In concert with law schools nationwide, the University at Buffalo School of Law will extend a range of legal help to tenants at imminent risk of eviction.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s action last week striking down a pandemic-related federal moratorium on evictions, 44 law school deans, including UB School of Law Dean Aviva Abramovsky, pledged their schools will provide “meaningful support” to those affected by the ruling. The joint statement reads, “…we will help ensure that families and individuals facing eviction have the legal representation, counseling and assistance they need to exercise their rights, that those entitled to the support of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program are able to access it, and that eviction proceedings are conducted in a fair and just manner.” [Read Joint Statement]
The joint statement was issued in response to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s call for the legal profession to assist affected tenants, landlords and the court system. Garland cited a recent Census Bureau survey indicating that more than 6 million households have fallen behind on rent payments and more than half of those are at risk of being evicted within the next two months.
UB School of Law’s contribution to the effort will be largely supported by its extensive experiential education program. “The law school has alumni, current students and professors who are actively working on this matter now,” says Professor Kim Diana Connolly, vice dean and director of clinical legal education. She notes that the work is consistent with the law school’s ongoing commitment to ensuring access to justice for all.
Also focused on the effort is the school’s Community Engagement Legal Clinic, where co-director Vanessa Glushefski ’14 says planning is under way. “We are assessing the protections lost after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling and will work with other community partners to have #UBLawResponds student attorneys ready to assist,” she says.
In the Civil Rights and Transparency Clinic, its director, Associate Professor Heather Abraham, will leverage her expertise in housing law. She is volunteering at the local and state levels—offering advice, responding to inquiries, and making referrals. Student attorneys in the clinic will receive training that will allow them to do direct service work in this sphere.
And the law school’s externship program, says director Michael Higgins, “is committed to the national effort to support tenants as the moratorium ends. Under the guidance and supervision of our community partners, law students in the externship program will provide hundreds of hours of direct legal services to tenants in need this fall semester.”