Leadership in Law 2014: Fran Quigley

Clinical Professor of Law, Health and Human Rights Clinic, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis • Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, 1987

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15col-Quigley.jpg Fran Quigley (IL photo/Eric Learned)

When Fran Quigley sees people in crisis, he works tirelessly to get them the help they need. In his role as a clinical professor of law, he mentors and shapes the career paths of students who have chosen his expertise: human rights. He founded the Health and Human Rights Clinic at IU McKinney School of Law in 2011, where students work with low-income clients in the community. Fran is also a co-founder of the Legal Aid Centre of Eldoret, Kenya’s first human rights legal program connected to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and is the former director of operations for the Academic Model for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS, which cares for Kenyan patients infected with HIV.

What inspired you to establish the Legal Aid Centre of Eldoret?

I followed the lead of some terrific Kenyan advocates, led by attorney Eric Gumbo, and also Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Riley, who were the true visionaries for LACE.  They saw an opportunity to bring justice to some of the most marginalized persons on the globe: HIV-affected persons and their families in western Kenya. It was an honor to play a role in helping their vision come to life.

You worked at the law school for seven years before leaving for a period and returning in 2011. What do you enjoy about working with law students?

It is a privilege to work with law students who are fully committed to empowering low-income persons in crisis. Especially in the clinics, these students’ dedication to compassionate service not only is a big boost to their clients, it inspires me to match their idealism and enthusiasm.  

What class do you wish you could have skipped in law school?

Since I am an alum of the school where I now teach, I should plead the Fifth here. ...  In truth, I could have somehow gotten by with skipping any of the classes except for labor law, where I met Ellen White. A lot of my classes were very valuable, but that was the only one that resulted in three great kids and an amazing lifelong partner who I continue to learn from every day! 

Besides being a lawyer, you worked for a time as a news editor as well as a reporter and columnist. What drew you to journalism?

I find a great deal of connectivity between the work of public interest law and journalism, especially journalism that is focused on social justice issues. There are shared goals – telling a story, persuading an audience to reach a conclusion or take action – and shared techniques – analyzing a sometimes jumbled set of facts and bringing forth witnesses to explain and illustrate the truth.

What’s something you’ve learned over the years that you wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self?

My younger self from 30 years ago and my younger self from 30 minutes ago could both benefit from being more patient, more humble and more selfless. 

Is there a moment in your career you wish you could do over?

Oh, there are many! I wish I could say that I have always been kind and compassionate to opposing counsel and challenging clients, and was never affected by the stress of a difficult case. But that would not be true. The good thing about teaching law students in a clinical setting is that the process reminds me of the need to practice what I preach. 

What are some tips for achieving a work/life balance?

My observation has been that the biggest stressors for lawyers are when we are not living our values in our work. I am very fortunate that the big-picture goals of my work synch very well with the big-picture goals of my life.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

I have never found any fictional lawyer to be as admirable as the real ones I know. I have been blessed with an abundance of lawyer role models to learn from, including practicing lawyers in my family (my brother Bill, my father-in-law John White) and many inspiring public interest lawyer colleagues, especially the lawyers at Indiana Legal Services, ACLU Indiana, and in the law school clinics.

Why do you think people often have negative stereotypes about lawyers?

Many of the most selfless, kind and dedicated people I know are lawyers. But the adversarial process does not always give us lawyers the opportunity to show our most compassionate selves. On top of that, many people only deal with lawyers at the worst times of their lives, and the entire experience is one they would prefer to forget.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

I am very fortunate that part of my day job is to work on the causes that are most important to me. My work now is focused on low-wage workers’ rights here in the U.S. and the struggle for human rights in Haiti. We lawyers are well-equipped to be the advocates that the poor need both here in our community and across the world.

If you couldn’t be a lawyer, what would you do for a living?

I would probably be a social worker – wishing I could sue the people and corporations who were victimizing my clients!


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  1. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  2. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  3. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  4. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?

  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."