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Karin to establish work-life policies program at law college

October 27, 2009

Drawing on her experience with Georgetown University Law Center's national initiative on workplace flexibility, Marcy Karin has joined the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law as an associate clinical professor and director of the Civil Justice Clinic's new Work-Life Policy Unit.

Karin said her goals are to continue to build on the reputation of the award-winning clinic, which represents clients in civil disputes and administrative proceedings, and to expand its services into developing public policy on work-life balance issues.

"I want to support a clinic environment that doesn't end when you walk out of your class or the day you get your grade or the day your client's case is dismissed, favorably or not," she said. "Part of what's made it so exciting to come here is that the people at Georgetown spoke highly of the people and programs here. It's exciting to be a part of the clinic and to be able to bring a bit of policy development to the mix."

As legislative counsel for Georgetown Law's Workplace Flexibility 2010, Karin helped develop a constituency base and political support for comprehensive public policies on flexible work arrangements, short-term, episodic and extended time off, and career maintenance and re-entry, among other issues.

"There are some legal obstacles that need to be reworked and some incentives that the federal and state governments could do to support this in ways that meet the needs of employees, employers and the community," Karin said. "Students in the clinic and I will work with clients to develop and change existing law to support these solutions."

"What's neat about ASU is its proximity to the state legislature, and that it's one of the few places that have a vibrant business and advocacy work-life network," she said. "That students at the College of Law can be a part of this conversation and problem solving is very unusual, because there are very few places where it is being talked about with such sophistication."

Before joining Georgetown Law in 2006, Karin was an associate at Arent Fox PLLC in Washington, D.C., and she was the recipient of the 2005 Albert E. Arent Pro Bono Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Public Interest.

The issues Karin worked on as an attorney – helping with amicus briefs in U.S. Supreme Court cases which aided victims of domestic violence and working on state and national policies affecting military families, the disability community and the aging population – are the ones she still cares about as a teacher.

"For the past 15 years, there's been a movement in academia and the advocacy community for building the case for why a variety of work-life issues are important," she said. "How the workplace is structured impacts lives, and not just for the single working mom, but for the domestic violence victim who could use a flexible schedule or telework option for their safety and for military families who need support other than just giving their loved ones time off to serve, among others."

Karin also was an adjunct professor, teaching fellow and supervising attorney in Georgetown's Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic. There, she taught classes, seminars and workshops on employment law, legal and political research, and oral advcacy. She also introduced students to legislative lawyering skills that combined knowledge of the political process with legal issues.

"Not every person who graduates from law school will go into the litigation arena," said Karin, who received her law degree from Stanford Law School in 2003 and an LL.M in advocacy from Georgetown in 2008. "But some of the same skills that litigators need – getting to know your client, fact investigation, drafting documents, negotiating – are necessary for attorneys who choose to use their abilities to develop thoughtful public policy."

Karin recently authored the paper, "Time Off For Military Families: an Emerging Case Study in a Time of War ... And the Tipping Point for Future Laws Supporting Work-Life Balance?"

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law