C-K Law Group Newsletter, Spring 2022
Clinical Professors in the News
Professor Victoria Carmona, who supervises the Immigration Clinic, is featured in an article about Indian migrants who cross the U.S. Border from Canada and the lengthy immigration proceedings and other challenges they face.
Professor Jamie Franklin, who supervises the Civil Litigation Clinic, represents a putative class of United Airlines employees who were promised by the president of the company that if they retired early, and a better early retirement program was offered within three years, they would be paid the better offer. After the pandemic began, United sought to offload employees but then failed to honor its promise, refusing to pay the difference. The case is pending in the federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois.
ADR Program News
The National Jurist’s preLaw Magazine has designated that Chicago-Kent’s ADR program will be listed for the third year in a row in their Top Schools Honor Roll for Alternative Dispute Resolution Law in the Spring 2022 issue.
For students who aspire to become litigators or mediators, Chicago-Kent’s Certificate Program in Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (LADR) combines trial skills training, negotiation and mediation within a rigorous clinical curriculum. The clinical education piece of this innovative program is based in the C-K Law Group of Chicago-Kent, the school’s acclaimed in-house, fee-generating law firm, which works directly with actual clients on criminal defense, civil rights, employment discrimination, family, health, and tax cases. Approximately thirty students are admitted to the program each year.
In the mediation phase of the program, students attend a 40 hour training with the Center for Conflict Resolution and become certified mediators. They then mediate live cases at area courthouses in matters involving contracts, torts, small claims and landlord-tenant disputes under the supervision of Professor Pamela Kentra.
Afreen Mohiuddin is a second-year Chicago-Kent student with aspirations to become an international tax attorney. Afreen has worked in the tax clinic for three semesters, and says, "It has been an incredible experience. My favorite part of the tax clinic is how much hands-on training you get researching, drafting documents, and meeting clients. Tax is a much more diverse field than it gets credit for, and Professor Decatorsmith introduces you to a very wide scope of cases so you can tailor your work to your interests." Asked about the cases she has worked on, Afreen says, "They can get pretty crazy--I've met clients with incredible stories, and sometimes just keeping track of the facts is half the battle. It's a lot of fun!" Outside of the clinic, Afreen is a member of the Law Review, Moot Court Honor Society, Honors Scholars, Tax Law Society, and Muslim Law Student Association. Along with tax, she has interests in immigration and international human rights law, which she hopes to incorporate into her career in the future.
Devin Ross, a 2L, is excited to work in civil litigation after she graduates from Chicago-Kent. One of her main goals is to use her law degree to support her community. She has done volunteer work throughout law school and focused her internships on public interest work. She hopes to either work in public interest or have a strong pro bono practice at a firm one day.
She chose the civil litigation clinic to gain practical experience that would carry over into many different areas of law.
“The work I’ve been doing with the civil litigation clinic has been a great experience and widely applicable. I’ve interviewed potential clients, done legal research, written pleadings and am currently writing a response to a motion to dismiss. This is all experience I’ll be able to take with me and apply to whatever area of law I end up choosing when I graduate.”
Her favorite part of working in the civil litigation clinic is doing intake and speaking to potential new clients.
“I’ve learned so much from listening to people’s stories and evaluating their legal claims with the clinic. The discussions we have in the clinic sessions about the how real-life experiences translate into claims, and what meets certain legal criteria is one of the most practical skills I’ve been able to grow in law school. All litigators need to know how to pick which cases to take on, and Professor Franklin has really helped us nail down the strengths and weaknesses of each case that comes our way.”
Nick is a three-time participant in the Judicial Externship Program and is currently doing a SLFAP externship at Dickinson Wright. Nick externed with the following Judges: Honorable Eve M. Reilly, Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division; Honorable Ronald F. Bartkowicz, Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division; and the Honorable Heather K. McShain, Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
Externships are meant to help students grow their legal skills and discover what they may (or may not) want to do after law school. In what way did these externships affect you / your career?
From the beginning of law school, I knew I wanted to gain experience that would allow me to see first-hand how a courtroom works and how judicial decisions are made. The various judicial externships I completed throughout law school have provided a solid foundation into the intricacies of litigation that are learned outside of the classroom. Working as an extern in both state and federal court strengthened my interest in commercial litigation and the diversity of my Judges’ dockets allowed opportunities to work on a variety of cases.
What recommendations or advice would you give to students contemplating similar externships?
I would definitely recommend every law student to apply to some form of externship during their law school career. Both judicial and legal externships provided me with exceptional training in legal research and writing through consistent drafting assignments and feedback. Working as a judicial extern also allows for the opportunity to work alongside other law students, judicial clerks, and extremely brilliant judges. On the flip side, working as a legal extern provided a glimpse of what working at a big law firm is like. As a legal extern at Dickinson Wright, I was able to apply the skills I had learned researching for judges to the various projects I was assigned in the firm’s commercial litigation group. It has also been great to get to see what work attorneys do every day and to develop my work products through various assignments.
Whether you intend to go into litigation or transactional work after law school, or even if you are undecided, I would highly recommend applying to Chicago-Kent’s Judicial Externship or Legal Externship programs.
Do you have any (non-confidential) memorable experiences you’d like to share from your externships?
One of my favorite parts of working as a judicial extern was being able to watch judges in action, both inside the courtroom and in their chambers. I had the opportunity to watch oral argument, whether it be motions on Zoom or cross-examination objections during an in-person trial, and then hear the Judge speak openly and candidly about the various arguments. I was able to have an active part in the cases I was assigned to research and draft suggested orders for the Judge and was able to voice my opinion on how the court should rule. I would have to say that my favorite experience as a judicial extern was being able to sit in and watch Judge McShain’s first in-person jury trial since the beginning of the pandemic during the fall of 2021. With courts being online for the better part of two years, it was an incredible experience to be able to research various issues for a case for my Judge and then see the same issues argued by both sides in the courtroom.
Law Clerk joins the Immigration Clinic
Rocio Moledo joined the C-K Law Group as a law clerk with the Immigration Clinic this April 2022. Rocio hails from Argentina, where she is a licensed attorney. Rocio graduated from the University of La Matanza in Buenos Aires with her law degree, including a certificate in family, criminal, and labor law.
Rocio will be assisting students in the Clinic alongside Professor Victoria Carmona on cases involving humanitarian and family based immigration, including assisting Spanish-speaking refugees and asylum seekers. Rocio will also work with Professor Carmona on creating comparative law coursework with respect to immigration laws in Latin America and the United States. Welcome Rocio!
It’s Official: the Workplace Will Never Be the Same and Not a Moment Too Soon!
Professor Richard Gonzalez, Plaintiffs Employment Law Clinic
It’s a shame it took the pandemic to finally induce American companies and workers to re-think the workplace experience, but all indications are that we have finally arrived at a fundamental and long-lasting change.
The proof is in the well-documented numbers of American workers who have quit or changed jobs in recent months and the reality that American workers are willing to trade salary for flexibility and a saner lifestyle.
Here at Chicago-Kent’s in-house legal clinic- C-K Law Group- faculty and students have been practicing employment law – and speaking with employees about their workplace experiences- for some 45 years. We spend many hours each week listening to employees decry their workplace experiences. From extremes such as sexual harassment and tyrannical bosses to the more basic day-to-day experiences that render working in America such an unpleasant experience, American workers seem to have finally had enough. We at the clinic have seen the rising intolerance of employees to put up with poor working environments and the phenomenon is transforming—and making even more interesting- the work that we and the students perform.
Our in-house clinic boasts two popular sections devoted to employee-side employment law. In addition, Chicago-Kent’s Law & the Workplace Institute and our certificate programs- particularly the “Workplace LADR” and Labor & Employment programs- have been a steady source of employment for Chicago-Kent students and alums in this expanding field of law.
Americans have always had a unique and singularly onerous workplace experience. Few employees elsewhere work the types of hours that are routinely expected of Americans. But the signs are clear that that is coming to an end. As Zip Recruiter CEO Ian Siegel recently noted “Millions have taken a look at their lives”, while observing that “Daily interaction jobs were already becoming unpopular” even before the pandemic forced American employers to take a serious look at what they were expecting of their employees. In recent weeks, media regularly reports on this phenomenon. One of the most recent examples is the January 23 Sunday New York Times feature “We’re Out of Here!”
The desperation of American employers is reflected in the share of Zip Recruiter postings that require “no prior experience” has jumped from 22.9% from just 12.8 percent in 2020. Those requiring a bachelor’s degree have dropped from 8.3% from 11.4% a year ago. And American workers have seemed to be enjoying declaring their freedom from workplace oppression on social media sites in recent months.
Meanwhile, employers who have sought to return to the workplace norms and requirements of pre-pandemic America are struggling with the worker resistance they have faced. The fact is that there is little reason that most jobs need to be performed inside a physical workplace under the watchful eye of supervisors. And while companies like to refer to “corporate culture” and “team building” as reasons to perpetuate our traditional system, the cold reality is that American workers waste prodigious amounts of time each work day. Putting aside the wasted and aggravating hours each week spent commuting, many have discovered exactly how relatively unproductive they were within the workplace. Sure, it is fun and there is much to be said for chatting with coworkers about last night’s Bulls game or their child’s science project. Human relationships are forged and strengthened. But aren’t there other avenues available to allow such efforts other than in a venue where the goal is maximum productivity?
In the Chicago legal community, many sole practitioners and small firms have abandoned offices altogether, finding that it is quick and easy to rent conference rooms for in-person client meetings or depositions. And one big-firm senior partner has confided that maybe it is time to stop maintaining mega-office spaces in pricey Loop buildings that sit largely empty, instead experimenting with smaller offices that lawyers and staff can reserve and share on an as-needed basis.
Well, now that we have solved this problem we next must tackle the issue of what to do with downtown. Perhaps places to live, shop, and be close to entertainment? Just a thought.