As our country mourns the killing of George Floyd—yet another black life cut short by the police—the UT Legal Clinic stands in support of our students and the communities we serve. Like so many of you, we are exhausted, disappointed, and frustrated. But most of all, we are enraged by the injustice of this moment, a moment that represents the culmination of centuries of systemic racism that we have not adequately begun to confront.
It is clear that our country has failed to fulfill the most foundational of our Constitution’s promises: to provide equal protection under the law. This failure, as well as our criminal justice system’s failure to hold those who violate laws accountable, is the responsibility of everyone, but we, as lawyers, have a unique responsibility to uphold basic principles of justice. And as educators of future lawyers, our responsibility is heightened.
As teachers, we support our students, and we are here for you. We want to engage you in conversation about how we can be more responsive in our classrooms and to our community. We stand with BLSA and our colleagues who are calling out racial injustice and demanding immediate change from our criminal justice system.
Mindful of our own responsibility, the faculty of the UT Legal Clinic is committing to be even more intentional about addressing systemic racism in our client representation and clinic seminars. To that end, we commit to:
- Embark on a deliberate listening process with the communities most harmed by systemic racism to learn how we can be more responsive to their needs;
- Use that process to inform our choices on case and project work;
- Consciously engage our resources to address systemic racism in the communities we serve;
- Find more space in our classrooms and broader clinical curriculum for conversations about systemic racial inequality; and
- Continue to produce scholarship that reflects our collective commitment to eradicating systemic injustice.
We hope this effort will result in a clinical program that is more responsive to the persistent challenges of systemic racial inequality. We invite you to join us, and we hope to help make this wrenching moment an inflection point, a moment when our country recommits to the long process of healing.