With a Burr and a Brogue, the Scots Arrive at Miami Law

Picture of exchange students from Scotland

Front: Fergus Lawrie, Kate Laverty, Dede Akiti, 2L, Roodelyne Davilmar, 2L; Back: Enan Wilson, Drew Long and Craig Leslie

Six Scots arrived at Miami International Airport Wednesday night, only to be swept up and carried off to full immersion, Miami Law Health Rights Clinic style. Four were clinical students from the University of Strathclyde School of Law in Glasgow, accompanied by their clinical professor and supervising attorney/solicitor, who came to Miami Law to see first-hand legal ethics issues in a clinical education setting in the U.S. and explore comparative ways to access justice.

First, was a late dinner of fresh Florida seafood on the waterfront at Monty’s, followed by a wee nap, before setting off in the morning for a day of intakes at the Jefferson Reaves Clinic in Miami’s Historic Overtown. Post-intake was an afternoon of case rounds presentations and discussions of Miami Law’s clinical programs.

Friday was a whirlwind of intakes in Spanish and Creole at the South Florida AIDS Network at the Jackson Memorial Hospital campus, with the Scots engaging with Miami Law students in collecting information for the interviews of clients.

The clinic intake process is different from what they are use to at the Strathclyde Law Clinic. Participation in the clinic is voluntary, and it is in addition to their law school studies.

According to Kate Laverty, one of the Strathclyde clinic’s supervising solicitors, the bulk of the students’ cases are employment-related. “The intakes are more intense,” said Laverty. “It often takes hours to gather all the information and documentation just to open a case.” As a result of the time-consuming nature of the cases, the students handle only one or two cases a year.

The high number of medical cases handled by Miami Law’s Health Rights Clinic surprised the students. Scotland has NHS Scotland, the publicly funded healthcare system.

“I found it humbling,” said Drew Long, who has a postgraduate diploma in Legal Practice, is a case manager in the clinic, and is keen in immigration law when not rock climbing or drinking the occasional beer. “The work done here is so valuable. Access to health care is essential and sometimes we take it for granted in Scotland. I’m glad to see the Miami students fight for it in the U.S.”

For the Scots, it was their first taste of Miami, albeit mostly seen from the window of a speeding car, though Saturday was spent soaking up the more cultural aspects of the Magic City: pastelitos and cortaditos at Versailles in Little Havana, a bit of a dauner (walk) about in Little Haiti then South Beach, ending the evening with some malanga fritters, conch creole, and Haitian-style stewed goat at Tap Tap restaurant.

“The experience has been inspiring,” said Donald Nicolson, Professor of Law and Director of the Law Clinic at the University of Strathclyde. “I think our students will take away a sense of the absolutely essential value of the work of the Miami [Health Rights] Clinic and its dedication to the community. We are looking forward to hosting the Miami Law clinic students and clinicians this spring.”

Clinic Director JoNel Newman and Supervising Attorney Melissa Swain will travel to Glasgow in May with Miami Law second-year students Dede Akiti, Roodelyne Davilmar, Michael Deutsch, and Tara Irani.

“The encounter has been valuable for both cohorts of students as we explore comparative access to justice and legal ethics issues in a clinical education setting,” said Newman.

“I found the Scottish students to be engaging and eager to share ideas on our clinical program and public interest opportunities,” said Deutsch, who has interned for Congressman Ted Deutch and Citizens for Responsible Eithics in Washington, worked on the campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama, and frequents comedy clubs to hone his public speaking skills. “And I’m looking forward to learning more about the Strathclyde Law Clinic and the approach to extending access to justice in the UK.”

As the Scots boarded their flight back to Heathrow and months of dreich (a combination of cold, drizzly damp, and overcast) days before spring, one may have heard a “lang may yer lum reek” from one of the group. Translation: I wish you well for the future.