Short abstracts of the presentations were submitted by many of the speakers in advance of the conference. The titles of those that were submitted are underlined; to view those abstracts, click on the title.

Title: Teaching Access To Justice

Lead Presenter: Justine Dunlap


  1. Nancy Cook

Session Abstract: This session will explore the question of how to teach access to justice in a non-clinical law school setting. It will interactively engage participants in one model of teaching the subject matter. The session’s focus will be guided by the dictates of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, who have recently added Access to Justice as a topic to be tested on the Massachusetts Bar Exam. The topic has been defined in terms of doctrinal law. The topics that could fall within a Massachusetts Bar Exam question on Access to Justice are: Landlord-Tenant, including evictions, affirmative defenses and counterclaims, and fee-shifting statutes; Foreclosures; Divorce, including child custody, support, visitation; Termination of Parental Rights; Domestic Abuse; Guardianship and Conservatorship; Consumer Matters, including debt collection, predatory lending and unfair or deceptive practices; Health Care Proxies, Power of Attorney, Advance Directives; Due Process doctrines related to fair hearings, civil commitment and civil right to counsel; Representation of nonprofit organizations; and Ethical rules including Massachusetts Rules of Professional Responsibility 1.2, 1.5, 1.14, 1.15, 4.3, 6.1, 6.5 and Limited Assistance Representation The challenge of the course lies in how to cover a broad range of legal principles and provide students any necessary skills to work with a low-income person in a legal crisis. Further, an objective of the course will be to demonstrate to students the importance of access to justice and the value of learning to deal with clients who are in great need of legal assistance. The presenters will take on this challenge and share with participants strategies in the choice of topics and development of a syllabus. They will identify one or more topical areas and engage participants in a discussion about choice of teaching theories. They will then demonstrate one model and elicit feedback from the rest of the group. In conclusion, the group will focus on the importance of the Massachusetts bar exam modification, what it means for legal education, and how best to meet both the letter and the spirit of the Bar Examination challenge.

Session Material:

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See full list of abstracts here.