Case Western Reserve University School of Law has received funding commitments of over $1 million from the Stanton Foundation to establish a First Amendment Clinic and First Amendment Clinic Fellowship in the school’s Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center. With these commitments, the Stanton Foundation has now provided nearly $1.3 million in lifetime support for the Kramer Law Clinic Center.
The Stanton Foundation was established by former television broadcasting executive Frank Stanton, a longtime president of CBS, creator of the Kennedy-Nixon debate and a staunch defender of the First Amendment. Protecting the First Amendment is a core mission of the Foundation.
The First Amendment Clinic, for third-year law students, will focus on litigation involving freedom of speech, press, assembly and petition. The clinic will offer pro bono legal services to those who rely on the First Amendment to collect and publish information, freely criticize government policy, and express differing viewpoints. Its goal is to train a new generation of free speech advocates, and serve as a resource for organizations, students, journalists and citizens defending and advancing First Amendment issues.
“We take great pride in the work that comes from the students and faculty in the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center,” said Law School Co-Dean Jessica Berg. “The addition of a First Amendment Clinic compliments the many offerings we already have in place, giving our students nearly a dozen clinics to choose an area of law that interests them.”
Added Laura McNally-Levine, law school associate dean for experiential education and the director of the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center: “We are grateful for the opportunity to further our First Amendment work in partnership with the Stanton Foundation. The Foundation’s generous support will allow us to elevate the profile of First Amendment issues across our student body, reinforcing its essential role within their future litigation practice.”
Andrew Geronimo (LAW ’10), a lecturer in the School of Law, will serve as the director of the First Amendment Clinic. Geronimo joined the CWRU faculty in 2017 as the Stanton Foundation First Amendment Fellow, and has since worked in a number of roles in the clinic.
“We are incredibly excited that the Stanton Foundation is supporting this vital work in Cleveland and the Midwest,” Geronimo said. “The First Amendment protects our rights to speak and publish freely, and to gather and document information about how our government works. These issues are especially important today, when the media landscape is in flux, politicians are openly hostile to journalism and other public oversight, and speech-chilling lawsuits fill the news.”
The Stanton Foundation’s commitment also includes a First Amendment Clinic Fellowship, which will support a two-year fellowship for early-career attorneys within the school’s First Amendment Clinic. The fellowship is designed to immerse young lawyers in First Amendment issues and to promote a lifelong interest and appreciation for public law. The fellow will work with Geronimo and students to counsel clients, engage in impact litigation, and defend free speech.
“We are very grateful to the Stanton Foundation for this gift, which will allow us to protect the core First Amendment values of government transparency and public participation, and hopefully make an impact toward a more inclusive and vibrant society,” Geronimo said. “We’re thrilled that Case Western Reserve University School of Law students will have opportunities to represent clients on crucial, cutting-edge cases, and what that could mean for protecting free speech in Ohio.”