1. What do you do and how did you get involved with this work?
I am the Executive Director of the Clinic--which basically means that I try to practice gratitude to all who make our mission possible; to be available to our staff to encourage them; to collate all of the awesome ideas our staff, Board, and Clinic-friends have in order to form a vision for the future; and try not to worry about money too much.
I got involved with the work in law school a LONG time ago. The Clinic was the premier place to do immigration work and I volunteered to take on an asylum case in my last semester of law school. It was trajectory-wrecking and purpose-defining for me. God showed me that my law degree could be used to walk alongside of those who have been marginalized and it has been a beautiful labor of love ever since.
2. In your opinion, what is the most important thing currently happening in your field and why is it so important?
People are thinking about how to make the legal system work for actual people, and not just people with law degrees. We've still got a long way to go, but I am hopeful that we can begin to simplify access to our legal system as the years go on. The thought-experiment that we are doing is asking, "What would the legal system be like if it were made to be accessible?" Imagine that.
3. The Clinic primarily serves low-income individuals and families with unmet legal needs. How do you see your work impacting and affecting that community?
I think the Clinic's work has great importance for three reasons: legal issues travel along with poverty, communities have great potential but need a person who can navigate byzantine systems, and Jesus' kingdom becomes just a little more clear to the world with each act of justice done in his name. The law can be both a barrier and a boon, and I think that's something that the Clinic can help our communities with.
4. What resources--books, TED Talks, articles, etc.--do you recommend to those who are interested in learning about and engaging with this community?
Who doesn't love a good book/resource list? Here's what I would say:
TED Talk: Bryan Stevenson, "We need to talk about an injustice"
Report: The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans
5. WILD CARD: We know you try to read 100 books every year, so you must have a lot of favorites. But if you were forced to choose, what are your 3 desert island books and why?
* The Bible: This is the book that I attempt to start every day with...with varying degrees of discipline! The Bible is my primary informer when it comes to what God's heart for justice looks like and how Jesus would walk alongside the marginalized of our day. Isaiah 1:17--Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
* The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: This is the perfect book for a gloomy day when you want a murder-mystery with a philosophical touch. It probes awesomely deep questions of justice, God, and family and leaves you feeling elated and sorta depressed, all at the same time. A must-read, in my mind.
* Anything by Flannery O'Connor. Okay, so this is a little bit of cheating, but O'Connor's ability to probe into the human psyche, as well as startle me with her ferocious insights keep me coming back time and again.