Fall 2020

November, 2020 C-K Law Group Newsletter

Introducing our newest Clinician, Jamie Franklin


Jamie Franklin is our newest clinical professor, supervises the Civil Litigation Clinic. Jamie has spent her career litigating cases on behalf of plaintiffs in the areas of employment law, consumer law, whistleblower actions, and other plaintiff-side cases. She specializes in class actions.

Jamie grew up in eastern Tennessee in a small town in Appalachia, where she found herself drawn to issues of workers' rights at an early age. Jamie attended Duke University, then spent several years in New York City working for an AIDS research center. Jamie then attended law school at the University of Chicago Law School, where she received a fellowship in consumer law. After law school, Jamie worked for plaintiffs' firms in Chicago, bringing cases here and around the country on behalf of workers, consumers, and other plaintiffs. She operated her own firm for nine years before joining the Clinic.

Jamie currently lives in Berywn, where she is active in local historic preservation efforts. In her downtime, Jamie and her partner Michael can be found walking their two Siberian Huskies, biking through the neighborhood, or working in their backyard garden. Jamie loves to travel and have visited some far-flung locations in recent years. For example, she and Michael spent a recent summer vacation in Svalbard, an arctic archipelago beside Greenland where there are more polar bears than people.

Jamie looks forward to working with students to bring more cases that move the needle toward equality in the workplace and elsewhere.

News from the Front Lines –

Immigration Clinic (Professor Victoria Carmona)

The Immigration Clinic has several new asylum cases, representing refugees in removal proceedings from countries including: El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, India, Venezuela, Colombia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We are working to move their cases along despite large court backlogs, including connecting our clients to local social service agencies to assist them in becoming part of our community. The Clinic also finally obtained permanent residency for an ER Doctor at the frontlines of the pandemic, whose case had been wrongfully denied when USCIS failed to properly update his address and send him notice of his interview. After three years of stressing over his process, he can finally focus on saving lives and not his immigration status! (Fun fact: Almost 30% of physicians are immigrants in the United States).

Federal Health Litigation (Professor Ed Kraus)

The Federal Health Litigation Clinic, led by Professor Ed Kraus, has been running on all cylinders during the pandemic. In addition to managing a caseload of 80 active clients, Professor Kraus and Staff Attorney Brynna Gang (C-K 2013), assisted by their clinic students, recently completed a fully remote trial in a vaccine injury case filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Professor Kraus represented a client (called a “petitioner” under the Vaccine Act) who developed a chronic central nervous system demyelinating condition following a flu vaccine he received in November 2013. Petitioner alleges that the flu vaccine was a substantial factor in causing his serious, chronic illness that has impacted all aspects of his life, including his ability to continue full-time work as a physician. Because of pandemic-related restrictions, the trial was held via Webex, a video conferencing application that works similarly to Zoom. The case involved testimony from the client himself, two medical experts (a neurologist and an immunologist) who testified in support of petitioner's claim. The defendant, which is the federal government in all vaccine injury cases brought under the Vaccine Act, was represented by attorneys from the Department of Justice in Washington D.C.. The government presented testimony from their own medical expert who disputed that the vaccine caused petitioner’s injury. Clinic students were able to observe the entire proceedings and found it to be an extremely interesting and valuable learning experience. The Court will issue a written decision on whether the petitioner has met his burden of causation under the Vaccine Act and, therefore, is entitled to compensation, likely within the next few months.

What we Learned from COVID - Remote Lawyering: Challenges and Opportunities

Dealing with the unique challenges presented by “remote” lawyering and litigating has, for many of us, been both difficult and extraordinarily rewarding. In our particular tax controversy practice, we have had to adapt to zoom platform intakes of potential clients, voluminous document reviews without having the materials spread out and organized on a conference table in front of us, taxpayer interviews by aggressive IRS agents without the benefit of being seated next to our clients during the interrogations, and virtual status hearings before the U.S. Tax Court sans pants, but with random dog barks filling the airwaves.

At this point, most lawyers comprehend and anticipate that the delivery of remote attorney services will not only continue through the yet unforeseeable end of this pandemic, but will likely be the substituted “normal” way of doing business. Each of the clinics comprising the CK Law Group has not only embraced these challenges, but taken the opportunity to improve the quality of our services and share the innovations and experiences with our students. Next semester we are intending to discuss what we’ve learned and how we have changed our practices in a more public way, through a workshop presentation at the law school that we hope both lawyers and students will find useful. Stay tuned-in for details regarding this exciting project.

- Jon Decatorsmith, Interim Director of Clinical Education and Supervising Professor of the Tax Practice, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

Spotlight on Judicial Extern Ross Greenspan


Ross Greenspan (3L) is a repeat judicial externship participant, spending more than one semester with Judge Timothy Barnes in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, writing briefs to advise the court on anything from Chapter 13 motions to oral rulings on cases.

Why did you apply to this externship and how did it live up to expectations?

I was very interested in Bankruptcy law and wanted practical experience on live matters. The experience has exceeded expectations because I have been exposed to new and novel issues in bankruptcy law. Ultimately, it confirmed my desire to make it my career.

Did the externship change your perspective on the legal system?

Yes, it gave me a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the law and the deep knowledge that practitioners must develop to be competent and successful advocates.

What advice, if any, would you give to students contemplating a similar externship?

Like much of law school, you get out what you put in. An externship in a specialized court like Bankruptcy can confirm your interest in a certain area of law whereas a court that handles more diverse matters can allow you to sample many areas of law.

Do you have any memorable experiences you'd like to share from your externship?

I was observing court during a Chapter 13 hearing and a pro se debtor appeared with limited English language fluency. The Judge asked if anyone spoke Spanish, and if they could translate for the debtor. After no one raised their hand, I did. The Judge called me to the podium, stated in open court that I was one of his judicial externs and he allowed me to stand and translate between the Judge and the debtor. It was a very exciting and memorable moment for me.

If you have any questions or concerns about judicial externships, see our externship program information online, and contact Professor Gross (vgross@kentlaw.iit.edu), Director of the Externship Programs.

Praise for Legal Externs/Externships


This past Spring, Chicago-Kent’s S. Zahra Zavari (’20) was a featured extern on the Lawyers for the Creative Arts’ (LCA) website. Zahra was participating in the Chicago-Kent Legal Externship Program, headed by Professor Vivien Gross. In a prior semester, Zahra worked in the entrepreneurial law clinic. Like Zahra, you can take advantage of Chicago-Kent’s clinical programs, both the in-house clinic and externship programs!

Here’s what some other legal extern alums had to say about their externship experiences:

“[Doing] this externship was my favorite endeavor in law school. I learned something new every single day and really dug into the role of an assistant state’s attorney. The amount of trial ad, evidence and criminal procedure I learned was very beneficial, and I was able to develop great professional relationships and skills.” – Anna Derkacz (DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office)


“As a legal extern, I learned a lot during my time with the Consumer Protection Division. The attorneys in this office utilize their externs really well; they take time to teach the students and assign interesting projects. Externs will get a lot of work experience in this unit. I am grateful for the time I spent there.” – Clare Lilek (Illinois Attorney General’s Office)


“In addition to the research and writing assignments I completed, I was also able to attend and participate in strategy meetings which really helped me to see the bigger picture and understand how litigators use the entire process to advocate for their clients. My supervisor was a great mentor and teacher. I was lucky to work with him.” – Jack Shadid (Hinshaw & Culbertson)

“It really helped me to understand work as in-house counsel in a corporation. Simply being around such a large team of lawyers who do so many different things is a really eye opening experience.” – Elsa Schulz (National Association of Realtors)

If you have any questions or concerns about legal externships, see our externship program information online, and contact Professor Gross (vgross@kentlaw.iit.edu), Director of the Externship Programs.