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Law clinic receives $557,000 in grants to help represent needy

Loyola press release - August 13, 2012

The Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice in the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law is the recipient of several grants totaling $557,000 for the next three years. The grants were given to the Workplace Justice Project in the clinic, which educates, litigates and advocates for low-wage workers in the greater New Orleans area and for policy changes in Louisiana.

The clinic received a three-year grant for $450,000 from Baptist Community Ministries of New Orleans, which will allow the clinic to maintain the WJP, hire a new staff attorney, continue efforts in education, litigation and advocacy, and to become a resource center for low-wage workers and worker advocates. BCM is a private foundation that provides financial support to nonprofit organizations in the five-parish greater New Orleans region. BCM is committed to the development of a healthy community offering a wholesome quality of life to its residents and to improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of the individuals it serves.

In 2012, the clinic received $22,000 from the IMPACT 2011 Program at the Greater New Orleans Foundation and $50,000 from the Foundation for Louisiana. The GNOF grant allows the clinic to continue to operate the weekly Wage Claim Clinic and worker education programs. The Foundation for Louisiana grant funds the WJP’s policy work, including the successful introduction of a study resolution on the issue of wage theft, which was adopted by the Louisiana Legislature in the 2012 session.

The clinic also received a $35,000 grant from the Louisiana Bar Foundation for 2012-13, which will fund the clinic’s litigation work.

“We are excited to be able to serve our most vulnerable workers, while sensitizing future lawyers to issues of social justice and how they might create necessary change in their communities,” said clinical professor Luz M. Molina, J.D., who directs the WJP.

The grants received by the WJP will also allow Molina and her team to expand their education program, which includes workshops for workers, lawyers and law students; raising the profile of language issues; and promoting policies that create and sustain just working environments.

The WJP at the clinic began in response to the need for legal counsel for the influx of immigrants and low-wage workers that moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help with rebuilding efforts. Almost seven years later, there is still high demand for legal counsel to protect the rights of low-wage workers.

The clinic, which has recovered more than $500,000 in lost wages since 2005, allows third-year law students the opportunity to represent indigent clients under the supervision of experienced attorneys. By participating, student practitioners not only have the chance to experience firsthand what it’s like to represent clients, but they also have an opportunity to further the Jesuit ideals of scholarship and service at Loyola by providing legal representation to the needy.

For more information on the grants or the clinics, contact Molina at 504-861-5598 or molina@loyno.edu.