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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Michael Wishnie ’93 Named William O. Douglas Clinical Professor of Law

Michael Wishnie ’93, a clinical professor of law at Yale Law School and director of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization (LSO), has been named the William O. Douglas Clinical Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Professor Wishnie joined Yale Law School in 2006 and assumed directorship of LSO in February 2011, following the announcement of the departure of longtime director Bob Solomon. He previously taught for eight years at New York University School of Law. His teaching, scholarship, and law practice have focused on immigration, labor and employment, habeas corpus, civil rights, and veterans law. He currently teaches the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, Veterans Legal Services Clinic, Advanced 9-11 Clinic, and Federal Courts: Selected Topics.

“Throughout the country, Mike Wishnie is regarded as a pathbreaking clinical professor,” said Dean Robert Post ’77. “Mike offers cutting-edge reconceptualizations of the lawyer’s role. He teaches our students how to link structural legal change to community empowerment.”

For many years, Wishnie and his students have represented a wide range of community groups, churches, labor unions, and individuals in litigation and other forms of advocacy to defend and advance the rights of working people, immigrants, and in his newest clinic, veterans. This work has led to a variety of notable cases in recent years, including the representation in Immigration Court and in federal civil rights litigation of the so-called “Danbury 11,” a group of day laborers who challenged the legality of their arrest in an undercover sting operation carried out by local Danbury police officers in 2006; representation in Immigration Court and civil rights litigation of 30 persons arrested by ICE agents in a series of home raids in New Haven in June 2007, 48 hours after the New Haven Board of Aldermen had overwhelmingly approved the Mayor’s proposal to establish an optional municipal ID card program, open to all city residents regardless of immigration status; representation of a disabled Navy veteran demanding that the VA recognize her same-sex marriage and provide spousal disability benefits; representation of residents, shop-keepers, and a church challenging anti-Latino profiling and police violence in East Haven, Connecticut; and representation of Vietnam Veterans of America in a suit alleging the Pentagon wrongfully discharged 26,000 service members since 2001 on the basis of personality disorder rather than post-traumatic stress disorder or other medical conditions so as to avoid having to pay medical and disability benefits to these veterans.

Apart from litigation, in recent years Wishnie and his students have represented an interfaith coalition in its successful effort to secure state legislation providing in-state tuition to Connecticut residents regardless of immigration status; Hartford community groups in persuading the city’s Common Council to update its living wage ordinance and to enact the nation’s strongest municipal law governing confidentiality of immigration status; other community organizations in convincing New Haven to adopt a policy of non-enforcement of civil immigration laws and to offer the nation’s first optional municipal ID card to all residents regardless of immigration status; persuading Immigration and Customs Enforcement to adopt a policy prohibiting the deportation of immigrants involved in pending civil rights lawsuits and to eliminate its prior policy of imposing annual arrest quotas on its sub-offices; and in persuading the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to launch a major investigation that resulted in the release last month of detailed findings that the East Haven Police Department has engaged in a pattern of systematic discrimination against Latinos.

Professor Wishnie received his B.A. from Yale University in 1987 and his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1993.

The William O. Douglas Clinical Professorship of Law was established in 1989 by a gift from Mrs. Gordon B. Tweedy and her daughters in memory of Gordon Bradford Tweedy ’32, on the occasion of the anniversaries of his graduation from Yale College and Yale Law School, and in honor of the Honorable William O. Douglas, Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1939–75.