News

Bissonnette tapped as co-chair for 2013 Public Interest Law conference

April 4, 2012

PORTLAND, Maine – The University of Maine School of Law was well represented in March at the Cover Public Interest Retreat, an annual gathering for students to network, exchange ideas and explore topics such as equal access to justice, the representation of immigrants, prisoners and low-income families and individuals.

Maine Law sent 10 students to the retreat, which is sponsored by Yale Law School and the Society of American Law Teachers. It was held March 4-6 at the Nature Center at Camp Sargent in Merrimack, N.H.

Because of the high interest in the retreat among Maine Law students, the school was chosen to help organize next year’s Cover Public Interest Retreat. Nicole Bissonnette, ’13, has been selected to take on that role. She will plan the retreat with Danielle Levine, a second year law student at Brooklyn Law School. Bissonnette and Levine are responsible for recruiting practitioners and others to speak and conduct workshops at the retreat, as well as recruiting more schools and students to participate. This year, the list included 125 students from 32 law schools nationwide.

Bissonnette is excited to help organize next year’s event. She has a particular interest in juvenile law, educational inequalities, and immigration law. Bissonnette hopes to take part in Maine Law’s new Refugee and Human Rights Clinic, which will start up this fall under the direction of Libra Visiting Prof. Anna Welch.

“It’s great to be able to spend time with students from all over, Michigan, Florida, New York. Just seeing what those different schools are doing, in clinic programs or classes,” Bissonnette said. “People have big plans for making change in the world. That’s inspiring.”

Hazel Weiser, Executive Director of the Society of American Law Teachers, wrote a letter about the retreat to Peter Pitegoff, Dean of the University of Maine School of Law.

“Joining the law school students were practitioners and law faculty who have dedicated their careers to using the legal system to fight for justice, fairness and equity,” Weiser wrote.

“For many students attending the retreat, this was a first opportunity to engage in conversation with someone who practices poverty law, or represents men and women on death row, or fights for access to contraception and health care, or who hung up a shingle to serve the needs of low income clients,” Weiser wrote.

The Maine Law students who attended the retreat were: Allison Ouellet, Amy Olfene, Beth Valentine, Brian Burke, Danielle Cardona, Diana DeJesus, Emily Gaewsky, Jacqueline Moss, Jeanette Durham and Nicole Bissonnette.

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Media contact: Trevor Maxwell, communications director at Maine Law
Office: 207-228-8037/ Cell: 207-286-4431/ email: tmaxwell@usm.maine.edu
Visit us online at www.mainelaw.maine.edu.