The California Receivers Forum (“CRF”) has maintained a 20-year relationship with Loyola Law School, which has partnered with the CRF in the prestigious receivership symposium aptly named the Loyola Symposium. With the Loyola X Symposium just around the corner (January 18-19, 2024), we are pleased to share the following interview with Loyola Law School’s Interim Dean, Brietta R. Clark (who is also the Interim Senior Vice President of Loyola Marymount University, and a Professor of Law & J. Rex Dibble Fellow).

Kevin Singer (KS): Where are you from and what were some of your fond memories growing up?

Brietta R. Clark (BRC): I’m from Chicago, Illinois. Believe it or not, some of my fondest memories growing up are from the long commutes I had to school or other activities, because of the fun and wide-ranging conversations that my dad and I would have during these trips. He was not only a loving and devoted father, but also my best friend.

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KS: Did you know at an early age that you wanted to study law?

BRC: Yes, by my father’s design. He only had a high school education, but he was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. During that commuting time I mentioned, he would plant all sorts of seeds for the future, and his dream was for me to go into law. He never pressured me about it. Instead, he was masterful at using our conversations to prime me to think critically about the law and our legal system, and this nurtured my desire to learn even more about it. As a police officer, my father would also make connections with attorneys and judges, convincing them to mentor me or let me observe their work. I don’t know the exact moment; but pretty early on in life, law became my passion.

KS: What drew you to healthcare law?

BRC: Serendipity. My first job out of college happened to be at a health care company, providing administrative support for nurse staffing, home health care, and mobile ultrasound services. Because it was such a small company, I was exposed to many different areas of health care, and I saw firsthand how healthcare law and policy impeded health care access for low- income families and children with significant health needs.

KS: In 1995, you worked for Legal Assistance Foundation (“LAF”) of Chicago and represented children who were wards of the state in disability claims, what did you take away from this job?

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BRC: This was a formative experience for a few reasons. First, it reinforced many of the lessons I learned at my prior healthcare job, deepening my interest in issues related to health equity. Second, it highlighted the importance of law as a social determinant of health. This is, in part, because of healthcare regulations that can either expand or restrict access to quality health care. But it’s also because of how other laws shape access to other essential resources, such as safe housing, public utilities, other social supports, that directly and indirectly affect our health status. Finally, I developed such admiration for the passion and dedication of the public interest lawyers at LAF, and it helped me remain optimistic about the power of legal advocacy to promote health and equity.

KS: You went to work as a legal intern advocating for increased access to health services for Med-Cal for uninsured consumers. Who were your clients and what kinds of problems did you see with the medical systems?

BRC: This was work I did as a volunteer at the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) in Los Angeles, and this organization has had a tremendous impact in safeguarding access to quality health care for people covered by Medicaid (known as Medi-Cal in California) and the uninsured. Two projects really stuck with me. One involved community engagement and advocacy to try to prevent the potential loss of essential hospital services in an otherwise underserved community. The other involved surveying Medi-Cal beneficiaries with disabilities to better understand the barriers to care they were facing. NHeLP used this information to equip legal advocates and policymakers with tools for dismantling existing barriers and improving access to care.

KS: Did you ever encounter or hear about Court Receiverships or a Court Receiver to protect a medical business that was not operating well or had to be protected from closing down? If so, what were your thoughts or experiences?

BRC: As I mentioned above, I’ve definitely encountered the problem of hospitals that are financially struggling and are in danger of closing or being taken over by another hospital, resulting in a reduction or loss of essential health services. But I have not had direct interaction with court receiverships in this context.

I don’t know if this is directly responsive to your question; but it caused me to reflect on one of the most high-profile and compelling examples that I recall of the vital role that court receivers can play in safeguarding healthcare resources. It did not involve a private hospital or traditional medical business. Rather, it involved a court receivership of the California state prison system. The prison’s healthcare system was so inadequate, and resulted in such devastating preventable suffering and death, that it was found to violate the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual treatment. Judge Thelton Henderson appointed a receiver to manage its resources and improve healthcare access and quality. (I believe that was around 2005, and the case was Plata v. Brown).

KS: What made you want to switch from private practice to full-time teaching?

BRC: First, I’ve always loved teaching. I even had the opportunity to teach legal writing to first years during my second and third years as a law student, an experience I still treasure! I also love thinking deeply about the law—what it claims to do, what it should do, and how it shapes reality on the ground. As a law professor, I am incredibly privileged to have the time and space to study and wrestle with these questions.

BRC: For the record, many of the lawyers who are members of the California Receivers Forum are alumni of Loyola Law School and one is currently a faculty member- Richard Ormond.

BRC: Oh yes, I know Richard and think he’s fantastic! When I was the associate dean for faculty, he taught a wonderful course in Cannabis Business Law for us as an adjunct.

KS: I see one of your areas of expertise is “Reproductive Justice.” Could you please explain, what this involves?

BRC: The dominant framing of reproductive rights in the U.S. has centered around the theory of a right to prevent or terminate pregnancy. But certain groups, especially racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty, have been disproportionately denied the right to have children and parent with dignity. These groups are more likely to have been subjected to forced or coerced sterilization or other birth control. They are the least likely to have access to essential resources to help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. And they are disproportionately represented among those targeted for punitive state action when they experience poor pregnancy outcomes or parenting challenges arising out of economic instability or certain health conditions.

Reproductive justice is a more holistic approach to critiquing government regulation of reproduction. It identifies the essential conditions and resources for ensuring that each person has not only the legal right, but also the practical ability, to make reproductive decisions that are best for them and their families, including the right to give birth and parent with dignity.

KS: Recently you were promoted to the Interim Dean of Loyola Law School. Congratulations! Although you have been an Associate Dean for Faculty since 2015 was this promotion something you saw coming?

BRC: Absolutely not! I’m still processing this intriguing turn of events.

KS: You have been teaching at Loyola Law School since 2001, what makes it stand out from other law schools? Also, as the new Dean of Loyola Law School, what would you like to accomplish?

As a member of Loyola Law School (LLS) since 2001, I know what a very special place it is. Some schools focus on teaching; others focus on research. At LLS, we demand excellence in both, viewing them as mutually enhancing and both vital tools for advancing our mission of social justice.

Our faculty members are recognized as innovative, thought leaders who shape law and policy through their scholarship and public service. Through the growth of the Loyola Social Justice Clinic and other centers of excellence, collaborations between faculty, students and staff have expanded our impact in new and exciting ways.

We also have the well-deserved reputation of graduating students who are practice ready. This is due in part to our longstanding focus on experiential learning and skills development. But it is also due to on-going curricular innovation, such the integration of technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), that is transforming the practice of law.

We also have a proud tradition of offering flexible educational programming to expand legal education to non- traditional students. Our law school started as an evening program over 100 years ago, and we just recently changed this program to a hybrid format that incorporates both in-person and remote learning. This creates even more flexibility so that students who are working full-time or managing other significant responsibilities can pursue a legal degree part-time.

Finally, the people here also care deeply about each other – it feels like a real community.

Of course, we should never stop asking what more we can do to promote academic excellence, advance our social justice mission, and create an environment that supports the well-being, and even flourishing, of everyone in our community. And, as Interim Dean, I am committed to fortifying our

existing strengths, and continuing to support our outstanding family of students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Final note:

As we discussed, the California Receivers Forum Loyola Symposium X is set for January 18-19, 2023, in Long Beach, California. This will be the 10th symposium with hundreds of participants, including judges, attorneys, court receivers, professionals and students from around the country, once again convening for this one of a kind educational and social event. We hope to see you and many of your students in attendance.

I will put it on the calendar and be sure to help promote it to our students!