The United States judiciary is a pillar of American society, helping ensure the freedoms of its citizens. So it’s exciting that UCLA law students are playing an active role in informing court decisions.
Like the judicial system itself, UCLA School of Law’s Scott and Cyan Banister First Amendment Clinic has been astonishingly active. Recently one student team submitted the only friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to consider a case on sex offenders’ access to social media sites; the court agreed to hear the case. Another team not only submitted a brief on a libel suit between doctors but also watched professor Eugene Volokh deliver a rare friend-of-the-court oral argument in the case before the federal court of appeals.
Providing hands-on experience for aspiring attorneys, the clinic launched in 2013 and filed about 20 briefs before receiving a boost of benevolence. Inspired by interest in law and free speech, the Banisters gave $125,000. Their gift is helping students hone research and writing skills and learn legal strategy by composing amicus briefs on behalf of nonprofits and academic groups. Cases they have tackled address First Amendment protections in arenas ranging from social media and student speech to libel and trademark matters.
“I hope we are providing a service for courts across the country,” says Volokh, who oversees the clinic and serves as Gary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law. “The clinic is a win-win: good for our students and also helpful to judges.”
Perfectly pairing academic learning with real-world results, the clinic highlights the contributions that UCLA students and faculty — with the help of generous supporters — can share with society.
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