On August 19, I attended the Fair Housing Legal Seminar sponsored by the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) and Indiana Disability Rights. The Seminar featured Professor Robert Schwemm of the University of Kentucky College of Law. Despite my biased perspective – I’m the Secretary of FHCCI and lead the employment practice group at Indiana Disability Rights – I think the Seminar was quite a success.
First, it’s important to acknowledge the great content imparted to attendees. Professor Schwemm not only provided a comprehensive overview of the Fair Housing Act and its amendments, but also tailored his presentation to the Seventh Circuit. Unlike typical continuing legal education classes, often delivered by current practitioners, the Seminar engaged in academic exercises to challenge participants and get them to consider the future of fair housing law. For example, participants discussed what may constitute a “dwelling” within the court’s consideration.
That’s not to say that the Seminar was merely an exercise in philosophical jurisprudence; Professor Schwemm shared stories about his time as a practitioner, garnering laughter with anecdotes of opposing counsel offering their client a defense on one count while accidentally conceding to having discriminated in other counts. Additionally, Seminar participants had the opportunity to watch videos illustrating the effects of housing discrimination on individuals and communities. One astounding video can be accessed here.
Second, I would be remiss if I did not mention the accessibility aspects of the Seminar. Five hours of continuing legal education credits were offered for $35. Anyone who is attorney can recognize this is a great deal! The physical accessibility features were also much appreciated. FHCCI staff helped me gather all my paper materials upon arrival, and, along with an Indiana Disability Rights colleague, were happy to move tables so I could fit in the conference room in a location where I would not need to move my head to see the speaker/video screen.
I encourage anyone interested in getting involved in fair housing to consider attending the Annual Fair Housing Conference on April 6, 2017!