The Catholic University of America

Four faces familiar and respected at AALS clinical section events: Catholic University law professors Ellen Scully, Sandy Ogilvy, Catherine Klein and Margaret Barry.

CCLS Faculty Members Shine in San Diego

The faculty members of Columbus Community Legal Services, nationally recognized and widely respected for their innovative teaching approaches and clinical models, outdid even themselves at the 2009 meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), held in San Diego from Jan. 6 to 10.

In terms of peer recognition and respect from fellow legal clinical educators from across the nation, Catholic University professors enjoyed perhaps their most prominent year ever.

  • Professor Margaret Martin Barry was the 2009 recipient of the William Pincus Award, the most prestigious honor of its kind in legal education. Conferred by the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education, Barry was introduced by her CUA colleague, Professor Catherine Klein, and Professor Sue Bryant of the City University of New York.
  • Professor Faith Mullen was named a Bellow Scholar by the Public Interest Committee of the AALS. The Bellow Scholar Program honors the work of Gary Bellow, clinical pioneer and lifelong social justice advocate, by calling attention to innovative anti-poverty or access to justice projects that encourage collaboration and empirical analysis.
  • Professor J.P. "Sandy" Ogilvy previewed the latest installment of his highly praised video history of clinical legal education during an evening program honoring the influential Ford Foundation initiative, the Council on Legal Education and Professional Responsibility and its first president, William Pincus. Ogilvy's first-of-its kind video history has added to his reputation as arguably the country's leading historian of clinical legal education.

Most of the action unfolded within the clinical section of the AALS, one of the group's largest and most active professional sections. It has honored several Columbus School of Law professors in the past, and this year's recognition served to reinforce the school's stature as a leader in the field.

"We're really well-known, not just because of this, but because so many of us are so active in so many spheres of clinical legal education. We're frequently asked to be on programs because they know we will deliver on some interesting programs," said Professor Klein, director of Catholic University's Columbus Community Legal Services. "We're very recognizable," she continued. "We do our best to connect with other faculty at these meetings. It can't be overestimated how important those kinds of efforts are, not only in getting Catholic University out there, but also for enriching what we do, because we bring back so much from these conferences."

The William Pincus Award is akin to the Oscar for lifetime achievement occasionally bestowed by Hollywood. Not many are given, and they are meant to honor the cumulative achievements of an entire stellar career.

Professor Barry's citation for the Pincus Award read in part:

"She has been a tireless advocate for clinical legal education, and she has fought to protect and enhance the role of clinics and clinical faculty in law schools in numerous ways. In addition to helping to build a strong clinical program at her own law school where she is an inspiring teacher, she has contributed to the development of clinical legal education in the United States and in other countries through her work with many organizations and by mentoring other clinical faculty. Her service to the clinical community includes serving as a chair of the clinical section, as a president of CLEA, as an active member of Global Alliance for Justice Education, and as a frequent presenter at conferences in the United States and in other countries…She is the author of important scholarship on clinical legal education, clinical teaching methodology, access to justice, and family law issues. Through her scholarship, Professor Barry has made a significant contribution to advancing clinical education as well as justice."

One of Barry's chief triumphs was contributing to the design of CUA's Families and the Law Clinic, a highly successful endeavor that has taught hundreds of law students how to advocate for victims of domestic violence, among other skills. Despite her evident qualifications for the Pincus award, Barry never took it for granted. "I was awestruck. For me, it's the pinnacle in clinical teaching. It's overwhelming," she said.

Clinical legal educators Catherine Klein (left) and Sue Bryant (right) presented the 2009 Pincus Award to Margaret Barry, (center).

The first Pincus Award was given in 1981. Only the law faculties of Catholic University and Georgetown have had more than one professor win it. In addition to Barry, CUA's Sandy Ogilvy was the 2003 recipient. But the Columbus School of Law has a further distinction: former CUA law school dean Clinton Bamburger was recognized with the award in 2000.

"I do really doubt any other school has had this many people associated with the award," notes CUA law professor Leah Wortham.

Barry's strong case for the distinction was bolstered by many related professional activities, such as her work for the AALS Clinical Section, her work for the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA), her clinical scholarship, her status as Fulbright Scholar and Senior Specialist, her involvement with Clinicians of Color, her work as a member of the ABA Standards Review Committee, and her co-presidency of the Society of Law Teachers.

But her glittering CV was only half the story. Barry's nomination was enthusiastically supported by peers across the nation. Former students, such as Megan Annitto, 2000, also took the time to write to the Pincus Awards Committee. Annitto is now a public defender in Brooklyn, a career goal suggested by Professor Barry.

"Professor Margaret Barry, by quiet example and steadfast guidance, helped to shine a bright light down a path I had never seen for myself," wrote Annitto. "By doing so, she enabled me to become a much more powerful advocate to fight for the causes I believe in."

CCLS assistant professor Faith Mullen

Also in the spotlight at the conference in California was assistant professor Faith Mullen, one of five legal educators to be honored as a 2009 Bellow Scholar by the clinical legal education section of the AALS.

Mullen will present and explain her work at a follow-up session in May at the clinical conference in Cleveland. The Bellow Scholar Program honors the work of the late Gary Bellow, an inspiration to generations of activist lawyers and advocates for justice for the poor.

An educator who has spent more than 20 years passionately immersed in the problems facing low-income residents of the District of Columbia, Mullen was selected from among a large pool of nominees for her ongoing project involving the work of CUA general practice students, "Access to Justice and the Community Involvement in the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings," an effort to make sure that poor citizens who appear before administrative judges receive adequate legal counsel.

All in all, it was not a bad few days for the faculty of Columbus Community Legal Services in tranquil San Diego. As a cohort of clinical educators, they continue to raise the bar for their peers and for the profession as a whole.

The clinical section luncheon of the annual AALS meeting is one of the biggest stages in the field. This year, many of the leading men and women call the Columbus School of Law home, a fact noticed by their peers.

"It was perfect," Barry noted. "I received the Pincus Award at the luncheon, but Catherine and Sue modeled how we teach by assigning the audience a task and engaging them in the process."

For the luncheon audience, being briefly assigned the role of a Catholic University law clinic student was an epiphany of sorts-oh, this is how those Catholic people do it.

"I hear over and over again, 'God, you guys are great,'" said Barry.