West Michigan Public Defenders Clinic wins community award

 Grand Rapid’s LINC Community Revitalization (LINC) honored Cooley Law School’s West Michigan Public Defenders Clinic, profiled in the 5/16/2014 issue of Grand Rapids Legal News, during the organization’s annual Community Spirit Award winners ceremony.  The Public Defenders Clinic was presented with the Cornerstone Award, which honors an organization that best exemplifies the model of capacity building and demonstrates impact in a specific area.

In 2008, Cooley Assistant Dean Tracey Brame identified a need in the community involving indigent defendants and a high case load among Kent County’s public defenders. Brame spent many hours working with public defenders to create a solution and partnered with the Kent County Office of the Defender to form the clinic, recently renamed. The clinic allows Cooley students, under the direct supervision of public defenders, to practice law under Michigan court rules, which helps public defenders build stronger defense cases. Cooley professors provide academic oversight to students during their experience working in the clinic.

“I’m honored that Cooley’s students are being recognized for their work helping defend individuals who can not afford a defense attorney,” said Brame. “The clinic is creating capacity building in the community and impacting the lives of individuals charged with crimes by allowing those individuals to have a greater understanding of their rights.”

Each year LINC honors individuals who devote their time, energy and skills to the community, or organizations that are making an impact in the community. LINC engages in community revitalization through partnerships and collaborations with community-based organizations and other neighborhood stakeholders.

The photo on page one shows Brame, who is Acting Associate Dean, accepting the Cornerstone Award during LINC Community Revitalization’s annual Community Spirit Awards.