August 25, 2008
As it reaches its 10-year milestone, the Community Resource Legal Network (CLRN), a network of hundreds of New York City-area attorneys serving local communities and individuals in need, will replicate its program at Symbiosis Law School (www.symlaw.ac.in) in Pune, India.
The new program is to begin Oct. 1 under the leadership of CLRN director Fred Rooney. Pune, located approximately two hours south of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), is known for its educational facilities. The school has more than 100 educational institutes and nine universities, including a law school.
After helping to create a CLRN-like network of Symbiosis Law graduates, Rooney plans to assist in the implementation of “community lawyering” initiatives in marginalized communities in and around Pune.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for both Indian attorneys and communities in need in and around Pune,” Rooney said. “I’m hoping that we can be as successful in creating a network of compassionate and caring attorneys in Pune as we have been in New York, and that the CLRN model will eventually result in increased access to justice for thousands of marginalized individuals with unmet legal needs.”
(Photo): CLRN director Fred Rooney
Symbiosis Law School, like CUNY Law, aims to serve as a catalyst for social change in a society where access to justice for the general public is severely limited. Working with Rooney and the CLRN model, Symbiosis helps to create more socially responsible law students who, upon graduation from law school, use their professional skills to serve the unmet legal needs of historically marginalized communities. While in Pune, Rooney hopes to engage in the following:
1. Development of community centers offering pro- or low-bono legal services to provide legal assistance to poor and indigent people who lack resources to retain private counsel.
2. Establishment of legal awareness programs, offered in venues in and around Pune, to provide participants with a basic understanding of their rights and responsibilities as Indian citizens or as immigrants living and working in India.
3. Collaboration with Indian Lok Adalat (people’s courts) to settle disputes through conciliation and compromise.
4. Establishment of a clearinghouse of research, articles and data on public interest lawyering in the U.S. and India designed to foster a deeper understanding of recent trends in legal education and community lawyering and to provide potential support for program replication.
5. Identification of “best practices” and existing curricula developed and implemented by other law schools in the U.S. and India to develop a curriculum with a strong emphasis on public interest lawyering.
The Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN), started in 1998, is a collaborative that supports CUNY Law School graduates as they work to set up and run solo or small-group practices devoted to serving pressing needs of the poor and disadvantaged in communities that are underserved by lawyers.
CLRN began with a handful of graduates practicing law in different parts of New York City, but quickly developed into a vibrant network of committed lawyers determined to use both individual and collective efforts to strengthen the civil justice system. Today, CLRN boasts of a membership of several hundred lawyers. It has been heralded as a prototype for other American law schools as they create CLRN-like networks.
CUNY School of Law is the premier public interest law school in the country. It trains lawyers to serve the underprivileged and disempowered and to make a difference in their communities. CUNY Law has been praised in a study by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, “Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law,” for being one of the few law schools in the country to prepare students for practice through instruction in theory, skills, and ethics. Its clinical practice and training program is consistently ranked in the Top 10 nationwide. And it places more students into public interest jobs after graduation than any other law school in the nation.
Director of the Community Legal Resource Network
Director of Communications
*Note to Editors: Fred Rooney Available for U.S. interviews through Aug. 31*