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ABA, law schools team up to improve police practices

Oct. 19, 2020

Amid nationwide protests over racial injustice and call for police reform, the ABA, in collaboration with more than 50 U.S. law schools, announced Oct. 12 the formation of a Legal Education Police Practices Consortium. The consortium will examine and address legal issues in policing and public safety, including conduct, oversight and the evolving nature of police work.

The consortium will leverage the ABA’s expertise in developing model police practices and that of interested ABA-accredited law schools to collaborate on projects to develop and implement better police practices throughout the United States. Fifty-two law schools so far have agreed to participate in the consortium for the next five years.

“The ABA has the ability to bring together diverse groups to address these problems and the duty to act to help bring racial equality to our criminal justice system,” ABA President Patricia Lee Refo said. “The consortium will engage law students and legal experts from around the country in studying and forming solutions to help improve policing practices in our communities.”

Drawing on the geographic diversity of the ABA, the participating law schools and their networks, the consortium will advance the widespread adoption of model police practices and initiate other projects designed to support effective policing, promote racial equity in the criminal justice system and eliminate tactics that are racially motivated or have a disparate impact based on race.

The consortium will be based in the ABA Criminal Justice Section and will have input from and access to the full range of the ABA’s expertise and programs. Each law school will develop opportunities for its law students to participate. Law student assignments may include:

  • promoting existing ABA policies at the local, state and national levels;
  • developing new policy for potential consideration by the ABA House of Delegates;
  • engaging with police departments and local, state and national leaders on police practices;
  • conducting research to support scholarship related to consortium goals;
  • providing research support to public commentary and advocacy (op-eds, blogs and articles); and
  • developing model curricula for law schools related to consortium goals. 

Andrew Perlman, dean at Suffolk University Law School in Boston and one of the law school leaders behind the creation of the consortium, explained that “law schools around the nation are looking for ways to make a positive impact on police practices. The idea behind the consortium is that we can achieve a great deal by acting collectively and in collaboration with a national leader on criminal justice issues like the American Bar Association. We look forward to working together to make a difference in our communities and nationally.”

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