The University of Tulsa College of Law community is thrilled to welcome Roni Amit as an assistant clinical professor and the director of its Terry West Civil Legal Clinic, which is made possible through a generous grant from the Sarkeys Foundation. Amit joined TU Law on August 1, 2019, and she will spend her first semester planning the shape and direction of the college’s newest addition to its clinical education program.
“My colleagues and I are very pleased to welcome Roni Amit to the TU College of Law,” said Dean Lyn Entzeroth. “Under her leadership, I believe the Terry West clinic will offer an enriching learning experience for our students while addressing important legal needs in the community.”
Amit will be bringing with her a wealth of experience and energy. Since 2017, she has been a clinical fellow in the Deportation Defense Clinic at Hofstra University School of Law, where she worked with immigrant communities on Long Island. Amit’s scholarship focuses on rights protection, administrative processes and the efficacy of public interest litigation, and she has been extensively involved in research and advocacy in the areas of access to justice and human rights in the United States, Israel and South Africa.
“Sarkeys is very excited to partner with Roni Amit for the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic at the University of Tulsa College of Law,” said Kim Henry, the Sarkeys Foundation’s executive director. “Roni has all the credentials we were looking for in a person to run this very worthwhile program. We are thrilled to welcome her to Oklahoma and look forward to working with her and assisting in what will be many years of success in improving the lives of Oklahomans.”
In order to get to know our new colleague better, we recently had a wide-ranging chat about Amit’s view of clinical education programs, her hopes for the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic and what she’s looking forward to about living here in Oklahoma. Here are our questions and Amit’s thoughtful responses.
What roles do law schools’ legal clinics/clinical education programs play in training JD students and in serving the community?
“Legal clinics have an important social justice role to play within the community. By engaging with the community on multiple levels, clinics can serve individual clients and also advocate for broader structural reforms that advance social justice, pursuing advocacy both inside and outside of the courtroom.
“In addition to developing concrete lawyering skills, for me, one of the most important aspects of clinical legal education is the opportunity it provides students to see how the law works outside of the classroom. Students are exposed to the role of the law in the lives of marginalized communities, which may be very different from how it is represented in the classroom and in case law.
“Legal clinics also give students the chance to work with individuals whose life experiences may be very different from their own and to think about their role as lawyers, about the lawyering process, and about how best to advocate for their clients by understanding the law within the broader context of poverty, discrimination, and the power dynamics underpinning the law.”
What are you looking forward to accomplishing as director of the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic? What is your vision for this clinic?
“My vision for the clinic is to make justice real for marginalized people. The promise and potential of legal rights often remain inaccessible to those lacking political and economic capital. I hope to develop the clinic and TU Law as an integral part of the community and an important resource for community members in accessing their legal rights.
“This engagement will also teach students to actively use the law as an instrument for social change. I envision the clinic engaging with issues affecting the community through a range of advocacy strategies building on local dynamics to find the most effective mechanisms for individual and structural change. By fostering increased student and community engagement with the legal system, the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic will empower community members to use the law to overcome legacies of exclusion and discrimination, while exposing students to the ways in which these legacies interact with the legal system.”
You live and work on the east coast and you received your doctorate on the west coast. What’s drawing you to come live and work down here in the southern Heartland? What are you looking forward to professionally and personally from this big move and lifestyle change?
“My experience in the U.S., South Africa and elsewhere taught me both the integral role that local dynamics play in driving social change and the importance of bringing local priorities into national campaigns. I hope to use my background and experiences to build coalitions that ensure that the experiences of Tulsa’s marginalized communities are reflected in local and national campaigns. I am looking forward to joining Tulsa’s dynamic activist community and complementing their important social justice work.
“On a personal level, I am excited to trade in my Brooklyn apartment and daily three-hour commute for a house with a yard – and maybe even a dog. I am also looking forward to exploring Tulsa’s parks and vibrant culture.”
TU Law: Committed to public service
At TU Law, we believe in instilling a lifelong commitment to public service by providing opportunities for students, faculty and staff to volunteer with community-based organizations that address unmet legal needs and give back to our neighbors. Over the past year, our members contributed 3,752 pro bono and public service hours as well as 16,485 legal clinic hours.