National Jurist Names Washington and Lee School of Law to Clinical Honor Roll

Lexington, VA Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The National Jurist has named the Black Lung Legal Clinic at the Washington and Lee School of Law as one of the best clinical programs in the nation. The Black Lung Clinic joined programs from the University of Chicago Law School, the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, and the University of Washington School of Law, among others, on the "Clinical Honor Roll" announced in the January edition of the magazine.

"I am always delighted when the work of the students in the clinic is recognized for its excellence," said Prof. Mary Natkin, Director of the Black Lung Clinic. "The University can be proud of the dedication of the students and the success of all our clinical programs."

In praising the Black Lung Clinic, The National Jurist focused on the Charles Cooper case, which also was profiled in an Associated Press story that appeared in several media outlets last fall (see story here). The citation in magazine reads as follows:

"Six years after he was diagnosed with complicated coal worker's pneumoconiosis, an advanced case of Black Lung disease, and 21 years after he started trying to get benefits, clinic students helped a 78-year-old client win nearly $51,500 in back pay and a $574 monthly stipend from a mining company. Students handled his second claim for benefits, hiring medical experts, taking depositions, arguing before federal administrative law judges and answering appeals. He is just one of about 200 clients the clinic has helped since its inception in 1996. The clinic's clients have a success rate between 50 percent and 60 percent, compared with roughly 11 percent of all people who petition for benefits."

To view the January edition of The National Jurist online, click here.

In addition to the Black Lung Clinic, the School of Law runs several other clinical programs. The Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse ( is a trial-level legal aid clinic providing free services to defense attorneys who represent capital murder defendants in cases throughout Virginia, and the Community Legal Practice Clinic ( provides free legal services to qualified residents of the Rockbridge area community. The School of Law also runs a tax preparation assistance clinic, known as the VITA program, which operates in the months leading up to the April 15 filing deadline. For more information about the VITA program, click here.

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