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Western Center on Law & Poverty honors Prof. Clare Pastore for lifetime achievements
USC Gould School of Law

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Award named for retired Justice Earl Johnson recognizes Pastore's work in equal justice.

By Leslie Ridgeway

Prof. Clare Pastore will be honored for leadership and accomplishments in equal justice.

In recognition of a lifetime of achievements and leadership in equal justice, Clare Pastore, Professor of the Practice of Law at the USC Gould, was awarded the Earl Johnson Equal Justice Award from the Western Center on Law & Poverty on Oct. 10.

The award, named for retired California Appellate Court Justice (and former Gould faculty member) Earl Johnson, will be presented at the Western Center’s annual fundraiser.  The Western Center is one of the premier anti-poverty litigation organizations in the country, regularly litigating in state and federal court on behalf of the poor.

The award is especially appropriate for Pastore, who was in the first class of Skadden Fellows at the Western Center in 1989 and remained there as a staff attorney for 14 years, says Richard Rothschild, director of litigation at the Western Center.

“Earl Johnson was one of the first leaders of federally funded legal services; an outstanding Court of Appeal justice for decades; and a leader, along with Clare, in the movement to bring about a right to counsel for indigent litigants in civil cases,” he said. “Clare is justly proud of receiving an award in Justice Johnson's name, and also richly deserving.”

Pastore, whose career includes being affiliated with the ACLU as Senior Counsel from 2004 to 2007, and Of Counsel from 2007 to 2011, distinguished herself immediately when she began work at the Western Center, Rothschild said.

“In her first year here, maybe months after she came here, she won three major lawsuits on behalf of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) clients, which was unheard of,” he said. “She was everything you would want in an attorney, especially a public benefit attorney.”

Connections to USC Gould amplify significance of award

Pastore, a longtime admirer of Justice Johnson and supporter of the Western Center, expressed gratitude for the award, which has important ties to USC Gould.

“This award means a lot to me both because it is from the organization where I grew up as a lawyer and because it is named for (and will be presented by) Earl Johnson, a giant in the history of the struggle for equal justice in the United States,” she said. “The fact that Earl was member of our faculty in the 1970s and Western Center was founded 50 years ago at Gould makes it even more special.”

Pastore notes that she has had the privilege of working closely with Justice Johnson for over a decade on the Right to Counsel Task Force of the California Commission on Access to Justice. That task force, formerly co-chaired by Pastore and Johnson, drafted a “model statute” expanding access to counsel at public expense in certain areas of “critical human needs.” Many of the model statute’s findings were enacted into law in California in 2009 as part of the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act.

At USC Gould, Pastore teaches Poverty Law, Civil Rights, Suing the Government, Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility, and the Access to Justice Practicum, while continuing to practice as a leading member of the California public interest community. Her research interests center on poverty and access to justice issues, and she is co-author of the leading Poverty Law textbook. She has written several law review articles and newspaper op-eds on the need for a right to counsel in certain areas of the law, such as eviction defense. She is a regular speaker on poverty, access to justice, and public interest law.

The Western Center on Law & Poverty was founded in 1967 by attorneys and legal scholars from USC, UCLA and Loyola law schools dedicated to providing the best legal representation for low-income Californians in need.




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