School of Law establishes First Amendment Clinic

Thanks to a nearly $1 million gift from the Stanton Foundation – an organization established by former television broadcasting executive Frank Stanton – the School of Law has established a First Amendment Clinic.

Stanton, a longtime president of CBS, was a staunch defender of the First Amendment and its protection is a core goal of the foundation. To this end, the entity has funded First Amendment clinics at law schools around the country with the UGA clinic being the only one in the 11th Circuit.

Formally launched August 2020, the First Amendment Clinic will defend and advance the rights of free speech, press, assembly, and petition via regional litigation and advocacy. The clinic will also provide law students with the practice and real-world experience to become leaders on First Amendment issues while serving as a resource for organizations, journalists, public employees and citizens on issues of free expression and newsgathering.

“The law school community is excited about this partnership, which will not only support the First Amendment, but also give our law students the chance to protect the rights of individuals and to raise civic awareness in communities throughout the Southeast as they learn how to navigate cases and assist clients so they will be effective lawyers after graduation,” Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge said.

After a nationwide search, Clare R. Norins was named the inaugural director of the clinic. She brings to the position more than 15 years of civil rights experience in private practice, government enforcement and higher education. (Norins is profiled in the World-Class Ideas & Scholarship section of the Advocate, with other incoming faculty.)

The clinic has also hired its first law fellow, Samantha C. Hamilton, who will begin working with Norins and her students at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.

Hamilton earned her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law with certificates in Law & Technology and Social Justice & Public Interest. During law school, she interned at the American Civil Liberties Union national headquarters in New York City on the Speech, Privacy & Technology Project and also at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, where she focused on First Amendment harms created when the surveillance of online speech rises and when the use of copyright claims stifles political speech. Hamilton further volunteered at the First Amendment Project in Oakland, California, where she advised journalists and protesters on public records requests, defamation, and fair use. As a clinical student with the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic, Hamilton co-wrote an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the software copyright case Oracle v. Google.