Max Grouchevski

Max Grouchevski is a  senior at Lynbrook High School.

Public Advocacy A Focus at Touro 

By Max Grouchevski

Greene Team Correspondent

Unique among law schools, Touro Law Center sits near both a federal and state courthouse.

 “There are different kinds of cases that our students can go across the street and meet with judges and lawyers and watch cases as they’re done,” said Lawrence Raful, Dean of Touro Law Center.

Touro also has a Public Advocacy Center. “It is the first of its kind in the United States,” said Raful.

“There are fourteen offices of groups around Suffolk County that advocate for groups,” Raful said. Students are allowed to choose a particular group, and work to further the cause it supports.

Besides the Public Advocacy Center, third-year students can build their experience by working with individual clients in a clinic.

“We have three clinics. One in family law, one in mental health, and one in elder law,” said Raful. “Poor people are sent to us by the courts or other offices who have a legal problem that they can’t afford an attorney.”

The students then work alongside an advisor to solve their client’s case, free of charge. “The students meet the client [and] work with the client and the supervising professor to take care of their case,” said Raful.

He suggests that the students change the lives of their clients. “Had it not been for the clinic, in my opinion, this woman may have never been able to get her baby back because, quite frankly, its hard to find lawyers who’ll do their work for nothing,” he said, referring to a particular client’s case.

In their first and second years, students conduct mock trials in order to become comfortable with the legal process. “We start from our first year program having students stand on their feet and speak to a judge or examine a witness,” explained Raful. “You have to learn as a lawyer, even if you choose not to be a litigator going into court, you’re going to have to learn some of that thought process and, more importantly, some of that analytical process.”

According to Raful, Touro’s other asset lies in its staff. “We’re lucky to have a terrific, terrific director,” Raful said of Thomas Maligno, executive director of the Public Advocacy Center.  “We have wonderful people doing wonderful work and I’m really thrilled about it.”

“I guarantee you that Professor Schweitzer is not here because of the salary we pay him,” said Raful, regarding a member of his faculty. “He’s here because he likes teaching students.”

Raful also argues that as a newer law school, Touro is more student-friendly. “Because we have to be better at those things because we’re new, I think we do tend to care a lot about our customers, our students,” he said.

Raful considers the job Touro does to be very important. “We need to continue to make sure to train young lawyers to protect our civil liberties,” he said with conviction. “Nobody protects them except lawyers.”

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