Dannnye K. Holley, Dean and Professor of Law


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ECI Centers

Center for Civil Advocacy

The Center for Civil Advocacy provides Thurgood Marshall law students an opportunity to gain practical experience by working with clients, lawyers, and courts. Sources for cases include the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, other legal services organizations, community based organizations, and churches. The clients represented through CCA are commonly low-income individuals and families.  The CCA currently has three advocacy projects: the Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project (OMLPPP), the OMLPPP Foreclosure Defense Clinic, and the Juvenile Justice Project.  The Center for Civil Advocacy receives on average 6 requests for assistance each week.  Last fiscal year the CCA opened 210 cases.

Center for Criminal Justice

The Center for Criminal Justice fosters a fair and accountable justice system through research, analysis, collaboration, and actual innocence litigation.  The center uses an interdisciplinary approach to address problems in the criminal justice system that impact the urban community disproportionately.  The goals of the center are to (1) research criminal justice reform issues and recommend more effective policies, and (2) provide students with an opportunity to hone their advocacy skills.  The Thurgood Marshall School of Law Innocence Project (TMSLIP) is operated under the auspices of the CCJ.

Center for Government Law

The Center for Government Law was established to provide integrated academic and practical skills training in government administration and regulation to law students. Preparing students for the practice of law in the public sector is a primary goal of the Center. The Center works with numerous governmental organizations on the local, state and federal level. The Center also serves as a bridge between government and academia by providing practical experience to students who assist government leaders in advancing research in a multitude of law and public policy arenas.

In addition, the Center is responsible for a report each Legislative session on the impact of new legislation on TSU and the urban community.   It is the goal of the center to become an authority and resource on urban issues for legislators and other policy organizations.

Center for Research, Writing and Student Development

The Center for Research, Writing and Student Development was to enhance the academic legal writing and professional development of ECI students.  The success of many ECI projects and programs depend heavily on the high quality work product of its staff as well as the paid student researchers provided by TMSL.  As such, ECI’s staff members commit a fair amount of time to the professional and academic development of its students. The staff time devoted to student development supports the law school’s mission to provide a high quality academic legal training program to its diverse community of students and the institute’s stated mission “to enhance the ability of future leaders to advocate, educate and promote equity…”  ECI provides its students with a highly structured program that includes:

An-depth student selection process that involves a group interview with all associate directors,  post interview feedback on resumes, writing samples and  interview skills

  • Comprehensive student orientation for student researchers and clinicians that as detailed below
  • Periodic research training from TMSL library staff
  • Entry/Exit interviews and surveys to evaluate student outcomes
  • Weekly individual and group meetings to monitor student progression on assignments, identify additional skills or training needed and provide guidance
  • Weekly review and editing of student research papers and other work product
  • It is ECI’s belief and experience that the provision of a highly structured program that emphasizes professional and academic skills development will result in an enjoyable and beneficial educational experience for TMSL students.






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