The JMLS Name and Gender Marker Clinic
By Joseph Alfe
Declan Cleary is a 22 year-old second-year student who comes to The John Marshall Law School by way of North Carolina, where he attended Elon University as a Political Science major. Declan became involved in The JMLS Community Legal Clinics through the Pro Bono Clinic, handling general legal issues such as landlord-tenant disputes and prisoners’ rights issues.
Being from the South, Declan had been frustrated at seeing LBGT friends in his community facing a host of discriminatory actions against them. With Professor Kelly Lindstrom, and Owen Daniel-McCarter of the Safe Schools Alliance, support and guidance, The Name and Gender Marker Clinic was born.
The team assessed LBGT community needs and now offers a host of services from navigating the often complex process of gender and name changing official records, to providing legal guidance, support, and representation pro bono.
For example, a State of Illinois statute bars felons from seeking a name change on any identifying document for ten years. Sex offenders are permanently barred from doing so. While there are very strong policy reasons for these statutes, the clinic works to carve limited exceptions to accommodate non-violent offenders or those convicted under minor crimes.
So far, Cleary and the clinic have served 12 clients and had over 20 client consultations. Additionally, the clinic has three students actively serving, as well as private practice attorneys who provide guidance, such as Daniel-McCarter, and Tanvie Sheth of the Transformative Law Justice Project of Illinois.
The clinic’s team sees the role of the clinic expanding into LBGT discrimination litigation to serve an even wider community need. For students interested in more information about the clinic, please contact Professor Lindstrom at [email protected] or Professor Daniel-McCarter at [email protected]