Students at New England Law are at the forefront of legal practice—addressing today’s most pressing issues.
On October 19, Alison Shea, a 4L evening student, and Rachael Bandeira, a 3L student, worked alongside New England Law adjunct professor and sexual violence expert Wendy Murphy to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education’s new guidance on investigating campus sexual assaults.
The complaint asserts that the guidance memo released in September by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is unconstitutional, violating Title IX, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the First Amendment. Murphy and the students filed the complaint on behalf of Equal Means Equal, a women’s rights group, and three Massachusetts women.
“As a female law student, it is my duty to challenge laws that compromise civil rights and subject women to separate and worse treatment in society,” Shea said. “I am committed to continuing my work with Professor Murphy, Equal Means Equal, and victims of sex-based civil rights harms to ensure that women receive fully equal treatment under the law and in society.”
Bandeira added, “New England Law has given me the skills to push back against those who try to stifle women's rights. This form of empowerment is critical to my vision of the type of lawyer I want to be.”
The complaint focuses specifically on the Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct—a government-issued document that loosens the parameters surrounding sexual assault and harassment on campus, which by current law is considered sex-based discrimination. The three Massachusetts women involved in the lawsuit are victims of sexual assault on campuses, and the new guidance will negatively impact the outcome of their cases.
"I've never been more proud of my students, not only for their hard work but also for their incredible dedication to this very complicated lawsuit,” said Murphy. “As a professor at the first all-female law school in the country, I am thrilled that we were able to lead the nation by filing the first lawsuit against Betsy DeVos in an effort to stop the U.S. Department of Education from turning back the clock on women's equal and safe access to education.”
There are many opportunities for New England Law students to engage in real-world, practical experiences. In fact, 84 percent of full time day-students completed at least one clinic/externship; and 33 percent took two or more. Almost half of the first-year class takes advantage of law-school funded fellowships for summer practice, and many other students, like Bandeira and Shea, work with individual members of the faculty on a variety of pro bono opportunities.