McGeorge School of Law

Fisher, McElhinney Enjoy Housing Clinic Success

August 17, 2012

Supervising attorney Pauline Nguyen with Matt Fisher, center, and Dan McElhinney.

Supervising attorney Pauline Nguyen with Matt Fisher, center, and Dan McElhinney.

Dan McElhinney, '13, and Matt Fisher, '13, two students who took the Housing Mediation Clinic in its Spring 2012 debut, stayed on to have summer success stories and are working in the clinic again this fall.

As a work-study student, McElhinney mediated several landlord/tenant disputes out of the clinic's spacious, modern office in the Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood & Campora law firm's building off Folsom Boulevard. Fisher landed an internship with the Santa Clara Superior Court and the Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations in San Jose where he juggled many cases as an alternative resolution dispute (ADR) provider. Both students handled cases in which the parties involved agreed to their disposition of the case through the use of mediation.

"Matt and Dan have done excellent work at the clinic, and I'm happy that they are able to lend their experience to the program in its second year," said supervising attorney Pauline Nguyen, herself an experienced mediator.

McGeorge, in partnership with the Sacramento Superior Court and Legal Services of Northern California, launched the new program last spring. It is one of seven programs in California that receives pilot project funding under the 2009 Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act. The clinic provides free housing mediation services for landlord/tenant disputes involving eviction notices where at least one party qualifies for pro bono representation. With the opportunity to learn law and gain hands-on mediation experience, students gain the substantive skill and knowledge to competently serve as a neutral third party and facilitate conversation towards a goal of reaching agreement.

"We try to hold a mediation hearing within five-to-eight working days of the parties' agreement to the mediation process," Nguyen said. "The courts, which are overwhelmed with cases, certainly appreciate our assistance."

Alaine Abesamis, '12, Ginny Ellis, '13, Rebekah Morrissey, '12, Ashley Tanaka, '12, and Julia Vlahos, '12, served with McElhinney and Fisher in the clinic last spring with all seven taking the classroom component of the clinic taught by Professor Michael Colatrella, Dorothy Landsberg and Nguyen. Adam Khan, '13, Anna Kulik, '13, and Tracy Sparks, '14, are taking the course this fall and will begin working in the clinic shortly.