blight

NEIGHBORHOOD PRESERVATION CLINIC

Students enrolled in the University of Memphis Neighborhood Preservation Clinic have the opportunity to experience lawyering from the standpoint of the municipal lawyer and municipal administration addressing the complex legal, economic and social issues surrounding real property abandonment and neglect in Memphis.

Working under faculty supervision, students will be assigned to investigate property ownership and conditions, communicate with field code enforcement professionals, prepare civil lawsuits, and prosecute neglectful owners seeking an enforceable order of compliance with property maintenance and other local housing and building code standards. Cases will be brought in the Shelby County Environmental Court, a unique court of special jurisdiction concurrent with the Tennessee Circuit and Chancery Courts for certain purposes, including the prosecution of cases alleging the existence of a public nuisance (as defined in Tennessee Code Annotated §13-6-102 (8)), and requesting either an order of compliance or the appointment of a receiver to abate such public nuisance.

To complement their work as anti-blight litigators, Clinic students will participate in a weekly classroom session focused on the pervasive challenge of blight and abandonment in Memphis. The seminar segment of the weekly class will be designed to survey substantive code enforcement and housing law, explore national models of legal strategies to address blight and abandonment, outline practice and procedure in the Shelby County Environmental Court, provide skills training, and consider issues of ethics and professionalism that arise in the context of their cases. The seminar component of the weekly class will complement the case rounds component, during which students will engage in an ongoing discussion of the myriad issues and challenges they are experiencing in the cases they are handling.

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