Just Help staffers like paralegal Cynthia Murphy-Wardlow and Rivera’s former colleague Lindsay Davenport. Rivera said she still calls upon the mentors and friends who helped her through the process, such as Center for Public Interest Law Faculty Director Len Cavise, former Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic staff attorney Linus Chan, Allegra Cira Fischer (’09), Susan DeCostanza (’08) and Jenny Grobelski (’10). “I couldn’t handle half the cases I do without their input.” Aside from her entrepreneurial spirit, another thing that sets Rivera apart from her peers is her decision to work in a small, rural area.
“A lot of things about Elkhart are special,” said Rivera of the diverse town with a population around 50,000. “It’s a neat little place where everyone knows each other.” Taking her urban education to a smaller town gave her an edge that she recommends to other young graduates.
“It’s a great experience for a young attorney who wants to get their feet wet,” Rivera said. “You become very recognizable very quickly. Relationships mean a lot here, with colleagues, and with referrals from judges. On the one hand you have to work to solidify those relationships, but now I go into a local courthouse and everyone knows who I am and what the Center for Legal Justice is. In Chicago relationships can only take you so far.”
Rivera said her biggest challenge is balancing the need to give every client the attention they deserve, while earning enough income to keep the center running. “Once in a great while, clients run out of money, and we’ll take them on pro bono,” she said. “To be frank, I wasn’t sure that it would work out when we started. [However], the need is there, and people have enough income to pay something for the services and invest in some way financially.”
“We make it with a little more and more to spare,” she said. “It’s very rewarding.”
Article from the fall 2013 issue of Dialogue magazine.
The Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative, joined by the Center for Public Interest Law, the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, the Asian Pacific-American Law Student Association, and the Public Interest Law Association, closed out Pro Bono Week in November with a lunchtime panel discussion on the benefits of pro bono work. Panelists included representatives from the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS), LAF and the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) –- all organizations that assist low-income clients in the Chicago area.
The panelists presented unique perspectives on pro bono work and discussed how each of their organizations provides services in a slightly different manner. Phil Mohr (JD '91), deputy director of CVLS, began the discussion with insight into the various ways legal aid organizations are organized. CVLS, for example, largely relies on volunteer attorneys to represent clients, as they only have seven or so staff attorneys in the office. Mara Block, the pro bono project staff attorney from LAF, explained that LAF is a large office that serves its clients mostly through staff attorneys. Samira Nazem, staff attorney and pro bono coordinator at LCBH, explained that LCBH focuses solely on housing and engages in broader advocacy and lobbying than other legal aid organizations because they do not rely on traditional legal aid grants for funding.
In addition to explaining the ins and outs of a legal aid organization, the panel speakers emphasized the need for pro bono attorneys and law students to sustain their legal aid efforts. Grace Newgard, staff attorney and director of the pro bono program at the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services, relayed a few shocking statistics about Chicago and the increasing access to justice problem. Despite the dedication of these legal aid attorneys and their organizations, the number of low-income Chicago residents in need of affordable legal services far outweighs the availability of said services. The panel was unanimous in saying that volunteers, both attorneys and law students, were an integral part of bridging this gap and aiding in increased access to justice for all individuals.
Each of the organizations represented at the panel encouraged law students of all class levels to volunteer, apply for internships, and/or coordinate externships and talked about how pro bono can help law students hone their legal skills while helping others in need.
In mid-November, DePaul law students and the Pro Bono Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) joined nearly 1,000 other regional volunteers to serve approximately 600 of Chicago’s homeless at the St. Vincent de Paul Center’s Homeless Outreach Luncheon in Lincoln Park. The service day was one of PBCSI’s monthly Donate-A-Day community service projects for law students. College of Law Chaplain Tom Judge and other DePaul Loop Campus students also participated.
Volunteers were busy with a range of duties, some working worked at various stations to distribute items such as winter clothing, shoes and backpacks to the guests. Some of the stations also provided free dental, legal, podiatry and manicure services. Other volunteers accompanied the guests to each station, held their chosen items, and ate Thanksgiving lunch with them.
Desalina Williams, one of PBCSI’s student coordinators and a volunteer at the Homeless Outreach Luncheon, shared her thoughts about the volunteer day:
"The luncheon was a very unique experience that I greatly enjoyed. I accompanied a veteran who waited outside, in line, for two hours before entering the center. When I met him, he immediately talked about retrieving a coat and a backpack. Before reaching these stations, we collected toiletries, eye glasses, scarves, gloves, hats, sleeping bags and blankets at other stations. As each item dropped into the bag, he became happier and happier. However, once we got to the coat his eyes just lit up. Unfortunately, the center ran out of backpacks before we reached the backpack station. Instead of expressing disappointment or anger, he told me that ‘the day was a successful day.’ He was so happy about the coat and the other items that leaving without a backpack did not ruin his mood (even though he'd come for a backpack). He insisted that he received more than he ever thought he would receive. After receiving more compliments on his coat, he left the center with a smile.
As I finished the day, the main thought that ran through my mind was his smile when he wore his coat for the first time. Thinking about that moment made me smile to myself because he was right: the day was a successful day."
For more information about PBCSI or its monthly Donate-A-Day service projects, please contact PBCSI Director, Cheryl Price at email@example.com.
Xavier McElrath-Bey has a remarkable story to tell. Imprisoned for first degree murder at age 13, he's now in his 30s with a master's degree and is working to make the world a better place.
On Friday, November 1, 2013, the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center will welcome McElrath-Bey to talk about his traumatic childhood experiences in foster care, in a gang and in being institutionally raised, all of which give him insight into the challenges many youth today face. McElrath-Bey's message is hopeful, emphasizing how we can help make a positive difference in the lives of at-risk youth.
The event is scheduled from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at DePaul University College of Law, 25 E. Jackson Blvd., Lewis Room 242. Tickets are $100; proceeds support the center's public service work in juvenile justice and child abuse and neglect.
To register or for more information about the event, visit https://alumni.depaul.edu/FREvents/ExtEventDetail.aspx?event_id=1861.
On Wednesday, October 9, 2013, the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL), the Public Interest Law Association (PILA) and Law Career Services (LCS) hosted a lunchtime information session on how to find a summer public interest law job and secure funding. During the presentation, Elizabeth Boe, assistant director of recruiting, LCS, Shaye Loughlin, CPIL director and Robin Wagner, a third year student and PILA president offered advice to students seeking summer internships with public interest organizations.
All of the presenters advised students to begin the internship search early, as public interest internships are competitive. To help students find positions, Elizabeth Boe introduced students to the primary job posting sites: Vincent, PSJD, PILI, and the Government Honors/Internship Handbook. Upper-level students also gave their perspectives on ways to maximize the summer externship experience, including Robin Wagner’s tip of diversifying internships in order to build skills. Hannah Scruton, a 2L, discussed her internship at the Office of the Public Guardian, which she got in part through her CPIL mentor. The information session also gave first-year law students an overview of the possible funding sources available to public interest interns, and gave them a timeline for beginning to apply for summer positions.
The presentation was videotaped and can be accessed via iTunes U; look for Law Career Services under “On Campus.”
DePaul law students are known for their commitment to service and public interest work so it was no surprise that the Fall Student Service Fair drew a large crowd of students who were excited and ready to start volunteering. The fair, held September 10 and organized by the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI), is one example of the many ways PBCSI works to engage law students in service work.
The fair started with presentations from PBCSI’s six partner organizations, which include Cabrini Green Legal Aid, the Center for Disability & Elder Law, Croak Student Legal Services, the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, and A.N. Pritzker Elementary School. Students also learned about volunteer opportunities with Illinois Legal Aid Online, DePaul’s Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic and the Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse Project, which is a project of DePaul’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center. University Ministry informed students about their winter break Service Immersion Trips to New Orleans and Washington D.C.
PBCSI Director Cheryl Price was pleased with the turnout and student interest. “Several students approached me to say how excited and impressed they were with the wide-range of service opportunities presented at the fair. It was so heartening to see so many students ready to volunteer. Our partners seemed happy too, as they were able to speak with a large number of students and recruit new volunteers.”
PBCSI will hold another service fair at the beginning of the spring semester in hopes of attracting even more students to volunteerism. Like the fall fair, the spring fair will feature PBCSI’s six partners but will also focus on opportunities that are available during spring break, such as PBCSI’s Pro Bono Staycation and the Family Law Center’s Juvenile Detention Center Spring Break Project.
Jody Raphael, author, national researcher and senior research fellow at the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, met law students, faculty and staff to discuss her new book, “Rape is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis.”
She offered information on the causes of rape denial and its effects on those who report rape. The presentation and discussion is part of a series of monthly discussions hosted by the Child & Family Law Center.
Wendy Musielak (BUS '99, JD '03) was named DuPage County Bar Association's Lawyer of the Year in recognition of her long-standing commitment to the DuPage County Bar Association (DCBA) and DuPage Association of Women Lawyers.
Musielak is a partner at Esp Kreuzer Cores LLP where she concentrates her practice in family law.
Musielak received the award at the 2013 President's Ball at Danada House in Wheaton. "Wendy has been invaluable to the DCBA," said outgoing DCBA President Sharon Mulyk. "When it came time to make a decision for Lawyer of the Year, the choice was an obvious one."
She also serves as chair of the membership committee and a member of the planning committee for the DCBA. Musielak is a director for the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers and a fellow with the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois.
The Center for Public Interest Law concluded the yearlong Public Interest Legal Skills Series with a three session restorative justice series. Adjunct Professors Elizabeth Vastine and Peter Newman taught the series this April during the lunch hour. Vastine and Newman held each session in a restoratve justice circle, to help students gain a basic understanding of the practice, as well as how it is implemented in Cook County Juvenile Justice system.
Student participants praised the opportunity to collaborate with one another and learn more about this increasingly popular method of alternative dispute resolution, which is fast becoming a critical practice in juvenile justice system. "I was so grateful to have the chance to gain restorative justice skills," said Cindy Bedrosian ('14). "We learned about restorative justice by actually participating in a restorative justice circle each week. It was wonderful to have this opportunity to learn about an innovative practice by experiencing it, instead of merely attending a lecture."
DePaul College of Law's Jody Raphael has been named the 2013 recipient of the Illinois State Bar Association's Human Rights Section's Gertz Award. The award honors the long-standing, continuing and exceptional commitment to the protection and advancement of human rights.
Raphael, a senior research fellow with the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, will recieve the award at the association's June luncheon in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
DePaul University Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center Senior Research Fellow Jody Raphael's new book "Rape is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming Are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis
" (Chicago Review Press 2013) argues that “the time has come for rape denial to become as unacceptable as Holocaust denial.”
Drawing on research and firsthand interviews with acquaintance rape victims, Rape is Rape presents clear statistics on rape prevalence and reporting, consistent with a number of studies often ignored by policymakers and the press.
An attorney by training, and a 25-veteran in practice in legal services programs for the poor in the Midwest, Raphael is a noted national expert on violence against women in girls, with special emphasis on the effects of violence on poor women of color. She is the author of over 20 research articles, and serves as an associate editor of the international journal Violence against Women.
In 1995 her research was the first nationally to establish that large percentages of women on welfare were current violence victims, whose partners, threatened by their economic independence, sabotaged their efforts at education, training, and work. Her numerous research reports, which spawned other research nationally, directly led to the Family Violence Option in the 1996 welfare reform legislation, providing battered women with more time and special supports before mandatory work. She is the author of numerous research studies on violence and poverty, as well as two major research projects on violence in the Chicago sex trade industry.
In 2000 the first book in her trilogy on poverty and violence was published by Northeastern University Press, Saving Bernice: Battered Women, Welfare, and Poverty. In 2004 the second book, Listening to Olivia: Violence, Poverty, and Prostitution, appeared. With the publication of Freeing Tammy: Women, Drugs, and Incarceration in May 2007 the trilogy was completed. The trilogy tells the stories of three Chicago women, illustrating the many ways that domestic violence, childhood sexual assault, and rape make and keep women poor. With the trilogy, Raphael also demonstrates how stigmatization and blaming of women violence victims contributes to their poverty and keeps them from entering the regular labor market, and how systems established to help women violence victims can end up injuring them.
At DePaul College of Law, Raphael is undertaking a multiyear study and monitoring of the Cook County Circuit Court’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault. During 2007-2008 she undertook research with women and girls in prostitution in Chicago who are controlled by a pimp or trafficker to better determine how women and girls are coerced into the sex trade industry in Chicago and kept there by violence and threats of violence. In 2009-2010 research with 25 ex-pimps and traffickers further elucidated the structure of the Chicago sex trade and efforts to recruit girls and women. These reports are available at the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center page.
Early praise for Rape is Rape:
"[A] compelling, grim account of the struggle for victims of sexual violence to be heard and believed." — Publishers Weekly
"Meticulously researched and passionately argued rebuttal of those who would deny the reality and alarming prevalence of acquaintance rape. ( ... ) Raphael hopes to change such attitudes, not only through the heavy dose of accurate data she presents, but also through the stories of several young women who were raped by someone they knew." — Kirkus Review
"Jody's not afraid to challenge all of us to do better." — Voices and Faces Project
For current rape prevalence data, see:
Centers for Disease Control, National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010 Summary Report: www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs
Dean Kilpatrick et. al., Drug-Facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study, 2007, www.ncjrs.gov.pdffiles1/nij/grants/219181.pdf
Bonnie Fisher et. al., The Sexual Victimization of College Women, 2000, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/219181.pdf
Further information about rape in America:
www.voicesandfacesproject.org (a forum for rape victims to share their accounts)
Blog on Rape Denial:
Support for Rape Victims
Rape is Rape, Errata: On page 192 the reference to “fellatio” should read “anal penetration.”
The National Sexual Assault hotline: 1-8000-656-HOPE (4673)
On Wednesday, February 13, the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the 10th annual Valentine’s Day Family Violence Distinguished Lecture. "Dismantling the Exploitative Sex Trade Industry in Cook County: Barriers, Issues and Challenges" will cover myths and disinformation as well as how cultural supports, including the media, hamper efforts to end sex trafficking in Cook County.
The guest speaker for the event, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, will discuss his experience implementing end demand strategies to eliminate trafficking and exploitation of young women and girls in the sex trade industry. Sheriff Dart's Human Trafficking Response Team (HTRT) has responded to the exploitation of females in the sex trade in Cook County since 2009.
The 10th anniversary Valentine's Day lecture coincides with the release of Family Law Center Senior Research Fellow Jody Raphael and Lindsey LaPointe's recent HTRT study, The Cook County Sheriff’s Human Trafficking Response Team: A Law Enforcement Model. The report focuses on how effectively the HTRT initiative is addressing the demand side of prostitution and provides readers with a sense of the guiding principles of the project, statistics about its effects and information that can be used to replicate the model.
The Valentine's Day lecture will take place at the DePaul Center, Room 8005, 1 E. Jackson Boulevard, from 2:15 – 4:30 p.m. Registration for this event is full.