Law clinic celebrates 25 years

Law Clinic directors

Law Clinic directors

Alan Kirtley had a vision of letting students practice in a law office during law school – with actual clients. He put all his ideas into a grant application for a clinical law program 25 years ago, and today it has grown into an integral part of Seattle University School of Law, giving hundreds of students every year real-world experience and helping real clients.

In October 2006, alumni gathered to celebrate the silver anniversary with former directors of the clinical program and to welcome Paul Holland, new director of what is now known as the Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic. Joining founding Director Kirtley and Holland were all the former directors: Jenifer Schramm, Judge Marsha Pechman, Betsy Hollingsworth, John Mitchell and Bryan Adamson. On hand too, of course, were the revered clinical faculty Raven Lidman, Lisa Brodoff and Gwynne Skinner.

The law school gallery buzzed with conversations about those cases that provided the first taste of successful advocacy resulting in important victories for students and clients. Once classmates, now colleagues, most lawyers there got their initial legal experience from the clinic.

When it started, the clinic survived from grant to grant, but soon the law school embraced the program as part of the law school curriculum with the conviction that clinical education helped better prepare students to become outstanding lawyers. Over the years, clinic opportunities have expanded from the initial focus on two areas of law – criminal misdemeanor and family law – to an impressive array of opportunities. This year clinics are offered specializing in administrative law, international human rights, family law, predatory lending, trusts and estates/Indian estate planning, youth advocacy, community development and entrepreneurship, bankruptcy, arts and immigration.

From the Winter 2006-07 Lawyer