Leah Wortham


  • Columbus School of Law
  • Expertise

  • Clinical legal education in Central Europe and the former Soviet sphere
  • Professional responsibility and ethics
  • Clinical externships
  • Leah Wortham joined the faculty of the Columbus School of Law of The Catholic University of America (CUA) in 1981. She served as clinical coordinator from 1981-1990 and associate dean from 1990-95. She teaches Professional Responsibility, Criminal Law, and in the externship clinical program. She is an editor and co-author of "Learning From Practice," published by Thomson Publishing, the first textbook for general externship clinical programs.  

    In 1996, she commenced working with Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, which established the first successful clinical program in Central Europe and the second in the former Soviet sphere. Working with entities including the Global Alliance for Justice Education, the Ford Foundation, the Soros organizations, the American Bar Association Central and Eurasia Law Initiative, the Public Interest Law Institute, European Law Students Association, and the United Nations Commission for Refugees, she has done considerable training of law teachers and law students outside the United States regarding legal ethics, clinical education, and legal education reform. Countries in which she has worked include Poland, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Russia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Ukraine, South Africa, Argentina, India, and Japan. Since 2003, she has been a member of Advisory Board to the Fundacja Uniwersyteckich Paradni Prawnych (Polish Legal Clinics Foundation) and since 2006 on the Advisory Board to the Russian Clinical Education Foundation. In 2008, she was selected as an International Scholar to work with the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, as part of the Academic Fellows Program of the Higher Education Program of the Open Society Institute. 

    She serves as the CUA director for an LL.M. program offered in conjunction with Jagiellonian University and for an American law certificate program in which Jagiellonian and international LL.M. students are enrolled. In June 2008, she received the Zas?u?ony dla UJ, a medal awarded by the JU Faculty Senate upon recommendation of the University Rector to honor people whose services are deemed to be of extreme merit to Jagiellonian.  

    Professor Wortham has worked extensively with the bar of the District of Columbia in a number of capacities regarding legal ethics and the regulation of the legal profession. The D.C. Bar is the second largest in the U.S. with more than 80,000 members. She served on the D.C. Bar Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee (RPC) from 2000-2006 (Chair 2004-2006, Vice-Chair 2001-2004), which proposed an extensive redrafting the ethical rules for D.C. lawyers that was adopted by the D.C. Court of Appeals effective in February 2007. In 2005, the RPC received the Frederick B. Abramson award for the project that has made the year's most significant contribution to the D.C. Bar and its members, and the RPC was selected as the "Best Bar Committee" in 2001. From 1989-1995, she served on the D.C. Bar Legal Ethics Committee, including as Chair and Vice-Chair. This Committee issues opinions interpreting the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct. From 1998-2004, she served on and chaired Board of Professional Responsibility Hearing Committees, which hear and issue decisions in lawyer discipline cases. Professor Wortham's comparison of the D.C. and Model Rules of professional conduct was given for many years to all participants in the mandatory one-day course for those newly admitted to the D.C. Bar, and she has taught a number of continuing legal education courses on legal ethics issues.  

    Professor Wortham chaired the committee that worked with all CUA law school constituencies on their needs in a new building, participated in architect and contractor selection, and oversaw the completion of an award-winning 175,000 square foot law building. She served on the American Bar Association Law School Facilities Committee from 1993-2001 (Chair 1997-2001, Vice Chair 1996-1997), which provides resources to law schools planning new buildings or renovations and plans biannual conferences. 

    Professor Wortham has spoken at a number of American Association of Law Schools (AALS) conferences on clinical education and chaired the externship committee of the Clinical Section. She was a member of the founding board of editors of the Clinical Law Review, a peer-edited journal on clinical education housed at New York University. She served on nine law school accreditation teams, which conduct assessments of law school's compliance with ABA and AALS standards. 

    Professor Wortham served on the Macalester College Board of Trustees from 1995-2001 and chaired their Honorary Degree Committee. In 1995, she was awarded Macalester's Distinguished Citizen citation. 

    Professor Wortham graduated summa cum laude and with membership in Phi Beta Kappa from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1970. She received a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1973. Before joining CUA, Wortham worked as a staff lawyer for the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, as a legislative assistant for New York Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, as assistant to the president of the U.S. Legal Services Corporation for Policy Planning, and also as deputy association director of the U.S. International Development Cooperation Agency. She is a member of the D.C. and Georgia Bars.

    Research and Writing


    "Learning from Practice: A Professional Development Text for Legal Externs."

    Eagan, Minn.: West Group, 2007 (2nd edition), 1998 (1st edition) (edited with J.P. Ogilvy and Lisa G. Lerman).



    "Setting Goals for the Externship," Learning from Practice: A Professional Development Text for Legal Externs. West Group, 2007 (2nd edition), 1998 (1st edition).

    "Balancing Personal Life and Professional Life," Learning from Practice: A Professional Development Text for Legal Externs. West Group, 2007 (2nd edition), 1998 (1st edition).

    "Class Presentations: Sharing Learning," Learning from Practice: A Professional Development Text for Legal Externs. West Group, 2007 (2nd edition), 1998 (1st edition).

    "Learning from Supervision" (co-authored with Liz Ryan Cole), Learning from Practice: A Professional Development Text for Legal Externs. West Group, 2007 (2nd edition).

    Teacher's Manual for Learning from Practice: A Professional Development Text for Legal Externs. Eagan, Minn.: West Group, 2007 (2nd edition), 1998 (1st edition). Wrote the chapters corresponding to the chapters above and the introductory essay on how to use the book in a course.

    Leah Wortham, "Aiding Clinical Education Abroad: What Can Be Gained and The Learning Curve on How to Do So Effectively," 12 Clin. L. Rev. 601 (2006).

    District of Columbia Bar Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee, "Proposed Amendments to the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct: Final Report and Recommendations," June 21, 2005. (Committee chair)

    Leah Wortham & Catherine Klein, "Legal Clinics and University Mission," in Studencka Poradnia Prawna: Idea, Organizacja, Metodologia 16 (2005) (Dariusz ?omowski ed.). This is a book sponsored by the Polish Legal Clinics Foundation (Fundacja Uniwersytechkich Poradni Prawnych) and published by C. H. Beck Publishing. An English translation is available at http://www.fupp.org.pl/down/legal_clinic.pdf.

    Leah Wortham, "Thanks for the Book and the Movie," 10 Clin. L. Rev. 399 (2003) (invited submission to symposium honoring the 25th anniversary of publication of Gary Bellow & Bea Moulton, "The Lawyering Process" (1978)).

    Leah Wortham, "Teaching Professional Responsibility in Legal Clinics Around the World," Klinika 1 (Fall 1999) 241. This article is available at http://www.opc.uj.edu.pl/artykuly/leah_wortham.php.