Herrera Named Bellow Scholar at AALS

January 22, 2019

Luz Herrera2019 Bellow Scholar, Luz Herrera, Texas A&M School of Law professor and associate dean for experiential education

Luz Herrera, Texas A&M University School of Law professor and associate dean for experiential education, was named a Bellow Scholar during the annual meeting of the American Association of Law School (AALS) in New Orleans in January.

Every two years, scholars engaged in innovative research to "improve the quality of justice in communities, enhance the delivery of legal services and promote economic and social justice" become the focus of information sharing, discussion and critique at the annual AALS Clinical Conference and at annual workshops. The Bellow Scholar Program is particularly interested in "recognizing and supporting projects that employ empirical analysis as an advocacy tool and involve substantial collaboration between law and other academic disciplines."

Herrera's project, "Law Firm Incubator Study," surveys lawyers who participate in law firm incubator programs and work for nonprofit law firms that serve modest-income individuals by charging low bono rates. The principal objective is to learn more about the types of lawyers who are drawn to these programs and law firms so law schools can better support them. This project will be the first quantitative data set published on these lawyers. 

Herrera said "It is a study of community or ​Main Street lawyers who people, not corporations, use as a resource when dealing with a legal issue." Studying these lawyers, she said, helps legal professionals think of ways to support and provide more accessible legal services to communities that are underserved.

The Bellow Scholar Program reflects the ideals of Professor Gary Bellow, considered by many the founder of modern clinical legal education. The program is led by the Committee on Lawyering in the Public Interest, part of ​AALS's Clinical Section.

When asked why the Bellow Program is needed in the legal community, Herrera replied that lawyers are not generally trained in research methods; therefore, there are few groups within legal academia that support empirical research.

"I was thrilled to be joining a great network of scholar-clinicians who understand the importance of empirical work and the obstacles to overcome in doing it as a lawyer," said Herrera. "I look forward to learning a great deal from all of my peers who are already Bellow Scholars."