ABA, law schools study legal issues in policing, public safety


The American Bar Association and dozens of law schools across the country — including Wayne State University Law School, Western Michigan University Cooley Law and Michigan State University College of Law – are joining together to study legal issues in policing and public safety.

The goal is to create a model for police practices, promote racial equity in the criminal justice system and eliminate tactics that are racially motivated or have a disparate impact based on race, according to those involved with the initiative.

It’s a five-year project called the Legal Education Police Practices Consortium.

The consortium will leverage the ABA’s expertise in developing model police practices and that of interested ABA-accredited law schools to collaborate on projects to develop and implement better police practices throughout the United States.

Fifty-two law schools so far have agreed to participate in the consortium for the next five years.

“The ABA has the ability to bring together diverse groups to address these problems and the duty to act to help bring racial equality to our criminal justice system,” ABA President Patricia Lee Refo said.

“The consortium will engage law students and legal experts from around the country in studying and forming solutions to help improve policing practices in our communities.”

Drawing on the geographic diversity of the ABA, the participating law schools and their networks, the consortium will advance the widespread adoption of model police practices and initiate other projects designed to support effective policing, promote racial equity in the criminal justice system and eliminate tactics that are racially motivated or have a disparate impact based on race.

The consortium will be organized and housed within the ABA Criminal Justice Section and will have input from and access to the full range of the ABA’s expertise and programs.

Each participating law school will develop opportunities for one or more of its law students to engage in consortium activities. Law student participant assignments may include:

• promoting existing ABA policies at the local, state and national levels;

• developing new policy for potential consideration by the ABA House of Delegates;

• engaging with police departments and local, state and national leaders on police practices;

• conducting research to support scholarship related to consortium goals;

• providing support to public commentary and advocacy (research for op-eds, blogs and articles); and

• developing model curricula for law schools related to consortium goals.

“Law schools around the nation are looking for ways to make a positive impact on police practices,” said Andrew Perlman, dean at Suffolk University Law School in Boston and one of the law school leaders behind the creation of the consortium.

“The idea behind the consortium is that we can achieve a great deal by acting collectively and in collaboration with a national leader on criminal justice issues like the American Bar Association.”


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