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Law clinic's challenges to pollution shouldn't be stifled

Sunday, April 4, 2010; A14

The University of Maryland School of Law's board of visitors is strongly opposed to the withholding of state funds for law school clinical programs because of objections by those accused of polluting the Chesapeake Bay ["Legislature eyes U-Md. law clinic after suit against chicken farm," Metro, March 28].

The law school is lucky to have one of the leading public-interest law clinics in the country undertaking to safeguard the bay. The General Assembly's attempt to withhold funding strikes a blow against both legal education and the public interest. If anyone is violating the law by permitting runoff of contaminated waste water to empty into the bay, the public has a right to raise that issue in an appropriate forum and seek appropriate relief.

The state should not allow important issues to be bottled up to save money for commercial farms. This would only cost taxpayers much more money in the long run. Our law schools must be permitted to educate our next generation of lawyers -- and to assist in safeguarding our irreplaceable resources.

Paul D. Bekman, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the board of visitors of the University of Maryland School of Law.

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