An ongoing dispute between the University of Maryland School of Law and the Maryland Legislature is raising the ire of the American Bar Association.
Last week, the state Senate passed a budget amendment slashing $250,000 from the university’s budget if its environmental law clinic refuses to turn over its expenditures and client roster in a lawsuit against Perdue Farms on March 2. The clinic alleged that the poultry giant is illegally discharging pollution into the Franklin Branch and Pocomoke River, which feed into the Chesapeake Bay.
The National Law Journal reported on the case and the legislature’s response here.
In a statement released today, ABA President Carolyn Lamm said the information being demanded is confidential because law clinics are “bound by the same ethical constraints” as law firms.
“The proposed legislation is such an intrusion on the attorney-client relationship because of the information that is required to be revealed that it is not tolerable,” she said.
Also in the statement, Lamm said these types of legislation threaten the educational process because law clinics are meant to provide students with an opportunity to “help real clients confront real problems,” even when the issue is controversial.
“I urge those who would undermine clinical law school programs to step back and remember that the rule of law cannot survive if pressure prevents lawyers from fulfilling their responsibilities to their clients,” she said.