The Catholic University of America

 


Professors Catherine Klein and Leah Wortham flank Professor David McQuoid Mason, at center.

Trio of CUA Law Professors Travel Halfway
Around the World to Honor a Legal Giant

 

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For faculty members, the end of 2012 brought its usual rush of activities – preparing finals, grading exams, and planning over the holiday break for the second semester. 

Not the easiest time to hop a plane and fly more than 8,300 miles around the planet to attend a professional conference, but CUA Law professors Leah Wortham, Catherine Klein, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Suzette Malveaux did just that, traveling to Durban, South Africa to attend an Access to Justice Conference at the University of KwaZulu-Natal from Dec. 10-12.
 
The main reason the three undertook such a long journey was to honor the lifelong advocacy, teaching and scholarship of eminent South African human rights advocate, Professor David McQuoid Mason (left, with Nelson Mandela), and to continue his legacy by presenting scholarly papers on current access to justice issues.  McQuoid Mason is considered the father of legal aid and a founder of the clinical legal movement in South Africa. 
 
The three-day conference was divided into three themes, each highlighting a key focus of McQuoid Mason’s work.
 
Klein and Wortham were participants on a panel titled “David McQuoid Mason’s Legacy- South Africa and International. They reflected on the 15 years in which they worked with him, their collaboration summarized in a multi-media presentation.   

“Professor Klein and I have worked with David since 1999 through the Global Alliance for Justice Education, and we did not want to miss the opportunity to participate in a plenary session to honor David’s incredible energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and kindness with which he has touched the lives of so many people around the world,” said Professor Wortham.

McQuoid Mason has been a seminal figure in South African legal education and elsewhere. He has visited 114 countries and worked in projects on experiential legal education, access to justice, and human rights in 60 of them. His achievements include:
 
  • Hosting the first Legal Aid Conference ever held in South Africa, this became the catalyst for a national clinical movement
  • Founding the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Law School's Legal Aid Clinic to provide legal services for the disenfranchised poor and marginalized
  • Establishing the first pilot Street Law program in South Africa and co-teaching the nation’s first LL.M. program in Trial Advocacy
Malveaux (left) was among a number of doctrinal professors who explored the continued existence of access to justice problems outside of the clinical context.  She presented her paper, “The Class Action Device and Access to Justice,” which dealt with comparative rights in the South African and United States constitutions, and the recent development of aggregate litigation in South Africa as a vehicle for consumer and civil rights.
 
Catholic University’s law school has long been affiliated with the struggles for justice in South Africa. In 1973, former dean Clinton Bamberger addressed the First National Conference on Legal Aid in South Africa, funded by the Ford Foundation and organized by Professor McQuoid-Mason. Dean Bamberger later returned to South Africa in 1988-89 to spend six months developing the clinic at the University of Witwatersrand.
 
The 1973 conference also was addressed by William Pincus, head of the Council on Legal Education and Professional Responsibility, which provided the seed money and push for the growth of clinical education in the U.S. In 2004, CUA recognized Pincus’s contributions to justice and legal education with award of the CUA President’s Medal.