William H. Bowen School of Law
Associate Professor of Clinical Law
In 2014, Penn suggested the idea of creating a clinical experience for law students in the Delta region of Arkansas, which has long been underserved by attorneys and is home to many individuals unable to afford an attorney even if one was available. For example, Desha County has about nine attorneys for its roughly 13,000 inhabitants and Chicot County also has about nine attorneys for its roughly 12,000 inhabitants.
The Delta project is comprised of two different courses: The Delta Experience course and the Delta Clinic course. The Delta Experience course is a two-week, two-credit summer intersession course open to all students who have completed their first year. During the first week of the course, students learn about Arkansas divorce law and requirements for process in divorce proceedings and the history of the Arkansas Delta. Students also prepare teaching materials to use and share with low-income citizens. In the second week of the course, students travel to the Delta to educate low-income citizens about grounds for divorce and what is necessary to obtain one without attorney representation. In the Delta Clinic course, students travel with Penn to Desha and Chicot county to conduct client interviews, perform fact investigations related to case success, prepare divorce complaints, motions for fee waivers for clients, and appear in courts as needed to represent their clients and also observe sessions of the courts.
The Delta Project exemplifies Bowen’s mission of access to justice and public service and Penn’s passion for public service has been passed onto students who participate. In all, Penn has led six Community Education and Intake Clinics in the Delta. To advertise the services, Penn distributes flyers throughout the community, writes articles, and places advertisements in local newspapers.
Penn received a J.D. from the Tulane University Law School and a bachelor’s degree with honors from Hendrix College.