Neighborhood Law Clinic recognized for excellence

Neighborhood Law Clinic director Mitch

The Neighborhood Law Clinic (NLC) received honorable mention from the Clinical Legal Education Association, a national group of clinical law teachers, for excellence in delivering public interest legal services.

Marsha Mansfield, who directs the Law School’s Economic Justice Institute, nominated the NLC for the honor. She commends clinic students, along with clinic director Mitch, for taking exceptional action in service to clients, especially those on the brink of homelessness.

For example, when a local developer served eviction notices to tenants of a multi-unit building, the clinic interceded on the tenants’ behalf. Students worked not only with tenants, but also with teachers and local advocacy groups, to draft an appeal to the development company. Ultimately the developer agreed to allow tenants to stay in their apartments several months longer.

“Many of the tenants were families on month-to-month leases,” Mansfield says. “Our students’ work bought parents some extra time to make alternative housing arrangements, and that meant children could complete their school year without the disruption of eviction.”

NLC students also created tools to help people facing a sudden financial crisis stay in their homes. They developed a “Stay of Eviction” form and a set of instructions for tenants who qualify for emergency public assistance. The new form, which has been adopted for state­wide use by Wisconsin officials, helps people take advantage of an existing law to stop the eviction process.

The NLC offers a broad range of legal and advocacy services to people involved in landlord-tenant, public benefits, and wage-and-hour disputes. It operates out of an office in South Madison, to better meet the legal needs of the community it serves.