RWU Law has many strengths, as any reader of this blog knows, and two are officially recognized in our Feinstein Institute for Legal Service and our Marine Affairs Institute. Both centers of excellence are staffed by superb lawyers, sponsor important programs, and provide our students with excellent, and unique, opportunities for experiential learning.
Feinstein is the institutional home for our public interest and judicial externship programs, our nationally-recognized Pro Bono Collaborative, and our mandatory public service program. One of the Feinstein stars is Liz Tobin Tyler, who oversees the law school’s role in the Rhode Island Medical-Legal Partnership for Children, in which RWU law students and Brown Medical School students work on-site at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. The students provide comprehensive assistance to low-income children and their families to address medical conditions that may addressed by legal advocacy and remedies (for example, addressing the housing conditions of a child with asthma or who is at risk for lead poisoning). Liz teaches a joint class with Brown Medical School in which our law students learn side-by-side with medical students about legal remedies for health disparities. As a result of her innovative work, Liz appears on panels around the country, and is putting finishing touches on the first casebook on poverty, health, and law for medical/legal education.
Our second-in-command at the Marine Affairs Institute is making her mark, too. Julia Wyman joined us last year from the Coastal States Organization, where she helped write an amicus brief in an important case in the Supreme Court of the United States dealing with the balance between the property rights of owners of beachfront property and state obligations to provide compensation for “takings.” After the decision in Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (a rare unanimous opinion from the oft-fractured Court), Julia was asked to provide her reflections on the decision, which she now has published: “In States we Trust: The Importance of the Preservation of the Public Trust Doctrine in the Wake of Climate Change.”