In keeping with its mission to serve Maine people and students, the University of Maine School of Law, in partnership with the Legislative Council, presented “Law School for Legislators” to the 130th Maine Legislature. More than 100 legislators and staff attended the virtual event. The presentation was introduced by Maine Law Dean Leigh Saufley and included appearances by the Acting Chief Justice, Andrew Mead and Senior Associate Justice, Ellen Gorman, both of whom had been leaders in previous presentations.
Vice Dean Dmitry Bam, Dean of Experiential Education Deirdre Smith, and Professor Jeff Thaler provided key legal information and context for lawmakers. Their discussion was designed to address subjects of critical importance to lawmakers and their support staff. For example:
- How do lawyers and judges interpret the language enacted by the Maine Legislature?
- What is the Legislature’s role in reviewing and authorizing rules created and implemented by the Executive branch?
- What do lawmakers need to know about the latest state and federal court decisions on the constitutionality of pandemic-related restrictions and laws?
The session also included an overview of access to justice challenges in Maine. Dean Smith described the work of legal aid providers in Maine, including the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic at Maine Law. Every year the student attorneys in the Clinic learn essential lawyering skills while providing legal and litigation services to more than 600 Mainers across the state.
The program was well received and has led to further conversations regarding future Maine Law collaborations with the Legislature.