School of Law Launches Program to Meet Pandemic Needs in Kansas City

Truman Fellows program provides jobs for recent alumni, legal services for community

The School of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City has launched a new program to provide training for recent graduates to further develop their legal skills in a supervised practice setting, while providing legal services that advance the public interest.

The grant-funded Truman Fellows program has created three full-time short-term positions at law-school-affiliated entities that are being filled by May 2020 graduates of the school’s Juris Doctor program. The program was launched to provide opportunities for recent graduates in the midst of the COVID-19 recession while building on the law school’s strong commitment to public service.

The funded positions are providing services to people in the community adversely affected by the pandemic. One of the fellows will be working with the school’s Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic to provide advice and assistance to small businesses and start-ups that have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. A second fellow will be working in the school’s Self-Help Legal Clinic to help educate those who are facing evictions and other legal problems from the pandemic. The third fellow will work with the UMKC School of Law’s Digital Initiatives team to develop an online system to help those threatened by domestic violence to obtain restraining orders.

The program has been launched with a $25,000 grant from the Kansas City Regional Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund. Law school officials are seeking additional grant funds to continue the program.

The name of the program honors one of the school’s most illustrious former students, said Jeffrey E. Thomas, associate dean for international affairs and Daniel L. Brenner faculty scholar and professor of law, who helped set up the program. President Harry S. Truman attended the Kansas City School of Law for two years (1923-1925).

“We were looking for a name that would connect to the geographic area, public service, and a commitment to justice,” Thomas said, and Truman was an easy choice for the program’s namesake and role model.

“This program builds on the UMKC law school’s strong commitment to public service. Last year, the school’s clinician and field placement programs provided more than 38,000 hours of service to the community, and 83 students provided 8,500 hours of pro bono service at 32 sites,” Thomas added. “The Self-Help Clinic provided assistance to 700 clients last year, and the Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic provided assistance to dozens of small businesses.”

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Published: Sep 29, 2020

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