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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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