January 31, 2023


Creating Possibilities

Northeastern legislation professor retiring soon after educating countless numbers for 42 decades

Northeastern School of Legislation is regarded as just one of the best general public interest regulation educational facilities in the nation. And for the very last 42 several years, professor James Rowan has been a massive reason why.

“It has been, from its origin, a magnet for lots of folks who have been interested in the slender but genuine possibility of making use of regulation to support movements for social improve,” stated Rowan, head of the Poverty Law and Follow Clinic, who is retiring this summer.

Hands-on and public-interest-centered clinics that let pupils to explore true-earth social difficulties are a large component of Northeastern lawful schooling, and Rowan has been at the core of the medical software, according to his colleague and previous student Margo Lindauer, scientific professor of legislation and director of Domestic Violence Institute.

“He has grown it and nurtured it and assisted it develop into a person of the major applications in the state,” Lindauer claimed.

Rowan served as director of Scientific Applications at Northeastern until eventually January 2020. He has been a chief in civil legal solutions and is beloved nationally, Lindauer claimed, inspite of his dislike of the highlight.

Lindauer explained Rowan as a extremely educated, affected individual, and form educator, supportive and accessible to pupils.

“He is really sarcastic but extremely passionate about lawful solutions and symbolizing folks who will need authorized support. He is just fantastic,” Lindauer said.

Rowan has taught these programs as welfare law, poverty legislation and follow, trial observe, lawyering method, and qualified responsibility, as very well as an superior system in prison technique. His individual lawful interests include authorized training, financial growth and grassroots organizing. 

Rowan, who will convert 79 on July 4, was born and elevated in Brooklyn, New York. He gained his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Georgetown College in Washington, D.C., and was encouraged to come to be a attorney by the civil legal rights movement.

“It was together with the [Vietnam] War. It was the difficulty of the day. It was the most noticeable, most really serious sort of injustice,” Rowan explained.

He ongoing his education at Duke University University of Law, obtaining juris doctorate in 1970 and grasp of legislation in 1978. Soon after training civil legal rights legislation and legal defense at a private agency in Durham, North Carolina, Rowan moved to Boston in 1978 to join the Massachusetts Legislation Reform Institute as a director of teaching.

He entered academia at Northeastern in 1980 and has not regretted it due to the fact.

“It turned out to be a way of currently being of support,” Rowan reported. “A way of serving to other folks to explore how they desired to be and what they preferred to do.”

Courtesy of the Northeastern College Archives and Distinctive Collections Team

At Northeastern, Rowan obtained concerned in scientific get the job done and turned an pro in clinical educating. Northeastern started off its initially scientific method in tandem with Harvard, Rowan mentioned, and two pioneers of lawful support clinics–Gary Bellow of Harvard Legislation School and Clinton Bamberger of the Legal Products and services Institute. 

“I owe endless gratitude to Gary Bellow and Clinton Bamberger, who have been my mentors in medical education,” Rowan mentioned.

That to start with local lawful products and services workplace was functioning in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, striving to concentrate on designs of injustice that the neighborhood members were encountering.

The strategies for all subsequent clinics that Rowan was associated in arose from the wants of communities and local community corporations and led to several lengthy-time period relationships. Under Rowan’s management, the School of Law started the Community Business enterprise Clinic, the Immigration Clinic and the Intellectual Property Clinic.

In the final decade, the most pressing troubles for his purchasers have been financial justice issues, which includes unemployment and welfare, Rowan stated.

“Legal advocacy often is learned as however we are atomistic and separately driven,” Rowan mentioned. 

Having said that, lawful clinics try to counterbalance that individualistic check out, Rowan stated, recognizing centrality and great importance of a neighborhood in defining its personal demands and aims and operating on complications collectively instead than seeking to band-help them separately.

For learners, clinics give simple, palms-on working experience, not in contrast to medical or nursing applications, Rowan claimed, exactly where they use their awareness and techniques beneath the supervision of a school member. 

“The clinics give them a likelihood to actually observe legislation,” Rowan claimed.

At the similar time, Rowan is rather humble in describing his and his students’ contribution to resolving the issues the clinics have worked on.

“We had been generally supplementary,” Rowan explained. “We have been not carrying the load, we had been furnishing some really unique, normally pretty narrow, ancillary assist.”

He credits the businesses that the clinics had assisted with undertaking most of the advocacy perform although Northeastern college students and school helped with unique legal needs such as authorized analysis and creating, legislative drafting and lobbying or untangling legal twists and conquering stumbling blocks.

In excess of the many years, Rowan consulted such businesses as the Coalition for Fundamental Human Desires, Homosexual and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services, Chinese Progressive Association and the Union of Minority Neighborhoods.

Rowan has also been director of the Poverty Regulation and Follow Clinic which has represented 8,000 welfare recipients and 4,800 unemployment claimants, and preserved an estimated $20 million in revenue for its shoppers and their households given that 1980.

While several of the difficulties Rowan has been working on continue to persist, he has not misplaced hope.

“Everything that is worthy of accomplishing, tends to consider a lengthy time,” Rowan stated.

Other than, he thinks that medical get the job done has available him salvation as a attorney.

“I see lawful perform as inherently risky,” mentioned Rowan. “The regulation is a device of oppression, a way that the strong keep electric power.”

Working with regulation learners and aiming at equipping new advocates with comprehension and resources needed to operate on unique issues while recognizing the centrality of the community in determining and operating out its personal remedies authorized Rowan to do the function that he loved “without undertaking also a lot harm,” he reported.

Rowan and his job will be celebrated by mates and colleagues from 5:30-8 p.m. June 10 at Northeastern College Faculty Club.

He is not sure yet about what he is heading to do in retirement, although he has an idea. 

“I am heading to make a quilt out of all my ties,” Rowan said.


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