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College of Law

TU law students find injustice with Tulsa eviction cases

A study conducted by a group of students from The University of Tulsa College of Law’s Terry West Civil Legal Clinic shows Tulsans living in economic disparity face a legal system weighted against them, with only two out of 1,395 tenants prevailing in eviction proceedings in January. Tulsa has one of the top eviction rates in the country. The ease of eviction filings combined with barriers to justice for tenants has contributed to the growing problem. “Demand on the eviction docket makes it impossible to meet the competing pressures of fairness and efficiency,” said Assistant Clinical Professor of Law Roni Amit.

In 2019, landlords initiated 14,315 evictions against residential tenants in Tulsa County. As of March 12, eviction filings in 2020 had reached roughly 2,936, more than 1,000 per month before the court shut down on March 16. The COVID-19 crisis has brought little relief to the city or state’s housing issues. While eviction proceedings were put on hold, eviction filings were not, resulting in 2,680 eviction filings between March 16 and May 22, with 976 of those in Tulsa County. As the courts reopen, this situation stands to exacerbate existing problems in the eviction process, raising the prospect of increased evictions. The access to justice barriers identified in the report have been heightened as a result of the social distancing measures put in place by the court.

Eviction proceedings resumed on June 1 — at a time of increased individual and public health implications when identifying the justice barriers that contribute to evictions is essential. Students from the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic observed the Tulsa County eviction docket multiple times for a roughly two-month period from January through March 13, 2020, the last day that the court was open. Their report includes a data analysis of the eviction docket for the month of January, identifying trends and additional areas of concern. The report highlights that most cases are resolved through hallway negotiations in which tenants may be unaware of their rights and confused about the procedures in which they often are negotiating with a landlord’s attorney — a role they may not fully understand as representing the other side.

Read the full report or contact TU Assistant Clinical Professor of Law Roni Amit with the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic for more information.

Spoo honored with Outstanding Researcher Award

The University of Tulsa has selected Robert Spoo, Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law, for the 2020 Outstanding Researcher Award. The accolade is a lifetime distinction, received only once in an individual’s career. It is intended to honor career-spanning achievements that have been validated in the scholar’s professional field.

spooSpoo’s interdisciplinary research focuses on authorship, copyrights and the public domain. He is a fellow in the 2020-21 Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University and will explore the courtesy norms that 19th century American publishers established to fill the U.S. copyright vacuum for foreign authors’ works.

His other prestigious awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016 from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Spoo joined the TU College of Law in 2008 after clerking for now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (then a judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) and practicing law with major firms in New York, Tulsa and San Francisco. Prior to his legal career, he was a tenured English professor and editor of the James Joyce Quarterly at TU.

“Bob is not only a wonderful colleague but also an outstanding scholar, teacher, mentor and researcher,” said Lyn Entzeroth, dean of the TU College of Law. “We are proud of how his extensive research and writing has advanced the fields of law and literature.”

Candidates for the Outstanding Researcher awards were nominated by deans from the Kendall College of Arts and SciencesCollege of Engineering and Natural SciencesCollins College of Business and the Oxley College of Health Sciences. Nominees were selected for their recognition of outstanding research and scholarship achievements based on a single project or a cumulative contribution. Other considerations included pedagogical awards, honors from scholarly societies, grants, publication citation counts or other forms of public recognition.

TU Law named among the Princeton Review’s Best Law Schools for 2019

TU Law named among the Princeton Review’s Best Law Schools for 2019

The University of Tulsa College of Law is one of 165 outstanding law schools featured in the Princeton Review’s list of Best Law Schools 2019. TU was selected based on data collected from the surveys of more than 17,000 students and administrators at law schools nationwide. See the complete list.

best law schoolsThe 2019 release of best schools focuses on academics, student life, admissions information, career prospects, graduate employment data and campus diversity. The complete list of 165 schools is not ranked, but 12 ranking lists are reported among the cohort, naming the top 10 schools in a specific category. Schools are scored from 60 to 99 in five rating categories. TU College of Law scored 87 or above in the five rating areas of academic experience, interesting professors, accessibility of professors, admissions selectivity and career. Learn more about the methodology.

In addition to the College of Law, TU is featured in several other Princeton Review lists including the 2018 edition of Guide to 399 Green Colleges, 2019 College Guide Best 384 Colleges.

The Princeton Review is a leading tutoring, test prep and college admission services company that helps millions of college and graduate school prospects achieve their education and career goals.

Law student discovers passion for immigration law at TU

As a young adult, Alec Bracken knew that he wanted a career helping those who couldn’t help themselves. He chose the study of law and moved his family to Tulsa from Utah to attend The University of Tulsa College of Law. In his first year, he discovered his passion for immigration law and has recently accepted a summer fellowship with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HRIC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“I am the type of person who likes to do everything I can to fix problems. When I watched a team of doctors help my hospitalized wife and daughter several years ago, I saw that they were doing things I couldn’t because of their advanced education. It was then that I realized I wanted to go back to school to learn how I could help others too, and that ultimately led me to the field of law,” said Bracken.

When it came time to research and select a law school, Bracken chose TU Law for its immigration law opportunities. “I quickly learned that the group of people most in need of help in this country were undocumented immigrants,” Bracken said. “When I learned that TU operated an immigration clinic where I could learn and help people at the same time, I knew it was the right place for me.”

“TU Law is a small school with big opportunities.”

Now in his second year of law school, Bracken has become a leader in immigration-related law organizations and activities. He has worked at the Immigrant Rights Project — a one-semester, six-credit clinical educational program and the Tulsa Immigrant Resource Network — a legal incubator providing clients with direct representation in immigration proceedings. He also founded TU’s first immigration law society, immLAW.

immLAW, one of TU’s largest student organizations with 80 members, has given more than 200 hours of service to the local immigrant community including immigration education events for law students and area residents. This past year, four members of the organization traveled to an immigrant detention center in Texas where they prepared women and children asylum-seekers for interviews about their credible fear of torture or persecution if they were denied asylum. As immLAW has grown, so has the contingent traveling to Texas to help those seeking asylum. This year, 18 students and translators will travel to Karnes County Family Immigration Detention Center where those seeking asylum are detained until they can establish a credible fear to return to their home countries.

“TU Law is a small school with big opportunities,” said Bracken. “I have benefitted from mentor relations and have done so many things I couldn’t have done in a larger school. I debated transferring to another college to be closer to family but realized that being at TU brought me more opportunities, and I’m happy I’m here.”

Selected for Harvard Immigration Clinic Summer Fellowship

This summer Bracken will participate in the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic’s summer fellowship program. Those selected take the lead in representing clients from all over the world who are seeking protection from being returned to human rights abuses in their country of origin, as well as those who are seeking protection from exile after years of living in the United States. Bracken will work at Harvard and Greater Boston Legal Services while concurrently taking a course in Immigration and Refugee Advocacy.

Hear Preston Brasch talk about externing at Harvard Immigration Clinic

Bracken credits his professors, Matt Lamkin and Mimi Marton for taking a keen interest in his career and helping him discover new opportunities. After graduation, Bracken will become a public interest attorney. “I want to work for an organization where the client’s ability to pay does not affect their access to legal services,” Bracken said.

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