The Terry West Civil Legal Clinic is supported by the Sarkeys Foundation. It addresses access to justice for marginalized communities in Tulsa, with a particular focus on the intersection of legal needs within these communities. While serving individual clients, students also engage more broadly with the justice system and structural access to justice barriers. The clinic explores different mechanisms of advocacy, including court observations, fact-finding and reporting, impact litigation, and legislative advocacy. Students may also create know your rights materials and presentations.
The seminar and clinic work teach lawyering skills and explore the ethical, practical, theoretical, and strategic issues around legal advocacy and the lived experiences of individuals from marginalized communities. Students gain lawyering skills, including interviewing and counseling clients, fostering a lawyer-client relationship that empowers the client, developing factual and legal arguments, drafting legal briefs, and oral argument and advocacy. They also explore issues of professional responsibility, the role of the justice system in the lives of marginalized communities, their role as lawyers within this system, and ways to advocate both inside and outside of the courtroom.
Leveling the Playing Field in Tulsa’s Eviction Docket
During fall 2020, students in the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic continued to explore avenues of advocacy around Tulsa’s high eviction rate. Building on the clinic’s earlier report describing access to justice barriers on Tulsa’s eviction docket, students focused on the issue of access to counsel in eviction proceedings. Their report, Leveling the Playing Field, shows that representation is essential in order to advance justice, uphold due process and ensure people are able to take advantage of relief measures linked to the COVID-19 crisis. It also points to the cost savings from access to counsel programs and highlights the toll that eviction takes not just on those who are displaced, but also on neighborhoods, communities and public resources.
Read the full report here: Leveling the Playing Field, Jan. 13, 2021
Advancing Housing Justice in Tulsa
Students in the spring 2020 semester explored their role as lawyers in developing an effective advocacy strategy to address Tulsa’s high eviction rate, which ranks 11th in the country. Students observed eviction proceedings and decided to conduct an in-depth data analysis of the eviction docket to quantify the injustices they were observing. Combining their observations and data analysis, the clinic released a report highlighting procedural irregularities, access to justice barriers, power imbalances between landlords and tenants, and legal ethics concerns at the eviction docket. The report has informed broader advocacy efforts around eviction practices, courtroom processes, and legislative reforms to improve access to justice for marginalized communities.
Read the full report here: Advancing Housing Justice in Tulsa: An Examination of the Fed Docket, June 8, 2020
Know Your Rights Videos and Info
Created by Students in the Spring 2020 Terry West Civil Legal Clinic: Alex Myers, Joel Auringer, Josh McCann, Sage Martin, and Vic Wiener