Clayton Gillette forming "student law firm" to assist Detroit recovery

Abandoned Packard automobile factory in Detroit (photo: Albert Duce)

Students at NYU Law will have the opportunity to assist in the revival of Detroit through a project sponsored by NYU’s Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environment. The Office of the Emergency Manager for Detroit has engaged the Marron Center to make recommendations and present options for changes in municipal organization to promote fiscal stability and more efficient service delivery for the residents of Detroit after the city emerges from bankruptcy. Professors Clayton Gillette of the Law School and Paul Romer of NYU’s Stern School of Business will be leading the effort, which will involve leading academics in local government law and finance from NYU and elsewhere. The project will require investigations into such matters as the organization of city government, labor relations, debt, taxes, budgeting, land use, and relationships with both suburbs and the private sector.

"This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to bring academic learning to bear on a significant real-world problem and to make a substantial contribution to the renewal of a major American city," says Gillette. I am thrilled that the Marron Institute and the Law School have responded so enthusiastically.” Dean Trevor Morrison has authorized Gillette to hire several students to work on the project, which will continue throughout the semester. The project will require legal research, analysis of academic literature that exaamines the relationship between forms of municipal organization and fiscal performance, and interviews with major stakeholders in the Detroit community. To accomplish this, Gillette says that students will work with him in a kind of “mini student law firm," with a substantial team effort to obtain the necessary information to understand what went wrong in Detroit and to think creatively about the legal and political institutions that can help avoid recurrence of fiscal distress. "At the end of the day," Gillette says, "I think that those involved will think of this as as one of the highlights of their law school experience.”

Posted on August 26, 2013