UC Hastings takes partnership with Haitian legal clinic to a new level

From Feb. 7 to 12, 2019, UC Hastings hosted a ground- breaking symposium and train-the-trainers workshop to support what may be the only in-house law school legal aid clinic currently operating in Haiti, the Clinique de recherche d’analyse et d’assistance légale de l’ESCDROJ (CRAALE). This clinic, which represents indigent detainees in the local prison, is part of the law school l’École Supérieure Catholique de Droit de Jérémie (ESCDROJ), located in Jérémie, Haiti. The partner- ship between UC Hastings and ESCDROJ dates back 20 years, when Professors Richard Boswell and Karen Musalo first began working with Dean Jomanas Eustache of ESCDROJ. The goal of February’s conference was to provide concrete training and support for curricular development to strengthen CRAALE in its early formative phase.

This was the first exchange to take place under sibling grants that the U.S. Embassy in Haiti awarded to UC Hastings and ESCDROJ late last year. The second exchange is anticipated this fall and will consist of a delegation of UC Hastings faculty and students traveling to ESCDROJ to continue the curricular devel- opment and clinical training.

Clinical legal education is scarce in Haiti. During the symposium and workshop, the Haitian delegates exchanged ideas and worked with their UC Hastings hosts to develop and augment their clinical curriculum. UC Hastings faculty and students modeled a range of effective legal clinic methodologies. The symposium was chaired by Professor Kate Bloch and saw the participation of other UC Hastings faculty, including Richard Boswell, Betsy Candler, Karen Musalo, Nicole Phillips, Mai Linh Spencer, and Jessica Vapnek. UC Hastings students also participated as note takers and interpreters.

A highlight of the week was a visit to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, where Jeff Adachi ’85, who died days later, spoke with the Haitian delegation. A visit to the San Francisco Superior Court and City Hall; a presentation by Judge Eumi Lee, a former UC Hastings professor; and the daylong Northern California Clinicians’ Conference at Golden Gate University Law School rounded out the Haitian delegates’ stay in San Francisco.

The symposium and workshop provided essential training opportunities at a critical juncture for CRAALE. Launched less than two years ago, the clinic is already providing legal representation to pretrial detainees but is still in a very early phase. The two academic exchanges supported by the U.S. Embassy are designed to share insights and support the CRAALE educators in their quest to develop the clinic and, ultimately, to enable CRAALE to serve as a role model for clinical legal edu- cation throughout Haiti, the Caribbean region, and beyond.