J.D., 1987, University of Virginia Law School
B.A., 1984, University of Pennsylvania
Professor Tamar M. Meekins joined the faculty of Howard University School of Law in July 2002 as an Associate Professor and Director of the Clinical Law Center. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia Law School. Following her graduation from law school, Professor Meekins worked as an associate attorney in the Washington, DC office of the law firm of Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood, where she gained experience in corporate and commercial real estate transactions and general litigation. She then joined the nationally renowned District of Columbia Public Defender Service (PDS) as a staff attorney. During her 12 year tenure at the Public Defender Service, Professor Meekins litigated dozens of juvenile and adult trial cases, including over 50 serious felony cases in which she was lead or sole trial counsel. She also argued several appellate matters in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, litigated parole matters before the D.C. Board of Parole and the United States Parole Commission and worked on several civil case matters that affected individual and groups of PDS clients. Professor Meekins also served for four years as the Chief of the Trial Division of PDS where she managed the day to day operations of the office’s largest division and supervised 50-60 attorneys. She was later appointed to the position of Chief of Legal Services, where she was responsible for training, management and coordination of the Agency’s 100 attorneys who worked in the Trial, Juvenile, Civil, Mental Health, Parole and Special Litigation Divisions.
In October, 2001, Professor Meekins joined the Office of Citizen Complaint Review (“OCCR”) as Deputy Director. The OCCR, now known as the Office of Police Complaints, is an independent, District of Columbia Government agency charged with the investigation, resolution and mediation of citizen allegations of police officer misconduct. As Deputy Director, she was responsible for the training of Agency investigative, administrative and legal research staff, the drafting of agency regulations and the management of the day-to-day operations of the office, including personnel responsibilities.
Currently at Howard Law, Professor Meekins directs the Clinical Law Center, an experiential learning center for law students that encompasses twelve separate academic and public interest programs. The Center is a fully functioning law office within the Law School, employing an electronic case management system, professional development protocols for staff and student attorneys, student-centered community outreach projects and a daily citizen referral service. Under her leadership, the Clinical Law Center has grown significantly and includes clinics like the Investor Justice and Education Clinic and the Intellectual Property/Trademark clinic as well as some specialty Externships like those focused on SEC, IRS and Environmental Law.
Professor Meekins teaches in the Criminal Justice Clinic, where she trains law students to become outstanding defense advocates. Additionally, she teaches first year criminal law, trial advocacy and various seminars. She is the recipient of Howard Law’s prestigious Warren Rosmarin Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service in 2006. In June 2005, the staff of the Law School also awarded her the first award at the law school for excellence in service to the University, the Law School and the surrounding community.
Professor Meekins is active in the national and greater Washington, D.C. legal community. She trains many new and continuing public defenders through her work as the Lead Trainer for the ABA-NACDL 2011 National Defender Training Program, a program in which she designed and implemented a curriculum on forensic sciences for public defenders and assigned counsel across the country. She continues to act as a trainer for new attorneys, supervisors and investigators at the D.C. Public Defender Service, is on the Faculty for the Southern Public Defender Training Center and has helped to train public defenders for the Georgia State Public Defender Council. She has made professional presentations at the Criminal Practice Institute, the Neglect Practice Institute, community reentry panels and other legal and community events.
Additionally, she is an appointed member of the Diversion and Specialty Courts Task Force of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section Standards Committee, and is also co-chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Diversion and Specialty Courts Committee. She has served as a chairperson of a Hearing Committee for the D.C. Court of Appeals Board of Professional Responsibility and has been a member of the Steering Committee for the Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice Section of the District of Columbia Bar Association. Professor Meekins has previously served on the Board of the Greater Washington Urban League, and as President and Community Service Coordinator of its auxiliary, the Urban Roundtable. In addition to her professional service she finds time to be a tutor in the Roundtable’s elementary age tutoring program, Kids Learning Center, a program she helped to develop.
Professor Meekins’ research interests are in the areas of criminal law, lawyering skills, the administration of criminal justice, specialty courts, trial litigation, ethics and clinical legal education. She is the author of 1) “This is Your Mind on Drugs,” Legal Times, July 2003; 2) “Are the New Good Courts Too Good to Be True?”, a book review, ABA Criminal Justice Magazine, Spring 2006; 3) “You Can Teach Old Defenders New Tricks: Sentencing Lessons from Specialty Courts,” ABA Criminal Justice Magazine, Summer 2006; 4) “Specialized Justice: The Over-Emergence of Specialty Courts and the Threat of a New Criminal Defense Paradigm,” 50 Suffolk Law Rev. 1 (2006); 5) “Risky Business: Criminal Specialty Courts and the Ethical Obligations of the Zealous Criminal Defender,” 12 Berkeley Journal of Crim. Law 75 (Spring 2007); and 5) a co-author of “The Nightmare On Main Street For African-Americans: A Call For A New National Policy Focus On Homeownership,” 10 Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy 262 (2008) (with Brian Gilmore, Adrienne DeCuire and Edward Davis).