NYLPI’s McGregor Smyth Speaks At Yale Law School

April 1, 2019


NYLPI Executive Director McGregor Smyth spoke on a panel at Yale Law school on Friday, as part of the Liman Public Interest Colloquium. The title of the panel was “The Relationship of Funders and the Academy to Institutionalizing Law School Engagement.”

A full roundup of the conference is posted on Yale’s website:

The problems of poor people in courts came to the fore a half century ago, as individuals and groups claimed a host of new rights — to habitable housing, government benefits, and fair treatment. Courts and legislatures responded by protecting entitlements for tenants, recipients of federal benefits, and individuals harmed by discrimination.

In addition to recognizing new rights, courts honed in on the need to equip individuals when in conflict with the state. As a result, legal mandates insisted that, in some cases, states provide lawyers, waive fees, and give subsidies for transcripts and experts. Congress created fee-shifting to encourage the pursuit of civil rights claims, and both legislatures and courts shaped class actions and other forms of aggregation to permit cost-sharing among litigants and to provide incentives for lawyers to represent groups.

Today, new data are emerging about the poverty of people in courts, the individuals who are priced out of courts, the underfunding of the legal system, and the enormous burdens of court fees, fines, and bail.

In March, the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law, joined by the Policy Advocacy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley and the Fines and Fees Justice Center, focused on these challenges at the 22nd annual Liman Center Colloquium, Economic Injustice: Courts, Law Schools, and Institutionalizing Reforms, and in the companion publication, Ability to Pay. The Colloquium and the volume Ability to Pay aim to bring the economics of court services and the needs of courts and litigants into the mainstream of legal education.

Panelists included :

  • Elizabeth Compa, Principal Associate for Policy, Public Safety Performance Project, Pew Charitable Trusts, Liman Fellow 2011
  • Timothy Fisher, Dean, University of Connecticut School of Law, and Co-Chair, Task Force to Improve Access to Legal Counsel in Civil Matters
  • Jennifer Gerarda Brown, Dean and Professor of Law, Quinnipiac University School of Law
  • Heather Gerken, Dean, Yale Law School, Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law
  • Gloria Gong, Director of Research and Innovation, Government Performance Lab, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Julie James, Director of Criminal Justice, Arnold Ventures
  • Amy Kapczynski, Professor of Law, Faculty Co-Director, Global Health Justice Partnership, and Faculty Co-Director, Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency, Yale Law School
  • Andrea Marsh, Clinical Lecturer and Director, Richard & Ginni Mithoff Pro Bono Program, University of Texas School of Law, Liman Fellow 2002
  • Tracey Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law and Founding Director, Justice Collaboratory, Yale Law School
  • McGregor Smyth, Executive Director, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Liman Fellow 2003
  • Moderator/Commentator: Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School

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