Access to justice for underserved communities: TU Law opens the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic

On Tuesday, October 1, The University of Tulsa College of Law hosted a facility tour and a luncheon to mark the grand opening of the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic. This newest addition to TU Law’s clinical education program was made possible through a generous contribution from Sarkeys Foundation. Attendees at the clinic launch included Terry West; Kim Henry, executive director of Sarkeys Foundation and former first lady of the State of Oklahoma; Former Gov. Brad Henry; Justice Douglas L. Combs of the Oklahoma Supreme Court; TU President Gerard Clancy and Provost Janet Levit; Roni Amit, director of the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic; Mimi Marton, TU Law’s associate dean for experiential learning; and Pierre Robertson, president of TU Law’s Student Bar Association.

Public service law

The Terry West Civil Legal Clinic will play a vital role in TU Law’s experiential learning opportunities. Participating students will serve as counselors, advocates and problem-solvers for clients who face diverse legal issues related to housing, education, health care, veterans affairs more. It will be located across the street from the main TU Law building in newly renovated space inside the Boesche Legal Clinic.

Kim Henry, executive director of Sarkeys Foundation, and Terry West
Kim Henry, executive director of Sarkeys Foundation, and TU Law alumnus Terry West (JD ’66)

The new clinic is named in honor of TU Law alumnus Terry West (JD ’66), a distinguished Oklahoma litigator and the senior partner of The West Law Firm. “I am very pleased and honored to be associated with this new civil legal clinic,” West said. “I believe it addresses a need that has been prevalent for too long. More importantly, I am hopeful that this work will encourage many of our new lawyers to consider a career in public service law. That would be the biggest achievement of the new program.”

Inaugural director: access-to-justice and human rights expert

Terry West Civil Legal Clinic Director Roni Amit
Terry West Civil Legal Clinic Director Roni Amit

The Terry West Civil Legal Clinic’s inaugural director is Roni Amit, an international access-to-justice and human rights expert. Amit’s scholarship focuses on rights protection, administrative processes and the efficacy of public interest litigation. She has been extensively involved in research and advocacy in the areas of access to justice and human rights in the United States, Israel and South Africa.

Mimi Marton, associate dean for experiential learning
Mimi Marton, associate dean for experiential learning

“For the last two months,” Amit remarked, “I have been meeting with Tulsa’s dynamic social justice community, building on the connections forged by TU Law. These discussions have highlighted what to me are global issues around access to justice for underserved communities; specifically, the importance of understanding at the local level the role of the law in the lives of the marginalized and the recognition that the law alone is not enough.

“I am excited to work with Tulsa’s social justice and legal community to advocate for the rights of Tulsans lacking legal representation and a voice. I am grateful to Terry West and Sarkeys Foundation for providing the opportunity to develop a clinic that can serve these individuals and engage in advocacy around the broader structural dynamics driving these needs while allowing students to gain first-hand experience in using the law to advance social justice.”

Helping Oklahomans, educating future legal professionals

Pierre Robertson, Justice Douglas Combs, Dean Lyn Entzeroth, Terry West
L-R: Pierre Robertson, president of the Student Bar Association; Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Douglas Combs; Lyn Entzeroth, dean of TU Law; TU Law alumnus Terry West (JD ’66)

“This is an exciting time for Sarkeys, The University of Tulsa College of Law and the Tulsa community,” said Kim Henry, executive director of Sarkeys Foundation. “The Board of Trustees of Sarkeys Foundation and I are very excited to be a partner on this endeavor with TU Law, which will help many Oklahomans in need access the legal system through the Terry West Civil Law Clinic. And we are proud to welcome Roni Amit to Oklahoma to run this new clinic.”

TU Law Dean Lyn Entzeroth underscored the importance of the new clinic on the quality of the education students will receive. “The University of Tulsa College of Law seeks in every way possible to ensure our students receive an education that prepares them for personally meaningful and socially impactful careers. Our clinical education program is critical to achieving that mission,” noted Entzeroth.

“My colleagues and I are deeply grateful to Terry West, an immensely accomplished TU Law graduate, and Sarkeys Foundation for embracing our commitment to high-level experiential learning through the creation of the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic. This unique clinic will allow our students to take legal theory and put it into practice in a clinical setting where they will have the mentorship, support and instruction of a clinical law professor who can guide them through the substantive, procedural, practical and ethical issues that lawyers face every day.”

Roni Amit, Terry West, Lyn Entzeroth, Kim Henry, Janet Levit at the opening of the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic
L-R: Roni Amit, director of the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic; TU alumnus Terry West (JD ’66); Lyn Entzeroth, dean of TU Law; Kim Henry, executive director of Sarkeys Foundation; Janet Levit, TU provost

 

If you are considering a career as a lawyer, TU Law’s clinical education program — ranked #74 in the United States (U.S. News & World Report — Best Law Schools 2020) — can give you the experiential training you require to excel.