Attorney General Merrick Garland and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff thanked Albany Law School and 98 other law schools from around the United States for their collective work addressing the ongoing housing and eviction crisis in the United States in a webinar hosted by the White House on Friday, January 28.
Albany Law School President and Dean Alicia Ouellette was one of 99 law school deans that joined Garland, Emhoff, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo, and Senior Advisor to the President Gene Sperling in the virtual summit that reviewed work done by law schools around the nation to address the unfolding crisis.
Last August, Garland put out a call to action to law school deans warning of a potential eviction surge of over 6 million American households thanks, in part, to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and asking for help addressing the problem.
"In my August call to action, I referenced Robert Kennedy’s Call to Action at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, to use their knowledge and skills to protect the rights of the most vulnerable among us. Thank you for accepting the legal profession’s obligation in this new period to put your abilities to work, to support equal justice under law," Garland said. "I want to speak directly to the law school students in the audience. In the words of another Kennedy, you are the new generation of Americans to whom the torch of the legal obligation is passed. Your service this past 151 days assures me that the torch remains in good hands."
Clinical legal education—and the work done at law schools to help those facing housing insecurity—will play a crucial role in making sure Americans do not lose their homes, federal officials added.
With a 50-year history of clinical education primarily through The Justice Center, Albany Law School was one of the first to answer the Attorney General’s call. According to the White House, over the past five months, Albany Law students joined over 2,100 others from 35 states and Puerto Rico to dedicate over 81,000 hours of legal service to over 10,000 households.
Earlier this month, De Barbieri penned an op-ed for the NY Daily News focusing on what renters and property owners in New York may face, what shortfalls should be fixed ahead of the moratorium’s end, and what rights they have during a potential foreclosure or eviction proceeding.
"Courts cannot do it alone...They need all of you—law students willing to step up and make a difference—to help make these programs work. While the network of legal services organizations around the country has been hard at work to keep people in their homes, the challenge has required all hands on deck, including law schools and law students. You’ve been critical to helping connect potential litigants with rental assistance programs, to mediating disputes, and if necessary, to representing the unrepresented in court," said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.