Bliss, Gilbert Award

Bliss Receives National Award for Clinical Legal Education

Lisa Radtke Bliss, associate clinical professor, co-director of the HeLP Legal Services Clinic and director of experiential education at Georgia State University College of Law, recently received the 2014 Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Clinical Legal Education M. Shanara Gilbert Award.

The executive committee of the section presented Bliss with the award on April 28 at the Clinical Legal Education Conference in Chicago. The award honors an “emerging” clinician, with 10 or fewer years of experience, who has demonstrated a commitment to teaching and achieving social justice for those most in need, an interest in international clinical legal education, and service to the cause of clinical legal education.

A guiding principle for Bliss’ legal career has been providing under-served legal communities with access to justice. The committee praised Bliss’ work and commitment as a teacher, scholar and advocate, stating she more than fulfills the spirit of M. Shanara Gilbert Award criteria. The committee also noted her engagement with national and international organizations dedicated to clinical legal education and social justice.

Bliss is serving her second term as a member of the Board of Directors of the Clinical Legal Education Association and a second term on the Executive Committee of the AALS Section of Clinical Legal Education. She also was elected as to represent the North American region on the Steering Committee of the Global Alliance for Justice Education.

“My service to the clinical legal education profession here and abroad has been a gift to me,” Bliss says. “It has allowed me to work with and learn from the best of the best in my field. I have become a better teacher and professional as a result.”

Bliss has spent significant time in Southeast Asia, providing clinical legal education training and support.  She has served as a clinician in residence in Thailand, and participated in training workshops in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.

“Professor Bliss’ [work in Thailand] has shown us that our goal of placing international clinicians within our partnering universities is a successful model for supporting the development of clinical legal education,” says Bruce Lasky, co-founder and director of Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative. “Her assistance as an experiential, clinical legal education methods trainer has been exceptional.”

From the time she joined Georgia State Law, Bliss took on the responsibility of broadening the focus on integrating practical skills education into the curriculum. Her passion for teaching students about the need for access to justice and the issues confronted by those without the resources to hire lawyers led Bliss to help develop the Health Law Partnership (HeLP) Legal Services Clinic and to design a doctrinal course, Public Interest Law and Social Welfare.

In 2013, she was named Georgia State Law’s first director of experiential education.

“Lisa is an individual with passion for the position, a gift for strategic thinking and holds a vision that recognized the common threads of our clinical and nonclinical skills program,” says Steven J. Kaminshine, dean and professor of law. “Her energy and commitment to clinical legal education is evident from her work as a teacher, scholar and citizen.”

Many of Bliss’ academic and professional colleagues nominated her for the prestigious award — as did one of her former HeLP Clinic students, Abigail Ferrell (J.D./M.P.A. ’11.).

“I came to law school because I witnessed firsthand how poverty and educational disparities create a barrier to justice for marginalized populations,” Ferrell says. “In Professor Bliss, I found a champion for those populations and a leader who is not only dedicated to helping the clinic’s clients, but who also is dedicated to teaching her students how to be champions in their own right.”

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