B.S., Southampton College, Long Island UniversityJ.D., Albany Law School
Prof. Bridgit M. Burke had been a part of Albany Law School’s clinical education program since 1994 and served as the Director of the Civil Rights and Disability Law Clinic for more than a decade. In her role as a clinical professor she guided students in their development of professional identity, judgment and litigation and advocacy skills. She had been a leader in developing learning objectives and outcomes for students in the clinical program at Albany Law School. In 2011 Prof. Burke accepted the Clinical Legal Education Association’s Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case, for the work students have done on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities under her supervision. In 2009 she was awarded New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council’s Community Leader award.She also had served on the law school’s long range planning committee.
Prof. Burke earned a B.S. at Southampton College of Long Island University and a J.D. from Albany Law School. Prior to joining Albany Law School’s faculty she served as a staff attorney with Chemung County Neighborhood Legal Services, representing indigent people, and as an associate attorney with Levine & Weissman, a law firm in Manhattan.
Subject Matter Files (.pdf)
CRDLP Manual (.pdf)
Education Improvement Act of 2004
Established in 1983, the Civil Rights & Disabilities Law Project (CRDLP) of Albany Law School is a clinical course and a legal advocacy project providing representation to clients with disabilities in the Capital District and Hudson Valley Region (11 counties). The CRDLP receives grants from the NYS Commission on Quality of Care to provide legal assistance, advocacy and training on behalf of people with developmental disabilities. Second and third year law students represent disabled clients under the supervision of the clinical instructor and staff attorney, in cases involving such issues as appropriate education, entitlement to public benefits and civil rights. In representing CRDLP clients, students provide an important community service and assume a serious responsibility. Student efforts may determine, for example, whether a child with a disability receives an appropriate education, whether a family with a disabled member obtains access to appropriate medical and financial support, and whether an individual obtains relief from discrimination based on disability.
A full range of litigation and lawyering experiences are offered to the students: conducting client interviews, client counseling, fact investigation, case planning, memoranda and briefs, drafting pleading, examining witnesses for trial and administrative hearings, making oral arguments and negotiating appropriate settlements. CRDLP students have appeared on behalf of clients in Family Court, NYS Supreme Court, U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals, as well as in a variety of administrative hearings. All students will have the opportunity to work on a variety of interesting and challenging cases and will work directly with clients, the community, other professionals and opposing attorneys.
The practice component of the clinic entails a minimum of 10 hours per week. There is also a 2-hour weekly class on lawyering skills and review of cases. Students are eligible for admission to practice in court under the New York or federal "Student Practice Rule."
The Civil Rights & Disabilities Law Project (CRDLP) promotes the civil rights of people with disabilities. Students are assigned cases involving issues of disability discrimination, education rights and denial of public benefits. Clinic faculty and staff work closely with students to provide support and supervision in all aspects of representation. By assuming full responsibility for a limited number of cases in a structured educational environment, students will develop skills necessary to be effective attorneys.
Students are graded on I) planning skills, II) performance skills, III) post-performance or reflection skills, and IV) professional responsibility. The Albany Law School Clinic's grading/evaluation criteria are reflected in the following CRDLP educational goals:
1. LEARNING TO ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR CLIENTS
As law interns in the CRDLP, you will work for real clients on real cases that may have significant impact on your clients' lives. Although you will work under clinical instructor, you are the client's attorney. Therefore, the primary responsibility is yours. We will ease the transition from law student to lawyer by providing guidance, feedback and consultation on all phases of case activity in the clinic and by providing a setting where you are encouraged to reflect on all of the decisions you must make in representing clients. (I, IV)
2. LEARNING TO IDENTIFY, ANALYZE AND SOLVE PROBLEMS
Every action you take on your cases will require planning, collaboration, time management and decision making. By working collaboratively with others, including your faculty supervisors, you will learn to consider and analyze all aspects of your cases and think creatively to devise solutions to your clients' problems. (I, III)
3. LEARNING THE IMPORTANCE OF FACTS AND EVIDENCE
In most of your other courses, you are provided with the facts and asked to apply doctrine to the given facts. In practice, however, you must find investigate and analyze the facts, and determine how best to turn facts into evidence to present to a court or other fact-finder.(I, II)
4. EXPLORING PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND LEGAL ETHICS
All lawyers should be cognizant of their ethical and professional responsibilities to clients and to the profession. Clinics provide an excellent forum to confront and address some of the issues of professional responsibility that face all lawyers. You will begin to think about how your personal values and choices impact on your client representation, and how your lawyering can influence others. (III, IV)
5. LEARNING A VARIETY OF LAWYERING SKILLS
In addition to the skills already listed (problem solving, developing facts and evidence, considering ethical issues, etc.), you will have the opportunity to gain experience in some or all of the following lawyering skills: client interviewing and counseling, time management, corresponding with clients, legal research, drafting briefs and memoranda, drafting legal documents, negotiation and trial advocacy. (I, II)
6. LEARNING HOW TO LEARN
Law school and the clinic are just the beginning of what should be a life-long process of learning the law from experience. By developing your reflective and self-corrective skills, the CRDLP will assist you in continuing your legal education throughout your careers. This will offer another opportunity in learning how to learn. (III)
7. LEARNING SUBSTANTIVE LAW
Disabilities law is a varied, complex and interesting area of study. You may find yourself involved in constitutional issues, guardianship or consent matters, educational law or civil rights. We will guide you researching this body of law and doctrine to enable you to apply disability law to various cases. You will develop the ability to teach yourself new areas of law. (I, II, III)
8. PROVIDING EXCELLENT CLIENT REPRESENTATION
The CRDLP is not just a law school course. It is also a law office. It is our obligation, therefore, to make sure that all of our clients receive excellent representation. Students are expected to develop sensitivity to the client's needs and goals. Preparation is the key. When you put in the work, you and your clients will be rewarded. (II, IV)
To: CRDLP StudentsFrom: Prof. BurkeDate: August 15, 2005Subject: Grading Process
A. Grading/ Evaluation Criteria:
A clinic student's grade is based on an assessment of the student's performance in pre-performance skills/planning, performance skills, post-performance skills/ reflection and correction and professional responsibilities. Each area represents 25% of the grade. There is also the opportunity for some modification of the grade based on special recognition. Students may get extra credit in this area if they have done something which is not reflected in the other areas. Of course students will only be judged based on the nature of their cases. For example, the fact that they did not have the opportunity to go to trial will not impact their grade. Further the grades will not be assigned according to a curve. The following is a descriptions of each area:
1. Pre-performance skills/planning: Students are expected to demonstrate competent skills in case-planning, case organization, collaboration, following office procedures and time management. For example it is expected that the students will maintain organized files in accordance with the clinical filing system and check into the clinic each day for telephone and e-mail messages, mail, notes, etc.
2. Performance skills: Students are expected to demonstrate competent ability in engaging in lawyering activities such as: client counseling, interviewing, fact investigation, negotiating, research, legal analysis and writing, drafting legal documents, examining witnesses, oral advocacy, and corresponding with clients and relevant parties. Students are also expected to demonstrate that they have acquired knowledge of the applicable law and procedure and familiarity with the necessary facts.
3. Post-performance skills/reflection and correction: Students are expected to be reflective and self-corrective. Students must demonstrate the ability to assess and critique their own and others' performances. Students must show that they have learned from their initial experiences and can incorporate that knowledge in the next experience. Students are expected to share their experiences with other students in a positive way to foster cooperative decision making. Students must demonstrate the ability to critically review and evaluate the legal system through the clients' experience and reflect on their role within the system.
4. Professional Responsibilities: Students must behave in a professionally responsible manner at all times in dealings with clients, the community, colleagues and opposing counsel. Students must demonstrate sensitivity to client needs, concerns and goals and knowledge of ethical rules. For example, students must represent their clients zealously, preserve client confidences, respect client autonomy and exercise independent professional judgment on client's behalf. Students are also expected to act responsibly and sensitively in their lawyering roles.
5. Special Recognition: Other aspects of work in the clinic that are not otherwise described above but which deserve special recognition (e.g., exceptional effort, outstanding improvement and growth as advocate, excellent judgment, achievement of personal goals.)
B. Evaluation Process:
Within the first two weeks of the semester the clinical professor will provide the students with a written description of the four areas which the student will be graded on and the professor will provide the students with a verbal explanation of the professor's expectations in each of those areas. Also in the first weeks of the semester students will be given the Educational Planning form to complete. Once the student has completed the form, the student should meet with the professor to discuss the students plan.
At mid-semester the student will be asked to review the grading criteria form and provide a written self evaluation to their professor. The professor shall meet with each of the students at mid-semester. During this meeting the professor and student shall review the student's performance and discuss meaningful goals consistent with the grading criteria for the student's performance for the remainder of the semester. The agreed upon goals shall be written up and copies shall be given to the student and the professor.
At the end of the semester the student will be asked to review the grading criteria and the mid-semester goal agreement and to again do a written self evaluation. The professor and the student should also sit down and review the student's performance. For students in a year long program, the professor should again agree to ongoing individualized goals. Also at the end of the semester the professor shall provide the student with a written evaluation of the student's performance. The written evaluation shall address each of the four areas identified in the grading criteria and the individualized goals established at mid-semester.
C. Attachments: (.pdf)
1. Personal Worksheet
2. Mid-Semester Self Evaluation Form
3. End of Semester Self Evaluation Form
4. Albany Law School Clinical Legal Studies Grading Criteria
Disability Law: Internet Research and Resources, chapter 8 in Disability Law and Practice: Special Education, Assistive Technology and Vocational Rehabilitation (New York State Bar Association, 2013).
The Tao of Professionalism in BECOMING A COMPETENT PRACTITIONER, United Kingdom Center for Legal Education's Fifth Vocational Teachers Forum
My Quinn Lee Story, 8 (no.1) The Thomas M. Cooley Journal of Practical and Clinical Law 43 (2006)myquinnleestory.pdf
Professor Bridgit Burke was interviewed about new Justice Center legislation on WCNY's The Capitol Pressroom on June 19.
Bridgit M. Burke, the director of the Civil Rights and Disabilities
Law Clinic at Albany Law School, said she was concerned that a new
nonprofit group being set up to monitor the state’s handling of
vulnerable populations would have little access to documents related to
abuse and neglect, according to the legislation’s fine print.
“Over all, I think there are a lot of positive things, but I am also
very concerned and therefore would encourage people not to vote for it
right now, the way it is,” she said.
From the article "Senate Passes Bill Creating Monitor for Disabled Care" in The New York Times on May 16.
“The governor should act quickly,” said Bridgit M. Burke, who runs the Civil Rights and Disabilities Law Clinic at Albany Law School, one of the groups that has a contract with the commission. “We have to have independence and we have to be able to take action when we see people’s rights are being violated.”
From the article " State Ponders Relinquishing Its Oversight of Vulnerable" in The New York Times on April 24.