Indiana University Maurer School of Law is part of a just-launched collaboration of law schools across the United States that are coming together to examine and address legal issues in policing and public safety.
Led by the American Bar Association, the Legal Education Police Practice Consortium is comprised of 52 accredited law schools that have agreed to participate for the next five years. IU Maurer Dean Austen Parrish was among the law school leaders who helped established the consortium and the Bloomington institution is the only law school in Indiana participating in the initiative.
Parrish said IU Maurer’s involvement was propelled by its students.
“It was a response to student requests to have opportunities to be able to work at a national level on policies that will improve policing,” Parrish said in an email. “The goal is to 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.”
Organized and housed within the ABA Criminal Justice Section, the consortium will be able to draw upon the full range of the association’s expertise and programs. One or more students from the participating law schools will work on assignments that may include developing policy for potential consideration by the ABA House of Delegates; engaging with police departments as well as local, state and national leaders on police practices; and developing curricula related to the consortium goals for law schools.
“Students are looking for opportunities to be able to do work at a national level around issues of police practices,” Parrish said. “… (The consortium) builds on other programs we’ve implemented this semester to support students interested in this work surrounding issues of racial justice.”
One program launched in September was the Big 10 Law School Speakers series. The 12-week program features lectures by leading scholars on race, law, equality and other relevant issues. IU Maurer associate professor Jessica Eaglin will be presenting “Toward a Structural Conception of Race in Criminal Administration,” Oct. 27.
In addition, the consortium’s work will dovetail with some of the faculty research already being done at IU Maurer. Eaglin has examined mass incarceration and sentencing reform while professor Jeannine Bell has focused on policing and hate crimes. Also, professor Joseph Hoffmann oversees the Bradley Fellows Program for students with an interest in criminal law and criminal justice.
Parrish sees the consortium as providing “another exceptional externship opportunity” for IU Maurer students. The law school currently offers programs that allow students to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., working in government agencies, and provides externship programs in New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami.
“We have a wide range of programs where students can work on issues of national importance,” Parrish said. “… This just provides another opportunity that students might not otherwise have.”